“Under the stars and on the ruins”: Richard Branson gives away daughter Holly during wedding on his fire-ravaged private island
Newlyweds: Holly Branson was due to marry Fred Andrews on her family”s private island yesterday
The idyllic spot was left fire-ravaged after a terrifying blaze as her family slept.
But Necker Island has sentimental value for Holly Branson, so nothing was going to stop her wedding shipbroker Fred Andrews there yesterday.
The 29-year-old doctor tied the knot “under the stars on the ruins of the main house”.
Her Virgin boss father Sir Richard – who owns the 60 million Caribbean resort – and mother Joan Templeman married on the same day in 1989 when Holly was eight and her brother Sam was four.
The mogul shared his excitement before the nuptials yesterday.
“Very happy day today,” he said on his blog.
“Giving away our daughter Holly to an absolutely delightful husband (and family).”
He then posted a snap of his own wedding with his two young children.
Joan can be seen wearing a long-sleeved lace dress, her hair in a typical 1980s perm.
Sir Richard, now 61, wears a matching white suit to his adorable fair-headed offspring.
He wrote: “Here’s a photo of the last Branson family wedding on Necker Island also on December 20th but some years ago.
“Holly and Fred will get married at exactly the same spot, but unlike us, chose to wait for their children until married.”
He added that the day after the ceremony, friends of the family announced they were getting married.
Holly then told him: “They can”t be getting married. They haven”t had any children yet!”
He is yet to release a photo of his gorgeous daughter in her highly-anticipated wedding gown, which has had people guessing over which designer she has chosen.
During an inaugural Virgin America flight between San Francisco and Palm Springs this week, Sir Richard told the San Francisco Chronicle he would be celebrating his daughter”s wedding “under the stars on the ruins of the main house, where I was married many years ago”.
Around 100 guests were expected, although only 22 could be housed on the island in the six cottages that survived the blaze and on Sir Richard’s catamaran.
Among them were Princesses Beatrice, 23, and Eugenie, 21, along with their mother, the Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson.
The Queen gave the young royals permission to excuse themselves from a pre-Christmas lunch with the rest of the family at Buckingham Palace.
Destroyed: The Great House on her father Richard Branson”s 60 million Necker Island in the Carribbean was ravaged by fire in August
A source said: “It’s a sure sign that the Queen has mellowed a little.
‘It used to be the case that attendance at the lunch was as non-negotiable as Trooping The Colour is in the summer.
“Of course, with new family members to accommodate this year, perhaps there was quite relief the girls couldn’t attend.’
It is understood Prince Andrew”s daughters did not have to rough it on the beach and were offered a cottage.
The music at the ceremony including a spine-chilling performance via Skype by a young South African girl by the name of Cleo Megan Filander.
Sir Richard posted a video of the song on his blog and the girl can be seen holding up a personal message to his daughter abd new husband.
It reads: “To Holly & Freddie. Wishing you many happy years together. Lots of love Dad.”
Sir Richard explained: “Met this lovely 11-year-old in South Africa recently. Her name is Cleo, she dropped in via Skype for Holly’s wedding and thought it might be nice to share this song with anyone who wants to hear it.
“She’s from the Townships near Jo’burg. Absolutely astounding voice.”
It”s all about the bride: 61-year-old Sir Richard Branson with Holly and his wife Joan
With love: Sir Richard also shared a moving video of a performance by a young South African girl, who help up this touching message at the end
The Necker Island fire started in the early hours of August 22 after a lightening strike by the tropical storm Irene.
The eight-bedroom home was left gutted by the 800ft flames.
Oscar-winning actress Kate Winslet, who was staying on the island with her two children and ex-boyfriend, famously carried Richard”s 90-year-old mother Eve down a flight of stairs.
Branson insisted afterwards that the wedding would go ahead.
“We have a wedding to celebrate in December and I can’t imagine giving my daughter’s hand in marriage anywhere other than on Necker Island beach,” he told ITV News.
The island, which he bought for 180,000 in 1979, is used by both familymembers and friends but can also be rented for 34,000 a night.
Plans to rebuild the Great House are underway.
Hero: Kate Winslet famously carried Richard”s 90-year-old mother Eve down a flight of stairs in the burning home
Before the catastrophe: The island, which he bought for 180,000 in 1979, is used by both family members and friends but can also be rented for 34,000 a night
“Plans to rebuild the Great House are already under way and in the meantime the island will be able to cater for slightly smaller groups to stay on island with the newly refurbished six Bali Houses, as well as Sir Richard Branson’s private home Temple House and his 105ft luxury catamaran Necker Belle, to substitute for the bedrooms lost in the Great House.
“As for the Great House itself, much of the beautiful features of the former Great house will be incorporated into the new design to ensure it retains its authentic Balinese style with panoramic views of the Caribbean but will include a couple of new and innovative twists!”
And straight after the fire, Richard said: “It’s very much the Dunkirk Spirit here. We want to rebuild the house as soon as we can. We have a wonderful staff here and we want them to stay in work.
‘We will rebuild the house as soon as we can. We’ll all stay here. There’s a lot of damage but we’ll create something even more special out of the ruins.”
Video: 11-year-old Cleo sings for Holly DM.videoMuted = false;DM.has(“rcp”,”BCVideo”);
“Proud” performed by Cleo Megan Filander from Brett Michael Innes on Vimeo.