In an exclusive photo shoot and interview in HELLO! in May 2017, Natalie Rushdie celebrated her upcoming performance at the Chelsea Flower Show when she sang among the blooms with a two-hour set of her favourite songs. As she approached her first wedding anniversary to PR Director Zafar Rushdie, she told HELLO! how it "took him time" to propose and how her husband’s father, writer Salman Rushdie, is the "most amazing father-in-law in the world".
The classical music sensation, who has performed at Wembley stadium, told how Salman helped her with all the preparations for her wedding. "He was the one who helped me with my hair and makeup. He'd be the one saying, 'Oh that lipstick's better, try that.' He has an amazing eye for fashion. I was going to buy a pair of pink shoes for my wedding outfit and he told me to go for white. He came to the church with me to pick all my wedding music. We went food tasting together. He did everything."
He also shares Natalie’s love of musical theatre. "We're always singing Oklahoma – we love it," – she said. "He took me to see the King and I, which is our favourite musical." Natalie added: "Whenever I need to speak to him, he’s on the phone. He comes to gigs and gives me advice on my career. I see him as my dad."
Dressing up for her exclusive shoot for HELLO! in a series of floral dresses, the curvy star describes herself as having, "big hips and small waist." She candidly admits, "like most girls I'd like to be skinnier" but nonetheless reveals that she’s happy with her shape. "Because it's healthy and I love food." She added: "We've just come back from a holiday in India where I ate curry every night and two doughnuts every morning."
The holiday was a celebration of her first wedding anniversary with husband Zafar. The trip followed a particularly busy time for the Scottish-born soprano, who has toured the UK with classic boyband Blake and had just given her fifth performance at Wembley Stadium, singing the national anthem at the English Football League Trophy final. She also attended the wedding in France of her close friend Natasha Archer to photographer Chris Jackson.
Natalie has known Natasha, who is the Duchess of Cambridge's personal assistant and unofficial stylist, for seven years. She says the wedding was "beautiful and chic, but really low stress". Were guests disappointed that Kate and William weren't there? "I wasn’t," she beams. "I had the best time ever."
It did, however, make her nostalgic for her own wedding, which was a three-day extravaganza in New York last June with a ceremony at St Ignatius Loyola Roman Catholic church. "I’d love to be a guest at my wedding – that would be the dream," she says. "I get sad thinking about the fact that it’s over."
Natalie first met her husband, PR director Zafar, in 2010 after being introduced by friends. The next day he sent her a huge bunch of lilies with a message: "Just because I had to." They moved in together after four months, but he didn’t propose until four years later. "He took his time," she says. But he did it in style, whisking her off to the beautiful Greek island of Santorini.
After the marriage, Natalie changed her name professionally from Coyle to Rushdie, but hopes the famous name doesn’t define her. "I hope my talent shines through. I like to think of Zaf as my backing singer," she jokes. In fact he’s been managing her for five years, which can have its moments. "It’s obviously interesting being with your other half the whole time, but it’s really good as the industry’s so difficult. Having someone you know you can trust is great."
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