Sir Rod Stewart's wife and Famous and Fighting Crime star Penny Lancaster revealed that her husband's knighthood had given her a chance to revive her old childhood nickname – Lady Penelope - in an exclusive interview and photoshoot with HELLO! magazine back in August 2016. The interview took place at the couple's Beverly Hills mansion, where the Loose Women presenter revealed how her school friends used to compare her to the glamorous Thunderbirds character who was driven around in a pink Rolls-Royce by chauffeur Parker. "I used to get called Lady Penelope at school because the other kids thought I spoke nicely," Penny, 45, told HELLO!. "After the news [of Rod's knighthood] broke, the driver that takes us into London would say to me, 'Evening, me Lady,' and I would reply jokingly, 'London please, Parker.'"
Penny Lancaster spoke to HELLO! about Rod's knighthood
Sir Rod told HELLO! of his knighthood, "I feel very lucky." It was difficult for the couple to keep the news a secret though. Penny recalled how she struggled to keep the news of her husband’s honour under wraps. "We found out three weeks before the official announcement and we weren’t allowed to tell anybody – not even Rod’s manager or our kids. It was so hard to keep it hush-hush – we wanted to shout it from the rooftops."
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When they did get the chance to celebrate, they did it in style. Penny arranged a celebratory dinner at The Ritz London hotel and duped the invitees into thinking that she and Rod were simply marking their ninth wedding anniversary with a glamorous get- together. "Everyone was so delighted for Rod when they found out what they were really there for. That was a wonderful evening," Rod said. "Penny threw a surprise dinner in LA too with all our friends over here – the theme was 'A Knight to remember'. I feel very lucky."
Since word got out about Rod’s knighthood, the couple have been inundated with congratulations from fans and “some very famous title-holders”, though it’s not the only thing they’ve had to celebrate recently. Last year, they moved into their grade II*-listed 18th-century Essex estate following an extensive two-year renovation. Rod and Penny had arranged for the priest who performed their wedding ceremony and who had christened their sons to bless the house before they moved in.
“As it was the same week of our eighth wedding anniversary we thought it would be romantic to renew our vows in the grounds of our new UK home at the same time,” Penny recalled. “I wanted the priest to bless the house because I felt there was a lot of history and old spirits there: we wanted to say thank you to the old and welcome in the new. So we walked into the garden, under the largest oak tree there, and we said our vows again, just Rod, myself and the priest. It was beautiful.”
Penny paused as she reflected on the joy that followed a tumultuous year. “It was a big leap,” she explained of the children’s move to England from Los Angeles, where they now spend their school holidays. “Until last year, we lived like a kind of nomadic tribe – the kids divided their time between schools in LA and the UK and we were constantly on the move. Rod and I decided that the boys needed consistency and we agreed that the schools in the UK are better. “It all happened very quickly: we pretty much packed their bags, moved country, moved into a new house, moved schools, all in the space of two weeks.”
Penny and Rod are renewing their wedding vows
The upheaval took its toll on the family. “Rod was getting stressed about the fact that the house wasn’t ready. He kept saying, ‘This is going to be the death of me.’ The kids were worried that they wouldn’t have any friends at their new schools. I was taking everyone’s worries on board and trying to reassure them.” Penny’s own emotions came to the fore when she came home to see Rod unpacking a box of the couple’s wedding photos. “I said to him, ‘Please don’t unpack those, they’re precious and I haven’t decided where I want them.’ He went, ‘No. I’m unpacking them; I’m fed up with boxes everywhere.’Suddenly, I just felt these big tears coming on. I tried to run into one room, but there were decorators in there. I went into another room and there was someone else in there. I burst into tears. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh. What is wrong with me?’” Penny’s sadness was tinged with guilt. “We’ve got the most incredible life. We’re all blessed with good health. Why was I crying? I felt as though I couldn’t breathe. I’d never had a panic attack before, but I couldn’t control it. I was taking on everyone’s burdens and not thinking about my own feelings.”
The couple will celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary next June
A visit to the doctor reassured Penny that her emotions were normal. “I said, ‘I don’t know what’s wrong with me,’ and he said, ‘You’ve just moved into a new house. The children just moved country and moved school. You and Rod run around the world nonstop. Of course you’re going to feel overwhelmed.’” Thankfully, a year after the move, the family is blissfully happy in the new house in the UK. “Rod still has such strong ties in LA with both family and work,” says Penny. “He does his recordings there, regularly tours the US and has his residency in Vegas, so when he’s not in the UK, which is just over half the year, the boys and I have to catch up with him in the school holidays.
“Rod used to hate the weather in the UK but he came back from a trip to LA recently and he said that the sunshine there was boring. I thought, ‘Wow. He’s turning into an Englishman again.’ Now he’s getting his football pitch at the new house, so he’s happy. Alastair’s on all of the sports teams at his new school – he’s just thriving. And Aiden tells me how much he loves it there. I’m so delighted we made the right decision for them.” After the October investiture – “It’s extra special, as the Queen is now the longest-serving monarch,” said Penny – the couple will start planning for their next big celebration, their tenth wedding anniversary next June.
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“We want to go back to Portofino, where we were married, with all the people who came to our wedding,” she said. “It would be lovely to make a toast to ten years of marriage and to friendships and to those who have passed away... With all the dismal news and sadness in the world right now, we need to come together and celebrate these things. And it will be special for Aiden, as Alastair was at our wedding – but Aiden wasn’t born yet.” After almost a decade of marriage, the couple are clearly still besotted with one another. Rod tells his wife she looks “stunning” and “incredible” on several occasions during the HELLO! photoshoot and he saIs he “can’t wait” to say his “I dos” all over again next summer.
The couple have two children together
As for their home life, Rod and Penny both strive to ensure that their children aren’t spoiled. “The boys know that they can’t just ask for something – yes, we can afford it, but that’s not the point. They can put it on a Christmas or birthday list. And they do chores to earn pocket money,” says Penny. “We’re both nags. Rod’s always saying to them, ‘Do you know how lucky you are?’” As if on cue, Aiden walks in, still wet from the swimming pool, and climbs up on Penny’s lap. “You look beautiful,” he said, planting a kiss on her cheek before darting off to join his brother in a game of football. “I know how fortunate I am,” Penny muses as she watches her little blonde boy race through the kitchen. Luck be a Lady, indeed.
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