Jamie Lonsdale gave Princess Diana investment advice about her divorce settlement.
The singer-songwriter’s first wife Laura Greig was one of Diana’s ladies-in-waiting.
Jamie, 62, spoke to DONNA FERGUSON from his home in Pimlico, Central London, where he lives with son Arthur, 25. His new album Footprints is out now.
Passion: Jamie has now made two albums and was encouraged to take up singing by Princess Diana
What did your parents teach you about money?
That a fool and his money are soon parted. My parents formed a record company that attempted to take on the likes of EMI. They led a glamorous life mixing with artists and actors.
My father had inherited money and we had a nanny and lived in a nice old townhouse in Chelsea Square, London. It was a fashionable address – Chelsea during the 1950s and 1960s was probably the centre of the universe – and on one level, we were well off. But I was aware if you looked beyond the shop window, money was scarce and cash hard to come by.
My parents sent me away to boarding school when I was seven, but I remember my father once warning me that he might not be able to afford the next term’s fees. That was quite a rude shock. Afterwards, regardless of what other people thought of my family, I felt financially insecure.
That has shaped my life. My primary focus has always been on growing wealth.
Is it true that you are related to the Royal Family?
Yes, I’m a descendant of King Edward III. I think he is something like my 19th great-grandfather.
His eldest son John of Gaunt married for love, in secret, and there was an Act of Parliament to make his children – my ancestors – legitimate. But they could never take the throne of England.
Personally I believe everyone is on an equal playing field, but my grandmother would bang on about the family’s military history – I’m also related to British general 1st Baron Raglan.
Have you ever struggled to make ends meet?
No. At 18, I joined the Royal Navy and spent years on ships navigating the world. Although I was only paid £98 a month, it was very hard to spend money onboard. After three years, I had saved enough to put a deposit down on my first home, an old converted chapel in a village in Gloucestershire. It cost me £39,500 in 1983.
Have you ever been paid silly money?
If you mean silly as in ridiculously large, no, I don’t think I have ever been paid a stupidly large amount of cash for my time. But I would say I was paid silly money – £1.39 a day on top of my salary – by the Navy to risk my life diving for mines off a warship. I was the only one qualified to defuse and remove a mine from the ship’s hull if we found one. Luckily, we never did.
Did you talk to Princess Diana about money?
I did indeed – she asked me for advice about where she should invest the proceeds of her divorce settlement. I think she trusted my advice, but that was the only time we discussed money. She was godmother to my eldest daughter and would often come and stay in order to spend time with her. She loved children and had a great affinity with them. You couldn’t help but be inspired by her as a person.
It was a very relaxing time when she came to stay for the weekend. At the time, I was just toying with the idea of having singing lessons and learning to sing – and she was extremely encouraging. She was always interested in my passion for singing.
I started having singing lessons in 1998 and rather unexpectedly, in 2004, was asked to sing in an opera. After that, I was asked to sing in other shows and took the decision to devote myself to music.
What is the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought for fun?
It was a £45,000 holiday to Italy after the first lockdown. I had Covid in March and having had pneumonia three times before, I was preparing for the worst. I promised myself that if my family and I were all still alive afterwards I would charter a boat and we’d all go on holiday together. My four children brought their friends, so there were nine of us altogether.
It was not something I would normally do because of the expense. But we had a magnificent time and everybody agreed it was the best holiday ever.
What was your biggest money mistake?
I invested a five-figure sum in Railtrack a few days before the Government forced the company into administration in 2001. That was financially painful.
Encouragement: Princess Diana was always interested in Jamie’s passion for singing
The best money decision you have made?
Making my second album Footprints. It launched in lockdown and went straight to number ten in the classical music charts. Hundreds of thousands of people have streamed the album on Spotify and Songs Of Praise have recently recorded four of my songs.
It’s all very exciting. I never imagined so many people would listen to it.
The album seems to appeal to young people and men, which was a real shock to me as I thought I was writing love songs for women of a certain age.
Do you save into a pension?
No, because that means handing my money over to somebody else and I’d rather manage it myself.
Do you invest directly in the stock market?
Yes, but for short-term gain, not as a long-term investment. I trade, taking advantage of market highs and lows.
I have developed a software trading system that gives me seven signals a year to buy into the market. Sometimes it works, some times it doesn’t. But generally it works, and I make a small profit.
Do you own any property?
No, I rent in Pimlico, London. I’m planning to buy, but I believe the market in Central London is going to fall because of Covid and unemployment. I’m going to bide my time for probably another year.
What is the one luxury you treat yourself to?
Membership of a private spa and gym. It costs £7,500 a year, but I like to swim three miles a week. Now, of course, the pool is closed. I’ll miss going swimming, but I recognise it as a necessary forfeit during this second period of lockdown.
If you were Chancellor, what would you do?
I would invest hugely in Covid-19 testing instead of prioritising finding a vaccine. We need Covid test kits available in every chemist which enable you to get an answer within half an hour, rather like a pregnancy test. We need to starve the virus of human beings.
What is your number one financial priority?
To grow my wealth so that I can touch people’s lives by donating more of my money to others. I have a daily prayer, which is: Can I do something today to bring a smile to Jesus? I think that giving is a major part of that.