david-tang

Sir David Tang, friend to royals and celebrities, dies aged 63

Sir David passed away just days before he was due to host a 'farewell to life' party

by Gemma Strong

Businessman and socialite Sir David Tang has died at the age of 63. The news was broken by Ewan Venters, CEO of Fortnum & Mason, who said he had been informed by David's wife, Lady Lucy Tang. "He was one of life's unique people who had an extraordinary network of people from all walks of life," Mr Venters said. "He was a very generous, kind-hearted, spirited individual. Personally, I think the world is a little duller for the loss of David and at such a relatively young age."

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Sir David Tang and his wife Lady Lucy, pictured with Bruce and Wilnelia Forsyth

Earlier this month, Sir David had announced he was throwing a 'farewell to life' party at The Dorchester in London, after learning he had just months to live. Sadly he didn't quite make it to the 6 September date. "David had been unwell on and off for a period, but actually his recent illness is a relatively short (one) - this has all happened in the last four weeks," Mr Venters told the Telegraph. "There was an understanding amongst his friends, and hence why he organised a memorial, that by definition he was not going to come through. It was a matter of time."

STORY: Celebrity friends pay tribute to national treasure Sir Bruce Forsyth 

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Sir David counted Naomi Campbell amongst his friends

Sir David came to Britain around 50 years ago, unable to speak any English. He went on to found the Shanghai Tang fashion chain, as well as the members-only China Club in Hong Kong, and the China Tang restaurant at the Dorchester. He was awarded a knighthood in 2008 by the Queen for his charitable services to the UK and British interests in Hong Kong.

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He was also close to members of the British royal family, including Sarah Ferguson

A flamboyant personality, the father-of-two was friends with stars including Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Russell Crowe, Sarah Ferguson, and the late Princess Diana, and, as such, was a constant feature in society magazines. Russell was among the first to pay tribute to Sir David, tweeting, "The privilege was mine", and describing him as "witty, charming, intellectual, salacious and hilarious". David Walliams, meanwhile, wrote: "The world is a poorer place without the legendary wit. It was a party to be near him."

In an interview with the Financial Times in 2010, Sir David said he would like to be remembered by a Hilaire Belloc quote: "When I am dead, I hope it may be said: His sins were scarlet, but his books were read."