Strictly Come Dancing star Natalie Lowe, who is partnered with celebrity chef Ainsley Harriott on this year's series, will soon be waltzing up the aisle. In an exclusive interview with HELLO! magazine, the Australian dancer says she is "very excited, happy and proud" to announce that she is engaged to company director James Knibbs, the man she met by chance on a train two years ago.
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James arranged an elaborate surprise proposal at the Four Seasons hotel in Hampshire. "It was a complete shock," says Natalie, who is now wearing a brilliant-cut diamond ring on her left hand.
Staff at the hotel were in on the surprise – pretending that the couple's room wasn’t ready when they checked in and encouraging them to take a walk to the Fisherman's Lodge in the grounds instead. James had pre-arranged for a member of staff to take the ring out of his luggage when he checked in – and then staff secretly whisked it to the wooden Fisherman's Lodge, so it was waiting there when the couple arrived.
Australian-born Natalie and James met by chance on a London-Leeds train in November 2013. Natalie had reluctantly pulled out of Strictly that series due to fracturing metatarsals in both feet, so instead of appearing on the show she was taken a train to London for a meeting. She says she was "gutted" about pulling out of the show. "But it turned out to be a blessing in disguise."
James was on his way back Leeds, where he lived at the time – and only just made the train because it was delayed by 10 minutes. "I have to thank East Coast for being late," he said. "Getting that train was the best decision I ever made."
The couple ended up in seats opposite one another and became chatting – and now they are planning to invite Natalie's Strictly Come Dancing colleagues to the wedding.
Wedding plans will be put on hold until after this year's series, however, and Natalie has revealed that she loves being partnered with Ainsley. "He is full of beans," she said. "He is 58 – the oldest in the competition – but he's given the young uns a run for their money."