Rosanna Davison: Getting it off her chest
She's not getting married, and when she gets engaged depends on when someone asks her. Neither has she any maternal instincts right now. She hasn't had her boobs done either; it's just a good bra. And she doesn't believe in God or organised religion. Rosanna Davison sets Barry Egan straight about a few things, including life, love, Michael O'Leary and the lowest point in her life -- when her dog Millie died. Photography by Agata Stoinska. Styling by Liadan Hynes
'Bollocks to that!" former Miss World Rosanna Davison shrieks, when I suggest that she brings her boyfriend Wesley Quirke breakfast in bed every morning in their Foxrock abode. "I'm going to have to re-show him where the dishwater is one of these day," she adds.
What does she do? Pick up Wes's breakfast tray every morning that you've prepared? Then in a voice, which is the voice of the super-posh Foxrock bray painted in yummy West Brit glaze, Rosanna says: "Yeah, she Hoovers down his throne."
"No," Rosanna hoots. "She just helps out. When we first moved in, for the first two months, I was doing all the cleaning and all the Hoovering and I was a bit OCD about it. I ran myself into the ground. I couldn't do it anymore. I am a little bit obsessed with clean kitchen surfaces and clean bathrooms.
"But you know, it works out well," she says of cohabitation. "We don't put pressure on each other to come up with a meal every night. He is definitely a carnivore and I'm a vegetarian." Rosanna has been a complete vegetarian for eight years, but she gave up red meat when she was 12 or 13, a decision inspired by helping with the lambs on her grandmother Maeve's farm in Co Wexford. Then, every Sunday, they would have roast lamb for lunch. "I couldn't justify having bottle-fed a tiny, newborn lamb and then going and eating one," Rosanna says. "So I gave up red meat then." Her mum grows her own fruit and vegetables in her back garden in Co Wicklow and gives them to Rosanna when she calls over once or twice a week. "I got a bag of cherries last night," she says.
The posh hunter who doesn't eat red meat, Rosanna has a philosophical attitude to life. Asked what's the most hilarious rumour she's heard about herself, she says that she "regularly hears some ridiculous stories about things I've supposedly done, and often originating from the same source. Mostly they're about who I've apparently had an illicit fling with. I have to laugh at it all, and, sadly, my life is most definitely not as racy and exciting as it's made out to be."
I ask her what mistakes she thinks she's made in her 27 years thus far. "I'm sure I've made plenty," she says, "but I never see them as mistakes. I don't have any regrets, and that's the way I have always lived my life. What's the point in regretting past actions? Accept and move on; life is too short. I take full responsibility for every decision I have ever made, and I know that, at the time, I made the decisions in good faith and for the best possible reasons. Even if things don't work out in your favour, it's important to be able to trust your instincts and know that you tried your very best. I don't regret anything."
Do you ever regret going on that private plane to Morocco with Johnny Ronan last year? "Not at all," she says. "I had a great time. I enjoyed it. I said that before. And I'll say that again. I trust my decisions. That's why I try not to regret anything."
We must peer into the world of Rosanna Davison with nose pressed to the glass. And I'll try not to fog up the window panes. There is more than a little fascination with her and her world. But to believe her press-clippings caricature, you'd almost imagine Rosanna Davison as some sort of cold, aloof young fogey who doesn't see the point of ordinary people. The one time Miss World is warm and keenly attuned to the world around her. She isn't Marie Antoinette in Christian Louboutin pumps.
Over two hours in the Dylan Hotel, Rosanna provides wit, gossip, opinion and context in ways that cast new light on her myth. She has savvy and social sang-froid, and brings with her a certain patrician cool, to say nothing of an aristo risqueness that she may or may not have inherited from her mother Diane.
"My mum comes across as very ladylike, and she is very ladylike and proper , but she comes out with filthy jokes. Not too filthy," Rosanna says, adding that she, on occasion, likes to make the odd blue joke or comment among friends. "There is nothing wrong with it," she says. "Sometimes I'm too prone to worry about what I'm saying because I don't want to cause offence or cause people to jump on the back of every remark I make."
This risque side to her nature emerges when I ask Rosanna, perhaps indelicately, has she had her breasts enlarged. She, er, flatly denies that the new voluptuousness of her breasts is due to anything other than a good bra. I ask her to uncross her famous legs and put her hand on her heart.
"I'm not going to ask you, 'Did you get your willy enlarged?' Am I?" I didn't. "Oh, but I heard that you did," she laughs. "Uncross your legs! Put your hand on your heart!"
Rosanna has a big watch on her wrist. You can imagine it's been ticking throughout our chat in the Dylan hotel. Rosanna's biological clock, however, is not ticking too audibly at the moment. Asked whether she would like to become a mother one day, she hesitates to say yes. "At 27, I don't have that big of a maternal instinct but I'm sure it will arrive in time," she says. "I do have friends who all they want to do is settle down and have babies. I have a lot of career ambition. I have a lot of things I want to get done before that."
Isn't there a danger that if you concentrate too much on the world-beating career, you will leave it too late to be a mother? Could that be a worry? "It is not too much of a worry yet," she says. "I am aware that over the age of 35 the dangers increase."
What age did your mum have you? "She was about 30, I think. She had various conception problems; fertility problems," Rosanna answers. "Obviously, it is in every woman's mind. I see myself having seven or eight years before I really have to knuckle down and think about it."
You'd wait that long? "Probably not. If it was to happen now," she trails off. "Well, things happen that aren't planned. But if it was to happen, it would be fine. A secure relationship. I would be financially secure to bring up a child. I have a situation where I could bring a child up. It would have great grandparents in my parents. It is just not something I feel I want to commit to at the moment. It wouldn't be the end of the world. I'd be delighted if it were to happen, but, then again, most women will say that there is no right time to do it. You just have to do it."
But it is not going to just happen if you have taken precautions for it not to happen. "Yeah, exactly," Rosanna says. "I know what you mean."
You could say that about marriage. She wants to get married one day, but she needs her beau Wesley Quirke to ask for her hand in marriage first. It can't just happen, I protest. "It could be a Vegas Hangover situation," she says referring to the movie where one of the main characters gets married in Sin City after a lot of drink. "I could see myself doing that. My parents would kill me. They'd miss the day out. But I like the idea of a nice wedding with my friends, family and relatives. It wouldn't necessarily have to be a big glitzy affair at all. It would be something intimate -- something very much about the couple."
Yes, yes . . . but when? "I have no plans at the moment, 27 is still young enough to not worry about that," she says.
How long are you going to wait to be engaged? "It depends on when someone wants to ask me. Again, I'm in no rush. I am very happy with how my relationship is at the moment. We only moved in together in January. It's all going great. There is no need to rush things." Perhaps Rosanna won't say, or doesn't want to, or can't say when she'll get married to Wesley, because she doesn't know herself.
The golden couple, who would eventually become known as 'Wesanna', first met in 2006 in Sandyford nightclub Club 92. Like any relationship -- even one so under the media klieg lights as Rosanna and Wes's -- they have had their ups and downs. They took a break for "about two months" in 2009. "I just needed some time to figure out what I wanted. We are stronger for it," she says. "We have great fun together. He is my best friend. I talk to him about anything and everything. He makes me laugh. We are going out five years in September. He is a great guy."
"Rosie is kind, funny and loving," Wes tells me, adding that his girlfriend "would do absolutely anything" for her family and friends. She is, he says, "one of the nicest people I have ever met".
Eighty-five-year-old Maeve de Burgh goes further, telling me that Rosanna possesses "beauty and brains" and that she is "a proud grandmother" to her.
Equally full of pride are Rosanna's parents. "My wonderful, compassionate, articulate and witty daughter," Diane says.
Chris de Burgh adds: "Surely every dad's dream daughter. I am so proud of her amazing achievements, despite the difficulties and challenges she faced." Princess Diana's favourite crooner is possibly referring to the challenge Rosanna recently encountered with Ryanair. She sued them over a press release the airline issued in November 11, 2008 -- implying she was elitist, jealous, xenophobic and racist. Michael O'Leary's airline was responding, albeit cack-handedly, to remarks she had made about the absence of any Irish cabin-crew members in Ryanair's charity calendar. Rosanna took them all the way to High Court and was vindicated. You get the impression she won't be rushing on to a Ryanair jet in the near future.
"I have travelled Ryanair in the past," she says. "I haven't made a conscious decision not to. But I haven't made any plans at the moment. I'm not saying I probably wouldn't travel Ryanair again. If I had to, I would. I'm not going to be silly about it and say, 'Just because this happened I'm not going to travel Ryanair again.' I'd never say never, but, at the moment, it has worked out that I haven't had to travel Ryanair."
What's your opinion of Michael O'Leary? "I have always respected him as a businessman and I will continue to do so. That's all I want to say about it."
Did you think it was all an unnecessary pain in the arse? "I didn't think it was an unnecessary pain in the arse, because it was my choice to go through with it," she says. "I do look back on it and think: 'Wow. That was a risk. It could have . . .'"
But you felt obliged to take the case to court because of what was said about you?
"I did. I felt that it was important to me to set the record straight. As I said, I do look back on it and think it was a jury case and you don't know which way the jury could go. It was a risk. But I am really happy I went through with it. I learnt a lot," Rosanna says.
What did you learn? "Having been rigorously cross-examined by Michael O'Leary's lawyer puts you in a good position to take on a lot of things. I learnt a lot about the court system. They went into questions that were unrelated to the case. Questions about me and my past and who I am." She is presumably referring to Martin Hayden SC, for Ryanair, trying to rile her on the stand by reminding Rosanna that she had once called a girl who had criticised her on her Bebo site "the token fat girl".
"I was simply standing up for myself," Rosanna replied, adding that the girl was, in her opinion, being "incredibly rude".
When Hayden attempted to continue his tack with: "And on another occasion, when you were insulted on your Facebook site . . ." Rosanna put manners on him: "I don't think you're on my Facebook," she said.
"It was an interesting experience but
incredibly stressful," Rosanna says now.
Did you think at any point it wasn't worth the amount of stress it brought on you? "No. I am a determined person," she answers. "I fought through it. Of course, it was stressful. You never know which way the jury will go. And you don't know if it will go in your favour or not. It was a stressful week."
Her first reaction when she read the press release issued by Ryanair was, she says, "absolute shock -- as was my continuous reaction. It was absolute shock I could have been perceived as racist."
You don't have to look very hard for Rosanna's charms. She dribbles her coffee by accident. She makes a joke of it. Having coffee down the front of her designer top doesn't send her into a nuclear meltdown. Nor was she upset by the media attention over her trip to Morocco with Mr Ronan. "I didn't let myself get down about that," she says. "I have people around me who understand the truth and support me; people who I can talk to."
What's the biggest misconception people have about you? "People presume that I'm in some way stuck up, or up myself, or I think highly of myself," she says. "It's a stereotype. I have learnt you can't please everybody all the time. I have a thick skin at this stage."
Rosanna is highly enjoyable company. She has a flair about her. And going on Johnny Ronan's private jet to Marrakech -- and then meeting him for a coffee months later in the Ritz-Carlton -- displays a certain flair for drama, don't you think?
What's the worst thing anyone has ever said about you? "I think at the beginning somebody called me a bimbo and made some remark about my brainpower. And that encouraged me to work very hard academically and prove that I wasn't a blonde brainless bimbo."
Would your father have said to you, "Fuck the begrudgers?" Or would that be something your mother would say? "She doesn't swear. Generally, my dad doesn't put it like that," she says, adding that he has always given her well-chosen and invariably wise words of advice on handling the media and life in general. The brainless blonde bimbo completed an honours degree in sociology and history of art in UCD in 2006. "The basis of sociology is why people do what they do," she says. "What we do is recreate our reality every day. I didn't apply it to myself, personally. We more look at the sociology of death, the sociology of suicide."
I ask her if she has known people who have committed suicide. "Yes," she says. "Not close friends, thankfully. But it is obviously a big problem in Ireland among young people."
Is part of the problem with young people and suicide that there is this perfect ideal of a life which is unattainable? Rosanna nods. "When we studied suicide, it was at the height of the boom in 2005 and 2006," she recalls. "The areas most hit were rural parts of Ireland, where particularly young men felt they couldn't live up to the ideals of the flashy cars and the jobs and the clothes and the holidays. Now it has flipped to the other side: people are now affected because they are suffering economically."
As she nears 30, Rosanna Davison's narrative is perhaps shifting. She has just finished her first year studying biomedicine. She will be studying biochemistry in October for the next year; and the final year is nutrition. "I'll become a nutritional therapist. It is really a plan for when I won't be doing what I'm doing at the moment. I'm 27."
And when do you want to stop doing what you're doing at the moment?
"I'll be qualified when I'm 29," she says. "So, really, from the age of 29, 30, I want to move into this industry. I don't think it is that far removed from what I'm doing at the moment. It's health; it's nutrition; it's well-being, beauty. I'll be qualified to practise in my clinic in Ireland and the UK."
Rosanna is on the books of the prestigious Andrea Roche Modelling Agency. I ask her when she will retire from modelling. "Who knows? I might be forced to if no one wants to take my picture any more. It is not necessarily the plan but I think it is important to know what you want. It is just about knowing what I want to do when this ends."
How does it make you feel when you see the younger girls come up and go past you like a Grand Prix race? "I don't see it like that," she replies. "Everybody has their niche. There's room for everybody -- especially in an industry like Ireland's. It is more important to support everybody and be friends instead of opposed."
What do you think of Georgia Salpa? "I love Georgia. I shared a room with her on Celebrity Salon. She's great. We had girlie chats late into the night. I really got on great with her. She is a great girl."
Rosanna says being a model was never one of her greatest ambitions growing up. "When I was younger I always wanted to be in sports -- physiotherapy, sports science. I was always fascinated by that world. Physiology. Biology. That was always my long-term goal. I always wanted to be a physiotherapist."
When you have a daughter, would you like her to go into modelling as a career?
"If I had a daughter who wanted to go into modelling I would encourage and support her, of course, in whatever she wanted to do," she says, "but she will be warned that she would have to finish her education first and she would have to have other hobbies that are not related to the industry: another route, an alternative career if she wanted it, the option to do other things. As a career, though, it is rewarding and enjoyable."
What was the lowest point in your life? "My dog Millie dying this year," she says. "I hope I'm able to talk about this without crying. I got her when I was 11. People who don't have dogs don't understand, but dog owners do.
"She died on the first day of filming Celebrity Salon on April 5," Rosanna continues. "My mum called me in tears saying, 'I think we are going to have to put her down,' because she was really, really sick and she wasn't eating. Then the next day she had to be put down. That was a really, really hard couple of weeks." She also refers to her mum breaking her neck in a horse-riding accident in 1995. "I was nine years old," she says, "and seeing the person who has cared for you all your life suddenly become so vulnerable and so in need of constant medical attention and having to visit them in hospital was awful. She is very lucky she made a full recovery."
Diane's daughter is strikingly attractive, with those bewitching brown eyes and that chic, coiffured, long blonde hair. She seems less like the steely career vixen today. This is a young woman at the height of her fame, as much in search of her true self as the best pair of designer heels.
I call her Rosie. And there's a whole lot more to Rosie than meets the eye. She doesn't believe in God. "I have no interest in organised religion and I don't go to church, but I do believe in a greater force. I have my own set of spiritual beliefs which bring me comfort and guidance when it's needed."
Whatever about Him Above The Clouds With A Big Beard -- and, for once, I'm not talking about Johnny Ronan on his private jet -- Rosanna believes, and has always believed, in herself. Her story verges on folklore: girl from Dublin who became Miss World. Her story verges on the dime-store novel: the daddy who is a famous pop singer adored by Princess Diana.
Were you ever tempted to follow your father into music? "No. I wouldn't stand a chance. I'm rubbish at singing," Rosie says.
Rosanna Davison's great at everything else, though.
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Photography by Agata Stoinska
Assisted by Hazel Coonagh and Kenny Whittle
Styling by Liadan Hynes
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