Rosanna Davison has the world at her feet
She may be the daughter of music legend Chris De Burgh but, as Barry Egan finds out, former Miss World Rosanna Davison is very much her own woman with brains to match her stunning beauty.
Rosanna Davison shrieks “B*****ks to that!” when I suggest that she brings her boyfriend Wesley Quirke breakfast in bed every morning. “I'm going to have to re-show him where the dishwater is one of these day,” she adds.
Isn't there a danger when men move in with their girlfriends that they turn them into their mothers? “God,” she laughs, “I hope not. We are both fairly domesticated, but I wouldn't be the best cook. I can do veggie stir-fry and that's about it.” Rosanna has a “great woman” who comes in once a week and helps. She says that she wouldn't call her a cleaning woman.
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 bray, 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.
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.”
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.
A risque side to her nature emerges when I ask Rosanna, perhaps indelicately, if 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.
Rosanna has a big watch on her wrist. You can imagine it's been ticking throughout our chat. 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.”
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.”
The golden couple, who would eventually become known as ‘Wesanna', first met in 2006. Like any relationship — even one so under the media spotlight 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”.
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 the Republic’s 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 hassle? “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.
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.
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.”
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, “F**k 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. She completed an honours degree in sociology and history of art in UCD in 2006.
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.”
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.”
Rosanna 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 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.