‘Ladies of London’: Caroline Stanbury Didn’t Think the Bravo Series Was Healthy for Annabelle Neilson

Original Ladies of London cast member Annabelle Neilson arrived on the show with heaviness surrounding her.

She revealed on the show that close friend, designer Alexander McQueen had died only a few years before the show first aired. Neilson was a model for McQueen but eventually became his muse and “best friend,” Vanity Fair reports. McQueen referred to Neilson as his “Tinkerbell” and the two were inseparable until his untimely death.

Annabelle Neilson
Annabelle Neilson | Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Neilson was the last person to see McQueen alive. She seemed tortured by his memory and in pain from missing him during her two seasons on the show. In 2018, Neilson died at age 49 of a heart attack. Close friend and Ladies of London cast member Caroline Stanbury shared last year that she didn’t think going on the show was ideal for Neilson at the time. Instead, it became more of a negative experience.

Neilson was a tortured soul

Stanbury shared with Kate Casey on her Reality Life with Kate Casey podcast what she thinks happened with Neilson. “Annabelle was always slightly a tortured soul,” Stanbury said, People recounts.

She went further and said the platform wasn’t right for Neilson at the time. “Actually, if I really think back to it, the show was not the right platform for someone like Annabelle,” she continued.

“Although you want people who have explosive personalities who maybe cope with life differently, you also don’t really want to have people who can’t cope with life,” Stanbury said. “She didn’t have a coping mechanism when we would all have to talk behind her back, she didn’t understand it because she was always the cool girl at school. So something like this was very negative for her and such a very, very negative experience.”

Her emotions were still too raw

Viewers often saw Neilson brooding or being standoffish with the rest of the cast, especially during her last season on the show. Stanbury insists mixing reality television with raw emotion was not a good combination for her dear friend.

Annabelle Neilson walks the runway at the Fashion For Relief charity fashion show
Annabelle Neilson walks the runway at the Fashion For Relief charity fashion show |Samir Hussein/WireImage

“She couldn’t say in her head, ‘It’s a TV show, It’s a TV show.’ It’s incredibly hard,” she said. “Somebody like me who went to boarding school and can block stuff out, not deal with my emotions — she could not do that. This was just not a great platform for her.”

She left the series feeling attacked

Although Stanbury was a friend, Neilson left the season feeling at odds with a number of cast members. In fact, in a 2015 blog, she wrote that she regrets ever “having that woman [Stanbury] anywhere near me, and the way she treated others and her employees really says it all.”

While she bonded with some of the American cast members like Marissa Hermer, she didn’t feel welcome or embraced. “I guess unfortunately to watch my back. But I did enjoy getting to know the American girls much better,” she wrote.

Adding, “I learned that people are just not as strong as me, and I have to accept that people lie, which I hate. I don’t like losing friends, but that has been a decision taken out of my hands. I did write to Jules [Montagu], but she has decided to ignore me, and that does not say a lot about her. But I wish her all the luck and success in the world.”