Koo Stark, the former flame of Prince Andrew, provoked a scandal when a naked shower scene of her surfaced while she was dating the son of Queen Elizabeth II.
Before Meghan Markle, there was Koo, who was also an American actress dating a British prince. Unlike Meghan, who is due to walk down the aisle with Prince Harry on May 19, 2018, Koo’s relationship with Prince Andrew ended up in the royal dustbin, alongside Princess Margaret’s failed romance with the also-deemed-unsuitable Peter Townsend, a divorced equerry. Prince Andrew and Koo Stark met on a blind date, but they were the product of a different era that wasn’t as flexible when it came to royal romances.
Koo wasn’t divorced when she met Prince Andrew (she is now) but royal marriages were regulated back then by rules she didn’t pass when the shower scene photos emerged. The uproar derived from a “naked lesbian shower scene for a 1976 movie called Emily,” reports The Telegraph. “For the palace, the shower scene was a deal-breaker. Andrew had no choice but to dump his American beauty, and he subsequently married Sarah Ferguson,” reports The Irish Times. Andrew’s marriage to Fergie would later rupture into divorce. The Irish Times reports that Koo had filmed the shower scene when she was 17 in 1976.
Where is Koo Stark today? What is she doing now? She’s had a pretty tumultuous life since she ended up not becoming the Duchess of York.
Stark stayed silent about Prince Andrew for more than 30 years, speaking out about him in 2015 only to defend the prince from accusations he had a teenage sex slave. She called the allegations an “assassination of his character,” according to The Independent, which noted that Stark was only 26-years-old when she dated Prince Andrew for 18 months. Prince Andrew denied the sex accusations.
She had a daughter named Tatiana with Warren Walker, a wealthy financier with whom she ended up in ferocious legal battles. They battled for custody, with her alleging that he was “causing her emotional distress and failing to provide for their daughter, Tatiana.” He was heir to the Forbes publishing fortune.
In 2013, she was accused of “stealing a £40,000 painting from her ex-lover’s home” but “arrived for her trial carrying the 17th-century artwork swaddled in a green blanket and handed it to the clerks, allowing Judge McDowall to record a formal ‘not guilty’ verdict,” reported UK Telegraph.
Koo’s life has had a series of other dramas as well. She married and divorced Green Shield Stamps heir Tim Jeffries, was engaged to a PR man named Bertie Way, became a Buddhist, and tried to develop a career as a photographer, Telegraph reported. She appeared in an episode of Red Dwarf but focused her talents on photography after breaking up with Andrew, Irish Times reports.
Koo has had other travails. She was living in a hotel in recent years, which sued her for bankruptcy when she couldn’t pay the bill, and she is a breast cancer survivor, according to The Irish Times.
Koo Stark penned an open letter to Meghan Markle, warning her of the intrusive nature of the media glare. “The xenophobia that existed 35 years ago is fortunately less socially and politically acceptable now, but be aware old habits die hard, and the circles in which you now find yourself by association are propped up by maintaining old habits,” she wrote. You can read the letter here.
Stark lamented that the publicity did not lead to professional success, writing, according to UK Daily Mail, “The acting roles I was being offered were exploitative or unsuitable. Directors were either interested in the publicity I’d bring or seek to make money for the project based on my involvement.”