Jemima Goldsmith was born to a wealthy London tycoon and his mistress on January 30, 1974. Her father, Sir James Goldsmith, brought Jemima up in the height of luxury, raising her as a true aristocrat.
Jemima seemed suited to the lifestyle that she was born into, and from a young age, she demonstrated a natural talent for horsemanship. But the girl shunned the equestrian life and chose academia instead, enrolling in Bristol University’s prestigious English literature program. Jemima’s studies further fueled her innate curiosity about the world, and her interests soon shifted to religious matters, specifically Islam and its clear messages about life on Earth. The faith took on even greater relevance for Jemima in 1995, when she met 42-year-old former cricketer and practicing Muslim Imran Khan in a posh London nightclub. The two fell in love and were married later that year in Paris.
The wedding reception was a real who’s who of London society. Jemima, a philanthropist at heart, asked guests for donations to a cancer hospital in lieu of wedding gifts.
The newlyweds moved to Pakistan, where Imran led the Movement for Justice Party, a political movement that aimed to root out rampant corruption in the country. Jemima quickly learned Urdu (Pakistan’s official language) and began speaking at her husband’s rallies, earning the admiration of the public and becoming a national sweetheart of sorts.
Jemima pursued her own mandates as well, urging women to participate in democracy, advocating the eradication of neo-natal tetanus in Bangladesh and raising funds for Afghan refugees. She traveled extensively throughout neighboring countries to promote her causes. Naturally, her enthusiasm for philanthropy prompted comparisons between Jemima and her one-time close friend Princess Diana.
Jemima’s original dream of being a journalist came to fruition when she began doing special reports for Britain’s Channel 5, and writing regular columns for the Telegraph and other UK papers. Her foray into print was somewhat controversial, as some of Jemima’s pro-Palestinian views drew scorn from Jewish groups and even members of her own family. Such criticism did not sway her from her views, however.
Jemima’s increasing prominence and her husband’s relentless pursuit of corrupt officials made many in Pakistan nervous, including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Displacing dissidents by accusing them of serious crimes was commonplace in Pakistan, and it wasn’t long before the outspoken Jemima was charged with smuggling antique tiles out of the country. As a consequence, she was forced to live in exile in London with her sons, Sulaiman, 2, and Kasim, a newborn.
The tiles in question were, in fact, Christmas presents that Jemima had purchased for her mother. She took them to several archaeological experts in England, and all concluded the pieces weren’t even 10 years old. After 11 months in exile, Jemima was able to return to her adoptive country after a coup forced Sharif out of power.
Among Jemima’s various pursuits was a successful fashion business, the profits of which went to the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital. But she was forced to suspend business after the events of September 11, 2001, when her New York buyers canceled all their orders. She took her newfound free time to finish the education she had put on hold when she married Imran, focusing on comparative religion.
By that time, Jemima and Imran had begun to drift apart, and she returned to London to finish her degree. Though the tabloids insisted that their marriage was on the rocks, both Jemima and Imran denied it. By June of 2004, however, they couldn’t hide it anymore. A spokesman for Imran’s party announced the marriage was over.
Jemima laid low for a while, but the gossip-hungry British press quickly took note of her new friendship with actor Hugh Grant. Again, she couldn’t hide the truth for very long, and soon the couple admitted they were deeply in love. More rumors swirled about a wedding, but they split in 2007.
Although Jemima Khan is used to making headlines for her fashion statements, she recently made the news when offered to post bail for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after he was arrested in London. “I am not here to make any kind of judgment on Julian Assange as an individual as I do not know him and I have never met him,” said Khan.“I am here because I believe in the principle of the human right to freedom of information and our right to be told the truth.”