The Untold Truth Of Caroline Stanbury

In June 2022, the Bravo cable network introduced a series that expanded its most popular franchise: "The Real Housewives of Dubai." Front and centre in the cast of the "Housewives" series was Caroline Stanbury, a British expat who wound up making her home in the opulent desert playground for the elite situated within the United Arab Emirates. 

Stanbury quickly became a standout on the show. Of course, that was probably by design, given that Stanbury has had previous reality show experience and the first episode, as noted in Decider's review, focused on an event she hosted and the emotional fallout that ensued. Viewers were rewarded with a generous peek inside Stanbury's life — and what a life it is. Living in luxury, with money seemingly no object, Stanbury is married to a chiselled young soccer star who is nearly 20 years her junior. 

In fact, that's just one of many fascinating facts about the latest star to light up the "Real Housewives" franchise. To find out more, keep on reading and learn the untold truth of Caroline Stanbury. 

Caroline Stanbury was a high-society debutante

Caroline Stanbury was born into wealth and privilege; as Essential Surrey pointed out, her family owns Britain's Vestey Holdings, a privately held group of food-related companies. As an upper-crust Brit, Stanbury attended a posh boarding school and was introduced into London's high society as a debutante. "It was ridiculous: we even had a lesson on how to get in and out of a Porsche without flashing our knickers," Stanbury recalled of being a teenage "deb." However, she had to concede that some of those seemingly silly lessons actually became useful later in life. "But now," she added, "I do actually have a Porsche!"

Back in 1994, Britain's Tatler reported on that year's Berkeley Dress Show, the opening event of the debutante season (at which a young Stanbury was in attendance); the event's chair, Sara Viscountess Jocelyn, compared the Berkeley Dress Show as being the high-society equivalent of the Grand National, an annual horse race held in Liverpool.

Stanbury shared her debutante knowledge in a tongue-in-cheek essay she wrote for her website titled "5 Ways to Spot a Social Climber" (via Ok! Here's the Situation). "A true socialite knows that in polite company it's a faux pas to reel off a list of your closet pals," she opined, before going on to state, "A social climber will shamelessly impose herself into the conversation whilst making sure that they make a show of their Versace stroller and Armani changing bag." Zoinks.

She's been candid about the end of her first marriage

In 2019, Caroline Stanbury called it quits on her 17-year marriage to Cem Habib, a Turkish-born financier who, according to Celebrity Net Worth, is worth $50 million. Habib, in fact, is the reason why Stanbury made the move from London to Dubai, when he accepted an attractive job offer there. After making the move, however, she announced on Instagram in late 2019, "Cem and I came to the conclusion some time ago that we will continue our relationship not as husband and wife but as good friends and parents to our wonderful 3 children we love very much."

In a blog post written shortly after the announcement, Stanbury said the breakup was a mutual decision and shared that they didn't harbor any ill-will toward one another. "There is no big drama — we just simply believe we are better continuing our relationship as friends," she stated.

Stanbury went on to note that no matter how much we think we know about a public figure's personal life, we can never really know their full story. "It's easy to look at someone's social media and assume things are one way but remember these are highlights, you don't see the other 23 hours of someone's day," she wrote. Despite the good, the bad, and the bittersweet changes, she welcomed the next chapter of her life with open arms. As she put it, "Nothing is forever, the good and bad, so why worry?"

She hosts a divorce-themed podcast

Having come through what appeared to be a particularly amicable divorce from first husband Cem Habib, Caroline Stanbury decided to share the wisdom she'd gained through the experience with a divorce-themed podcast. In "Divorced Not Dead," Stanbury aims to blow apart the myth that a woman who wound up single in her 40s would stay alone forever, spreading the message that life after divorce can even be better than what came before.

During a 2021 appearance on daytime TV show "The Doctors," Stanbury got into the inspiration for her podcast. "We were sitting and talking about what was the most relevant thing I could do right now, what's the most asked-about question," she recounted. According to Stanbury, the one topic that people were most interested about in her life was her relationship status and her approach to the dissolution of a longtime marriage. After she and Habib separated, she explained, "People ... kept asking me how we did it so elegantly, I suppose." 

Another reason that led her to develop the podcast, she added, was that she was over people immediately telling her how sorry they were about her divorce and checking in on her. "And I'm like, there's nothing to be sorry about," she said. The way Stanbury sees it, getting divorced isn't some kind of loss, simply a decision she made. "I was ready by the time I'd announced it, and I feel great," she added.

The Real Housewives isn't her first Bravo show

For regular viewers of Bravo's myriad reality shows, "The Real Housewives of Dubai" isn't the first time they've seen Caroline Stanbury. Just a few years earlier, she was one of the featured stars on an entirely different reality show, "Ladies of London." Reviewing the series for Variety, TV critic Brian Lowry described "Ladies of London" as essentially a "Real Housewives" show set in the British capital. "As is, this unscripted (OK, loosely scripted) series — consisting primarily of American ex-pats, with a few snooty Brits thrown in — focuses on the usual money and status grabs, with the extra affectation of the snobbery that goes with titles and proximity to Royalty," wrote Lowry,

Stanbury, one of those "snooty Brits," appeared on the "Behind the Velvet Rope" podcast to share her experience on the show, which was cancelled after three seasons. According to Stanbury, she had come to recognize that "Ladies of London" would have fared better in the ratings had it been given the "Real Housewives" imprimatur, given that the format was pretty much identical. "We didn't want to be a 'Housewives' show, which actually in hindsight I think was one of our biggest mistakes," she conceded. 

Stanbury has also revealed that her biggest regret about "Ladies of London" was how her relationship with her sister-in-law — who joined the show in its swan-song third season — deteriorated on camera. "That was probably my darkest time on the show," she told Bravo's Daily Dish

Her relationship with her second husband is a 'do-over'

After her divorce, Caroline Stanbury began dating Real Madrid soccer player Sergio Carrallo. When they got married in November 2021, Carrallo was 27, while Stanbury was 45. The "Ladies of London" alum is well aware of how their nearly two-decade age difference is perceived, and addressed it head-on in a YouTube video. "I mean, I might be having a midlife crisis, but this is not what [the relationship] is about," she quipped. 

Stanbury has also been vocal about gender stereotypes in relationships. "I think it's really sad that people think a young guy can't fall in love with an older woman, that it has to be fake and it has to be something else," Stanbury explained in an interview with Page Six. She went on to say she was hopeful that by displaying their marriage on "The Real Housewives of Dubai" they could help shatter the stigma and skepticism surrounding relationships where the man is younger than the woman. "I hope he paves the way for other young guys to come out and go, 'Actually, I love her too.' And for women to go, 'That's OK,'" she explained, pointing out the double standard regarding younger men dating older women versus the other way around. 

For Stanbury, marriage to a younger man represents a second chance, not just at love but also on rebooting her life. "It's kind of like a do-over," she explained to Women's Health. "I'm getting to, like, relive my youth again with him."

She was reluctant to enter the world of reality TV

Despite having become a bona fide reality TV personality, Caroline Stanbury has admitted she was initially reluctant to jump into the reality TV fray. "I said 'no' for a year and a half but, just as they were about to give the contract to someone else, I changed my mind," she told Essential Surrey of her decision to join "Ladies of London." "I decided that I would rather regret doing it than not do it all." Initially, she was uncomfortable with appearing on camera. "I don't think anything had ever made me feel as sick," she recalled.

By the time the opportunity arose to be part of "The Real Housewives of Dubai," however, Stanbury was a seasoned veteran in the ways of reality television. Still, she said during an appearance on the "Behind the Velvet Rope" podcast, "That's part of the genius part of the way they cast people for reality TV, is the whole point, I think, is that you don't know what you're going into, and that's what makes it so brilliant, because you just see it unfold onscreen."

Speaking with Women's Health, Stanbury explained that what viewers see is her real life, but the reality TV-ified version. She noted that viewers may not understand she may appear harsher on television than she actually is. "[S]ometimes, maybe your softer side doesn't come out, or you're so militant because you're so busy," she said.

She hopes the show changes attitudes about her home

Moving to Dubai after growing up in London did not come without a bit of culture shock for Caroline Stanbury. That said, while most people living in the West view the Arab world as being repressive, particularly in regard to the rights of women and the LGBTQ community, Stanbury insists that hasn't been her experience. 

"I'm a luxury brand ambassador, and I'm married to a young guy and I have a divorce," she told Women's Health, noting that she's found prevailing attitudes come to be not totally restrictive across the board in Dubai. "A few years ago, I couldn't have lived with him before we got married," she said of her new home. "Things are changing at such a speed that I think the 'Housewives of Dubai' will re-educate people on what it actually looks like over here. We are not shackled and tied to camels in the desert. We're living very cosmopolitan, cool lives."

Back in 2017, she told Bravo's The Daily Dish, "The move's much easier than I thought, to be honest, because I never even lived in Dubai longer than a week's holiday in the Four Seasons. So I had no idea really what I was entering." Though her prior experience with the city was limited, it sounds like things clicked for her quickly. "I like it so much more than I ever thought I would. Just waking up with sun makes a huge difference," she shared.

Now, about those 'contract wedding' rumors

Caroline Stanbury's wedding to 18-years-younger soccer star Sergio Carrallo not only raised eyebrows, it led to unfounded gossip about the alleged true nature of their relationship. Stanbury's "Real Housewives of Dubai" co-star Chanel Ayan flung those rumors right on the table during a confessional on the show, as recapped by Page Six. "I feel like Sergio and Stanbury — I don't think they have any sexual existence," Ayan said. "I see it more like wannabe, made-up chemistry over sexual energies on their Instagram pages." While chatting with fellow Dubai Housewife Lesa Milan, Ayan went on to question union. "That's definitely a contract wedding," she mused.

Stanbury, however, dismissed the gossip, and clapped back in an interview with Page Six. "I think I'm quite hot!" she said of herself, insisting that viewers of "The Real Housewives of Dubai" will inevitably see that "boy toy" moniker being used to describe her husband is not even close to accurate. "People will see that he really, really, really loves me," she declared. "If anything, he's guilty of loving me a little too much." 

The "Ladies of London" alum went on to suggest that said love conquers all. "I'm a very difficult woman to live with and if Sergio didn't want to be here, Sergio would not be here," she said.

Caroline Stanbury has dated some seriously famous guys

Prior to her first marriage, Caroline Stanbury dated her way through London — and some of the men with whom she was involved romantically just happened to be famous. As The Sun recalled, she was just 24 when she reportedly dated actor Hugh Grant, who is 16 years her senior. Meanwhile, other celebrity paramours have included "Rocky"/"Rambo" star Sylvester Stallone and British soccer star Ryan Giggs. 

However, Stansbury's most notable romance from her dating days was with Prince Andrew, becoming the Duke of York's girlfriend after his marriage to Sarah Ferguson ended. Despite being significantly younger (17 years) than the scandal-plagued royal notoriously dubbed "Randy Andy" by the British press, Stansbury's relationship with the prince got serious — serious enough, reported Metro, that he took her as his date on a jaunt across the pond to attend an event on Martha's Vineyard.

Stansbury missed her shot at becoming a member of the royal family when she and Andrew broke up, reportedly because the relentless press coverage got to be too much. 

Caroline Stanbury's net worth is wildly impressive

Caroline Stanbury may have been born into wealth, yet she's long displayed an entrepreneurial flair. After launching a career in public relations while still in her early 20s, her Bravo bio pointed out, she's since been a stylist and is currently a brand ambassador representing some of the planet's most exclusive luxury products. She's also dabbled in various fashion endeavors, in addition to hosting her own podcast — to say nothing of building her own personal brand as a reality TV star via "Ladies of London" and "The Real Housewives of London." 

When all is said and done, Celebrity Net Worth estimates that Stanbury is sitting atop a $30 million fortune. Interestingly, Stanbury has become more comfortable flaunting her wealth after moving from London to Dubai. As she said in the BBC2 documentary titled "Inside Dubai" (via the Daily Mail), "In Britain we're taught that if you have money you shouldn't show it. You're meant to turn your lights off at 7 p.m. and share a bath with your family. Here you turn all your lights on, and you put all your jewellery on at once."

According to Stanbury, living la vida Dubai has allowed her to shed the false modesty she was taught to take on. "Any British billionaire is dressed in Marks & Spencer, that's just what we do," she said. "Here, they wear Dolce & Gabbana and so do their children."

She designs couture shoes

Among the various hats worn by Caroline Stanbury is shoe designer. As a 2022 profile in Forbes explained, the "Real Housewives of Dubai" star teamed up with Kris Avakian to create a line of luxury shoes that boast a surprisingly affordable price tag. At the time, the duo had just unveiled their second collection.

The partnership began, Avakian said, when one of his friends connected him with Stanbury. Avakian asked his wife if she'd ever heard of Stanbury, and she immediately identified her from "Ladies of London" as "the realest and coolest one" on the show. Avakian reached out via Instagram, and their venture, Black Suede Studio, was born. Avakian told Forbes, "The brand was created to fill the void in the advanced designer contemporary level, and it promises to deliver both high-quality and elevated style at an attractive price-point." According to Stanbury, her future as a fashion mogul was foretold by a psychic in Dubai, who predicted she would soon have her own range and may have also planted the idea in her head. 

Suffice to say, the prediction came true. "It's every girl's dream to have a shoe line," the reality star said in a 2021 YouTube video. "Isn't it like a fairy tale moment?"

She believes Lindsay Lohan would be a good fit for the show

When Bravo first announced plans to expand the "Real Housewives" franchise to Dubai, the rumor mill kept churning out one name: Lindsay Lohan. The speculation made sense; Lohan has called Dubai home for several years. Alas, the rumor turned out to be completely bogus; when the cast for "The Real Housewives of Dubai" was officially announced, the "Mean Girls" actor's name was nowhere to be found. That said, actual cast member Caroline Stanbury believes that Lohan would be a welcome addition to the group. In an interview with Page Six, the "Ladies of London" star gushed about the former child star. "I've known Lindsay for years," Stanbury shared. "She's an actress. She'd be a great Housewife!"

However, Stanbury also explained that Lohan was apparently experiencing a career resurgence, and would be too busy to engage in any reality show shenanigans. "I actually spoke to her today. She's doing a new movie and is super happy and has got her ['Lohdown'] podcast," Stanbury said, but added a caveat: "I can't imagine she'd be joining us but happy to have her if she wants to." 

What's more, when Bravo's Andy Cohen appeared on "The Talk" before the roster was revealed, he was rather cryptic about the Lohan chatter. "Let me tell you something, it's a good idea," he said with a grin. Only time will tell if that good idea becomes a reality TV reality.