The Full Email From Carolyn Bourne

Below is the full email sent from future step mother-in-law Carolyn Bourne (yes, of course an evil “step” mother-in-law) to Heidi Withers.

Is Carolyn the mother-in-law from hell or did Carolyn just say to Heidi Withers what needed to be said!

You decide! (Or has this just been one big PR Stunt)

** Read the latest development here – Heidi and Freddie’s wedding on hold **

From: Carolyn Bourne
10 May 2011 06:51
Heidi Withers

It is high time someone explained to you about good manners.   Yours are obvious by their absence and I feel sorry for you.

I am being kept awake – or woken early – by Bomber who is so profoundly upset by your behaviour on your recent visit that he is depressed and anxious.

Unfortunately for Freddie, he has fallen in love with you and Freddie being Freddie, I gather it is not easy to reason with him or yet encourage him to consider how he might be able to help you.   It may just be possible to get through to you though.   I do hope so.   Your behaviour on your visit to Devon during April was staggering in its uncouthness and lack of grace.   Unfortunately, this was not the first example of bad manners I have experienced from you.   If you want to be accepted by the wider Bourne family I suggest you take some guidance from experts with utmost haste.   There are plenty of finishing schools around.   You would be an ideal candidate for the Ladette to Lady television series.   Please, for your own good, for Freddie’s sake and for your future involvement with the Bourne family, do something as soon as possible.

Here are a few examples of your lack of manners:

When you are a guest in another’s house, you do not declare what you will and will not eat – unless you are positively allergic to something.
You do not remark that you do not have enough food.
You do not start before everyone else.
You do not take additional helpings without being invited to by your host.
When a guest in another’s house, you do not lie in bed until late morning in households that rise early – you fall in line with house norms.
You should never ever insult the family you are about to join at any time and most definitely not in public.   I gather you passed this off as a joke but the reaction in the pub was one of shock, not laughter.
I have no idea whether you wrote to thank Georgia for the weekend but you should have hand-written a card to her.
You should have hand-written a card to me.   You have never written to thank me when you have stayed at Houndspool.
Georgia has quite the most exquisite manners of anyone I have ever come across.   You would do well to follow her example.

You regularly draw attention to yourself.   Perhaps you should ask yourself why.
It is tragic that you have diabetes.   However, you aren’t the only young person in the world who is a diabetic.   I know quite a few young people who have this condition, one of whom is getting married in June.   I have never heard her discuss her condition.   She quietly gets on with it.   She doesn’t like being diabetic.   Who would?   You do not need to regale everyone with the details of your condition or use it as an excuse to draw attention to yourself.    It is vulgar.
As a diabetic of long standing you must be acutely aware of the need to prepare yourself for extraordinary eventualities, the walk to Mothecombe beach being an example.   You are experienced enough to have prepared yourself appropriately.

No one gets married in a castle unless they own it.   It is brash, celebrity style behaviour.

I understand your parents are unable to contribute very much towards the cost of your wedding.   (There is nothing wrong with that except that convention is such that one might presume they would have saved over the years for their daughters’ marriages.)   If this is the case, it would be most ladylike and gracious to lower your sights and have a modest wedding as befits both your incomes.

One could be accused of thinking that Heidi Withers must be patting herself on the back for having caught a most eligible young man.   I pity  Freddie.



Read what Heidi’s father Alan Withers has  to say about Carolyn Bourne.

Carolyn Bourne breaks her silence since her infamous email, read what Mrs bourne and her husband Edward “Bomber” Bourne have to say!



  1. randel

    Well done.
    I think Heidi’s father may have forgotten to teach manners or as most parents do “leave it to someone else”. Perhaps the art of PARENTING is a dying art thanks to the TV baby sitters we have now.

    • Sabrina

      Oh, please. Quit with the parent blame already. There are no children here. All of the adults involved in this fracas are accountable for their own words and actions.

    • Carry On Weddin'

      “Sounds more like an episode of “Everybody loves Raymond”

      We’ll take your word on that. You obviously watch too much television. Try reading a nice book of an evening – I suspect you might enjoy one of Jilly Cooper’s potboilers.

    • I feel strongly that the lack of manner is strongly ont he side of ms Bourne – what kind of half breed trogolodyte attacks somebody for ‘drawing attention to’ a potentially deadly medical condition by not being ‘prepared’ for a long walk.
      This is deeply indicative of an uncouth narcissist who hides behind a thin veil of ‘manners’ which apply only to others.

  2. Paul Howard

    Well said Karen there is no excuse for bad manners it costs nothing to be polite to people, unfortunatly the chaves of the world do not care about this.

    • Sabrina

      and apparently neither do snobs like Mrs. Bourne. True etiquette in the words of Russian playwright Anton Chekov: “A good upbringing means not that you won’t spill sauce on the tablecloth, but that you won’t notice it when someone else does.”

      • Monica

        Well said! I think it sounds like the bride’s manners were pretty bad, but the email is just as bad!

        • I’m attending my first Italian wedding on Saturday. After spending $300 on a gift at the shower I just found out I have to pay $200 per plate to attend the wedding. I wish I had the nerve to write an email.

        • True however the email was only ment to be seen by 1-2 people. Publishing it on the internet is even worst. I have a feeling Heidi has a case of look-at-me syndrome.

      • Well said Sabrina. I was raised to believe manners were here to make others feel comfortable in your presence. I was also told that people without manners point out others lack there of.

  3. Katy Johnson

    I’d read a lot in the press as a build-up to this letter. Frankly, once I read the full text, it reads like a spoof. I can’t believe they are real people – anyone of us would be able to write a far snottier letter if we chose!

    • Sabrina

      One does have to wonder if it’s a hoax. Look at that eHarmony cat lady video. Turns out that one was a fake.

  4. A mother in Surrey

    As a mother whose son was involved with and living with a young women we totally disapproved of and from a completely different standard of living, I have some experience to draw from. The type of email sent 3x by Carolyn, or any type of communication of similar tone or use phrases, is one which is only meant to belittle and inflame relations. What reaction did Carolyn really think would come of such an email? Did Carolyn expect sincere grattitude and high lighting Heidi’s faults to her in this manner and stating she pities Freddie for being in love with her?

    Would not a quiet word in person, using more gentle terms, have been a more appropriate? Lest we also not forget that people may learn from example – could Carolyn not kindly share some examples with Heid? When I moved to this country 20 years ago from a very different culture my mother in law helped me to learn the appropriate ettiquete in England. A gift of note cards with my name and address were a wonderful idea – she advised that people appreciate this type of gesture so much more as a thank you or as an rsvp to written invitations. Point taken in a positive way – no offense taken and I loved the gesture to help me. When staying at my in-laws for the first time, they welcomed me, advised me when they were planning on serving dinner (and was it to my taste) and what time they intended to have breakfast in the morning (as well as querying what I may wish to have) – clearly illustrating to guests what is expected of them. Did Carolyn do this?

    Note about the dinner and what I learned from example by my mother in law – I love to give dinner parties and have freinds over for many impomptu meals. I enquire about guests likes/dislikes and I ensure that I do not serve things people either do not like, have an allergy to or do not eat do to religious reasons (also recently added moral grounds – many do not eat veal or foi gras). We have a good friend who is always not eating one thing or another – I ask when inviting them about food they dislike. If I want to be a good hostess, I ensure my guests are comfortable and enjoy their meal. Why force someone to eat something they dislike? Is that being a welcoming and accomodating hostess? Another of my mother in law’s tips – serve soup and plenty of bread – she even showed me how to make lovely soups – alwyas fills up your guests. I may not always serve soup but certainly there is now bread of some type on the table when we have guests.

    Returning to my opening statement – with our son’s girldfriend we could have reacted beligerently as Carolyn has at the many, many faux pas or pointed out the girlfriend’s short comings. We did no such thing. We invited her to our home and tried to ensure she could see how we (including my younger children) acted and show an example. We included her in all invitations to family meals – at home and in restaurants. We never said a negative word about her to our son – we love him and want him in our lives therefore we knew we would have to accept whom he chose to ensure he remains in our lives. Sending a derogatory email (not just once but THREE times in one day) is making a very strong statement to Heidi that she is not wanted in that family. It was an outrageous and nasty thing to do. Of course Heidi would share with her friends – most likely as an example of more cruel behaviour of Carolyn (surely this was not the first and only way of ilustrarting her negative feelings for Heidi) or for advise on how to reply. One should always remember the Times rule – do not write in an email what you would not want to see on the front page of the Times – therefore Carolyn got what she deserved with this pubilc deriding – perhaps in future she will think about a quiet word, some positive encouragement/coaching and not forget to use good hostess skills herself.

    In case you were wondering – our son eventually broke up with his girlfriend, it had nothing to do with us and he never knew until years later that we disliked her.

    • Lady Suzan

      Very good reply, you’re obviously a wise woman. My son most definately made a bad choice when he chose his wife…but for me to have responded as Carolyn did would only have strained any potential relationship.

    • Sabrina

      You handled it the right way. Let an adult be an adult. Too bad Mrs. Bourne can’t do the same.

    • Clarissa

      The simple problem is ‘ladette’ Heidi wanted an inappropriately lavish wedding that her inadequate father is not able to fund and expects Carolyn Bourne to pay for. Certainly, it appears Heidi has demonstrated on numerous other occasions she draws attention to herself through her lack of social graces and that’s the reason why she chose to publish the email now! This clearly vile and uncouth girl undoubtedly has numerous other psychological problems and obviously cannot act in a civilized manner. The email is completely within reason. Evidently Heidi Withers has had plenty of opportunity to be gracious, polite, and showing some evidence of grooming in the manners department. Many young people these days have few manners regardless of gender, income level, etc. Carolyn Bourne must have reached her wits end. The fact that this email reached the public’s light of day demonstrated the future gold digging daughter-in-law is vulgar and uncouth which is only compounded by her unemployed fathers disgusting comments.

      • Sabrina

        Well, couldn’t Mrs. Bourne have simply said to Heidis face we’re not paying for such a wedding and leave off with the “unfortunate” and “pitying” comments? Actually, I laughed my head off at the father’s comments. Sounds like something said in a movie…and was deserved as far as I’m concerned. That high and mighty Bourne woman needed to be taken down a peg or two.

        • Clarissa

          There is EVERYTHING uncivilized “about standing up for your child after such a degrading email”. Firstly, the email was obviously quite accurate (the truth often hurts!) Secondly, it was his ‘ladette’ daughter who chose to publish the email. It appears that Heidi’s unemployed father also “acts in such a ghastly and vulgar uncivilized manner” by giving interviews and making disgusting comments to the press about Mrs. Bourne that should have remained a private family matter. The fact that he apparently is descended from landowners centuries ago is of course totally irrelevant.

          • Sabrina

            Well, I could care less about all that ‘landed aristocracy’ stuff, either. Thing is, I don’t understand why you are still defending Mrs. B’s actions. As I said to someone else, a slap is the face is still a slap whether delivered with a bare hand or a velvet glove. If Mrs. B. had wished the matter to remain a private family then she should’ve dealt with it face to face in real time instead of writing that email of hers. Way I see it, if Mrs. B can dish out the bluntness, she should be able to take it even if ‘the truth” about HER is delivered in what you describe as uncivilized.

          • Sabrina, I couldn’t agree with you more on all your posts. You are far wiser and more intelligent than this Mrs. Bourne who doesn’t realize that half the children in the world are starving. I can also put money on this Clarissa user being Mrs. Bourne herself under a different alias, or most certainly one of her close friends. She sounds the worst of these “sophisticated” gentry and seems like she married into it and is trying entirely too hard

      • Clarissa 2

        Are you a real person, do you know these people? If not, how can you talk as thought you do? How do you know she was expected to pay for the wedding. If you ask me it is very vulgar to speak of a guest in such a way, no matter who it was. If her guest was a member of the Royal Family would she have reacted the same way?

    • Tripletmumm

      Mother in Surrey,

      I think you had some wonderful insight to share and spotlighted a few points I hadn’t thought of when I read the original email. I think that we should ALL take your suggestions to heart when it comes to family relations and accepting a newcommer into the family. Thank you for sharing.

    • Daughter-in-law

      “A mother in Surrey”, you terrify me.

    • Mother in Surrey..A woman would be so blessed to have you for a Mother in Law. Please, you need to give Carolyn Bourne lessons about life…obviously she is a woman who lacks class or morals.

      Or it could be…today with all the reality TV shows..this woman wants her fifteen minutes of fame..she is probably hoping with the media all over this something “$$$$$$” will come of it.

      I feel sad for Heidi or any other woman that has a Mother in Law like Carolyn Bourne.

    • Philly

      What a great reply! Good for you for being so gracious with your son’s (now) ex. I know there are some who look at Carolyn Bourne’s email as somehow being justified because they are so shocked at Heidi’s apparently lack of manners…but how mannerly is it to even write such an email? And you are so right about how cruel it is to tell Heidi that she pities Freddie for being in love with her? Does Ms. Bourne have no heart? When did Heidi cease to be a human being with feelings?

      • Perhaps when she embarrassed her future family.

        • How can you expect someone from a different culture where different things are expected of her know how to act when not properly shown what to do?

          Mother in Surrey has the right idea in teaching the new comer the manners expected of her in a different culture rather than expecting them without any warning.

          Mrs. Bourne embarrassed her family by this blatant lack of manners. You can not blame the ignorant when you ignore the teaching of the ignorant.

    • oyster 19

      wonderful reply ! Totally agree with you…

  5. Lady Suzan

    This woman has no room to speak of manners as hers are obviously in much need of some finesse! She actually goes so far as to imply that Freddie her stepson/groom to be isn’t the brightest of men and wouldn’t really grasp this letter so she’s sending it to Heidi. In other interviews Mr. Edward Bourne, states as to imply that Carolyn will not be discussing this in public so I feel he also sees how uncalled for this email was & most likely comprehended the jabs to his son. This woman needs to move to the US where the majority of us appreciate good manners but also have the good manners not to start a feud with someone our children love, most successful parents/mentors lead by example…not by spewing hate (how mannerly is THAT??). HOWEVER, first time I read this I didn’t realize this woman wasn’t even Freddie’s Mom, but just a very critical Stepmom (i.e. in this instance Step Monster!) I’d go for a smaller wedding or even elope, invite only the most important people in my life…and I’d show her ‘RUDE’ & exclude Carolyn. Who needs or wants all that negativity on their most special of days? And on the flip side…maybe Carolyn did this with strong intentions of alienating her stepson & his bride to be, it just never occured to her to it would be put out there for the whole world to read. Take your own advise Carolyn & brush up on YOUR ettiquete, I’ve no doubt there is a rule in there somewhere that tells you to avoid RUDELY pointing out your percieved opinions of others, especially those who are or will be close or in your family! AND I THINK every potential Mother-in-law in the world should copy Carolyn’s email & should their be complaints about her MIL skills, just bring this letter out and show how bad a MIL can really be!!

    • Sabrina

      Amen! The cardinal rule of a MIL is to be kind and BITE THEIR TONGUE. My policy re: my daughter and her boyfriends and if God willing, a potential husband? Stay out of their affairs, unless it is a situation that is putting my daughter or grandchildren in mortal physical danger such as domestic violence.

    • Sabrina

      It wouldn’t surprise me that the motive of that letter was to intimidate the fiance so much that she’d break off the engagement. That letter was definitely a passive aggressive action.

    • Philly

      Who even cares about the size of the wedding? People can do what they want. It isn’t my thing to get married in a castle, but if it’s Heidi’s, so what? Does she have to actually be royalty to do so? I don’t think so at all!

  6. Carry On Weddin'

    “I am being kept awake – or woken early – by Bomber who is so profoundly upset by your behaviour on your recent visit that he is depressed and anxious.”

    Who is Bomber? A dog. A dog who is “profoundly upset” “depressed and anxious”! There are several possibilities here:

    1. Mrs Bourne is possessed by the spirit of Dame Barbara Cartland.
    2. This is a hoax.
    3. Bomber is suffering from anthropomorphosis.

    In relation to point 2 – how much do you think the gutter press will pay for their wedding photographs? Perhaps those lovely flowers that Mrs Bourne grows will feature… once the feuding family spoke the peace pipe?

    This scripted saga has a few more chapters to run, in my opinion.

  7. Sabrina

    If one reads the full email it’s clear that Mrs. Bourne’s so-called “etiquette lesson” is nothing but an attempt to run off the fiance, Ms. Withers. Look at the sentences where Mrs. Bourne calls her stepson Freddy “unfortunate.” How his he “unfortunate” for falling in love with a woman whom Mrs. Bourne doesn’t approve of? That’s what I’d like to know. Then Mrs. Bourne has the audacity to close the letter by “pitying” Freddy. Why does she pity him? Simply because Mrs. Bourne thinks the fiance is a golddiger who ‘pats herself on the back for catching a most eligible young man?’ To me, those two value judgment laden sentences trump any real or imagined breaches of etiquette on the part of Ms. Withers. As for the swipes regarding Ms. Withers medical condition and her parents income? Way out of line! The bit where Bourne decides to compare Heidi with someone else. Not cool. How would Mrs. Bourne like it if she had received a similar letter when she married Mr. Bourne (or either of her other TWO husbands???) I think that a vicious slap in the face remains a slap in the face whether it’s done with a bare hand or covered with a velvet glove! Both Heidi and Freddy need to put the odious and hateful Mrs. Bourne in her place toute suite.

    • Dahlpourie

      You sound like you’re taking this very personal. Are you projecting your experience unto this situation? If so, then stop. You obviously see only what you want to see without wanting to look at the main point of the email – be more responsible and behave properly!!! You seem to share the immaturity of Heidi, as well as her “unfortunate” Freddie, who obviously has no clue of what to look for in a wife.

      • Sabrina

        Dahlpourie, it is YOU who needs to stop. How dare you call anyone “immature”, especially when don’t even know me! Any woman who has ever had a MIL who was uncharitable, meanspirited and exceptionally uptight would feel the same. Do you think it’s fair for a so-called “mature” woman to launch an all out pesonal attack against a younger woman like that? If so, then you’re “obviously” cut from the same pretentious and rude cloth as Mrs. Bourne. You are the one who is choosing to only one side…and that side happens to be the WRONG side!!! If Freddy and Heidi don’t take steps to put that woman in her place, then their marriage is doomed to failure. MILs have no place doing what she did. If anything, MIL should’ve talked to Freddy about any issues she had with fiance. She just comes off as harpy going after someone she feels threatened by…and you know good and well that is the truth!

        • Clarissa

          Heidi Withers and her unemployed father will now be known forever as uncouth, vulgar and untrustworthy, a fate they have brought on themselves. Mrs. Bourne you are quite right. Every word of your email is good advice and our UK is becoming a nation of disrespectful, useless, layabouts that due to their spoilt childhoods and easy lives are rendered useless in their adulthood. Good on you – I hope others take note from your interest as a mother and good parent.

          • Sabrina

            Better to be ‘correct’ in etiquette but cold-hearted and unfeeling? Wow. Sure glad I don’t live in the UK. I’m glad I live in America where people are REAL and not pretentious snobs that rival Hyacinth Bucket on “Keeping Up Appearances.”

          • Stephen

            How interesting that you point to the bride to be as being a “disrespectful, useless layabout [with] spoilt childhood and easy life”. As the bride to be does not come from a spoilt background but rather, her parents are unemployed I would rather think it is Mrs Bourne who is the spoilt class attempting to minister her snotty ways on the populace…don’t speak unless you are educated please…

      • Sabrina

        and maybe Freddie DOES know what he wants in a wife! He took one look at “Miss Fancypants” and went the opposite direction lol. Most men want women who are real, not replicas of Hyacinth Bucket who walk around with a stick up their you know what.

      • Philly

        This reply is a joke, right? I don’t see how Dahlpourie is “taking this very personal”. How is her post different than anyone else’s? Oh right, it’s not.

  8. Dahlpourie

    What an unfortunate situation. Sounds more like an episode of “Everybody loves Raymond” (Debra vs. Marie) than the movie “Monster-in-law” (Jennifer vs Jane).

    I honestly believe Mrs. Bourne meant well, but she should have spoken to her stepson about her concerns first, and allow him to discuss them with his fiance’. This could have worked out much tidier as a face-to-face conversation, rather than the future daughter-in-law reading it in black and white. I didn’t find the email harsh at all, but rather, a less tactful attempt at instructive criticism. By forwarding the email, the bride-to-be proved that Mrs. Bourne was on point! Maybe if the 29 yr old Withers had the kind of mother to teach her those basic character flaw while growing up, it could have all been avoided.

    A teachable moment for all involved…hopefully!

    • Sabrina

      At least we do agree on one thing, I see. MIL should’ve spoken to son first. Then you spoil it by taking sides again…against the 29 year old. I wonder if YOU are looking at it personally. Perhaps YOU have a DIL you don’t approve of? Hmmm…

  9. To Carolyn Bourne… I LOVE IT!!! LOVE IT!!! LOVE IT!!! …your email, that is. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Also, Death is transformation, always leading to something better.

    Sooooooooo… no matter how I look at this, YOU ROCK CAROLYN BOURNE!!!

    Yes, TRUTH is the only thing one can feel. I bow to YOU Carolyn for having the COURAGE to express TRUTH. I LOVE YOU!!!

    May we assist “ignorance” in its evolution one “letter” at a time.



    Much Much Much Much Much Love…

    • Sabrina

      How would you like to be on the receiving end of such a letter? Consider that.

      • Yes… Been there!!! And, you know what??? I am THE PERSON I am this day because I heeded the message. And, by the way… I ABSOLUTELY LOVE ME!!! And, I LOVE LIFE!!!

    • Jane you sound as ruthless as Carolyn Bourne herself…pity any women that end up with mother in laws that lack any class at all…Sad Sad Sad!!!!!!

  10. Rachel

    I am from the states and I understand that the UK has a different level of standards. Yes, maybe Ms. Withers does not have the social graces of the “Elite” Mrs. Bourne but there is no excuse in creating a hostel environment. Mrs. Bourne could have sent an email that explained what the Bourne’s expect in the future. I do not believe that it is proper etiquette to flat out insult your future daughter-in-law in ANY COUNTRY. As to the quip about Ms. Withers having Diabetes I am personally offended by her comment as I am another “young person in the world who [has diabetes]“. Who is she to even comment on her condition? The way interpret Mrs. Bourne’s comment about the walk to Mothecombe beach is that Ms. Withers must have went low and to Mrs. Bourne that drew undesired attention to Ms. Withers. Sometimes lows happen especially due to exertion. This makes my blood boil because if Mrs. Bourne can make such a bold statement about that how can anyone take ANYTHING she says to heart. Mrs. Bourne comes off as snooty, patronizing and overbearing, qualities that are not favorable to a future daughter-in-law. In this case I believe that they are both guilty of bad manners but Mrs. Bourne crossed a line that may not be able to easily forget as opposed to ignorance of sending Ms. Withers a hand written thank you note.

    • Sabrina

      Amen. Oh, and that bit where she chastises Heidi for not writing a thank you note, as thought somehow the DIL is some Medieval era serf who has to pay the Lady of the Manner tribute? LOL. Who does Mrs. Bourne think she is Queen Victoria? The way I see it, such things as thank you notes are done from the goodness of one’s heart, not because it should be “expected”. If Heidi is going to be family, why should she have to stand on ceremony like that? It’s ridiculous…and Mrs. Bourne needs to get over herself.

      • My ex’s family was the same. They told me how to behave much better though. They never would chastise me for my asthma, it is something that can’t be controlled. They taught me through example and love, not surly comments. I appreciate what Mrs. bourne is trying to do…without the training I received I would think worse of her. However, that time has passed. Only old folks do such things now.

  11. All in all the letter was not that bad in terms of manners, but in terms of health, she is right out of line. All diabetics are different and handle their condition in the way they have to, to keep it in control. Not enough food and then a long walk is not good for some. As to the soup and bread advice, bread is a starch and is not recommended in any quantity. No One should be critical of the way someone handles their condition except their doctor.

    • Clarissa

      There are several people I know with diabetes they do not march about announcing it, it is a private matter and they know full well their limits and do not need to repeatedly bore people about what should be a routine daily procedure, people know full well the routine is becoming very common the in the UK – this girl is sadly an attention seeker who may have more serious psychological issues.

      • Sabrina

        Do you know these people or something? I fail to see how you can read in a letter about someone having “merious psychological issues. If she does develop a psychological issue, it will because MIL drove her crazy lol

      • Rebecca

        How do you know she marched about talking about it? Seems to me she mentioned it TWICE at dinner (in referencing what she could and couldn’t eat and needing seconds). I guess that was two times too many for Mrs. Bourne. How is it attention seeking is she trying to convey to this woman what could potentially kill her??

        Obviously, this woman is from a different social class from her fiancee. I honestly do not believe there’s anything she could possibly do to make this woman like her. Mrs. Bourne doesn’t believe she’s good enough, plain and simple.

  12. admin

    Do you have a mother-in-law from hell like Carolyn Bourne or is your daughter-in-law a mannerless madam like Heidi Withers?

    Care to share you stories?
    Post them here:

  13. Carry On Weddin'

    “an attention seeker who may have more serious psychological issues”

    What a charming little flower our Clarissa is! In my opinion someone who claims that their dog is “profoundly upset” by a guest’s alleged faux pas is a more likely candidate for Bedlam.

  14. As someone else has said … what did Mrs Bourne expect from this email … it comes across as spiteful and condescending.

    She claims that her future step daughter in law made much of her diabetes … I have no idea whether she did or not; as equally I have no idea whether the type and amount of food or the hour the meal was served was suitable for Miss Withers.

    However I do know that for a lot of diabetics it IS important to eat th right amount of food at the right time or it can cause potentially dangerous situations to arise … such as coma or even death.

  15. Heather

    From what I have read this seems to be a cause and effect problem. It seems Heidi mentioned her diabetes a lot. Well if her MIL was not feeding her enough or feeding her sugary foods or other high GI foods then she would HAVE to say something. Better than ending up in hospital! Also she couldn’t wait to eat if she’s taken her insulin or she’d have had a hypo! The poor woman had no option and some people just won’t listen so it has to be repeated. Both my brother and partner have the condition. Also being a graceful host is about accepting people’s differences. I’m about as middle class as they come. I know all rules, but if someone else didn’t I’d lead by example. The MIL also needs to update her etiquette. The note etc is not always necessary now and certainly not with someone who is to be family.

    I also noted that ‘Clarissa’ mentions Heidi’s father as unemployed at every opportunity. Firstly he was made redundant. A state of affairs that is very common now and not his fault. Secondly the fact that Clarissa keeps referring to it shows extreme bad manners of the first order. The fact that Clarissa is defending such bad manners so vigorously and showing no compassion what so ever shows that she must have found a kindred spirit in the MIL.

    • Becky G

      Clarissa is probably Carolyn. Their thought process are so closely matched it’s ridiculous.

  16. Angie

    Freddie’s real mother has stated in an interview that she finds her future daughter-in-law to be delightful, with excellent manners.

    Heidi never posted anything online. She forwarded the email to friends, and because the email is so shockingly extreme, they forwarded it to others, and so forth and so on, until it went viral. Heidi could not have known this would happen. It is normal human behavior to go to friends for advice when faced with something as awful as receiving a nasty email diatribe from a person who is supposed to be part of your family soon.

    Finally, has anyone actually confirmed that Carolyn Bourne herself is paying for the wedding? I find it hard to believe. She only runs a flower shop. It may be cater to the upper class, but let’s face it – it’s just a flower shop. It would seem more likely that Freddie’s father is paying for the wedding, and Freddie’s father hasn’t actually complained about anything. It seems to me that a lot of this may stem from problems in the family that were there long before Freddie ever met his fiancee.

    It’s also possible that Freddie and Heidi are paying for the wedding. It may be that Carolyn is simply trying to control the wedding because of what she thinks her friends will think.

    Perhaps most of the food that was served was inappropriate for Heidi, meaning she HAD to bring up her diabetes. Maybe she had to ask for more because they were going on the walk, and she knew the small amount she’d received would not be enough to sustain her. Maybe she slept late the next morning because she was actually ill as a result of not being properly nourished the prior evening. Perhaps Carolyn, desperate to scare Heidi away from the marriage, had purposefully attempted to serve things that Heidi could not eat in the effort to make her as uncomfortable as possible. From the tone of her letter, it would not be surprising to me.

    The only evidence that we have is the letter and what an objective third party reports. An intellectual analysis of the letter reveals Carolyn to be the one with poor manners. While it is possible that Freddie’s real mother could side with Heidi in the press out of an extreme dislike for Carolyn, if Heidi were as uncouth and repulsive as Carolyn reports, it stands to reason that Freddie’s mother would want to express her discontent about this when given the opportunity. Instead, she has only expressed that she approves of Heidi and her manners.

    Carolyn is clearly the culprit here.

    • Katherine

      You seem intelligent and your points are well reasoned, well said!

  17. Carry On Weddin'


    1. Carolyn Bourne appears in the Daily Mail wearing a huge pair of underpants – this after the “Miss Fancy Pants” remark by Mr Withers!
    Convenient for the press, what?

    2. The Observer “discovers” that Freddie Bourne runs a start-up wedding planning business called “Mise-en-Bouche Ltd”

    I wonder if Carolyn Bourne is sniggering into her Earl Grey?

    If you read the email carefully you will also see reference to a “joke” Miss Withers made in the pub….we are all the butt of that joke it seems :-)

    Anyway, continue getting angry please…

    • Sabrina

      Strange thing here? I can’t find a website for this catering company. So how do we know it’s a real company or not? Or, heck if these are even real people or not? They could be professional models/actors or even androids for all we know lol. One thing is for certain, this increasingly non-story has managed to knock real news off the radar for awhile. Who cares about the problems in Greece, London or the Middle East when we can focus on a soap opera right? No wonder the world is going to hell in a handbasket. I’m done getting anry or following this nonsense. Back to real news in the real world.

  18. I have always believed that there is a responsibility on everyone for “manners”. Whilst family can be seen as a different situation in the initial stages of visiting new family it is inevitable that the guest may not yet seem like a family member and will therefore feel more awkward. In those circumstances a good host/hostess will do everything they can to make them feel welcomed. Indeed, this is probably even more important with a prospective family member than with a “guest”.

    I take my cue here from cultures far more at ease with guests than my own – the UK does not, it seems to me – do very well in terms of “casual” – we are much more comfortable with formal where there are set rules and expectations. Family visits and having guests to stay in your home fall more firmly into the “casual” bracket I would suggest, and therefore into that area where us Brits so often come to grief.

    Therefore I try to live by the broad brush approach:
    - If I have invited a guest (or prospective family member) to stay with me it is my responsibility to ensure that they feel comfortable. Therefore (within reason) I would try to accommodate their needs and desires – both stated and unstated. (A “good” guest also realises this and tries to compromise, but that is less important than ensuring that the guest feels comfortable in what is, for them, an unfamiliar environment – in this case “enemy territory” may not be too far off the mark)
    - If said guest does something that is anathema a quiet word, as immediately as possible – made in such a way as to not cause shame or upset will normally be the most appropriate course of action. However, even then, if the guest is the partner of someone with whom I have had a much longer relationship then it may be better to quietly request that person to speak to their “guest” rather than risk offending or embarrassing the other.
    - NEVER make something personal, or seek to suggest blame/fault – the guest may be as embarrassed as others for the faux pas, therefore why embarrass them further by bringing their mistake into the open?

    Having been a guest and host (as most people have) in a variety of different situations, and with a variety of different cultural differences I have done things that I would personally consider “abnormal” for my own culture. However, it is my obligation as a good host to make my guest feel at ease, and as a good guest to make my host feel comfortable.
    I have therefore eaten with my fingers (in situations ranging from formal black-tie gala dinners, to small dinner parties for four) where that would make my host/guest feel more comfortable.
    I have bitten my tongue where a person got up late, despite this meaning that the plans for the day had to be altered – I took it as a compliment that the guest felt comfortable enough to treat my home as their own.
    I have got up early despite being tired where my host has indicated that they had planned and were excited about showing me.
    Fortunately I have no known allergies, but I do have foods that are not to my liking. I have made a point of trying them and, if I REALLY cannot stomach them, I can explain this in a way that is not critical and does not make my host feel that their efforts are not appreciated.

    To write such a missive as this I feel shows neither sensitivity nor understanding of the unwritten rules of guesting and hosting. Had I received such an email I would have done nothing more than either ignore it, and ensure that I was able to politely decline future invitations. If that were not possible I would simply follow the “good guest” principles and minimise the opportunity for making my “host” feel uncomfortable – without compromising my own fundamental beliefs and values. In this circumstance, I may or may not have shared it with a friend for advice, depending on what my purpose was – i.e. having second thoughts about becoming part of the family, seeking advice on how to handle it from someone I trusted, or not. I do not know the motivation for sharing this email, therefore could and would not comment on whether I would have done something similar. I would probably have shared it with my prospective partner and asked for their advice and understanding of my feelings.

    Without wishing to pass judgement on any involved in this I would suggest that this highlights a lack of empathy that seems so prevalent in society today where we are judged on results and material achievements rather than being accepted for who we are as individuals. It also seems to suggest a disappointing lack of willingness to adapt and understand the needs and motivations of others.

    I had thought that as a society we were getting better at that. As a society in general, that may still be the case – as individuals, maybe not – at least not everywhere.

  19. Dave Milne

    Who cares if everything she said about Heidi was true ? The point is, that this is not the case of some unwanted “guest” intruding in a family, but rather that of a new addition to it coming to stay. She doesn’t seem to have been offered much of a welcome, and Carolyn should have talked it out face to face if she had a problem. The fact that she had to resort to rude emails such as that shows that not only does she have no respect for her daughter in law, but also no respect for her son and her husband. I sincerely hope that she is left at home on the wedding day.

  20. Christine-Marie Esteve

    Carolyn Bourne needs to take a tip from the The Queen who is notorious for making people feel comfortable. When a visiting politician from South Africa picked up the lemon laced finger bowl placed next to his plate and drank it – so did she. Similalry Princess Diana had the same techniques – and I worked with her on some of her charities for three years. Good manners are about making people feel comfortable with you whatever their background. That is being a real lady. If I had a diabetic staying with me I would take the time to find out what they can eat and would not suggest trip s out to make them ill. Also diabetics do tend to feel sleepy in the morning because of fluctuating sugar levels. Mrs Bourne is a pompous, ignorant, unlady like nincompoop. People in glass houses should not throw stones.

  21. Marie-Josephine de Lascotte Grandjardins

    I neither know Carolyn Bourne nor Heidi Withers. I can understand that Carolyn Bourne is upset about the lack of formality that Heidi has shown in her behaviour, but Carolyns focus on this formality and her outburst shows clear signs of some psychological turmoil. She seems to cling to formalities in order to distract from some emotional pain. Why is it so important to her, the step mother, that her step-son marries a “princess charming”?

    A true lady would show sovereignty in this situation and invite Heidi for an intimate talk about mutual expectations over tea and biscuits. I had this talk with my mother-in-law to “clear the turf”. Tea always helps to sort of differences and an honest conversation about expectations, family customs, style (what to wear at family gathering, which hat, which jewels etc.) and manners and financials might improve the situation.

    Finally being the wife of a diabetic man and coming from a noble family I don’t see any wrong in stating to the hostess in private before the meal that you are a diabetic and are not able to drink juices, eat the dessert or drink too much alcoholic beverages. Health first. Of course talking about diseases at table is really upsetting. A young diabetic often has random sugar changes and sometimes feels the urge to binge eat or rush off during a meal because of a hypo. It happens to my husband all the time. The disease is stronger than all manners!

    • Thankyou for summing up so well the reality of living with diabetes for so many people.

  22. “You don’t get married in a castle unless you own it”………Priceless…….After two 2 year’s of my son’s “Princess” bride to be, I have to say I wish I had thought of this myself.

    There are so many “Princess Brides” in the younger generation whose father’s indulged their every whim since they could open their eyes and who have never heard the word “No”.

    I feel sorry for my son too, but I warned him that once he puts a ring her finger, she’ll be even more demanding and spoiled. Weddings these days have turned into a circus, by the wedding industry and TV, eventually the bride has “her day” which so many other people are expected to pay ridiculous sums of money for and just reinforces her expectations that she is no longer the Princess………she’s now the Queen.

    Good for you Carolyn, women my age around the world are applauding your ability to sum up in a few sentences what so many of us have been enduring.

    • Katherine

      A wedding venue is just that, a wedding venue. Us ‘younger’ generation, do not appreciate the jealousy that we experience from your generation, when in your day, you got married at the local church. You need to move into modern times. I pity your daughter-in-law. It is not your wedding, so does not have to cater to your tastes, the world, and your sons world, does not revolve around you. What spite you show when someone else is the centre of attention for the day, which is every brides right. You seem a very bitter disappointed lady to me, and for this, I express my sincerest condolences.

  23. Xenia

    I think that this is insperational to all mother-in-laws.

    I believe loads of people would be thinking that you are mean forsaying these things, but when written this was obviously not meant to be seen by anyone else.

    We do not know how much Carolyn was dealing with and how bad or abnoxious she really is!

  24. Peyton

    The letter was specifically directed to one person, not the world. Mrs. Bourne was to the point, personal, and honest from her perspective. The daughter in law to be (I hope not for both) only confirmed her bad manners by sharing this personal letter with the world—because she took offense. The matter was none of anyone else’s business.
    Obviously the letter was used to draw attention, and sympathy to herself. Ironically one of faults that Mrs. Bourne was pointing out. Shame on her.

  25. Mutual spite can often amuse or shock onlookers, but let us hope neither Carolyn nor Heidi’s father end up becoming grandparents. It’s already fairly crowded down the shallow end of the gene pool.

  26. Shannon

    Well, she may or may not be correct about her future step-daughter-in-law’s manners – but she certainly is breathtakingly ungenerous and cannot have taken her no-doubt High Anglican raising seriously in at least one aspect, i.e. “Let those who are without sin cast the first stone.” I suspect her sin is one of pride, with a generous helping of wrath mixed in.

    I would seriously not want to be living close to someone who criticized me every time I turned around.

  27. What a pleasant woman Carolyn is. I hope she never develops diabetes in later life. Or gets hit by a meteor.

  28. Katherine

    I am absolutely appalled at this awful woman. However, I am not blinded by indignation that a STEP mother-in-law enough to see that Heidi herself does have a few bad manners, none of these however compare to the rudeness expressed by this vile woman. I think not sending a thank you note after a stay is a much lesser crime than being rude, vile, pretentious and insulting.
    If the girl is faithful to her step-son, loves him, treats him well and makes him happy, then who on earth is she to judge?
    Half of these etiquette practises she demands are highly outdated, and should be left in the fifteenth century where they belong. For example, her father paying for the wedding day. As far as I can tell, Heidi and Freddy are well off enough themselves to pay for their own wedding and haven’t asked for her financial aid, or her opinion of their venue. Maybe her parents simply haven’t had the money to save towards their daughters wedding, and her expression of snobbery towards people with a lower income than themselves is absolutely appalling, and not warranted in today’s society. We should not discriminate for income any more than we should for race. Although, I will admit her fathers remarks were a little vulgar, but these were not the remarks of Heidi herself, and she should not be judged for what someone else has said. The same as Heidi has not judged Freddy for what this pedantic and disgusting woman has said to his bride-to-be.
    I live in the UK, and would implore our friends in the states that for the most part, the English people in general do not act like this. The reason shows such as ‘Keeping up Appearances’ were so popular over here, was for their comedic value at such women as this. Mostly, we are happy for our family members when they find love, even if the future spouse is not to our taste, and do not set ourselves up as royalty entertaining a commoner when they visit, but receive them graciously no matter what our inner opinions may be. We are not all uneducated slobs, nor are we all etiquette fanatics who think we should behave like lord and ladies and look down on everybody else. Most of us have moved into modern times, so please, do not generalise, most of us are as astounded as you are at this womans presumption. Thank you.

  29. Katherine

    Secondly I would like to add that I do not see why this girl would send a thank you note to a woman who obviously dislikes her, and was most likely very rude for the duration of her stay. As the hostess, you should have ascertained peoples personal preferences for foods, I am sure you do not eat food you dislike yourself, lady, and ensure that there is enough to go around!
    As for her behaviour making your dog depressed, you need to step into the real world, madam. It is probably living with you that depresses the poor mutt, I wonder how you act if the dog gets a speck of food on the floor?

  30. Titti

    Just go for it Carol. If she can’t behave now how will it be when they got married and have children, are they gonna grow up with the same behavior as ther mother.

  31. Anna Lindon

    After reading this letter, I would have thought to leave her son if she was my mother in law. Because what is good manner here is not in another part of the world or family …I moved to Sweden many years ago and those of you who think, it is an european country so same good manners are wrong, for instance when you pass the door of the house, the first thing you do take off your shoes (if it is a party dinner, take with you indoor shoes), Swedes have indoor shoes they don’t pass the entrance with outdoor shoes in winter as in summer time. Swedes don’t queue when waiting for bus, they memorise the persons already there and then wait where ever they want near the bus station once the bus arrives, they stand in queue in 2 seconds so you have to remember so you can’t pass before those before you… My husband and mother in law let me discover all these swedish traditions before they told me and we had good laugh about some situations, so you can imagine how wrong you can be. One of the most hilarious situation was the skålling tradition, when you drink toasts in dinners say “Cheers=skål in swedish”, you start by saying skål and then everyone look in the eyes of the others around the table before drinking and once you have done that, you look again in every ones eyes before putting your glass on the table again, so I was all the evening embarassed, because one of my husbands oncles a man in his 70 years old (without a shame I thought…), was staring at me all evening and I was doing everything to avoid his eyes of course when he was doing everything to catch a look to be able to put his glass on the table :-) without being impolite…Now when I meet him we laugh at the situation…Imagine if he thoughts what an impolite lady etc when it was my husbands turn to visit my parents, they laughed when he left his shoes in the entrance, because we do that only when you want to step on carpets in the living room :-) , I let him discover everything and my family was interested to know more about it, at that time we had a dog, if you leave your shoes in the entrance, you have to dig in the garden to find the pieces :-) . When it is about food, you can not make me eat SURSTRÖMMING rutten fish, swedish delicacy, but this does not matter that we don’t have SURSTRÖMMING parties, so yes I decided by myself which traditions to embrace and which not.
    In the end I would say that today the world is small, tolerance for the differences and curiosity for the other’s traditions is one of the conditions to succeed in all new environments. This letter was a clear message that we will never accept you unless you follow our rules, means the mother in law decided that my rules, traditions and manners are the right and best one…

  32. Maria

    I don’t know whether it’s a hoax or not… But it is possible!
    I konw about a case where the daughter-in-law insulted the mother-in-law by letter, about 30 years ago. They still don’t get along!!!

    Anyway, I’d like to say I agree with Sabrina when she quotes Anton Chekov: “A good upbringing means not that you won’t spill sauce on the tablecloth, but that you won’t notice it when someone else does.”
    And I’d add that respect for the difference is crucial, because even when people are from the same background, diferences can be found!

    My own mother-in-law once told me that she had to re-educate her daughter’s husband… Well, he does have some characteristics he could improve but it’s up to anyone but himself. If he’s happy like that, why wory? Honestly, I think he is very well brough-up to put up with her constant corrections always smiling and never creating any conflict situation! Furthermore, I’m glad that apparently my mother-in-law think I’m good enough…

    (I hope my english is correct enough…)

  33. Charlie

    The fact that the Father had been estranged from his son for 16 years, and then this happens just shows the Mother in Law to be a vile, vindictive old witch. She should be ashamed of herself.

  34. Heidi does need serious lessons in manners. she sounds like a self centred brat. I would do the same if I was in Carol’s place.

    • Hannah

      How pathetic? Like sleeping in late, she had good reasons to sleep in late, if she’s tired why should she be woken up? Even if the family wake uop early?
      My family wake up early, but my mum doesn’t get bitchy to my boyfriend about sleeping in?
      What’s wrong with that?
      And sending letters to the other family thanking them for staying or whatever, who does that? That’s ridiculous.
      Heidi is not a self centred brat, she obviously wasn’t brought up the same as her in laws. If the Bourne family don’t like how Heidi is, fucking deal with it! It’s not the end of the world. Just get over it. You would’ve done the same? Pahaha, do you have no consideration for other peoples feelings?
      No, I didn’t think so, and neither did that self centred Carolyn. I’m not surprised they’re not expecting a wedding invite, because I sure wouldn’t if I did that to my in-law.
      I think your comment, and Carolyn’s email is absolutely disgusting, and the both of you and anyone else that agrees with Carolyn’s email should be ashamed of yourself, you stuck up people. You’re no beter than anyone else. Deal with it.

  35. Oh the irony! So Carolyn Bourne sends a critique of Heidi via email?! What the…?

    Would it not be more correct for the impeccable Carolyn actually address this in person? I would suggest Carolyn has her head so far up her own proverbial backside she has lost the ability to think laterally or objectively.

    Is this the thrice married Mrs C. Bourne that has supposedly cheated on her ex-husbands and now feels she is able to lecture on morals and ethics?


  36. I think Caroyln is a disguting and vulgar woman, her way of expressing her feelings is bang out of order.
    And I agree with Jay, if she’s so up her own arse, why couldn’t she have said all of this to Heidi’s face? Pathetic.

  37. the worst mother in law in the world
    she came from hell

  38. carolyn had absolutely no right to send that email, least of all because she married freddies father in 2003. She also has had a child out of wedlock in 1974 and I would really suspect because of her snottiness is why she is on husband number three. Freddie and Heidi have already said they are paying for their own wedding, as a matter of fact if carolyn had her way and had a marquee in her garden it would cost much more that having it in a castle. They chose a castle because Heidi loves medieval history. lastly if I go to a dinner party and no-one thought to enquire what I could eat then I would turn down food but politly. It is people like carolyn who give this country such a bad name (can you imagine what she would be like as a step-grandmother) I shudder to think!!!!

  39. A truly classy, well-mannered person, like Mrs. Bourne so obviously feels she is, would not have sent such a cruel, insulting, condescending email. A faux pas or two on Heidi’s part is nothing compared to this level of snobbery and rudeness.

  40. Oh my God, what kind of person could consider diabetes as vulgar. It is obvious that being so “well mannered” Carolyn is lacking simple knowledge: people with diabetes have to eat only certain food and so much, so frequently as it is necessary for their health, otherwise there is a danger of faint, stroke or even death. And there is nothing bad that Heidi tried to explain her future family about her condition, it is bad that her parents- in-law are so much swollen-headed that could not get it. What did Carolyn expected with the letter insulting pour girl, her parents and her stepson… She pities him for his love…… I also pity him and his father for such stepmother who destroied family…..

  41. I love it when trailer trash thinks it knows what good manners is.
    As a Porter grad rule number one is always make people feel at home and good about themselves. The true sign of someone with no manners is that old lady that thinks she wrote the book but never read one. lol go back to the trailer park you came from lady . Young women need good role modles not aging women jealous of their yourth who use them for whipping posts . so sad i hope she never lets you see those grandchildern! YOU SUCK

  42. I love it when trailer trash thinks it knows what good manners is.
    As a Porter grad rule number one is always make people feel at home and good about themselves. The true sign of someone with no manners is that old lady that thinks she wrote the book but never read one. lol go back to the trailer park you came from lady . Young women need good role modles not aging women jealous of their yourth who use them for whipping posts . so sad i hope she never lets you see those grandchildern!

  43. How wrong was Mrs. B? She was not the one who shared the email. Heidi only proved herself to be an attention whore when she shared the email with friends. She wanted a retaliation, and she got one. In general, she should have kept it private by quietly replying (via email, phone call, or in person) instead of sharing it or she could have been the bigger person and stepped down. Obviously Mrs. B is not the most mature lady the internet has encountered, however, if I was treated with disrespect in my house from my child’s partner, I’m not sure I would react too differently. I would probably take a different approach then an email, but someone would be hearing my two cents about that crude behavior. I know my mother wasn’t very quiet when I brought someone home that she didn’t like. That’s what Mothers do. I don’t think they should pretend to like a child’s partner, however, they should try and get to know them and learn to like them. But sometimes, that does not happen! Regardless, there always needs to be a balance of respect both ways when your are a host or a guest. That didn’t happen.
    On a final note, both of these women sound extremely immature. They obviously need some kind of family therapy. It doesn’t sound like either of them are leaving for quite some time.

  44. firstly, are you really step mother to the groom or were you being tongue in cheek.

    secondly, i can see why you might be offended. but you have understand everyone comes from a diff background.

    it sounds like you come from a background where impeccable manner is a must, and i think that is great.

    but you have to understand your daughter in law ( along with many others) did not have the same opportunity to learn them, and as a future MIL, should you not be kind and guide her rather than criticize and humiliate her through publishing open emails such this?

    as for drawing attention to herself by talking about her diabetes, that is a low blow, which actually reflected the fact you dont have any manners yourself.

    if i am your son or step son, i would cut you off until you apologise for your rudeness and lack of kindness/graciouness to my wife.

    yes, she was guest at your house, but it would be nice if your try to treat her like a daughter rather than a servant.

    feel free to censor this reply if you wish.


  1. Heidi Withers Gets Her Big Day marrying Freddie Bourne | Carolyn Bourne - The Mother-In-Law Letter/Email - [...] sparked a war of words with her mother-in-law Carolyn Bourne and made news the world over when Carolyn’s private …
  2. Carolyn Bourne Email | Email Bride | Heidi Withers Wedding - [...] “mother-in-law from hell” to a whole new level when she sent her future daughter-in-law this cruel email. The daughter-in-law …

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