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Inside the end of Ellie Goulding’s marriage: KATIE HIND reveals the real story of her ‘thing’ with Zac Goldsmith and how she went to Costa Rica to see hunky surf instructor after meeting him last month – as she heads for divorce from husband Caspar Jopling


A sunshine break, thousands of miles from the public’s prying eyes (and cameras), was just what singer Ellie Goulding needed after a bruising ‘tough patch’ in her four-year marriage.

Carefree days on the beach in Costa Rica — surfing, swimming and not thinking about the growing chasm in her troubled relationship with husband Caspar Jopling — would surely give her the thinking space she needed to find a way back to the marriage she’d once held so dear.

But as pictures emerged this week, taken by a local photographer, of the 37-year-old frolicking in the waves, without her wedding ring, and in the company of a buff and handsome surfing instructor named Armando Perez, it left no one in any doubt. Ellie’s fairy tale has come to an end.

For more than 18 months her management company have been insisting she and Caspar, with whom she has a three-year-old son, Arthur, were determined to save their marriage, but a source close to the singer told the Mail this week: ‘Ellie and Caspar have been over for some time now but there was this whole carry on of them pretending to be together.

‘The fact is that it is over. Ellie moved on some time ago but she didn’t want anyone to know.

Handsome surfing instructor Armando Perez holds a smiling Ellie close as the waves roll in

Handsome surfing instructor Armando Perez holds a smiling Ellie close as the waves roll in

A local photographer snapped Ellie and Armando on the beach

A local photographer snapped Ellie and Armando on the beach

Ellie shared a selfie of herself in a bikini while on holiday

Ellie shared a selfie of herself in a bikini while on holiday 

Caspar Jopling was pictured without his wedding ring in London

Caspar Jopling was pictured without his wedding ring in London

‘But now she is enjoying the company of other men and there is simply no way back.

‘It is so sad, especially because they have got little Arthur, but they can’t make it work and now, sadly, it is going to end in divorce. There is no way that the marriage can be saved.

‘It wasn’t necessarily the outcome they wanted but that’s where they are. Ellie is ready to date other men and if he isn’t already, Caspar will surely be back out on the market again soon.’

The source added: ‘It all got a bit awkward when Ellie learned about the pictures. She didn’t think that she would be seen with Armando all the way over in Costa Rica so there were some pretty cringey conversations that had to take place.’

However, one friend confessed the pictures ‘could have been worse’.

It is a sad end for the Brit-award winner, who married the man she thought was ‘The One’ in a star-studded ceremony at York Minster back in the summer of 2019.

Raised in a council house in Herefordshire by a single mum who worked in a supermarket and a stepfather she disliked, Ellie had a difficult childhood.

Her musical talent was spotted at an ‘open mic’ night while she was at the University of Kent studying music and drama, and her rise to stardom was often told as a rags to riches tale.

Her 2010 debut album propelled her into the celebrity A-list, and she was invited to perform at the wedding reception of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011, where she sang Sir Elton John’s ‘Your Song’.

Before meeting Caspar, she’d dated the likes of Ed Sheeran, Niall Horan and Radio One DJ Greg James.

She and Caspar, 32, were said to have been introduced by mutual friend Princess Eugenie, who knew him through her connections in the art world, and Ellie socially.

Armando places an affectionate kiss on Ellie's head

Armando places an affectionate kiss on Ellie’s head

Ellie's carefree day on the beach in Costa Rica as she frolics in the waves with Armando

Ellie’s carefree day on the beach in Costa Rica as she frolics in the waves with Armando

The pop star and the handsome surf instructor enjoy each other's company on the sand

The pop star and the handsome surf instructor enjoy each other’s company on the sand

The pair emerge from the ocean after going for a swim

The pair emerge from the ocean after going for a swim 

Ellie tries out her surfing skills

Ellie tries out her surfing skills 

The pair met at a dinner with friends in New York in 2016, where Caspar was working as an art dealer for Sotheby’s. Ellie was at the end of a tour and admitted: ‘I was exhausted that night and I almost didn’t go.’ Plus, she had just split from Dougie Poynter, singer in boyband McFly whom she had dated since 2014.

No one could have predicted how well the date would go. In stark contrast to Ellie’s upbringing, Caspar is the Eton and Harvard educated son of the Honourable Nicholas Jopling, who comes from a family of wealthy farmers in the Yorkshire Dales.

Yet despite their contrasting backgrounds, they were soon a committed couple and three years later came their wedding at Castle Howard, the stately home where Brideshead Revisited was filmed.

Ellie went all out. Dressed in a full length Chloe gown, and with a £150,000 ring on her finger, she arrived in a blue camper van. Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie were among the guests, as well as James Blunt, Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom.

In April 2021, the couple welcomed Arthur Ever Winter Jopling. Their happiness, it seemed, was complete.

But two years ago, cracks were beginning to show in the relationship, and they were said to be living apart — with Ellie in the marital house in West London and Caspar moving into their second home.

A source said at the time: ‘There is a problem, it’s true. They own two homes and are living separately at the moment — but they still do things together with Arthur.’

The press were then briefed that they were trying to work through a ‘tough patch’.

Armando places his hands on Ellie's waist as they watch a fellow beachgoer surf

Armando places his hands on Ellie’s waist as they watch a fellow beachgoer surf

The pair embrace during Ellie's 'wellness break'

The pair embrace during Ellie’s ‘wellness break’

Sources close to Ellie say her romance with Armando is not a fling and she jetted to Costa Rica to see him after they met there last month

Sources close to Ellie say her romance with Armando is not a fling and she jetted to Costa Rica to see him after they met there last month

Armando kisses Ellie affectionately as they embrace on the beach

Armando kisses Ellie affectionately as they embrace on the beach 

Ellie ended her friendship with Tory peer Zac Goldsmith to 'focus on her marriage

Ellie ended her friendship with Tory peer Zac Goldsmith to ‘focus on her marriage

Ellie on holiday in Costa Rica and with Caspar before their break-up

Ellie on holiday in Costa Rica and with Caspar before their break-up

The singer and Caspar married in August 2019 at York Minster

The singer and Caspar married in August 2019 at York Minster

Waiting in the wings, however, was former Tory MP Zac Goldsmith.

Ellie and the multi-millionaire Eton-educated son of late billionaire financier Sir James Goldsmith formed another unlikely bond over their shared love of green issues.

While Team Ellie always insisted they didn’t see one another outside of environmental commitments, it can be confirmed ‘they were a thing, of sorts,’ according to one friend.

It was then, last September, that Ellie and Caspar were said to have tried once more to make their marriage work, and just four weeks ago they were seen together at a Ricky Gervais show in London.

But this week, any hope they had officially reconciled was blown away when Ellie flew out to Costa Rica — leaving Caspar at home — for a ‘wellness break’ holiday with her closest friends, described by one on social media as ‘girls on tour’.

The holiday was chronicled in pictures, posted by close friend Cassandra Gracey — an executive at Sony records — who described how they were practising yoga and playing games.

And she did, indeed, look well and happy as she hit the beach. She was pictured embracing Perez, who runs the local surf school, while he was seen affectionately kissing her head.

She was also pictured trying surfing, under his tutelage. While to the world, it could look like a one-off holiday fling, sources close to her say that is not the case and she jetted to Costa Rica to see Perez after they met there last month.

But the emergence of the pictures has proved a headache for Ellie. After learning she had been seen, she hastily told friends and industry figures she was officially single.

Last night she said on Instagram: ‘In light of recent stories, I feel I have been left with no choice but to let you all know that Caspar and I privately separated some time ago.

‘We remain the closest of friends and have been successfully co-parenting with our son’s best interests at heart. We are committed to protecting our family privacy and thank people in advance for respecting our wishes — we won’t be commenting any further. Thank you x’.

¿I have been surfing since I was a child. The waves of Playa Hermosa are my home and I am a very good host¿, Armando says on his website

‘I have been surfing since I was a child. The waves of Playa Hermosa are my home and I am a very good host’, Armando says on his website

Next Saturday Ellie will return to work at the BRIT Awards where she will perform with Calvin Harris, with whom she was romantically linked in 2013. A source said: ‘It will be Ellie’s big moment to say “I’m back.” She can’t wait.’

Now though, the question swirling around the music industry is who will accompany her on the red carpet for her biggest night of the year?



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