By Ben Todd
Black sheep: Tara with her sister Santa Montefiore at a book launch last year
Tara Palmer-Tomkinson has claimed that she turned to drugs because she found it impossible to compete with her ‘angelic’ older sister.
The socialite, whose cocaine habit cost £400 a day at its worst and caused her nose to collapse, candidly revealed that she felt her role in the family was to be the ‘black sheep’.
The 39-year-old is two years younger than her novelist sister, Santa Montefiore, wife of historian Simon Sebag Montefiore.
As young girls, the pair were inseparable – both at the family home of Dummer Grange in Hampshire and boarding together at Sherborne Girls school in Dorset.
However, TV presenter Miss Palmer-Tomkinson – whose parents have been friends with Prince Charles for more than 30 years and who was a guest at the royal wedding – felt she was unable to escape from the shadows of her sister’s success.
She explained: ‘It got to the point where I just thought, “She’s already got the role as the sister who gets all the praise. I just can’t compete.”
‘Not only that, but she’d turned into this real beauty with the nickname: “The girl with the longest legs in Hampshire.”
‘So my answer was basically that if I was going to be the black sheep I wanted to be the biggest black sheep.’
The sisters lived together in London in their 20s, and Miss Palmer-Tomkinson recalled: ‘I became this night owl. As she was going out [to work], I’d be coming in from some West End club or shady lock-in, having scored [drugs] in Brixton, lost a shoe in Camden and my keys somewhere in-between.
‘It was pretty mad and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have fun, if I didn’t love that first time with cocaine. I was seduced by the whole thing.’
Glamour: Tara, now 39, had to undergo £6,000 worth of corrective surgery on her nose in 2006 after years of drug abuse
Miss Palmer-Tomkinson entered a rehab clinic in Arizona in 1999 and claims not to have taken drugs since.
Nonetheless, in 2006 she needed corrective surgery – costing £6,000 – because the years of drug abuse had led to her nose collapsing.
However, the reconstructed septum did not last and last month, following a temporary fix for April’s royal wedding, her septum was rebuilt again using cartilage from one of her ribs.