Who is David Foster: Prince Harry’s mentor and father figure in California
If you are a reality TV fan, you’re likely to know who David Foster — a.k.a. Prince Harry’s surrogate LA “father figure” — is. If not, then this is probably the first time you have heard of the 72 year-old, 16-times Grammy winner - much to his chagrin.
The award-winning music producer, pianist and reportedly Prince Harry’s stateside mentor, made a brief, but memorable, appearance in Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, as then-husband of former housewife Yolanda Hadid, mother of the Hadid model progeny.
Speaking to the Los Angeles Times in 2019, Foster said: "The Beverly Hills Housewives was just kind of a nightmare for me and something that I really wish I hadn’t been part of."
Alas, hindsight is a cruel mistress. Foster is more often recognised for his turn on the US reality show than his “16 f***ing Grammy’s” as he referred to them on his Netflix documentary David Foster: Off the Record.
Over the weekend, Prince Harry was pictured with Foster and his fifth wife Katharine McPhee, 38, at the Santa Barbara Polo and Racquet Club, where he played a match (and took a tumble) for the Los Padres team.
The Duke of Sussex, appeared to be particularly chummy with Foster and his wife, begging the question how did the Canadian born, Grammy-winning septuagenarian befriend the 37-year-old British prince? Well, in a tale as old as time, it was through their wives.
Friends in high places
Meghan Markle attended the same Catholic Middle school in Los Angeles as McPhee, although the former American Idol contestant told in May 2020 that at school: “I was never really close friends with her.”
“She went to a school called Immaculate Heart, as did I,” McPhee recalled. “I did a couple shows with her. She was just always put together and great.”
Despite their lack of closeness at school, McPhee and Meghan reconnected in London, while McPhee was starring in the musical Waitress on the West End, during their reunion Foster and Prince Harry hit it off.
Then in 2020 Foster and McPhee, who have a one-year-old son Rennee, were pivotal in helping the Sussex’s find a place to stay in Canada, following their departure from the UK. Foster helped find the pair their $14.1 million rental home while they looked for a permanent residence in California.
Foster told the Daily Mail : “I felt honoured that I was able to help Meghan there because I’m a Canadian and we’re a commonwealth country. It’s important to us, so I grew up with that kind of sentiment,” Foster said. “I know that it was reinvigorating for them to spend some downtime. This is a great testament to my hometown of Victoria that they were able to go under the radar for so long.
“I was just happy through my friend to facilitate what I could for them, and it looked like they had a great rest. They’re a young modern family. I’m sure they want to balance their commitment to the crown and be a 2020 family.”
Since then, Harry and Foster have struck up a firm friendship and speaking in 2020 McPhee said, “my husband has a really, really beautiful relationship with Harry. They’re so cute. They’re like father and son.”
After their move to Santa Barbara in October 2020, the couples were seen having a double date at Lucky’s steakhouse in Montecito, where according to USWeekly then-pregnant McPhee “chatted about purchasing a home in the area to raise their child close to Archie”.
The runaway husband
The native Canadian moved to London in the mid-sixties with his band The Strangers, where the “clean-cut horrible dance band” as Foster referred to them, supported Chuck Berry, whom Foster found to be an “asshole”. “There’s no other way of putting it,” Foster says in his Netflix documentary, claiming Berry’s guitar was always “out of tune” and that he just “crank away … He didn’t really care what was going on behind him. It was just not a good fit.”
But after relocating to Los Angeles in the mid-seventies, he really came into his professional stride and produced some of the most recognisable ballads of the 20th century, including Whitey Houston’s version of “I will always Love you”, Celine Dion’s “Because You Loved Me” and Madonna’s “You’ll See.
Alongside his extensive musical accolades, Foster has been married five times and has six children, most of whom are grown up. Through his marriage to Yolanda Hadid he was also stepfather to Gigi, Bella and Anwar Hadid and through his earlier marriage to actress Linda Thompson, he was stepfather to Brody Jenner of The Hills fame. Incidentally Thompson’s other high profile ex is Caitlyn Jenner, who is father to Brody and also Kardashian stars Kendall and Kylie. Quite the “blended family”.
Foster gained mainstream fame when he appeared alongside his fourth wife Yolanda on the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills for three series between 2012 to 2016. Viewers watched as the couple’s seemingly perfect marriage began to deteriorate alongside Yolanda’s battle with Lyme disease, which saw her bed-bound and in chronic pain by the end of the third series. Around the same time the couple announced their surprise split, fuelling speculation that Foster had left his wife on account of her illness, something he has refuted.
Speaking about his marital history on his Netflix documentary, Foster described himself as a “runner” in relationships. Foster went on to say: “I have been an asshole a lot…when things get rough or bad, rather than working it out, I run."
Foster is currently married to his fifth wife, singer McPhee, who he regularly collaborates with musically and the couple share a six bedroom, 4000 sq ft mansion in the Brentwood Park neighbourhood in Los angeles.