The Kazakhstan tycoon who bought Prince Andrew's house is being tipped as his country's next president – with glamorous London socialite Goga Ashkenazi as his possible first lady.
There are claims that current dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev, 71, is suffering from cancer and may be preparing to relinquish power.
A Nazarbayev aide yesterday named Timur Kulibayev, who is thought to be Miss Ashkenazi's lover, as a leading candidate to take over as Kazakh prime minister next month in a move that could pave the way for him becoming president.
Goga Ashkenazi: Prince Andrew's friend, millionaire businesswoman and society girl, could become the first lady of Kazakhstan
Mr Kulibayev – who bought Andrew's marital home Sunninghill Park for £3million over the £12million market price – is Nazarbayev's son-in-law as well as a powerful player in the country's economy.
There was speculation yesterday that if he secures the presidency he might ultimately appoint Miss Ashkenazi, 31, as first lady rather than his wife Dinara, 42, Nazarbayev's daughter.
He and Miss Ashkenazi, a businesswoman who is also close to the Duke of York, have one child. Mr Kulibayev, 45, is named as the father on her British-born son's birth certificate.
The daughter of a top Soviet official, Miss Ashkenazi was attended boarding school here.
Lover: Miss Ashkenazi with Timur Kulibayev, who is a leading candidate to take over as Kazakh prime minister
Society girl: Prince Andrew and Miss Ashkenazi at Ascot in 2007, when she was introduced to the Queen