Slamming six huge, golden tequilas down before me, he utters the terrifying words: “Let the games begin.”
So goes my introduction to the playful court of the “King of Fun”– and the uncle of the future Queen of England.
Within minutes of meeting Gary Goldsmith, the supposed “black sheep” of the Middleton clan, I quickly realise he is not joking about the shots.
It really is a case of my liver or my pride.
From everything I had seen and read of the tattooed, 48-year-old businessman – brother of Carole Middleton and uncle to Kate and Pippa – I was fully prepared to spend my afternoon in the company of a, well, chavvy brute.
Instead, at his London private members’ club, Home House, I’m faced with a dapper, Gieves & Hawkes suit-wearing chap.
“Everyone always assumes the worst,” he sighs. “People see my tattoos, read stuff and think I’m this awful, dodgy bloke.
“It couldn’t be further from the truth.
“I am incredibly proud of my family, incredibly close to them and immensely proud of all that I have achieved.
“I’m a self-made businessman. No one got me to the position I’m in today.
“I did it myself, through hard work and putting in the hours. I’m the least dodgy man on the planet.
“So the idea I am not close to my family, or the scourge of the Royal Family, is absolute rubbish.
“I couldn’t be more proud of Carole and Mike, and the wonderful three children they have brought up.”
Of course, thanks to Kate, these “children” are now three of the world’s most talked-about siblings.
While Gary is closest to nephew James, 26, he is still in touch with Kate, 31, and Pippa, 29, and cannot wait for the new baby.
In so doing, the couple would be making royal history – the inaugural, first-born girl to be made Queen.
“My suspicion is that they’re having a baby girl,” he smiles. “But, of course, I don’t know that for fact.
“I believe Kate and William have kept the sex of their child a secret to everyone but themselves.
“They’re a very modern couple and I believe William will be as hands-on as Kate with the parenting. That’s the genius of it.
“They’re modernising the Royal Family and doing a wonderful job of it.
“It would be brilliant, wouldn’t it, if they do have a little girl? To have one of my family, my niece, making history will be absolutely unbelievable.”
Gary and Kate’s mum, Carole, had a very different upbringing to what the royal baby can expect.
He says: “We were the kids of a painter and decorator who absolutely doted on my mother – a real character who also worked hard as an accounts clerk and in a small jewellery shop.”
Fun-loving Gary, known as Uncle G, is currently considering gifts for the new arrival. He says: “But what do you get the baby who will have everything?
“I went to Asprey’s recently and saw an amazing, huge elephant rocker, like Dumbo, for about £70,000. Or there was a chest of some first edition Tintins.
“But because family is so important to Kate – she is incredibly close to Caroleand Pip – I would rather get something personal and more meaningful. Although I did like that elephant…!”
On the subject of large, grey mammals, his universally famous niece is sometimes the “elephant in the room”.
Four-times married Gary has been asked to write a book and appear on several TV shows but so far he has turned down all offers.
“People have told me that I’d be good on telly,” he grins.
“Would I do I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!? Well, I love my food and my wine so I’d struggle on that front but I am game for anything and up for a challenge.”
Something he proves when, before lunch, the dad-of-one – to 11-year-old daughter Tallulah – challenges me to a game of tennis.
He was taught to play by Carole as a child and still has daily lessons. I, on the other hand, have not played for 14 years.
But because Gary made me promise to mention it before disclosing the result – I won, easily – I confess I used to play county tennis.
Anyway, match over, Gary orders three Long Island iced tea cocktails each before we head to Heron Tower, in the City of London, and the Duck & Waffle restaurant some 40 floors up.
Within minutes come the tequilas, a glass of rosé and a vodka and lemonade.
I mention, in passing, that I have never tried uber-expensive Cristal champagne and he orders a bottle of 2005 Louis Roederer.
It is 2.30 in the afternoon.
Next come the drinking games and, four hours later, we are still going strong – swaying slightly and hiccuping.
But still alive. Gary Goldsmith is not called the King of Fun for nothing.
Business, however, is serious. Eight years ago he sold his shares in recruitment consultancy SThree PLC for £17million.
Thanks to other investments and consultancy work, he is worth £30million. But like his working-class family, he strived hard for his cash.
“I prided myself on being first in the office and the last one out,” he says. “But I’ve always been sociable and have long been known by friends and colleagues as the King of Fun. I love it.
“Even when working, I’d make sure I’d be first at the bar getting the shots in and at the end, the last man standing, making sure everyone got home.
“Next morning, I would be sure I was back in the office first thing.”
However, Gary almost lost everything after an undercover sting nearly three years ago.
Hounslow-bred, local comp-educated Gary was secretly filmed chopping up a line of cocaine at his £6million villa in Ibiza – La Maison de Bang Bang.
Yet Gary never fell out with the royals or the Middletons over it.
He says: “I saw Camilla at the palace and she was absolutely lovely.
“She made a beeline for me, introduced herself and told me not to worry about it all.”
Indeed, Gary was invited to William and Kate’s 2011 wedding.
He cannot speak highly enough of William, who has stayed in La Maison, but says Kate had a very happy, and busy, life PW – pre-Wills – with not a poster of the Prince in sight.
“She never did any of that, never had posters of William – she and Pip were always far too cool for that,” he says.
“I remember pictures of Kate when she was a toddler, sat in my parents’ garden, balancing on this rockery in this fish pond my dad made from an old corner bath.
“We were all sitting there thinking, ‘Just one picture, don’t fall in’… and that girl there is now one of the most iconic women on the planet. And I’m her uncle…”
Yep, Uncle G may have the liver of an ox but, it also transpires, he has a heart of gold. Who knew?
- Royal Baby Watch 2013: As Kate Middleton Due Date Nears, Uncle Talks Baby Gender: ‘It Could be a Girl’ (latinospost.com)
- Where’s the royal baby? (hollywoodrama.wordpress.com)
- Kate’s uncle Gary discusses royal baby’s arrival (hellomagazine.com)
- duchess kate royal baby birth chelsea strip (thesun.co.uk)
- Carole Middleton anticipates role as royal grandmother (vancouversun.com)
- Royal baby watch: Kate Middleton will give birth to girl, suspects uncle Gary Goldsmith (mirror.co.uk)
- Kate’s uncle predicts the royal baby will be a girl (hellomagazine.com)
- Royal baby news: Kate Middleton and Prince William’s baby to be born “by the end of the week” (hollywoodrama.wordpress.com)
- Royal baby: Camilla hopeful Kate Middleton will give birth ‘by the end of the week’ (metro.co.uk)
- Royal baby: ‘I suspect it’s a girl’ says uncle to Duchess of Cambridge – Telegraph.co.uk (telegraph.co.uk)