Ross quits as Covent Garden chair after nine months

David Ross has resigned as chairman of the Royal Opera House just months after being appointed by the Prime Minister.

He goes immediately with former chair Simon Robey standing in until a replacement is found 

Ross, a Conservative Party donor who has his own country house opera venue in Leicestershire, was appointed by No 10 last July and took up the post in September. Last summer Covent Garden decided to sell a David Hockney portrait of a former director to help fill losses incurred during the Covid lockdown, and one of Ross’s first acts as chairman was to buy the painting for £12.8m and leave it to continue to hang at the opera house.

The Carphone Warehouse millionaire said it had been a privilege to help get the Royal Opera House back on a sound financial footing, but no explanation has been given so far for his sudden departure.

“I am delighted that the Royal Opera House will reopen its doors for an exciting new season soon and that David Hockney’s magnificent painting of Sir David Webster will be on proud display for theatregoers to continue to enjoy” he said. “It is fitting that Webster has helped to secure the future of the institution that was so important to him.


The decision comes as the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards starts an investigation of a Caribbean holiday Boris Johnson and his fiancée tool in 2019 “facilitated” by Ross, and as his reappointment as a trustee of the National Portrait Gallery is pending.


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