Virgin Airlines billionaire Richard Branson, who has been happily married to his wife Joan Templeman for nearly 30 years, has some tips on finding love.
“I think you have to work on it,” Branson, 68, told Page Six following the starry opening party for Virgin Hotels San Francisco on Friday. “I think if you just sit back and wait for it to come it’s not necessarily going to happen. I think you’ve got to be willing to subtly chase somebody if you’re really interested.”
The Virgin Group founder said despite Templeman, 71, being in a relationship when they first met, he never gave up on her. “With my own wife, I was known as ‘Tagalong,’” he revealed. “I would end up literally chasing. Finally, hopefully, they’ll give in.” He stressed, however, that while one should “be persistent,” you should also be “equally not over persistent.”
Noting that he sees tons of single people having trouble meeting someone special, Branson suggested he launch a Virgin Dating app. He also revealed what won over his wife, who, at the time, showed very little interest in the future billionaire.
The business magnate told us that when he was 27 years old, he followed Templeman to New York to try and convince her to join him on a romantic getaway. “I thought, ‘Well how could I persuade her to come away with me for the weekend?’…So I rang up an estate agent … I pretended I wanted to buy an island [in the Virgin Islands] and they said, ‘Well come on down. We’ll send you two tickets, we’ll find a helicopter, we’ll lay on a house for you.’
“I then rang [Templeman] back and said, ‘I’ve got a spare ticket, would you like to come down?’ and so she did come down and we found this beautiful island where we live now.” Branson reminisced about how on that trip together they were flying in a helicopter over Necker Island, and he looked over at Templeman and thought to himself, “Alright she’s going to be the mother of my kids. That’s where we’re going to live.”
Since then, Branson and his wife are still very much in love, share two children together, and they continue to keep the romance alive. “[We were] in Majorca [a few years ago] and I had to go on some sort of business thing and I left Joan behind in the airport,” he said. “As the plane was taxiing down the runway I suddenly thought, ‘I’ve got to stop this plane and go back and see her,’ so I jumped up, I went to the front of the plane and said ‘I’m sorry, I’ve got to get out off the plane,’ and they did stop the plane. They did let me off.” Branson recalled that everyone on his flight erupted into applause in support of his romantic gesture.
“I think she was pleasantly shocked,” he said. “Yeah, it was good.” While Branson has steadily remained a romantic, the entrepreneur’s physical fitness has changed quite a lot over the years. Branson, who shared that he was working out at the hotel gym at 4 a.m. after the bash, told us he is in the best shape of his life. “I look in the mirror and I can see my age, “ he said. “My body, I think now is like a 30-year-old’s body and it’s possible, as long as you look after yourself, it’s possible [to stay fit.]”
The business tycoon, who hid his fit physique under a black t-shirt and leather jacket, said he takes his fitness routine “very seriously.” “The reason I can do long days, hard work, a lot of traveling, is because I make sure that I keep fit and so every other day I’ll do weight training,” he said. On the other days, Branson plays a hard game of tennis, goes kite surfing, or bikes up and down hilly routes on his private island. As for his diet, he believes in eating healthfully and practicing portion control.
“I generally know what to eat and what not to eat and you know, you can have just as an enjoyable meal with healthy food as you can with non-healthy food,” he said.
In regards to alcohol, Branson drinks about an inch of wine at a time and “hopefully by the end of the evening, I’ve gone through one glass of red wine,” he said. “We all need our tricks.” A gym junkie to the core, Branson wants to stay active since he has no plans on slowing down.
“I remember thinking years ago, I met this 70-year-old businessman and I thought ‘Why the f—k are you still doing this?’” he said. “And now…I understand why he was doing it.” With a net worth of $4.5 billion under his belt and over 400 companies in his portfolio, Branson believes he will never retire.
“I just think if you’re in a position to be able to create things, make a difference, you know, it would be a waste not to do it,” he told us, adding that he spends most of his time setting up non-for-profit ventures on a global scale. “I will continue to create until I drop and I think life is that much more interesting and fun that way.