A funny thing happened on my way to lunch last week. I opened the Daily Mail and read a few snippets about the Camilla–Charles saga by Penny Junor, stuff to make strong men weep with boredom. But then a certain item caught my eye: ‘Camilla and the Queen finally met in the summer of 2000, when Charles threw a 60th birthday party at Highgrove for his cousin King Constantine of Greece… They shook hands, smiled at one another, Camilla curtseyed, and they had a moment or two of small talk before going to different tables for lunch.’
Hey, wait a minute, I told myself. You were there, for God’s sake, and had much too much firewater. It had obviously slipped my mind, 17 years and 5,000 booze-ups later. Thinking back, I remember it well. I had my driver pick me up nice and early from Cadogan Square, but we nevertheless had to speed like hell as the chauffeur was more familiar with the back streets of Delhi than the gentle rolling hills of the Cotswolds. The reason for my presence at Prince Charles’s country residence was obvious: King Constantine had included my name on his list. I had met Charles and Camilla before, but I wouldn’t exactly say I was an intimate.
If memory serves, and it does, it was a brilliant summer day and the guests were given a tour by Prince Charles — one I missed as I stayed behind chatting with Conrad Black. I said hi to Camilla, exchanged a few jokes with my king, and then proceeded to get drunk seated next to a certain royal I was stepping out with at the time. In fact, the certain royal’s mother warned me not to drive, nor to attempt cricket.