Rod Liddle says that young princes in their twenties will always prefer a peroxide blonde with a non-U name to a fragrant, well-spoken English rose
This has been a difficult week. I am still trying to come to terms with the fact that I was responsible for the traumatic break-up between Prince William and Kate Middleton. It is a terrible thing to have on one’s conscience, the dashing of young love and the hope and expectation of a nation. It’s not, of course, that I’ve been spotted dancing the night away and canoodling in Chinawhite with Kate, or Wills for that matter. I’ve never, ever, pawed a royal or a wannabe royal in a nightclub, not even Princess Michael of Kent. My involvement, though, was scarcely less destructive: I’m a journalist, and the royals think we’re to blame — we hacks with our relentless, panting pursuit of the couple.
Indeed, a lot has been written about the now-terminated romance. I wasn’t among the huge tranche of seedy journalists who popped out from behind a bush whenever Kate and Wills were seen going about their business and then wrote thousands upon thousands of articles saying ‘Sad Kate Buys a Silver Belt’ or ‘Kate Walks Down a Street By Herself’ or (just this week) ‘Shattered Kate Buys a Tennis Racket’. (Prepare yourself for the follow-ups: ‘Desolate Kate Buys Some Tennis Balls’ and ‘Tearful Kate Plays a Game of Tennis’ and ‘Useless Kate Loses in Straight Sets’.) Nor was I among that more pious group of colleagues who wrote a total of 921 articles entitled: ‘Why Kate and Wills Really Must Have Their Privacy’ (accompanied by a picture of the two of them, looking extremely harassed). I was part of that smaller rump of hacks who wrote a total of 722 articles entitled: ‘Why I Couldn’t Give a Monkey’s About Wills and Kate’. 723 now, I suppose. It adds up, all that pressure.
I suppose we should take their word for it that it’s our fault. According to the Sun they had a tearful parting of the ways in an Alpine ski resort, the two of them photographed off-piste looking thoroughly piste off. There have been sotto voce briefings of a somewhat melodramatic nature, too, from the royal press machine: we couldn’t allow another ‘Diana’ to happen, and so on. No indeed. That being said, Kate Middleton’s relationship with the press and particularly the paparazzi was always a little, shall we say, ambivalent. Like most women, she enjoyed having her photo taken when she looked quite fit, but was less keen on the, uh, intrusion when she’d forgotten her lippy and had been on the sauce a bit the night before.
It has also been pointed out, though, that the class difference between Wills and Kate might have doomed their relationship from the start. William, as befits a blueblood, is expected to squire around girls with names like Anunciata Ptaang Ptaang Ole Biscuit Barrel, or Isabella Anstruther-Gough-Calthorpe. One of those ludicrous names I made up, the other is a real person and ‘confidante’ of Prince William — it’s for you to work out which is which. Kate Middleton, meanwhile, is the sort of name you or I might have, if we were born to people called Middleton and were a girl. If you get my drift. Her parents are not cut from royal cloth, not even cut from the 100,000 tea cloths Woolworths were reported to have printed commemorating the — sadly — now never-to-be marriage. They have not owned Northumberland for 700 years and don’t speak as if being strangled by an errant serf. They instead trousered a swift few million quid selling party accessories and speak like BBC newsreaders. Can’t have a normal person in the royal family — and certainly not one whose parents were engaged in trade. For sure, Kate’s priorities seemed steadfastly middle-class: commitment and marriage, please, rather than just a quick spot of how’s yer father. (He’s mad as a march hare, actually, since you asked.)
The implication seems to be that Wills thought Kate a little non-U and thus not suitable material for the family firm. My suspicion is that precisely the opposite is true and that Wills was casting ever more envious glances in the direction of his younger brother, who has taken up with a well-endowed (physically, I mean, rather than by lineage) peroxide blonde called Chelsy who hails from Zimbabwe. I don’t know how much more non-U one can get than that. You’d think that if her parents were going to name the poor girl after a football team, they’d at least have made sure they spelled it right. Frankly, Chelsy Davy is about as ‘U’ as a DFS settee with a lace antimacassar, or one of those French Connection tracksuits with ‘Live To FCUK’ written on the back. And that, I think, is the way the young male royals like it, for a bit — before they are forced to settle down at the age of 28 for a life of exquisite misery with Lady Winstrop Immaculata Starborgling or someone. For Wills and Harry, life is mapped out and the years before the 28th birthday are given over to the energetic and relentless flinging about of royal seed, preferably on the stoniest of ground.
It only remains, then, for those who precipitated the split to offer advice to the star-crossed former couple. More than happy to help. When the break-up of my own marriage was, inexplicably, the subject of a certain limited press interest three years ago and nasty, wounding things were being written, seemingly, every other day, I Maintained a Period of Dignified Silence. I explained the reasons for my Dignified Silence first in a lengthy article for this very magazine and then in a more abbreviated form for the Times and the Daily Express. Later, I felt the moral need to reiterate the reasons for my Dignified Silence, which I did once again for The Spectator (‘The Dignified Silence Continues’) and indeed GQ magazine (‘Why I Will Not Write About the Break-Up of My Marriage But Wish Instead To Maintain a Dignified Silence’). My girlfriend, Alicia, expressed her wish to remain similarly silent in a 1,000-word article for the Mail on Sunday. In the end, nobody in the country was left in any doubt as to our joint commitment to maintaining a Dignified Silence.
Thus we retained, unequivocally, the moral high ground and at the same time were able to fund an agreeable holiday on the Indonesian island of Lombok, business class both ways and a suite with an outdoor Jacuzzi, in-house entertainment complex with DVD library and splash pool. I suggest to Kate a similar approach. At these sorts of times, a Dignified Silence is always the best policy, I’ve found. Time, the two of them will discover, is a great healer, especially when aided and abetted by unexpected sums of money.