IT took me a while to understand why Prince Charles was so in love with Camilla Parker Bowles.
Then the penny dropped. She makes him laugh.
When you’ve had the weight of national duty on your shoulders since you were in short trousers, one imagines there’s nothing more liberating than an irreverent chuckle now and then.
Particularly when the majority of people you’re dutifully required to meet are often bowing, scraping, deeply earnest and frequently star struck.
So having someone who’s grounded, easy-going and a little bit naughty by your side helps immeasurably in breaking up a dull day.
And Camilla is all of those things.
Not to mention warm, strong, independent and very much able to hold her own in any company.
If you type “Charles and Camilla get the giggles” into Google, you’ll see numerous images of the soon-to-be crowned King and his wife chortling their heads off at various official ceremonies over the years.
Among others, they can be seen howling with laughter during a “cat organ” performance at Clarence House, stifling giggles while viewing a photo album of pasties in Mexico and, my own particular favourite, completely losing it while watching “throat singers” during a three-day official visit to Canada in 2017.
It’s clear to see that they have an easy rapport that was missing from his marriage to Princess Diana — not least, one suspects, because of their 13-year age gap and differing interests.
As a former royal correspondent, I accompanied Charles and Diana on two official tours, one to Indonesia in November 1989, and the other to Nigeria and Cameroon in March 1990.
It wasn’t until December 1992 that their official separation was announced, but on both trips it was clear that all was not well in their marriage.
To use a layman’s analogy that the rest of us can identify with, their permanent demeanour was that of a long-term couple who’ve argued in the car then arrived at a party where they smile maniacally at everyone else while secretly still glowering at each other across the room.
Diana had a great sense of humour, but they just weren’t on the same wavelength and, more often than not, seemed ill-suited and miserable together.
And you get the impression that would have been the case even if Camilla hadn’t been the third person in their marriage, as Diana so memorably described it.
It didn’t help that they were both prone to being moody, which meant the mutual sulks could go on for days.
By all accounts, Camilla is consistently genial and excels in simply ignoring her husband’s moods or jollying him out of them.
It also helps that she’s kept her own country bolthole for some “me time” when needs be.
And typically, rather than get caught up in the drama of Prince Harry’s “tell-all” autobiography Spare, she reportedly just rolls her eyes whenever it’s mentioned.
So, as she takes her place by Charles’s side for the Coronation this weekend, there will be plenty of Diana fans for whom the concept of “Queen Camilla” still sticks in the craw.
But it’s important for Charles and will ensure he’s a far happier, and therefore more effective, King.
So I’ll be raising a glass to our new Queen Camilla on Saturday.
The power behind the throne.
RISHI SUNAK’S mother-in-law, Sudha Murty, says her daughter Akshata “has managed to make her husband the Prime Minister of the UK”.
It’s reminiscent of the apocryphal (or maybe not?) story of when Hillary and Bill Clinton pulled in to a petrol station to find one of her ex-boyfriends manning the pumps.
Bill: “See? If you’d married him, you’d be working at a gas station.”
Hillary: “If I’d married him, he’d be President.”
Tickled pink by the idea of Barbie movie
WORDS I never thought I’d write, but . . . I’m really looking forward to the new Barbie movie starring Margot Robbie, with Ryan Gosling as Ken.
Early reports suggest it’s going to be a tongue-in-cheek hoot.
In one scene, smooth-groined Ken asks smooth-groined Barbie if he can stay the night.
“To do what?” she asks.
“I’m actually not sure,” he replies.
Fabulous. A refreshing change from intimacy coordinated gratuitous sex scenes.
Get a grip on ‘taxes’
THE Princess of Wales had her handbag snatched while on walkabout in the Welsh village of Aberfan last week.
Luckily, the “thief” was just a cute one-year-old called Daniel, who was teething and fancied a nice leather handle to chew on.
Perhaps he has a golden future in the world of retail PR?
For the handbag he grabbed was none other than a £695 “Amberley” bag from the quintessentially British brand Mulberry which, coincidentally, is having to close its flagship Bond Street store after 27 years. Why?
Because despite France and Italy continuing with the VAT-free shopping scheme that attracts foreign buyers, our Government decided to stop it, and consequently sales have dropped.
Now dozens of stores, big-name brands and airports are calling for what’s been dubbed the “tourist tax” to be abandoned, but will the Government listen?
At the very least, it should give them something to chew on.
Simply crazy, baby
WHEN my oldest daughter was a toddler, I was a single parent and fully responsible for paying all bills.
My job was demanding, so I suggested the introduction of an office-based crèche, funded by contributions from myself and other colleagues struggling to juggle parenting with work.
I was told in no uncertain terms to make my own childcare arrangements.
That was the early Nineties.
Fast forward 30 years and, post pandemic, some employers are so worried about the slump in productivity levels that they are trying to “lure” people back to work with offers of four-day weeks, extra time off for “duvet days” (sorry, whaaat?) and the provision of doggy daycare.
Cripes. I don’t know if I’m horrified or jealous.
Agent evens score
FOOTBALL agent Rafaela Pimenta says one of the biggest obstacles in her career is dealing with sexism “because in football many men believe they are the only ones that know”.
An arrogance so brilliantly skewered by Paul Whitehouse and Harry Enfield who, as football managers being interviewed by a female sports journalist, keep parroting: “Where’s the bloke? Get the bloke, luv.”
Rafaela adds that after exchanging several emails with a club executive and finally meeting him in person, he said: “So you really exist . . . I thought you were just a hooker from Brazil.”
And he wasn’t talking about rugby.
Still, as 50-year-old Rafaela represents Man City superstar Erling Haaland and negotiated his £51.2million transfer from Borussia Dortmund, as well as several lucrative sponsorship deals, one imagines she is very much having the last laugh.
AMERICA is in the grip of a national debate over whether or not you should keep butter in the fridge.
One man reported that he and his wife “almost had to go to counselling” over the issue, with her saying it belongs on the worktop and him wanting it kept in the fridge.
Seriously? Of course it should be kept out.
Or perhaps that’s because I live in the UK, where, even in the height of summer, the kitchen is still colder than the fridge.
JAMES CORDEN is thrilled to be returning home to the UK.
He says: “I am excited to be at home, excited to embrace this island I think is magnificent.
“This country is beautiful, it is perfect, it is flawed, and of course there are complexities.
“But when I see it from a distance, it just shines out to me as the most special place you could wish to be.”
Trouble is, up close it is a very different place to when he left eight years ago.
So let’s hope the reality lives up to his expectations.
HOLLYWOOD screenwriters are planning a strike in protest at the prospect of artificial intelligence taking over their jobs.
They want protections to ensure that AI won’t be programmed with their previous works to generate new scripts.
Anyone with daughters who has endured sitting through endless formulaic rom coms could be forgiven that chatbots already generate most of the scripts.
Nerdy girl joins new school. Hot boy doesn’t notice her.
Quirky best friend helps her transform to cool girl to get hot boy then gets ignored.
Hot boy turns out to be a creep, cool girl realises the error of her ways and reverts to nerd, apologises to quirky friend and gets with nice, normal boy who has been keen on her since day one. The end.
Have I missed anything?