As I have mentioned before this time of year is particularly tiresome as I am inundated with invitations to spend Christmas at
One year, to get away from it all, I actually spent the holiday season at
Ever since Caroline of Ansbach beat George II at Scrabble and thereby indirectly caused the battle of Dettingen, it has been seen to be necessary for members of the royal family to be married to those less intellectually endowed than themselves. As generations of British idiots have been selected as hide-the-sausage partners for the royal house, there has been a diminution of mental prowess in succeeding generations, thereby making the “find a thicky” quest all the more difficult.
We should therefore congratulate prince Philip, whose task it has been to oversee the selection of prize fruitcakes as suitable mates for his offspring. In two cases (so far) he has had to go through the process twice.
Diana sometimes suspected that she was being made fun of, and would sulk, on one occasion Philip sent her to the kitchen for a “long weight”. That sort of thing. Philip is not so pleased with Camilla, because she thinks that everything that happens is a jape anyway, and guffaws like a herniated gibbon even when she is the butt of the joke. They had to drug her, apparently, to get her through the wedding without screeching. She was convinced that the ABofC was, in fact, Jeremy Beadle.
Duchess Fergie was a godsend. They had almost given up finding anyone more stupid than Andrew, but the British aristocracy can always be relied upon. It will be much more difficult should they try to find another for him. I am afraid they will have to follow the William route and go down-market. If anyone knows of a grade A airhead in need of a few bob, who wouldn’t mind putting up with a throwback for a husband, and could open a couple of playschools in Denbighshire each year, at a push, then let me know, and I will put the name forward.
Sophie Wessex and Dim Tim are quite unremarkable. They can sit for hours staring into space, and seem quite happy doing it. Philip has been known to use Admiral Laurence as a hat-stand. The poor chap doesn’t mind, but is not quite up to the job. Hats fall off whenever anyone walks past, because Tim salutes them.
But it was in the selection of the first partner that Philip excelled himself. Auberon Waugh used to say, and who are we to argue, that if you whistled, Mark Phillips would wet himself. I have never seen evidence of that. There is a rumour that his family were thinking of having him melted down and used as fertiliser, but he was saved that fate, and instead married to Anne. Phillips could trace his ancestry back, after only three generations, to a sheep named Trevor. Well, when I say he could trace his ancestry, that is a little unfair, he had to have someone do it for him. Philip was delighted with his choice, and never tired of making fun of Mark. Insisting on serving lamb for dinner was a game that he never tired of, and would repeatedly ask the boy about his family until the plates were empty.
I was with Phil and Liz as they watched the culmination of all of this at the weekend as dear Zara was presented with the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award. I have never seen Philip laugh so much, apart from, perhaps, that unfortunate incident with the queen mother and the fishbone. Liz kept up a commentary throughout. She had been amused by an article in the Telegraph a couple of weeks ago that referred to the ‘estuarisation’ of her accent. She can, of course, mimic almost anyone, and was in her element with Zara. (After the programme finished, she fished the speech from the latest opening of parliament out of her handbag, and rendered it into Zaraese; “My government are like, wow, amazing, yeah – we are toadally going to revise the immigration quota. I am all ‘Yeah, who wants any more freeloading Greeks, innit?’” and so forth).
So hats off to Zara. There has been a long line of inarticulate buffoons on this particular programme – Paul Gascoigne, Terry Downes, Ian Botham and Lester Piggott (whose speech impediment allowed him to tell a particularly disgusting tale about dame Kiri te Kanawa, without anyone having the least idea what he was saying) to select but a few, but our Zara outdimmed them all. Amazing. I was like “Wow, she should get her own series”.