Recalling the two younger Princes, the Prince of Wales’s housekeeper Wendy Berry found Edward ‘utterly charming and polite’, but Andrew (pictured) boorish and rude, writes CRAIG BROWN
On November 28, 2001, Gyles Brandreth attended a reception at Buckingham Palace for bigwigs in the media.
The Queen was telling a small group of guests how Prince Andrew and Prince Edward were keen on ‘surfing the Net’ (a phrase that nowadays seems rather quaint) when up behind them came the Duke of York.
‘Her Majesty moves on,’ Brandreth recorded in his diary, ‘and I say to her son, “I’ve just been hearing how you’re a dab-hand with a mouse.”’ “No,” he booms, “I’m more of a nipple man myself.”
After this revelation, the Prince drifts off and ‘bounds cheerily between female newscasters’.
Eighteen years on, it seems unlikely Prince Andrew will be cracking this sort of ‘joke’ at a future Palace reception, or even that he will be invited to one. And after his unfortunate encounter with Emily Maitlis, female newscasters may not hold quite the same appeal.
It’s fascinating how memories echo across time, giving off different sounds. For instance, in her 1995 memoir, The Housekeeper’s Diary, the Prince of Wales’s housekeeper Wendy Berry recalled Jimmy Savile dropping in at Highgrove on one of his regular visits.
‘As he waited for the Prince he puffed on his cigar and sent great clouds of blue smoke into the air. He knew that smoking was officially frowned on in the house but just laughed it off, saying, “Oh, the Boss won’t mind. He knows how much I like my cigars.”’
The Queen was telling a small group of guests how Prince Andrew (right) and Prince Edward (left) were keen on ‘surfing the Net’ (a phrase that nowadays seems rather quaint) when up behind them came the Duke of York, writes CRAIG BROWN
This was, of course, long before the sordid truth about Savile was known, which makes the housekeeper’s innocent account all the more telling.
‘Strolling around in his tracksuit, with the laces of his training shoes left undone, Jimmy Savile was the most unlikely spiritual comforter for Charles that could be imagined. He would drive up in his enormous mobile home and leave it parked like some incongruous monster in the back yard.
‘“Ah, Jimmy,” laughed the Prince as Paul [the butler] ushered him through to the drawing room. “How nice of you to come.” The pair remained shut away for over an hour.’
After his unfortunate encounter with Emily Maitlis (pictured), female newscasters may not hold quite the same appeal, writes CRAIG BROWN
Memoirs written below stairs tend to be infinitely more revealing than those written above. Recalling the two younger Princes, Wendy Berry found Edward ‘utterly charming and polite’, but Andrew boorish and rude. Her son James, who worked at Buckingham Palace, told her of Andrew’s tendency ‘to barge his way around the house, expecting to be looked after and served for every whim’.
A propensity for parading naked in front of staff was, it seems, evident. On a weekend’s shooting with the Duke of Westminster, ‘the Prince had just gone off for a bath when the bell rang. “Come in, come in,” shouted Andrew as James knocked on the door. “Where the bloody hell are my black socks — the ones with the stripe at the top?” He was standing in the middle of the room stark naked, vigorously rubbing his wet hair with a towel . . . Staff were practically invisible as far as he was concerned’.
On one occasion, a call from one of the staff was put through to the young Prince. Rather than politely telling the caller that the telephonist must have made a mistake, he simply barked, ‘Wrong bloody room, idiot,’ and hung up.
Another royal servant, Malcolm Barker, also found Prince Edward ‘kind and sensitive’ while Andrew ‘was a different matter’. In his 1990 memoirs, Barker recorded how, as an 11-year-old, Prince Andrew tied footmen’s shoe laces together and then ordered them about.
Ten years later, he noted that the Prince was ‘forever dragging the worst bunch of tarts up to dine with his mother, each seeming to compete with the previous for lack of brains. The one characteristic his girlfriends did not lack though was ample breasts’.
Another royal servant, Malcolm Barker, also found Prince Edward ‘kind and sensitive’ while Andrew ‘was a different matter’. Pictured: Prince Andrew (centre) in 1982
The only time I ever encountered Prince Andrew was more than 40 years ago, at a large house party in Scotland. I was 19 years old, so he would have been about 17. Over breakfast, three pretty girls who were sharing a bedroom told the rest of us that the Prince had barged into their room in the early hours of the morning, saying: ‘There’s a ghost in my room, so I’m going to have to sleep here.’
Needless to say, they booted him out, and for the rest of his stay he was that stock figure of English comedy, popularised by Benny Hill, the pompous oaf whose lascivious moves make him a laughing stock. Prince Andrew was young then and he is old now, but, judging by the recent events, he has yet to learn his lesson.