From my men to my hair colour – unlike Charles, you can ask me anything!
14:57 GMT, 19 November 2012
Prince Charles has been on the receiving end of some strong criticism (quite a bit from me) over the years, ranging from the vast number of staff he employs to his habit of writing spidery black ink memos to government Ministers on a huge range of subjects from architecture to medicine.
Some might find it odd that such an opinionated fellow has been strangely silent on the one subject dominating the news for weeks: Jimmy Savile.
Since the DJ has been uncovered as the most prolific paedophile in British history, his pal Princes Charles, who dined at Savile’s small house in the Highlands and who made a public statement saying he was saddened when the DJ died in October 2011, has been strangely silent.
Fobbed off: Prince Charles refuses to come clean about his lifestyle
In fact, the Prince has been thousands of miles away on a Diamond Jubilee tour of far-flung parts, including Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand.
The Prince celebrated his 64th birthday at Government House in Wellington last week and met Peter Jackson, director of the Hobbit trilogy and actor Mark Hadlow, who plays a dwarf in the movie, which opens there later this month.
To coincide with his birthday, the Prince’s website has been updated to include some ‘frequently asked questions’, and some members of the press dutifully reported this earth-shattering event as if it would finally dispel all the carping stories about the Prince that have built up over the years. But when you log on, it turns out to be pretty thin gruel.
There’s nothing about talking to plants or his relationship with his former valet Michael Fawcett (who allegedly sold gifts the Prince didn’t want). We are told he dutifully pays 50 per cent tax on his income from the Duchy of Cornwall ‘after deducting business-related costs’.
Contrary to the story printed in Jeremy Paxman’s book On Royalty in 2006, he claims he does not ask for seven boiled eggs for breakfast and then only chooses one to eat. We are not told why the Prince has so many staff, but are fobbed off with 'the majority . . . work on the farm and estate or in the garden at Highgrove. The remainder ensure the smooth running of the Royal Household'.
You’ve got the drift, it’s a right load of Royal flannel. You and I know our households would run so much more smoothly if only we had staff!
Daily Mail columnist Janet Street-Porter, meanwhile, is happy to come clean on everything
More from Janet Street Porter…
JANET STREET PORTER: I won't raise a glass to this new fashion for abstinence
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Janet Street-Porter: Relax! My Generation needn't be so anxious
Janet Street-Porter: We need female judges to punish these predators
This was never just about Jimmy Savile. Too many men in TV and radio see women as smutty playthings
JANET STREET PORTER: Megan's mother will think she's failed in some way, but every teenager has the right to keep secrets
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VIEW FULL ARCHIVE
As for tax, it depends what you classify as legitimate business expenses . . . as the House of Commons Select committee discovered last week, HMRC are not exactly cracking down on big corporations like Starbucks or Amazon, so we can be certain that the Prince has excellent (costly) tax advisors to ensure he is allowed to claim every single expense possible under current law.
Prince Charles’s FAQs are just another bit of PR, designed to deflect criticism of his expensive royal tours, his chefs, valets, and nit-picking obsession with government policy, when he is not yet King.
Nevertheless, I admit FAQs are a good way of pretending you’re normal, just like everyone else (ha ha) so here are my answers to some of the irritating FAQs I’ve received over the years:
How many times have you been married
It’s not that simple. Legally, four, although there was one in Las Vegas that was a mid-life crisis, and which I tried (unsuccessfully) to get annulled, so it still officially counts even though it doesn’t to me.
There was another one that got cancelled at the last minute, let’s call it 1A, and a couple of long-term men that I didn’t marry, in fact they each lasted longer than two of the husbands. I know it’s confusing and I’m thinking of turning it into a board game like Cluedo. My current partner has refused to marry me, and many people don’t blame him.
What is the colour of your hair
This is a trick question. Nice people want to know what tints I use, in what magic formula — the answer is two different vegetable dyes, slapped on in any combination, mixed in a pudding basin if applied at home. Nastier humans would like to know the colour of my real hair —and the simple answer is I DON’T KNOW.
My hair has been dyed since time immemorial — it’s like the Queen’s hairstyle, something created back in the Dark Ages. It’s been a lot of different colours, but it’s not been au naturel for almost half a century. Historically, it should be grey, but who knows
What is your favourite food
If I told you, you might be appalled. The truth is, the other weekend I ate roadkill, and was so happy. It ticked all the boxes — it cost nothing, was local, and free-range (in fact a bit too free-range, as both the rabbit and the pheasant were struck down by cars on the road near my house in Yorkshire).
I soaked the rabbit in milk and then casseroled it — delicious. I plucked the pheasant and roasted it. Sunday lunch sorted!
Who is your role model
Prince Charles for having hundreds of staff and claiming they are all ‘essential’. Camilla, for putting up with him and all his weird little ways, smiling her way through those ‘essential’ trips to places like Papua New Guinea when she’d probably rather put her feet up with her mates.
Certainly no one in government, the media or the pop world.
Otherwise, probably Basil Brush — his jokes were brilliant.
Have you had a face-lift
Obviously not, because if so, I would look about 30 years younger (for the time being at least, until it sagged again).
Why don’t you enter politics
There only one job I covet, and it’s not possible in a democracy. Dictator.
ENOUGH AGA SAGA – I'M BUYING AN IKEA HOTPLATE
Not worth the hassle: the Aga oven
Last Friday, with impeccable timing, at the start of the weekend, a pan boiled over on my Aga, knocking out all the electricity, crashing computers, setting off alarms and confusing the central heating timer. UGH!
The Aga is so ‘brilliantly’ designed, the main controls on models that run on off-peak electricity are situated directly below the hot plate.
Of course, the ruddy thing then refused to work, and after numerous phone calls, pleading, and grovelling, I persuaded the nearest service agents (an hour’s drive away) to come and sort it out on Saturday.
The night before I had been reading The Middle Class ABC by Fi Cotter-Craig and Zebedee Helm (John Murray, 14.99) and chortling at how accurately they skewered so many aspects of my life, from compulsive jam-making to fanatical dish-washer loading and vegetable growing.
Luckily I did not read their Aga entry: ‘No one will ever question your Middle Class Credentials if you are in possession of one.
Invented by the Aga Khan (who is the only person rich enough to run one), Agas are too hot to sit on and too cool to cook in.
They are marvellous, however, for burning money, drying tea towels and warming pets.
In Aga households, don’t expect to sit down to Christmas dinner until about teatime on Boxing Day’.
I am off to IKEA to buy a cheap hotplate and a small oven. Life’s too short to persevere with just an Aga.
THE LAST THING KIDS NEED IS A FLEXIBLE FRIEND
A new company is offering a prepaid debit card for children, accepted at selected shops and which can be used to withdraw cash. They won’t be able to buy alcohol or cigarettes, but, if parents consent, the card can be used at retailers such as Hamleys and Superdry.
There are costs involved — a 5 joining fee per family, 1 membership per child per month and 50p every time cash is withdrawn. This seems a costly way to show children how to control their finances. Surely the best way to teach any child about managing money is to make them use cash
The easy availability of credit has led to cripplingly high levels of debt in the UK — the charity Credit Action reckons consumer borrowing (excluding mortgages) rose to 3,208 per adult last September, and the Citizens Advice Bureau says it dealt with 8,465 new debt problems each working day in the year to June 2012.
To stick to a budget, the best way of shopping is to only pay in cash.
And parents may end up having to send back toys and clothes they don’t approve of.
Mum and Dad — just say no!