An explosive new book on Prince Charles is released this week, and in it, a bunch of claims about how he likes to live and travel. He’s referred to as particular, out of touch and rude. It reveals how he insists on travelling with a complete staff and all his own furnishings, including his own toilet seat and toilet paper.
His own pre-mixed drinks with his own glass. And so the list goes. I wasn’t surprised when I read all this, mainly because I’ve had the unique and bizarre opportunity to travel with Prince Charles quite by accident.
So I’ve seen the demands, the grey men and the petulant behaviour first hand. It was like witnessing a spoilt child. The first we knew that we were going to be in the presence of the Prince was when a Singapore airlines employee pulled us aside at check-in and in hushed tones announced that the seats we’d booked had now been allocated to someone else, therefore we were being moved to different ones but within the same cabin.
We weren’t phased at all by this news, but before we could say ‘no worries’, the employee had offered up free first class upgrades on our next trip and generous duty-free vouchers by way of compensation. We thought this was a bit OTT given moving a seat seemed no big deal, but the staff seemed bristling with urgency and nerves. “What’s going on.. really?” the journalist in me asked in a hushed tone matching hers.
“Oh, look, can’t really say too much,” the employee whispered, “just that it’s imperative there’s no fuss made, as we have a couple of.. well, quite important VIP’s on board.”
“Who are they?” I immediately asked.
“Can’t say,” she replied.
“Come on..” I urged.
“Well one’s a Royal,” she whispered, “and the other a celebrity.”
It wasn’t until boarding that I saw in our little cabin of 12 seats, Prince Charles seated in front of me, and to my left, David Beckham. I was way more enamoured with Beckham than the Prince to be honest. I mean if you think he’s dreamy in pictures, you should see him in real life. “Don’t even think about it,” my husband hissed at me as I got my phone into selfie mode. “Don’t you dare, leave him alone,” he urged. But I couldn’t resist, minutes later I was taking selfies with David Beckham, chatting kids and soccer.
He was delightful. But back to Prince Charles. Over the course of that flight, I witnessed a Prince who was stuffy, curmudgeonly, out of touch and arrogant. His little grey henchmen, all older men like him, (whom he barked at non-stop), spent the entire flight rushing around like flustered nanas in suits, putting Scottish oatcakes onto silver platters with cheese, cutting the tops off his boiled eggs, taking him drinks in yes, his own glass.
At one point in the night, I got up to use the toilet. I was stopped by a raised arm from a bodyguard. "Go back to your seat," he directed me, "you’ll have to wait." "Yes, I’ll wait," I replied, thinking he was stating the obvious. "No, wait back at your seat," he ordered.
Turns out one is not allowed to wait outside a loo while one’s royal highness is peeing. Usually I don’t believe the allegations made in these unauthorized biographies, but this time personal experience tells me much of the claims are spot on.