As someone who has never waved a Union flag at any royal wedding or birth or [insert whatever event royals deem noteworthy here], it might seem a little odd to trek to the West End on a wet Tuesday evening in November to hear ‘The Inside Stories on Royal Exclusives’. However, a frank conversation with the Royal editor for the London Evening Standard as well as Princess Diana’s personal protection officer delivered wit, insight and a little bit of a gossip on a particularly peculiar British family.
Ken Wharfe and Robert Jobson
Ken Wharfe and Robert Jobson presented - like two sides of a penny - the crown and her tails, a phrase which here means two slightly different takes on the same story. “Uncle Ken” reflecting reminiscently on how splendidly Diana performed her duties as both a royal and a mother, whilst never compromising security “even once”. Jobson on the other hand, quick to point out that Diana had several affairs and played against Charles just as much as he did her.
That’s not to say however that Ken Wharfe presented a peachy rose-tint on the royals. Far from it. In fact, one of the most poignant moments of the night came from Ken looking back on how Harry and Will would ask “any chance we could have a fight Ken?” as kids do. Only for the Prince of Wales to provide a stony “hope you’re not getting beat up” whilst passing-by as Ken took the punches. Ken explains, he “felt very uncomfortable. Charles should have been there.”
On the flip side Robert Jobson highlighted the Prince of Wales' ability to bring people together and emphasised that you shouldn’t judge him just on Diana, but on his charity work and all the good that he has achieved in his role as Prince. Like any leading commentator Jobson also rose some fundamental and important points about the current and future state of the crown. The idea that our flexible constitution has transitioned us towards something of a ‘dual-monarchy’ is something for the constitutional lawyers to grapple with another day.
More interestingly was the observation that the royals are partisans, leading issues on the environment, housing and knife crime to a greater extent than most of our politicians. Whether government ministers will respect a King Charles in the same way as his mother has been, at least in terms of being regularly consulted, is something Jobson explained only time would tell. Although Jobson made it clear it would be a loss if minister don’t, asserting that had Charles had to deal with Tony Blair’s dossier he would have demanded much more than the Queen ever did.
From Philip and the Queen having a domestic about losing car keys, to a journalist getting water bombed by our future King of England, the evening wasn’t without its very humorous anecdotes. Wharfe even admitted to accidentally allowing seven-year-old “rouge” Prince Harry to wander off on his own to Tower Records on Kensington Highstreet. I wonder if Harry preferred Bryan Adams or Cher?
I would also like to point out that any question from the audience regarding comparisons between Kate and Megan were met with the appropriate long sigh of weariness.
If pushed to pick an underlying theme of the evening, it would be that the royals have finally changed the way they deal with journalists, media and the press. The days of a small palace press team and ‘no comment’ in the early 90's are over. Today the cost of the press team for Prince Charles alone stands at around £1.5 million. What exactly this entails for the family is mostly yet to be seen.
I would finally like to say a very big thank you to the London Press Club for hosting the event and providing the wine and nibbles.
Links to the two speakers’ websites where you can also browse for their latest books can be found here:
Thank you to the London Press Club (https://londonpressclub.co.uk/) for organising such an entertaining and insightful event.