I was sad to miss King Charles in York. My only royal encounter ended with Prince Philip turning away in disgust | Emma Beddington

Celebrity sightings are a rare thing where I live. But it seems to have been a low-key affair – just a little light egg chucking

I’m currently away from home and was furious to miss King Charles’s recent visit to York. Not because I wanted to examine the fine cut of his tweed up close (though OK, partly for that), but because celebrity sightings are a rare thrill in my ’hood and it’s been more than a year since Tom Cruise was briefly sighted performing stunts on the nearby North Yorkshire Moors Railway.

Extracting eyewitness information on the royal visit proved challenging, though it seems to have been a low-key affair, bar a little light egg chucking. “York is not mad for it,” was my stepfather’s laconic verdict (my sister and I did have a moment of wondering whether he was the egg chucker); a friend claimed not even to have noticed it was happening.

Thankfully, the sterling work of the York Press filled in the gaps, with a live blog and witness accounts of the gratuitous dressing up – sorry, “pageantry” (as with that apocryphal New York City saying about rats, in old York you’re never more than 6ft from a man in a tunic, brandishing a halberd). Particular highlights included a closeup picture of the four thrown eggs and a letter complaining that the statue of the Queen the King came to unveil was “too fat”.

Will I get another chance? Beddington family royal encounters thus far have been limited, with the exception of my father who, as the former president of London zoo, has met more of them than generations of the rest of us put together. I was once idly (OK, avidly) watching a trashy French gossip show and was startled to see him, full screen, in the company of a lilac-clad Reine Elizabeth, under the heading: “the celebrity week”. They were feeding an elephant, I think, but he’s too discreet to tell me more.

I have only met Prince Philip: he loomed in my direction after a David Attenborough talk, asked me what I did, then turned away in wordless disgust when I told him. The perfect royal encounter, no notes. Perhaps it’s better to leave it at that.

  • Emma Beddington is a Guardian columnist

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