The London Evening Standard got giddily excited about the visit of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall to its offices on Wednesday, hailing the “historic” occasion across pages one and three.
However, for Monkey the most historic aspect of the royal tour was the fact that Standard proprietor Evgeny Lebedev had shaved off his beard.
Londoners had grown accustomed to the Russian’s meticulously groomed facial hair, but on Tuesday it had been trimmed to a sad shadow of its former self.
Lebedev wrote a droll comment piece on Jeremy Paxman’s beard for the paper some 18 months ago, which described the Standard proprietor in the standfirst as “London’s beard guru”.
“A beard, like a great work of art or literature, must meet its public fully formed,” he wrote.
He added: “Beards transform faces in different ways … I have been told people encounter my facial hair and see the last Emperor of Russia. In Russia itself, I’m more likely to be considered a Chechen terrorist or a Hasidic Jew (both comments made by my grandmothers, concerned I might be beaten up or arrested). In a North African souk recently people kept shouting ‘Ali Baba! Ali Baba!’ at me, which is a little surprising given I was probably the only non-Arab there.”
On Wednesday, Lebedev also sported a relatively sober blazer and waistcoat – albeit teamed with a black shirt and dark designer jeans – in contrast to his formal attire, which occasionally appears to be regally inspired.
Monkey hears that editor Sarah Sands spent weeks encouraging Standard staff to tidy their desks for the visit. It sounds like the effort was worth it, with football columnist Patrick Barclay telling PA: “Journalists are such hard-bitten, cynical people – we are trained to be. I am trained to elbow footballers aside so I can get to Lionel Messi, and treat them as a commodity, but somehow on days like this... I was just taken by how warm and friendly and easy [Charles] was. I always joke with my family that if we had a republic, I would vote for Prince Charles as president.”
But what Monkey really wants to know is if Lebedev’s beard will be making a return – and if so, will it get its own Twitter account?