John Harris: An open letter to Prince Charles

John Harris: Though some people think Britain would be well-advised to take the republican-lite option of going all Scandinavian and ushering in a bicycling monarchy, we may as well whistle for it.

This week's revelations about your journal prove one thing beyond doubt: though some people think Britain would be well-advised to take the republican-lite option of going all Scandinavian and ushering in a bicycling monarchy, we may as well whistle for it. After all, your views on British Airways club class - that nirvana of unlimited fine wine, good cheese and bespoke toilet bags, about which us coach-class scum can only dream - speak volumes. "It puzzled me," you moaned, "as to why the seat was so uncomfortable." Too right, sir! I bet it was only regular stretching exercises that saved you from a very un-royal attack of DVT.

Still, maybe it was a start. So, by way of further introducing you to the lifestyles of those from slightly lower social orders, you're hereby invited to try the following experiences:

Eating out at the Ivy

Lovely food (lobster and chips, sticky toffee pudding) in cosy surroundings, but get this: (i) there will be other people around (ii) in fact, there's a fair chance that someone utterly ghastly - Victoria Beckham, say - could come up to your table for a chat. Remember her? She was one of those awful women who pinched your bum in 1997. Anyway, they might even serve up your beloved mutton here, if you ask nicely. Which, of course, you probably won't.

Taking a cheap foreign break

Richard Branson (beard, planes, big teeth - you know him!) owns a rather vulgar place, near Barbados, called Necker Island, where you can rent "a three-tiered Balinese house", complete with a "cushioned relaxation room", for £13,000 per week. At those kind of prices, you'll probably have to mix with people from Stevenage and wear a wristband to get fed and watered.

Slumming it at a British hotel

The Savoy - which is in central London, not that far from your mum's house - is currently offering "Weekend packages" at £269 for one night, including champagne on arrival, valet parking, a full English breakfast, and a double room described as "luxurious" - which, to you and the wife, will probably suggest the abode of a 19th-century Cornish tin miner. But still - stick it out for one night, and you may finally be able to understand your people's plight (NB: call in advance to find out what happens at that all-important "squeeze out toothpaste" moment).

Travelling first class on trains

Where to begin? These depart at set times. Oh, and they might ask you for a ticket. But never mind that: you get a little lamp on your table, along with complimentary tea and crisps. Just don't try it at the weekend. Then, people pay £10 for what's known by the lower orders as an "upgrade", and all sorts of awful people are allowed in. Like Victoria Beckham, only worse.

Taking a Taxi

This is kind of the same as being chauffeured, only without the smoked glass - and if there's more than three in your party, someone will have to sit on a fold-down seat (William probably won't mind - that's Diana-ish behaviour). You will have to remember to get a receipt (Why not write "civil list" on it, by way of a reminder?), and probably put up with attempts at conversation from the driver - things like, "That Prince Charles, eh? What a knob!".


John Harris

The GuardianTramp

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