Hit & Run: Blue blood, black sheep

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The Independent Online

Perhaps Prince William should have thought twice when he arrived at Gary Goldsmith's Ibiza villa to find the £5m property was named Maison de Bang Bang. Doesn't sound like an "old money" sort of place, does it? Indeed, Goldmsith has a tattoo across his shoulders reading "Nouveau Riche". The property developer is Kate Middleton's uncle; she and the Prince stayed at Bang Bang in 2006. And last week Goldsmith was caught by the News of the World giving cocaine and ecstasy to an undercover reporter, then offering to put him in touch with ladies of the night.

Heaven forbid the blue bloodline of the House of Windsor be diluted by a drug dealer, let alone a middle class one. Yet before the Queen demands that Wills cut all ties with Goldmsith, she ought to glance at her own family tree, where she'd find her fair share of black sheep. For example, Lord Frederick Windsor (known as "Freddie") is the son of her cousin Prince Michael of Kent, and has been known to dabble with cocaine himself.

Such unbecoming behaviour seems to be a feature of each generation of royals. The Queen's uncle – and Freddie's grandfather – was George, Duke of Kent, who indulged in a string of affairs with both women and men. Among his lovers were Florence Mills, an African-American cabaret performer; singer Jessie Matthews; and, allegedly, Noël Coward.

Queen Victoria's daughter, Princess Louise, supposedly had affairs with Victoria's secretary, Lord Stamfordham; sculptor Joseph Edgar Boehm (and his assistant); and Edwin Lutyens. And Victoria's grandson, the Duke of Clarence, aka "Eddy", was a magnet for trouble. He was caught up in the Cleveland Street scandal of 1889, when his equerry was revealed to be a client at a male brothel.

Rumours that the Prince frequented the establishment were quashed after his premature death in 1892. But more than a century later, documents surfaced at an auction suggesting that, before his death, Eddy was blackmailed by two (female) prositutes, and paid them £200 in exchange for letters he had sent them.

Then again if it's criminal activity she's after, Her Majesty should take a look at her own daughter, Princess Anne, who in 2002 became the first royal to be convicted of a criminal offence, after one of her dogs bit two children in Windsor Great Park – contravening the Dangerous Dogs Act. And the Princess Royal was known to the authorities; in 2001 she'd been fined £400 and given five penalty points for driving her Bentley at 93mph. Tim Walker

McBride's class war

Gordon Brown's disgraced strategy adviser, Damian McBride, forced to resign in April after sending "juvenile and inappropriate emails" containing false and scurrilous rumours about senior Conservative figures, has a new job. He's gone back to his old school, Finchley Catholic High, where he will work as a business liaison officer. But will old habits die hard?

To: deldraper@redragmag.co.uk

From: macbeth@CathFinch.org

Hi Delboy, I'm settling in nicely, but students now breaking up for hols, so feel at loose end. Fancy some blog action? I thought you could use some gossip from the education world.



To: macbeth@CathFinch.org

From: deldraper@redragmag.co.uk

I thought we'd decided never to mention blogs ever again. Remember? Never. No blogs, no rumours, never again, nada. What kind of gossip?



To: deldraper@redragmag.co.uk

From: macbeth@CathFinch.org

Nothing incriminating. Finchley Church of England School needs taking down a peg. If I spread it about that their Under-18s rugby squad is full of gays and bed-wetters, you could use that, couldn't you?



To: macbeth@CathFinch.org

From: deldraper@redragmag.co.uk

Rugby? You want me to run smear stories about a school rugby team?



To: deldraper@redragmag.co.uk

From: macbeth@CathFinch.org

Just thinking. What are the rival schools round here? West Hampstead High? We could say its business liaison officer holds naked swine-flu parties for 15-year-olds. As for his wife...



To: macbeth@CathFinch.org

From: deldraper@redragmag.co.uk

No, McB. Your ideas are too deranged, too corrupt, too stupid. You're beginning to interest me... John Walsh

Drive a masterpiece, then mend it...

So the Warranty Direct index of reliability sees Mercedes-Benz close to the bottom of the pile, parked near Jeep and Seat. Anyone who knows about these things will tell you that Mercedes-Benz haven't been making cars properly for about 15 years now. Around that time the Mercedes bosses decided to stop "over engineering" their products. This was the quality that allowed their cars to serve you for decades and run as taxi cabs for – literally – millions of miles in the dustier corners of the world. Then they started making cars in the States, making small cars and generally skimping. The last E-Class saloon occasionally blew up. Having ditched their ill-starred alliance with Chrysler, Mercedes say they're getting their act together again. We shall see. Sean O'Grady

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