It is a curious feature of the modern British monarchy that, on the rare occasions it chances upon a new recruit who appeals to the less prudish elements of the public imagination, it does all it can to cast them aside, and banish them from the Royal court.
For years before her untimely death, Diana, Princess of Wales, complained of persecution by Buckingham Palace, chiefly because she surpassed her in-laws in her ability to relate to the public. Diana's sister-in-law Sarah Ferguson, meanwhile, was never skilful at managing her own PR, but showed glimpses of the common touch before she was hung out to dry by the Palace machine.
Now, Chelsy Davy, the blonde 23-year-old daughter of a Zimbabwean businessman, who's been stepping out with Prince Harry for five years, has ended the relationship, in part, she says, because she has been made to feel unwelcome by the Windsors. Harry's military career was at odds with her desire for a quiet life, and their long-distance relationship had strained beyond breaking point.
But before Davy, who completes a Master's in law at Leeds University this year before taking up a job at City law firm Allen & Overy, walks off the public stage altogether, allow me to venture an opinion. She has spent the last five years surrounded by dimwits and toadies, and because she compared so favourably with them, she was perceived as a threat, and had to be neutralised, lest she expose their inadequacy.
I count among my closest friends half a dozen young men who were at Eton with the Windsor boys, and I can reveal that, in the opinion of their schoolmates, the princes were at best average students, at worst duffers. They weren't great at sport, music or acting. They were poor academically. William didn't get into Cambridge. Harry only managed a B and D at A-level. Our second and third in line to the throne were considered exceptionally unexceptional.
Consider, too, that other consort, Kate Middleton. When William and Middleton announced they'd split in 2007, people speculated that the Queen deemed Kate too middle class. This was never the case. Rather, she was, and is, too middle-of-the-road. Mediocrity is her middle name: that bland brunette hairdo, those ruddy cheeks, that inoffensive smile... the embodiment of a peculiarly English wallflower. The 27-year-old is now understood to be in self-imposed purdah, sleeping in her childhood bedroom, occasionally emerging to cycle to work – at the family firm.
Like poetry to Middleton's prose, Davy stands in sharp contrast. Her droopy features suggest a nature that's naughty but nice. A high-flying legal career awaits her, the product of diligence on two continents. She's web-savvy, advertising her break-up on Facebook, and confident enough to be photographed with a crocodile-hunter, Jabu Kirkland, displaying herself to prospective suitors.
Originally just a private indulgence for a playboy prince, Davy, who never reconciled herself to public adulation, quickly became a nuisance to the Crown. Look out, over the next few days, for acres of newsprint on eligible young ladies who might interest the Ginger One in her stead. Several will have double-barrelled names. But in favouring them over the zestier Davy, the Palace has done both Harry and the public a disservice – and not for the first time. Amol Rajan
It's a caravan. No, really
You might think that the dawdling caravans that blight Britain's narrow rural roads each summer could never possibly be cool, and of course you'd be right. At least you would have been, until the new two-seater Colim motorhome came along. Somewhere between a mobile home and a sporty town car, the Colim is the height of domestic sophistication on wheels. Its futuristic habitation pod can be customised to fit a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and seating area, while the space-age, detachable cockpit part can reach speeds of up to 90mph. The Colim's creator, Christian Susana, 36, from Germany, is looking for a financial backer to put it into production. Jeremy Clarkson need not apply. Jamie Merrill
They say it's a bare market
If you've got it, it seems reasonable that you should consider flaunting it. Especially if you've spent thousands of mind-numbing hours building the body beautiful. This philosophy, it seems, has been taken to heart by the leading lights of British sport, who appear engaged in a headlong dash to divest themselves of their aerodynamically enhanced Lycra kit.
The latest specimens of human perfection to strip for the cameras are England Rugby Union captain Steve Borthwick, winger Paul Sackey (above) and Welsh star Shane Williams, who have peeled off to promote a sports drink. The trio are picking up the baton from equally well-buffed and bare British Olympic cyclist Rebecca Romero, triple jumper Phillips Idowu and swimmer Gregor Tait, who did the same in the run-up to the Beijing games.
Of course, there was a time when stripping was best left to the mature ladies of the Women's Institute or unemployed steel workers. But then again, why should sportsmen and women miss out on the fun? The calendars of the French rugby team, Stade Français, revealed the naked truth beneath the scrum. Venus Williams famously did her naked best to raise awareness of HIV/Aids, as did Thierry Henry. It can't be long before the world of darts joins this clothes-free Age of Aquarius, can it Jonathan Brown
A wristwatch we can believe in
As any gentleman knows, his choice of wristwear speaks volumes. Omega Seamaster? James Bond wannabe. Panerai Luminor? Hedge funder with questionable taste. Vintage Rolex? Urban hipster en route to Hakkasan. So, for Barack Obama, the multi-dial TAG Heuer he sported early in the presidential campaign has been rejected as too elitist. He's opted instead for the smart functionality of the Jorg Gray 6500, complete with Secret Service logo. Rugged, inexpensive ($325) – and now, officially, the most desirable watchin the world. Adam LeighReuse content