Some princely offerings that Bush is unlikely to flog on eBay

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The day Prince Charles met George Bush at the White House this was billed as a great moments in Anglo-American diplomatic history.

Coverage of the occasion has so far focused on two events: an after-dinner speech in which Charles warned Bush to tackle climate-change, and an incident in which our future King accidentally fondled Laura Bush's bottom.

However, a third point of interest has now come to light. It concerns the nature of personal gifts that were given to the Bush family by the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall.

The Foreign Office has revealed that Prince Charles decided to give the US President a first edition of a book written by Britain's greatest war leader, Winston Churchill.

Although the title and cost of the publication remain a state secret, officials at the FCO say it was purchased from a London book dealer and "in line with normal practice" Charles will be reimbursed with the cost.

Elsewhere, it emerges that, as well as a pat on the behind, Mrs Bush was given a piece of gardening equipment. "The present was a Highgrove planter pot, purchased from the Highgrove shop. It was paid for by the Prince of Wales personally."

In the past, the Prince of Wales has been damaged by revelations that his manservant Michael Fawcett sells royal gifts to the highest bidder. I doubt the Bush family would be quite so reckless with pressies of this calibre.

* Woody Harrelson's return to the West End stage hasn't gone quite as smoothly as originally planned. A couple of months back, it was announced that Harrelson would headline a new production of the Tennessee Williams play Night of the Iguana alongside Clare Higgins and Jenny Seagrove.

But the first night, initially scheduled for last Wednesday, was cancelled two days on the trot.

"We don't know what's going on," says one theatregoer. "The first we heard it was being put back because of theatre maintenance, then they said it was cancelled because of illness. It's chaos."

Over to the Lyric Theatre. "There is maintenance taking place, but the real problem is that Clare Higgins has flu," I'm told. "She couldn't do Wednesday or Thursday, and we've now bought in an understudy. Hopefully Clare will return this week."

Sadly, the delay prevented Harrelson from presenting Bob Dylan with the UK Music Hall of Fame gong he collected on his behalf a fortnight back.

* Eric Clapton's former band-mate Jack Bruce may have just put the kybosh on any prospect of reforming Cream, the Sixties supergroup that made their name.

In a new, authorised biography, Bruce holds forth on the behaviour of some fellow members of the rock aristocracy.

"Jack is outraged at honours being heaped upon retired politicians, let alone rock stars," reads one passage "The idea that a musician could accept a knighthood appals him. He insists that he would refuse any honour."

It's a bold view. But I hazard that Eric Clapton - a CBE, who is tipped for the big "K" in future - would liken it to a dagger in the back.

* Fresh evidence has come to light concerning "Dacre-gate," the act of petty vandalism committed to a photo of the Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre at the National Portrait Gallery last week.

You will recall that CCTV footage showed Mark Bolland and Guy Black tinkering with the picture at the opening of Press Gazette's UK Hall of Fame.

They denied regrettable accusations of funny business, saying: "somebody else had fiddled with the (picture's) name badge, and we were trying to correct it."

Now an important witness comes forward. "I was at the Hall of Fame with Guy and Mark on Tuesday, when we saw that the pictures of David Astor and Paul Dacre had been transposed," says Mail executive Robin Esser. "Mark lifted the Astor picture to see if it could be swopped, but it was secured."

Mr Esser insists that Bolland and Black are entirely innocent.

* Few have done as much to highlight the plight of the disabled as the artist Alison Lapper, whose statue occupies the "vacant" plinth in Trafalgar Square. By way of a tribute, Amnesty International invited her to be guest of honour at the opening of their "Imagine a World Without Violence Against Women" exhibition in London last week.

Sadly, Lapper's arrival at the venue caused the most almighty palaver. "The Bargehouse building had stairs just inside the entrance which her wheelchair couldn't get up," says an organiser.

"The poor woman had to wait in the corridor for 10 minutes while staff figured out how to work the rickety chairlift."

It was all a bit much for Lapper, who witnessed an exasperated crowd building-up behind her. "This isn't exactly a brilliantly accessible building," she told me later.

Comments