When the Prince of Wales met the prince of wails

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The Independent Online

* One is the pot-smoking "face" of 1960s counter-culture, the other Her Majesty the Queen's eldest son and heir. Now it turns out that Prince Charles is making an effort to cosy up to the veteran singer Bob Dylan.

Documents released by the Foreign Office reveal that one Robert Zimmerman - Dylan's real name - was among guests invited to a reception hosted by the Prince when he visited New York last month.

The glitzy bash saw around 300 of the Prince's celebrity acquaintances, including the singer Sting, John McEnroe, and Yoko Ono, guzzling champagne at the city's Museum of Modern Art.

A host of other big names make a surprise appearance on the guest list. They include Robert de Niro, Bruce Springsteen, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, Calista Flockhart and Harrison Ford, David Bowie and the rapper, P Diddy.

However, since the document only reveals who RSVP'd (as opposed to actually showed up), it may also indicate which members of the A-List snubbed our future King.

De Niro certainly seems to have been washing his hair, as were Sheryl Crow and Lance Armstrong, Alec Baldwin, Lauren Bacall, and Billy Joel.

Dylan was touring in Europe at the time, but a spokesman can't rule out the possibility that he chartered a plane to cross the Atlantic for the evening.

* Grayson Perry presented literary London's most talked-about book prize, the Bad Sex Award, at a rowdy ceremony in St James's last night.

The transvestite potter gave the Literary Review's gong for the worst example of erotic writing in fiction,to the first-time novelist Giles Coren.

Unlike Tom Wolfe and Sebastian Faulks, who both won the prize in recent years, Coren somewhat shamelessly turned up to accept his gong.

Three other short-listed writers (Salman Rushdie, John Updike, and Ben Elton) were not so brave.

"Ben Elton was never going to show," reckons Coren. "The reason is that his struggle to persuade the world that he's a novelist and not an arse is harder than mine, because he's a much more prominent arse than I am.|"

The winning passage, from Coren's book Winkler, ends as follows: "She scratched his back deeply with the nails of both hands and he shot three more times, in thick stripes on her chest. Like Zorro."

* Lord Archer's efforts to rejoin the Tory party are nothing to the sweat he's making to return to "celebrity" circles.

This week, the fallen peer's wife, Mary, has taken Hello! magazine on a tour of the Archers' country residence in Cambridgeshire.

Besides introducing us to her cat Oliver and their four-poster marital bed, Lady Archer reveals that her hubby hopes to appeal against his conviction for perjury.

"I still hold the view that it was an unfair process, and there will be a case made to the Criminal Cases Review Commission," she says. "The police withheld very damaging and false information from us quite improperly."

We also learn that Archer's study contains two antique chairs, originally made for offices in the Houses of Parliament.

"They were obtained quite legally," she adds, needlessly.

* If, as we expect, David Cameron becomes Tory leader on Tuesday, his first job will be to prevent a top showbusiness supporter from jumping ship.

Antony Worrall Thompson, who helped Michael Howard out during the last general election campaign, can no longer be taken for granted. He's thinking of defecting to the Liberal Democrats.

"I actually wanted to vote for Ken Clarke," said the TV chef at the launch of Save the Children's Festival of Trees this week.

"In the end, I voted for Cameron as I don't trust David Davis. But I'm worried Cameron will be pulverised at the dispatch box. I may switch to the Liberals as I like a lot of their policies. I'm actually in favour of higher income tax for higher earners."

* The high-brow director Ken Loach delivered a stern assessment of the state of the modern TV industry at Wednesday's British Independent Film Awards.

"I don't watch TV any more," he told Pandora. "They are destroying the media through a surfeit of executive producers. Everything is reduced to format, and that means individuality is stifled.

"Under the conditions we have today, we could never have made most of the programmes that we did in our day."

Some might accuse Loach, 69, of being a grumpy old man. But he isn't entirely blameless for the decline in standards on the small screen.

"Having said that, my son actually makes Footballers' Wives," he added. "So, despite what I think about everything else, I won't be slagging that off."