The prince and the pauper

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One can never tell where one might bump into one's old school friends, as the Prince of Wales discovered yesterday. Visiting the London offices of the magazine for the homeless, the Big Issue, he looked taken aback when he was introduced to Clive Harold, 49, a former pupil of Hill House School in Knightsbridge, London.

According to Mr Harold, the two were in the same stream and played football together. "I reminded the Prince how we used to walk from the school to the Territorial Army ground near Sloane Square for football. He remembered that and he also remembered the headmaster giving us mint sweets," he said.

"The Prince did not remember me of course and I only remember him because we both had big ears and because he was obviously well known there."

Mr Harold told the Prince that from his privileged upbringing, he had become a showbiz columnist for Women's Own, a fact later confirmed by the magazine. He had also written a book - The Uninvited - which he still carries with him as a "security blanket". But while his career his flourishing, his life was disintegrating. "I realised that I had not given enough time to my family and friends. I suppose the booze got me in the end," Mr Harold said.

"It was when my second marriage failed that things really fell apart. I lost my house and one day I woke up in a shop doorway in the Strand. I had lost everything."

Mr Harold now sells the Big Issue from a pitch near Holborn Tube station, and is rebuilding his life. The Prince, as a single parent, is rebuilding his own life, albeit in slightly more salubrious surroundings.

Mr Harold commented: "It was strange that we should meet again after 44 years. My life has had its twists and turns and so has his." Or as the Prince said afterwards: "It just shows you, doesn't it?"