Fishing lines: What am I bid for these royal rods?

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The Independent Online

Prince Charles and Princess Diana might have had a jollier life together if they hadn't rejected one of their wedding gifts.

Prince Charles and Princess Diana might have had a jollier life together if they hadn't rejected one of their wedding gifts.

The present in question came from the Redditch makers Rodcraft, who created two fishing rods (His and Hers) for the newly-weds. As a special touch, each carried a gold silhouette of Charles and Diana within a blue circular border plus crown. But most significant of all, the 13ft carbon rods were specially designed for competition fishing.

Now, wasn't that a lovely, romantic gesture from Rodcraft? Working on the principle "Those who fish together, stay together", the company clearly foresaw the huge pressures that would face the couple. What better way to handle affairs of crown or state than for the royals to get on the bank alongside their subjects, with the bonus of the chance to win a few pounds too?

Imagine the couple, still a little shy with each other, cleaning their maggots together on the night before a big contest, maybe chuckling together over the time when the little devils escaped from the fridge at Buckingham Palace. What a fright it gave cook!

Picture, if you can, Charles and Di tucking into a Full English Breakfast at a transport cafe before an open competition on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal or the Stubpond in Sussex. What would it have been like, pegged next to the future king, watching him take his Rodcraft match-rod out of its cloth bag? Intimidating, or what? Imagine them arguing over rigs (a size 18 or 20 hook?), making floats, mixing groundbait and cutting the sandwiches (no crusts, of course) for the next day. Things like that soon take away worries of treacherous butlers or problems with the royal coach.

Envisage them sharing their winnings, planning holidays to the big Irish or Danish festivals, maybe pasting up their scrapbook of competition successes. You can just see those trophies sitting on the mantelpiece alongside that gold camel from the Saudi oil minister, or the Fijian death mask.

Sadly, it didn't happen. Maybe they felt their week-end commitments (most competitions take place on Sundays) were too heavy. Maybe Di didn't like the idea of going out in a bobble hat, waterproofs and waders, whereas Charles was rather excited at the prospect.

Anyway, the couple rejected the rods. They were donated to the Prince's Trust, and eventually went to a couple of eager kids. I know all this because at Bonhams in Honiton next week, the 1981 correspondence between Rodcraft and Buckingham Palace, pictures of the lucky lads and the two rod butts bearing those Charles and Di silhouettes come up for auction.

Who knows, maybe William or Harry will be among the bidders. Imagine how different their lives could have been if they had spent the Sundays of their formative years under a green umbrella on the Trent.

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