ANOTHER VIEW: Keep your distance, Will

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The Independent Online
Would you refuse lunch with the Princess of Wales, ignore her calls or blank her over the step machine at the Harbour Club? Probably not. Wouldn't you be flattered by the attention: that the world's most glamorous living icon had her finger on redial and it was your number she was crunching. England rugby captain Will Carling has sparked a feeding frenzy among the tabloid press who are trying to spice up details of their friendship for August's silly season.

While I'm sure that theirs truly is nothing more than a close friendship, it is a pattern we have seen before with Diana - and Will Carling should beware. He was right to admit to their friendship immediately - nothing wrong with that, after all he did give her sons rugby coaching - but he should be a bit more like his mate Gary Lineker, who reportedly turned down lunch at the Palace, and keep his distance. Warning bells should have rung reminders of her past infatuations: the constant phone pressure, her request that he installs a special line for her, is worryingly reminiscent of Oliver Hoare; the nicknames - he calls her Boss, she calls him Captain - (remember Squidgygate?); and the presents - she may not have dressed him from head to toe a la James Hewitt, but she did dress a giant troll for him.

When Diana's invitations for gossipy lunches beckon, Carling would do well to keep it thoroughly above board, let his office know exactly where he is going and for how long - and take his wife, Julia, along for company. He should not spend an afternoon flying around town choosing a birthday present for her like a crazed teenager - a simple card will do. Having done wonders to raise the profile of British rugby he is now famous and established enough not to need fame by association.

Fortunately, Julia Carling knows the publicity value of playing the supportive wife: she is standing by her man, looking as pretty as a princess and staying seductively silent. And as for Diana, she needs to remember that just because a man is wholesome and clean-cut, even married, he may still find her and her flattery intoxicating and tempting. Why not do what many women do and find a gay walker? After all they are just as good looking, flirtatious and fun, and eyebrows won't be raised. Adolescent infatuations are just too draining and time-consuming for someone who has your energy and potential. The best antidote for loneliness is hard work and the thrill of achievement. Can you ever do too much charity work?

A final word for all male members of the Harbour Club. Do not give your private telephone number out to attractive women you pick up in the gym, however persistent or pretty they may be.

The writer is the author of 'Princess in Love'.