Editor-At-Large: I know a bit about weddings, Camilla...

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The Independent Online

They might have had 34 years to wistfully plan it, dream about it, and draw up the seating arrangements, but all the signs are that Charles and Camilla are heading for the wedding day from hell on 8 April. After gleeful members of the national press rang up and pointed out the problems associated with a marriage ceremony within the secure walls of Windsor Castle (one being that ordinary plebs would subsequently be able to tie the knot there), the Palace swiftly switched the venue to the council offices in the local high street. It's not only a security risk, but now the newly-weds will emerge from the town hall within chucking-out distance of the pub and possibly the catcalls of an inebriated crowd as they make their way back to the castle chapel for the blessing. I've had four sets of wedding arrangements to mess up, and far from practice making perfect, the older you get, the more likely you are to get it wrong. The Queen is said to be furious that her eldest son is opting for a "common" ceremony - and she's bound to feel she's not being properly consulted.

Sitting in the stalls at the Garrick Theatre watching Sheila Hancock play the mother-in-law from hell in The Anniversary brought it all flooding back. I recommend that Camilla check out a matinée as part of her toughening-up process. Princess Michael has committed another clanger by proudly telling a German magazine that the Queen is a brilliant mimic and her party turn is to play a cockney harridan. Sheila Hancock takes on the role created by Bette Davis in the original film of The Anniversary. She never misses an opportunity to belittle her son's offspring, from inventing a fatal accident in which tiny children are killed and accusing an innocent young teenage girl of BO to finally blackmailing her own son to procreate in order to bring about the death of his wife.

Ms Hancock is a wonderful actress, but sadly lacks the sheer nastiness to entirely bring off the evening. Even so, The Anniversary seems like a bit of a rehearsal for Charles and Camilla's nuptials. We are told the bride's outfit is to be designed by a couple of dress-making nonentities, who would have trouble making a stylish tea-towel, let alone a glamorous outfit which will be picked over by fashionistas around the globe. I'm sure that Camilla is the same size as me - a 14 - but she contrives to dress like a badly bedecked stall at the summer fête, refusing tailoring in favour of swathes of creased silk. What about the appalling black leather gloves she sported in the Highland photograph with Charles in his kilt, looking more like a royal driver than a fiancée?

I speak with authority when it comes to what to wear to a civil wedding: every frock has been a disaster, with the four in question spanning the decades from 1965 through to the 1990s. It's not as if I haven't tried to enlist top talent. Ossie Clark came up with a purple crêpe number for wedding No 1 that had a clown's ruff in white lace. I looked like a deranged shop assistant as I emerged from Chelsea register office, and my nervous father managed to slam the car door on my leg.

Zandra Rhodes created a shocking pink jersey, shredded top and trousers with all the seams on the outside which had the crowd in fits as I emerged from the register office by Sainsbury's in Whitechapel in the 1970s.

My third outfit was a large, wolf fur coat - politically incorrect, but this was Harrogate in December. During tea at Betty's my coat took up three chairs: we only had two guests. Finally, even by my standards of lapses of judgement, the pink fake fur mini-dress worn in Las Vegas was best consigned to the bin, along with the wedding video - and the husband.

My hair, like my clothes, has undergone weird primpings for each ceremony, ensuring that I am virtually unrecognisable. I run the gamut from 1960s Afro to red mop in the 1990s. I realise, too, that generally a mother-in-law loathes the woman marrying her son, just as Sheila Hancock does in The Anniversary. Camilla can be sure that the Queen has perfected a horrid little impersonation of her behind her back, jealous of the fact that she makes Charles happy, and can't stand her smoking and drinking. You can be sure that Charles will be wittering on about eco-friendly flowers, canapés from the Duchy range of groceries, and he's bound to want to wear second-hand clothes. Princess Anne will be seething that her weekend is disrupted, and Sophie will be dressing roughly 20 years older than she needs to, as usual.

The Queen will upstage the lot of them in major jewellery, and retire after half an hour at the reception to catch Ned Sherrin or The Archers on Radio 4. My advice to Camilla is just grit your teeth, wear some comfy shoes, and start drinking well before you stick the hat on. By early evening it will all be over ... then you've just got the five valets, three dozen servants, the resentful step-children and the grumpy father-in-law to cope with for many years to come.

The wristband has replaced the ribbon as the must-have fashion accessory. Log on to eBay and you find that the black-and-white wristbands made by Nike to publicise its "Stand Up Speak Up" anti-racism campaign, launched by Arsenal star Thierry Henry, are fetching from £8 to £12 each as they sell out in many shops. A worthy cause, but let's consider Nike's motives. It is a wealthy company, which often uses cheap labour in Third World countries to make its products, but it asks us to donate £1.50 when buying one of these bands, claiming that 75 per cent goes towards a charity funding projects to combat racism in European football.

Why does a strip of cheap plastic cost more than 37p to produce? And why can't Nike fund it itself from its profits, which result from a clever blend of sport and fashion. A cynic might think it deliberately let supplies of the wristband run out in order to create a cult item. Now wristbands are weapons in the propaganda war for many causes - cyclist Lance Armstrong's yellow "Be Strong" band, which channels money to young cancer sufferers and their families has been worn by more than 21 million people, from President Bush to John Kerry.

The blue, anti-bullying bands produced jointly by the Department for Education and Skills and Radio 1 were all snapped up, and now fetch up to £11.50 each on eBay. Some people have pointed out that wearing them just gives bullies someone to pick on. But surely the most fashionable wristband of the lot is worn by Madonna, Victoria Beckham and Britney Spears - the red threads denoting the wearer is a follower of the Kabbalah cult. You can also "Make Poverty History" by sporting a white band costing £1 from Oxfam. Of course, you could make your own, but it's depressing that such worthy causes end up being hijacked by the fashion police. It all started with the Aids ribbon. Is it not possible now to support a cause without telling the whole world?

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