Your Royal Highness – It is with genuine humility that I introduce myself to you as your most loyal servant. Among my fellow court correspondents, your arrival has caused a high level of excitement, with Nicholas “The Butler” Witchell speaking to camera with that odd, ingratiating crouch – rather like a red squirrel with a nut – which he adopts on momentous royal occasions, and “Sir” Dickie Arbiter blubbing openly during an interview with Australian TV.
These people are called “Palace-watchers”. You will learn about them one day. My role, more a much-loved, unofficial godfather than a court correspondent, is to bring you friendly advice from the outside world.
To those who say it is pointless to address a person who can only stare blankly, make incomprehensible noises and dribble occasionally, I would merely point out that I once interviewed Capt Mark Phillips, and proved more than equal to the challenge.
I could write a book (and indeed have – several!) on the subject of royal behaviour. On this occasion, I shall confine my advice to Talbot Church’s 10 Golden Rules for the Royal Prince.
1. The expression you wear on your face today – open, incurious – is one you should maintain throughout your childhood. No one has any wish for you to become “a character”. Your parents are, as ever, perfect role models in this regard.
2. Discourage nicknames. They will become an unwelcome label, pointing up a personality which you do not have. Remember the unhappy examples of Harry (laddish), Fergie (bouncy), Andy (randy) and Di (the girl next door).
3. Opinions are to be avoided. Be as naturally and as briefly interested in your surroundings as a moderately bright junior reporter on a local newspaper.
4. Engage in some form of blood sport at an early age. The world thinks it wants to you to be normal, but in truth prefers you to be slightly different. A boarding-school will help, as will wearing a tweed suit when you are eight, but stalking a stag or shooting pheasants is your best plan.
5. Avoid dancing. When tempted, find photographs of your father or grandfather doing it.
6. The old style of royal correspondent – Sir Kenneth Rose, Hugo Vickers, yours truly – are sadly outnumbered by extravagantly coiffed newscasters and cable TV vulgarians with fake tans. Such is the price of the dreaded “classless society”, Your Royal Highness! If you wish to confide in a member of the press corps, it is best to put your trust in “the unavoidable Church” as your great grandmother (Her Majesty) once wittily described me.
7. At some point the world will long for you to fall in love. This is almost always a bad idea for a member of your family. Take the sensible course and assess a future partner rather as one would before making a key appointment in the family firm.
8. People are interested in what you represent, not you personally. Those who confuse the two – your great aunt the Duchess of York, for example – can get into a terrible muddle.
9. Do not write a book, particularly a story for children.
10. Try not to care too much about anything. Keep your private self well hidden. It belongs to you, not the world.