Talbot Church: Caring Kate and Wills to make Red Nose debut

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The Buckingham Palace committee organising the Royal Wedding has acted quickly to counter criticisms that Prince William and his bride-to-be are rarely seen together in public. Plans for the Royal couple to make a surprise TV appearance on Red Nose Day, 18 March, are said to be at an advanced stage.

The idea of bringing a spot of royal magic to Comic Relief came from none other than Kate Middleton herself. "Kate's very much a charity person," a senior courtier revealed.

"She's also a media-savvy modern girl who has seen for herself the so-called 'Red Nose effect' on the careers of Robbie Williams, Billy Connolly and Victoria Beckham. She relishes the chance to show the caring side of her which the public has yet to see."

A live interview with William and Kate, possibly with Graham Norton, has been rejected on grounds of risk. Palace advisers are currently pressing for an informal royal chat with young fans, preferably in a children's home.

Meanwhile there have been concerns on the diplomatic front about the role of the Duke of Edinburgh at the Royal Wedding. Famously forthright, the crusty duke has recently been raising eyebrows even more than usual with his off-the-cuff remarks.

"It is almost like a royal version of Tourette's," a palace insider has confided. "When he meets someone these days, he just says the first thing that comes into his head. Even the Queen is at her wits' end about it."

One recent royal blooper is said to have occurred when he met Kate Middleton's parents for the first time. Hearing that Carole Middleton had once been a flight attendant, the Duke asked, "Is it true what they say about air stewardesses?"

During the 2008 state visit by the President of France and his wife, he is reported to have glanced at Mme Sarkozy and then commented to the president: "Punching a bit above your weight there, aren't you, old chum?"

It is now planned that three senior equerries will stay close to the octogenarian Duke during the wedding reception, ready to distract him should there be a risk of an off-guard remark. There is particular concern that he should be kept away from the Obamas, should they decide to attend.