Terence Blacker: A prince's polite inquiries

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The Independent Online

There have been the usual mutterings from nitpickers and naysayers following the publication of Prince Charles's accounts. Some have asked why this man needs a staff of 124 to fulfil his public duties. Others ask why, according to one report, each member of staff generates 77lbs of paper every year. The answer is simple. The prince writes a lot of letters. As his principal private secretary has pointed out, the heir to the throne sees it as part of his duty to represent the views of ordinary people.

A mighty archive of correspondence from our most concerned royal will one day available. Until then, we must make do with a few unofficially released royal letters:

To Mr Dizzee Rascal

Dear Dizzee, We met recently at Glastonbury (I'm still working on that handshake!) and I thought I'd write to you about a matter which is dear to my heart: spelling. It would set a tremendous example to the "kids" if a pop star like you could actually spell the titles of his hit tunes in the correct manner! Think of the "knock-on effect" if your songs "Wot U On?" and "Stop Dat!" were presented in the way our teachers taught us. Please let me know what you think about this idea. Respect, Charles.

To Mr Fabio Capello

Dear Signor Capello, I am sorry to have read that our side "under-performed" at the World Cup. One of the gardeners mentioned that the problem is that England is playing something called a 4-4-2 formation. Now I'm no expert but I've been wondering whether you were right to abandon the old system. When I was at Cheam, we had a goalie (brave and stupid), two backs (big), three in the middle of the field (fit) and five strung across the field, including a couple of wingers (fast). Basically, we kicked the ball and ran like billyoh! It may be old-fashioned but it happened to work. Let me know if you need further details. Ciao! Charles.

To Ms Jordan

Dear Jordan, I once had the pleasure of meeting you and your charming partner Mr André Peter at my favourite annual event, the Royal Variety Show. I am writing to ask your help. As you'll know, ecological biodiversity is one of the greatest challenges facing our planet. And where does biodiversity start? With the insects which so many of us take for granted.

It occurred to me that you have a special interest in the subject having appeared on that amusing programme where people are put in a jungle and made to eat insects. And that is exactly what birds need to be able to do to save the planet! Would you join the Prince's Insect Trust? I would be so grateful. Affectionately, Charles.

To Professor Stephen Hawking

Dear Stephen, I hope you are well. There has been something on my mind recently which is that, when I'm enjoying myself (hunting, drinks with Camilla, instructing the gardeners), time passes very quickly. But when I am not having fun (The Royal Variety Show!), it drags. It is as if the very nature of time changes. Several of my staff report the same phenomenon. Do you have any idea why this might be? Pop down to Clarence House if you would like to explore the matter further. Tempus fugit! Charles.

To Miss Amanda Holden

Dear Amanda, I've been rather disappointed not to receive a reply to my previous four (now five!) letters concerning statements you have made about having used "Botox". I'm no expert on cosmetic medicine but I do happen to be in possession of something more important – common sense!

My nanny used to tell me that if I made faces, the wind might change and I would be stuck like that. Luckily it didn't happen and I look perfectly normal but, if you smear this Botox stuff all over your face, the wind will change and you'll end up looking even more like something out of Madame Tussaud's than you do now. Camilla puts wild comfrey paste on her face every night. It works for her and it could work for you! Yours, Charles.

terblacker@aol.com

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