Notebook: Clearly not shipshape

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THOSE royal sailors, the truth. Is it merely unlucky to ram other boats and crash into buoys, or is there some kind of sycophantic conspiracy going on to conceal the truth about the hands-on-the-tiller abilities of the Duke of Edinburgh and his youngest son, Edward?

My Cowes correspondent, Captain Starboard, is clear: 'Is the Duke what we call 'good?' No, but he likes it, and the chaps who sail with him have been getting him around for years. They would never say anything, but he's a bloody liability, actually.

'Yes, I know he was in the Navy, but look at Charles and Andrew. Edward? Who did he work for? The Really Useless Company? Exactly. It's a funny thing, but the Greek, Spanish and Scandinavian royals areall very good sailors. Two of Juan Carlos's children have sailed in the Olympics. Yet all ours are hopeless. Well, not quite all. Anne beat the Duke last year. Quite frankly, though, I wouldn't fancy him against the Queen Mum. Bye.'