The other day, when my friend Will and I were having a couple of pints at the King’s Head, I complimented him on his interview with Gary Lineker.
Will succeeded, I said, in sounding as if he had finally divested himself of the stigma of his shamefully high birth. Why, he even refers to beer as ‘pig’.
This is what he told me in response:
“Ta, Alex, me old china.
“You may think I’m well posh, being a prince and all. But when I had that chinwag with me mate Gary, he knew I was a regular bloke who don’t like nothing more than going down the pub with me Brummie mates and watching Villa on the box.
“I even wrote me own Villa song, Claret ‘n Blue, One Loves You. Sang it to me trouble, but she stuck her fingers into her shell-likes.
“Me missus, she’s different, see. Coz she wasn’t brung up posh from birth, like, she has them aspirations, djahmean? Me, I don’t mind coming across like a prole, to make Gary feel at home.
“Sat in the box during the match, like a goodun, but wish I was with me Brummie mates. Villa, see, got a good kick up the bottle, and everyone in the box rooted for Arsenal, so they were well chuffed. Right berks, the lot of them.
“They like looked at me strange when the ref didn’t give us a stonewall pen and I jumped up and screamed ‘Ref is a wan…’ Stopped myself in time though, coz I was on that big screen and any bleedin’ lip reader would know what I was saying, djahmean?
“This etiquette is a load of old Jacksons, if you follow me meaning. I got me Geoff from St Andrew’s so I know how to talk posh when I have to. But me old lady, she now tries to talk all the time like she got an umbrella up her khyber.
“When I met her, she wasn’t like that. She was a good time girl, see. Swore like a trooper, drank pints of pig, shook her bristols down the pub, even talked chitty chitty.
“Now she got a pair of dustbins, she wants to be a proper royal trouble, she says. Me Nan, she always smiles sly when Kate says ‘one’ instead of ‘me’.
“The other day she told me ‘I rather think Katherine overemphasises the royalty bit, Will. One fears people may laugh.’ And I say ‘Cheers Nan. I been telling her that meself.’
“Now I’m so full of this pig, me back teeth are floating. Order us a couple of mahatmas, will you, Al?”
As I was shouldering my way through the crowd at the bar, I reminded myself that in the royal rhyming slang ‘mahatma’ stands for ‘brandy’. These days one has to take a crash course in chitty chitty (the Cockney rhyming slang for Cockney rhyming slang) to be able to understand what some royals are saying.
But then, as my friend Tony Blair once put it to such great political effect, Prince William’s late mother was a ‘people’s princess’. That, one supposes, makes him a people’s prince.