Just Wil­liams

‘Both our wives are ob­sessed with horses – so we know what it’s like to be in a sta­ble re­la­tion­ship’

The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine - - Contents -

Si­mon on royal co­in­ci­dences

YOUR ROYAL HIGH­NESS, as you’re a loosey-goosey kind of prince, is it OK if we sing, ‘Happy birth­day, dear Char­lie’? Wel­come to your eighth decade – I’ve been in it for two years and it’s fine once you get over the shock. Don’t panic. In The Seven Ages of Man, we’re only mid­way be­tween, ‘The jus­tice in fair round belly with good capon lined,’ and, ‘The lean and slip­pered pan­taloon.’ You’re still younger than Mick Jag­ger, although you’ve left it a bit late, sir, to get a tat­too or a buzz cut. Things we mustn’t do in­clude: grunt­ing as we get out of arm­chairs and us­ing phrases such as ‘new­fan­gled’ and ‘in my day’.

We have a lot in com­mon, sir. Like you, I’ve played the ju­ve­nile lead for far too long. You are the old­est Prince of Wales on record (I hope you’ll one day be the old­est king). I’ve played sec­ond fid­dle to many a lead­ing lady, whereas you’ve had just the one. Long may she reign.

Both of us have lived un­der the shadow of crusty fa­thers. Like you, I had a nick­name at school: you, Big Ears; me, Four Eyes. You were caught drink­ing at Gor­don­stoun, I at Har­row. (Couldn’t you have gone for some­thing more ma­cho than cherry brandy, Your High­ness?) I too was a fan of Spike Mil­li­gan and, with your fu­ture sub­jects, I feared for his head when he re­ferred to you as a ‘lit­tle grov­el­ling bas­tard’. Please tell me it’s not true that you’re a dis­tant rel­a­tive of Vlad the Im­paler.

Our wives have ap­peared in The Archers: yours as a guest on be­half of the Na­tional Os­teo­poro­sis So­ci­ety, mine as the hor­ri­ble Mi­randa. Both are ob­sessed with horses – so we know what it’s like be­ing in a sta­ble re­la­tion­ship.

Like you, I en­joy meet­ing peo­ple – I’ll talk to any­one (maybe not Jeremy Kyle) and flow­ers, cer­tainly. As I ap­proach the sweet peas, I tell them, ‘Don’t be fright­ened, it’s just me with a Cath Kid­ston wa­ter­ing can.’ I’m quite butch, though, with this­tles and net­tles. We are agreed on the BBC’S doyen of mat­ters re­gal Ni­cholas Witchell and mod­ern ar­chi­tec­ture – each car­bun­cle-ish in dif­fer­ent ways. I too like my boiled eggs medium-soft and find the Royal Va­ri­ety Per­for­mance quite chal­leng­ing on the eyes.

I could have been any­thing I wanted; you had no choice. I had the the­atre in my blood, you had the king thing in yours, but you’d have made a good doc­tor, bof­fin or house­mas­ter – even a ven­tril­o­quist, ‘One drinks a got­tle of geer.’

We’ve met at var­i­ous func­tions, but there were al­ways ques­tions I dared not ask. ‘Is feet­men the plu­ral of foot­man?’ ‘Can I have a go in your Aston Mar­tin?’

From Four Eyes to Big Ears, happy birth­day, sir.

Si­mon plays Justin El­liott in The Archers

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