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ike many of us, the Prince of Wales finds the advancing years an inconvenience and when his 66th birthday comes around on 14 November he’ll do his best to ignore it. Charles finds the death of old friends increasingly affecting, however, and when comedienne Joan Rivers and the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire passed away during the month of September he and the Duchess of Cornwall released statements.

   Joan Rivers was a guest at their wedding in 2005 and as well as being a great supporter of the Prince’s Trust was a regular visitor to the royal residences. A few years ago she proudly showed me the inscription Charles had penned for her in one of his books, yet was surprisingly coy about the extent of her friendship with the royal couple.

   ‘She was an extraordinary woman with an unstoppable and indefatigable sense of humour and an enormous zest for life,’ the Prince of Wales said.

   He waxed equally lyrical about the Duchess of Devonshire, who he described as a unique personality with ‘a wonderfully original approach to life and a memorable turn of phrase to match that originality’.

   The Prince had known the Dowager Duchess for most of his life and Chatsworth was one of a few ‘safe houses’ where he and Camilla could stay. Debo, as she was known, was such a favourite that a portrait bust of her sits among a group of ‘worthies’ in the kitchen garden at Highgrove.

   When Charles and Camilla attended her funeral at the beginning of October, hundreds of uniformed outdoor and indoor staff lined the route to the estate church to pay their respects to their former employer. With the vast edifice of Chatsworth House in the background it was redolent of another age or at least an episode of Downton Abbey.

   The result of the Scottish referendum must have pleased the Queen, if only so she could continue to reign over a United Kingdom. But Prime Minister David Cameron’s remarks to former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, caught on camera and made public, are unlikely to have met with royal approval.

   An embarrassed Cameron was obliged to apologise for saying the Queen was so happy she ‘positively purred’ down the telephone when he told her that the Scottish people had voted against independence. No doubt Her Majesty had more pressing matters to discuss when they met after the court returned to Buckingham Palace early last month.

   Her grandson, the Duke of Cambridge, is again unhappy about what he sees as media intrusion, this time in the form of two freelance photographers following Prince George and his nanny on their daily stroll around London parks. William is determined to try and stop this press harassment, particularly as Kate has been so unwell during the early stage of her pregnancy. She has hated having to cancel engagements and let people down, and this has added to her discomfort.

   Both William and Harry have a particularly unhappy relationship with certain photographers but unfortunately this is a situation the royal family has had to deal with for many years.


 
 
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