America is gearing up for its first black President. Generally considered an all-round good thing. I hope he never gets to meet Prince Charles. I particularly hope he doesn't get to meet him and develop a warm and close friendship with him. Barack Obama is deciding between ties for his big day, while our heir to the crown is explaining how perfectly OK-yah it is to call property developer Kuldip Dhillon "Sooty." "Sooty"? You could not make it up.
At the weekend, we learnt Prince Harry dubbed his former Army colleague Ahmed Raza Khan "my little Paki friend"). He's 24 - fair do's. When you're 24, you often behave like a blithering idiot. He is a soldier and hopefully there are many, many other soldiers who call him a right royal ginger knob, or some such. Most people give him a break because there is a general feeling it is tough to be the younger son, he is not allowed to do what he wants to do, and in any case, he is not necessarily the sharpest knife in the box. Prince Charles however? Come off it.
Said "Sooty" has described his nickname as a "term of affection". In a statement, he reassured us: "I have to say that you know you have arrived when you acquire a nickname. I enjoy being called Sooty by my friends, who I am sure universally use the name as a term of affection with no offence meant or felt. The Prince of Wales is a man of zero prejudice and both of his sons have always been most respectful."
Dhillon's been described as a multi-millionaire property developer and a leading figure of the Cirencester polo club. Does he have a term of affection for Prince Charles I wonder? Maybe something like "Your Royal Highness"? I figure, if you're mates with a load of toffs who fall on their heads a lot, you get what you deserve.
Does Charles live in the real world? OK, stupid question. In any event, bear in mind, Charles is the son of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, whose gaffes are the stuff of legend. What's not to love about this family? "Paki" son of "Sooty" son of "slitty-eyed "Chinese. Now Obama has already referred to himself as a "mutt" - that's what you call giving Charles a nice wide open door to ride his polo horse through. Though stop a minute he doesn't play polo anymore. In any event, his own website makes it clear he didn't so much play polo as "raise money for charity by playing polo." Either way,he's retired. I can think of another thing that should have retired - words like "Sooty" and "Paki". Yah-di-yah-di-yah, the Prince's people have harrumphed loudly, poured themselves a pink gin, reached for the Bakelite phone and denied HRH is a racist. I'll believe you. He's not a racist - he just occasionally forgets that this is 2009 and he's not a character in an Evelyn Waugh novel. Yeah gods - Obama could end the war in Iraq just in time to start one with the UK. Let's keep it simple - let's keep Prince Polo away from The Man, shall we?