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James Whitaker Column: Edward had a stag fright; HE MISSES OUT ON LADS' NIGHT.

AS Prince Edward heads for St George's chapel altar late this afternoon I am reminded of an intriguing story about just why the Queen's youngest son did not have a proper stag night.

He was frightened of what might happen to him.

This tale is not apocryphal - it comes from Ed's own lips.

Let me make it clear - there was a stag night of sorts.

It was a cock and hen weekend, to be precise, where blokes and their wives (for goodness sake I thought it was meant to be a naughty, fun gathering) were invited to the Devon home of the prince's best friend Lord Ivar Mountbatten.

The instruction to the gilded guests was to take something with them that was "very, very rude".

But back to why the lad ducked out of the fully monty, so to speak.

Edward was terrified that, while "incapable", as he thought was likely to happen while in the clutches of his wicked pals, he would be plastered in more ways than one.

He's been telling friends that he knows of one groom-to-be (I'm afraid I know not who) who went to bed, as is right and commonplace, completely legless.

The breathless prince went on to recall that, while comatose, his pals decided to slap plaster (as in broken legs or arms) on the chap from the waist down.

When he finally woke, he could hardly move.

And herein lay the problem. As Edward has been wailing: "And what's the first thing you want to do in the morning after a skinful the night before?

"Exactly. Have a pee. And you try doing that while covered in plaster. It's sort of uncomfortable.

"I couldn't bear that to have happened to me so I opted for the alternative which involved women. They're so much kinder."

Very wise, your Highness.I THOUGHT the article by James Whitaker on the wedding of Emma Noble and James Major was very spiteful.

What a horrible man he is.

Mrs D Brookes Epsom, Surrey

JW replies: Your comment may be accurate but your punctuation, which I've corrected, is dreadful. If you want to attack me (your right), please do so with a modicum of literacy.

MY wife and I enjoy reading your column as it is honest and open. I agree with your opinion of the Majors and would be interested in your opinion of another "major" figure - Lord Jeffrey Archer. Should he be allowed to run for Lord Mayor of London?

William Isaacs Bournemouth, Dorset

JW replies: Well, Jeffrey Archer ran for Britain, so why not for Lord Mayor? By the way, he's fairly grand but you elevate him to the status of the son of a Duke or Earl which he is not. He's just plain Lord Archer.

I AGREE with you regarding Andrea Bocelli. After discovering his beautiful voice I play my three CDs constantly. It is only a matter of time before he receives the recognition he richly deserves.

Ella McLay Brightone, Falkirk

l IT was heartening to read your praise of blind tenor Andrea Bocelli. I recorded his Night In Tuscany concert on BBC2 last December and became hooked.

He has sung before the Pope. He is also very modest (cannot stand to listen to his own recordings) which is part of his great charm.

Mrs G Whitehouse Nottingham

JW replies: Others have written about this wonderful opera singer. I can't wait to see him live in concert. His "men" in this country have been asked to keep me informed.Dear JamesDID you read about the confrontation between my old friend Harry Arnold and photographer Roger Allen when they came up against drunken Serb soldiers as they were heading for Pristina?

Harry, arguably the best reporter I've ever worked against, has had many parts in Fleet Street.

He and I have shared gin and tonics with kings and commoners in various corners of the world when we were together on the royal beat.

And Roger, a man who is widely loved and admired? As with most photographers, one has to query his intelligence.

Instead of running away when a ferocious Serb advanced - in a foul mood and with gun cocked - he lifted his camera and kept snapping.

The account in The Mirror of this encounter was breath-taking. What suspense, what bravery.

I'm also hearing reports of extraordinary courage on the battlefields of Kosovo concerning Mike Moore.

These guys who record wars are admirable.Peerless pressmenTWO gamblers were on holiday in Italy when they decided to visit the Vatican.

They were the last to leave the Sistine chapel and happened to see a white robed figure fall down some stairs. They recognised him as the Pope and that he was clearly stone dead.

The first Vatican authorities on the scene begged the two not to say anything for 24 hours. There would be world-wide implications. The two punters agreed.

On the plane home that night, one had a brilliant idea. "As soon as we land I'm going straight to Hills to get odds on the life of the Pope."

"Sounds like a great idea," said Paddy, his mate. It took two days for the death of the Pope to be announced enabling the first gambler to clean up.

"And what about you, Paddy?" he inquired.

"No luck for me" said Paddy.

"I took the Pope of course but linked him in a double with the Archbishop of Canterbury."

THEY call it golf because all the other four-letter words are taken.James' JokesWE'VE found a blip with Spain. Beware the "gipsies" who loiter in the vicinity of the border area with Gibraltar. They threaten unwary travellers, particularly women on their own, and are thieves.

My wife and daughter who returned to the UK from Gibraltar after their holiday were "held up" by two villainous creatures as they handed back their hire car. It wasn't exactly a mugging as far as I can tell, but it is was close to being one and it was all very frightening. Eventually, they handed over 6,000 Pesetas (about pounds 24) before being allowed on their way.

Apparently, others have suffered similar fates. The Spanish Authorities should act fast.MY thoughts have turned to Wimbledon and all the pleasures that this tournament has to offer.

All top players agree it really is the best in the world - even though some believe that grass is strictly for cows.

I've been attending this event for nigh on 30 years. And how things have changed, certainly the attitude of the players. Of course the likes of Ken Rosewall, Cliff Drysdale and Tony Roche always took the tournament old pal Roger Taylor in an Earls Court pub, the Hansom Cab (if I recall correctly) in the aftermath of a famous victory.

On other nights there were our fiercely contested, all-night games of poker with Roger and a few chums, one of whom subsequently became a High Court Judge.

What are the chances of Tim Henman this next fortnight? Pretty good, I'd say. He WILL win a Grand Slam one day, let's hope it's while he's playing at home.MY VOLLEY GOOD FUN IN SW19 seriously but there was fun too. I well remember celebrating with myWHAT a week. After the rigours of Garter Day, it was time to gird myself up for Royal Ascot.

I think this is the 31st year I have attended this fine meeting.

There may be a number of fairly appalling people in the Royal Enclosure these days - I remember when divorcees weren't allowed in for fear of "polluting" our dear Queen (what a laugh that now seems) - while those frequenting Tattersalls often get too noisy and tipsy.

But the racing is terrific, while many of the two-legged fillies on display are really lovely to gaze upon.

I think the week is unbelievably expensive (thank goodness I had one or two winners), but fun.

I was there on Tuesday and again on Ladies Day. Both times I was lavishly entertained in a box overlooking the track. I always say that if I can't be wealthy, I want rich friends. Life becomes easier.

A FRIEND rang St James's Palace office to ask about the dress code for his wife.

A charming lady said that formal daywear, including a hat which covered the crown of the head, was required for the Royal Enclosure.

My chum was told there were no rules governing the length of the skirt as there is at Henley. Amusingly, she added: "One does realise that a mini skirt looks rather better on an 18- year-old rather than a 40-year-old, doesn't one?" Quite. The lady in question is 40 in August.A CANTER WITH ASCOT'S FILLIESIT'S THAT time of year when I spend almost as much time at Windsor as the Queen. Apart from today's wedding, I was at the castle on Monday for the annual Garter Ceremony. My hosts, as usual, were Joyce Cowley and her husband, Jim, a former Coldstream Guards officer who is one of HM's 12 Military Knights. My wife and I were entertained in the Cowley's Grace and Favour home, overlooking St George's chapel, with a feast that will surely rival anything at tonight's wedding reception. I also had the best seat in town. The only comparable one would be sitting alongside HM in her landau.
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Whitaker, James
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 19, 1999
Words:1552
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