"Tell me, Mrs. Maynard, do you write under your maiden name in Maidenhead?" "No, sir." Mrs. Maynard hesitated. "I write under my married name, which is Maynard, in Maidenhead." A glint in the royal eye.
"Do you mean to say that you write under your married name of Maynard in Maidenhead and not your maiden name, which isn't Maynard?"
"Oh, I see."
Another pause. "You know," HRH, the Prince of Wales, said, "I wrote this silly little book for my younger brother that's in the shops now, and, it's terribly embarrassing, but, do you know, the thing has gone and sold 190,000 copies?" He paused a moment. "Isn't that extraordinary? They've even gone and translated it into Japanese."
This was too much for Nan Maynard of Maidenhead: "Well, sir, that won't happen to me." "No," said the proud author, "I suppose it won't." And still the prince lingered.
"You know, sir, I once stopped to watch you play polo. . . ."
"How terribly brash of you, Mrs. Maynard. I do say, that was brave." Almost as an afterthought, Wales turned to a matron by Mrs. Maynard's side: "And what have you done with your husband today?" he asked cheerfully.
The woman looked stricken. "We're separated, sir, I'm sorry to say." The prince registered nothing, not a flicker of sympathy or chagrin. "I see," he said, and then he was gone, without saying a royal good-bye.
Meanwhile, Lady Diana was ten steps behind him, greeting another couple slightly down the line. The woman pulled a Lee Annenberg and wrongly dropped dramatically to one knee. Diana's response was to cough nervously in her face. "Oh," she said, "excuse me. I have such a sore throat. All the excitement."
Clearly, Diana didn't go far enough with her Clarence House instructions. Someone will have to teach this twenty-year-old that queens are not allowed to cough and kvetch within the public eye.
But the girl was trying. "Have you been to many of these garden parties before?" she asked gamely. The matron looked confused. "Oh, no, ma'am. This is my first." Diana giggled. "This is my first too. I'm awfully nervous." Everyone was charmed. The woman grew brave. "Are you enjoying your engagement, Lady Diana?" An explosion: "Oh, no! I absolutely hate the engagement. But I shall adore being married to Charles." Off she wobbled like a marvelous duckling, fast on its way to becoming a royal swan.
She will have role models to help her become that swan. Princess Michael of Kent, with her upsweep of blond hair, her ersatz-Givenchied presence, might be able to teach her a few things—about appearance, anyway. The Windsor women are not Princess Michael fans. They call her "the poor relation" and snigger about how her stipend of $20,000 a year forces her to have to ask for a royal discount on those nice little Bottega Veneta bags in Knightsbridge shops.
For the rest of her life, Diana will not be able to go out alone.
The family is not amused. One could see that at the garden party, during the final promenade. From out of the royal tea tent first strolled the queen, looking surprisingly strained and irritable in her ivory Hardy Amies and midwinter black kid gloves, accented with what resembled $25 Baker's shoes. To loud clapping, Princess Michael in her fake cream Givenchy smiled and dazzled the glamour lovers in the crowd. Just to Princess Michael's right, making her way past the beefeaters, was Princess Petulance, the unlovely Anne. Her hat for the occasion appeared to have been picked up on a beach at Mustique. Loosely woven raffia, in a cone shape, held down by a chiffon scarf. Anne had added a touch of color to the brim—a cluster of miniature plastic fruit—so as she stared viciously at Princess Michael gathering all the applause, her rage was so intense that the banana bobbed against the cherry, which crashed against the plum. "You would have thought Anne could have come up with something a bit smarter for her head, now, wouldn't you?" one onlooker said.
But there's another lesson to be drawn here. Perhaps Lady Diana should think what happens to those royal smarty-boots who try to steal any thunder from the Windsor women. Maybe she should forget about the fancy hats and Bally shoes and act more like a proper frump if she wants to fit in.
What to Buy the Bride
The secrets are just north of Sloane Square, in black plastic notebooks, as hard to get into as the pre-wedding ball, at Buckingham Palace. Even the bride's closest friends won't tell you what's in those little books. One slip about the black leather trash cans at $50 each could sever a relationship, bring the Highgrove shutter down. Diana and Charles's imperious command "No decanters," which is boldly printed throughout their register, could have English glassmakers in a fury that they don't want a crystal camouflage for the not-so-vintage port.