What an emotional wringer the royal family has put Britain through in the past two years, from the sadness of Prince Philip’s death to the joyful Platinum Jubilee, then Queen Elizabeth II’s own extraordinarily moving funeral, and now the coronation of her son. I’ve felt so privileged to have been at Buckingham Palace for the last three events, anchoring Fox News coverage in America. After we came off air on Saturday, I mused with my two US co-presenters about what may be the next major royal occasion: a wedding, a funeral, a silver jubilee (Charles would have to live as long as his grandmother for that to happen)? Or God forbid, will the British monarchy itself be terminally contaminated by the increasingly pungent whiff of republicanism sweeping the Commonwealth? We could be in for an even more turbulent ride than the one we’ve just been on.
On coronation eve, I was lunching in a private room at the River Café with Rupert Murdoch and some of his top executives when my phone buzzed with a message: “Keep the noise down, we’re upstairs.” It was Emily Maitlis, who is the person you least want eavesdropping when you’re proffering scandalous royal gossip to your boss. She later explained she was taping a podcast with Ruthie Rogers (the restaurant’s legendary owner) when a loud voice kept booming out from below: “We suddenly went, ‘That’s Piers! Unmistakable. Coarse and loud.’” Fortunately, they couldn’t pick up what I was actually bellowing — or their podcast would break the internet.
Iwas interested to see Prince Harry skulk into Westminster Abbey flanked by Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice, virtually the only royals still talking to the treacherous toad. Two weeks ago, I had a pub meal in Notting Hill with a group including the singer James Blunt and both princesses, whom I’ve known for donkey’s years. I exchanged a warm goodbye hug outside with Beatrice, oblivious to a lurking paparazzo. The resulting photos, featuring my commoner arms draped around her regal shoulders, my eyes clamped shut in Lynch-Bages-fueled bliss, could have seemed a tad incriminating had my wife Celia fortunately not also been in shot. My consternation was thus replaced by amusement at how unamused Harry would be when he saw them. But he should realize I was subjected to the same kind of privacy invasion he now specializes in with his family-trashing interviews, books and Netflix series. I’m the real media intrusion victim!
Barry Humphries, a favorite of the King, would have been at the coronation were it not for his recent death. Last time I saw the Dame Edna genius, I asked if he’d toned down his act because of the insane woke cancel-culture world we’re now forced to inhabit. “No!” he roared. “Les Patterson is the last offensive man standing! I can get away with anything so long as it comes out of his mouth, or Edna’s.” Barry’s legacy should be that all comedians continue to fearlessly offend the permanently over-offended.
Speaking of wokery, the Sun invited me to pen my twenty-point manifesto for abolishing this societal scourge after a reader suggested Rishi Sunak make me his anti-woke minister. My measures included a ban on trans athletes in women’s sport, and instant deportation for anyone who defaces a Churchill statue. After it was published, the prime minister texted me such a complimentary message that I think he might offer me the job. I’m ready to serve.
I’ve acquired some unique celebrity souvenirs on my travels, including a ukulele signed by Warren Buffett after he played “My Way” during our interview, Simon Cowell’s doodles of cars while filming Britain’s Got Talent and Donald Trump’s personalized Air Force One M&M chocolates. But the best is a watercolor of a rhinoceros painted by Queen Camilla. I bought it at a charity auction when I was Daily Mirror editor and stuck it up in my office. “Charles and I used to see it behind your head when you did interviews,” she told me years later, “and we were always completely horrified!” Now whenever we meet, Camilla’s opening line is invariably “Hello Piers, how’s my rhino?” which tends to raise a few eyebrows. The rhino perfectly epitomizes her own character: thick skin, strong protective streak and a ferocious instinct for survival despite being a long-time endangered species.
Of course, for Arsenal fans the real coronation will come if we win the Premier League. Many have written us off, but as Mandela said: “Everything seems impossible until it’s done.” Charles and Camilla’s hard-won journey to the ultimate trophies is our inspiration.