Camilla is positively steaming with rage. Harry and Meghan, coming to Karori and bunking down at Homewood? What a ruddy nightmare!
For one thing, Meghan had all manner of odd dietary requirements. She seemed to live on green juice and goji berries, whatever the blazes they were. Inevitably, Charles and Camilla would have to kiss goodbye to the hamper of pheasant they’d brought over from Harrods.
How could Camilla forget their awkward first dinner with Harry’s fiancee, three years ago at Clarence House? Meghan had refused the footman’s offer of a silver platter of partridge.
“I don’t eat anything with a face,” she’d said silkily, “And I’m not crazy about eating anything that’s been traumatised by a face.” She said no to the grouse, trout, lamb’s liver, the pickled hare and the swan cutlets. Then she waved away the truffles, because a pig’s face had dug them up.
Ugh, remembers Camilla. Meghan had even turned down the salad, because “Cabbages have hearts”.
Double ugh, thinks Camilla.
“Charles!” she bellows. She storms about the residence, checking the various rooms, before finding him hunched over a telephone in the study. Charles motions for silence.
“I’m placing an order for supplies,” he stage-whispers, “From a chap at Gipps Street Butchery. Comes highly recommended. Excellent haggis.”
“But the Markles don’t eat meat,” says Camilla, irritably.
“Nonsense,” hisses Charles. “The Harry I know is half-kebab. Never turns down a tasty bird.” He returns to the phone call. “So, my good man, that will be all.”
Bill, Karori’s legendary butcher, is wondering where he’s heard this strangled, cut-glass British accent before. He sticks his pencil back in the pocket of his striped navy apron and reads back the order.
“So that’s five quail, a whole smoked salmon and a dozen Bratwurst, to be delivered to the British High Commissioner’s residence?”
“Indeed, yerse,” replies Charles. “I assume the sausages are of good quality?”
“Of course,” says Bill, affronted. “I stuff them myself. Pure meat, spices, and no gristle. In this game, you’re only as good as your last sausage.”
“I can’t sell a duff sausage in CITY END KARORI,” Bill carries on, crossly.
“I don’t know what that means, but it sounds very reassuring,” says Charles.
“It means, one dodgy lamb medallion and Wellington’s entire civil service would collapse. You should see the Cabinet ministers, Treasury officials and senior civil servants queuing on Saturdays, drooling over my sticky ribs.
“I don’t stock nasty cuts and I don’t sell old boilers,” Bill says, tutting. “The last thing I want is a customer chewing for hours on tough mutton.”
Charles gazes briefly at Camilla before replying, “Well, it’s not that bad once you’re used to it.”
Just then, Camilla hears a child’s wail outside the window. She gets up to have a look and sees a scattering of local people drawing closer to their front gates. What the blazes…? she asks herself.
“Something’s the matter,” she tells Charles. “Wait here.”
Camilla charges outside, crunches down the gravel walk and over to the railings. A semi-circle of startled walkers, many with Labradoodles, are gazing up at a large tree, appalled.
“Mummy!” a little boy is shrieking, covering his face, “Teddy’s DEAD!”
Camilla looks up and is aghast. Prince Charles’ stuffed bear is hanging by its neck from one of her brassieres. Bloody Charles strung a noose, the silly clot! He was supposed to tie it to a branch, not garrote it!
“There, there, young man,” Camilla says, clambering up into the branches to tug down her bra, and unwind Clarence. “It’s perfectly all right. I’ll just give him the kiss of life.” She pretends to resuscitate the bear, and receives a smattering of applause. A Labradoodle barks approval.
There’s a murmur among the walkers. Bloody hell, thinks Camilla. Our cover’s well and truly blown.
“Excuse me, ma’am,” says one woman, shyly. “Are you…?”
Camilla sighs, and forces a gracious smile. “Indeed, I am the Duchess of Cornwall and my husband is self-isolating indoors. We are most grateful to the New Zealand government and the people of Wellington for their generous hospitality.
“We particularly acknowledge the British High Commissioner and her family for making room for us. I believe she’s living quite contentedly in the Karori Bridge Club where they’ve a hotplate, microwave and mini-fridge, as well as several dozen packs of cards.”
There’s a ripple of excitement among the walkers, except for the Labradoodle, which is hunched behind the buxus evacuating its bowels.
The woman bobs a little curtsy, and eyes Camilla’s bra. “Might you be interested in joining a local Zoom book club, Your Eminence?” she asks. “I think you might enjoy it. We did Fifty Shades of Grey last week.”
“How very kind,” says Camilla. “By all means, invite me. I’m CAMMY@BuckHouse.”
Just then, a gleaming armoured SUV swings onto Homewood Avenue and approaches the gates, which slide open. The walkers step back to let it pass, except the Labradoodle, which is otherwise occupied. Its number plate reads MEGXIT1.
“IS THAT WHO I THINK IT IS?” someone squeaks.
“I’m afraid so,” says Camilla. “The Sussexes.” There’s a crash of ominous organ music from a neighbouring house, and the Labradoodle yelps.
“Isn’t it nice,” someone says, “That despite their wholesale public rejection of your way of life and everything the Windsors represent, they come to your side in a crisis?”
“Yerse,” agrees Camilla, through gritted teeth. “As you’ll all see over the course of the next few episodes, we’re just an ordinary happy family.”
In the next fascinating instalment, Camilla gets rat-arsed with her book club and Meghan sprinkles stardust at Karori Mall