Magazine article The Spectator

Blind Date

Magazine article The Spectator

Blind Date

Article excerpt

New York

I believe it was Jemima Khan's idea, the search for a beau for Princess Diana - after her divorce, that is. It was late 1995 going into 1996. If memory serves, the Brits of Diana's background were judged too wet, so I suggested an Italian or a Greek, but Jemima said they were bound to cheat and Diana had had enough of that. Arabs were deemed 'unsortable', as were the Belgians (mostly child molesters), and my beloved Germans too pedantic. The French, needless to say, were seen as too cerebral, men bound to point out to her what she lacked upstairs. Then Eureka! What better than an American, and his name was Charles Glass. Charlie was and is extremely good-looking, was divorced like the princess, was a gent, was intelligent and loved the fairer sex. Jemima was not convinced: 'He's always chasing women' - or words to that effect.

But Charlie Glass it was, and Cosima Somerset made the arrangement. It was going to be dinner in my house, a quatre, and we were all so confident it would work that I told Charlie to start packing his bags. KP was the next stop. Alas, it was a disaster. Diana did not drink, so Charlie and I emptied bottle after bottle of the Mouton Rothschild I had ordered for the occasion. Both the Princess and Lady Cosi were appalled to watch two grown-up men getting sloshed and talking rubbish. Not so much Charlie - in fact he holds it much better than me - but yours truly, who for some strange reason talked non-stop about the Ancient Greeks and their sex habits, a topic Diana was not exactly familiar with. (And yet. She sent me a thank-you note, one that I have not as yet put up for sale, telling me how impressed she was with my knowledge of the ancient world. Some knowledge.)

What did not click was the match. Charlie and Diana were polite but mostly ignored each other. Like in a comedy film, I took him aside after a while and gave him a pep talk. 'She's not my type,' said the ungrateful one.

Now about the prophetic letter that Diana wrote to that Burrell man. When I first read about it last week, a bell went off, but I wasn't sure. So I rang Charlie who was in London, attending the William and Olga Shawcross tenth wedding anniversary party. (Incidentally, bravo Olga. Ten years of marriage is longer than Willy's two previous marriages combined.) Charlie was not much help, but he did confirm that one of the reasons he and Di did not hit it off that first night was because she insisted on bringing up Prince Charles and what had happened to her, no matter what the subject. …

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