Swellboy on… royal confusion

Our man has trouble distinguishing between princes – of both the period-drama and polo-playing kind…

There has been a lot of complaining about TV drama The White Queen, but I find that it fills a Sunday evening quite pleasantly. So what if there is the occasional anachronism and that medieval London seems a far cleaner place than it is today? Besides, any television programme that is made by an American cable channel called Starz (yes, that is right, stars with a Z, or zee, as I believe they say) is hardly going to be an Open University broadcast is it?

That said, I have to admit that I do find it all a bit bewildering, as in any episode the throne of England may be occupied by half a dozen different kings in the space of an hour. This is further complicated by the fact that many of the young men who might occupy the throne look like members of the public-school boy band Blake. I only know about Blake because I saw them perform as a supporting act at a party thrown by a friend of mine in Bulgaria (I love going shopping in Sofia and on this occasion I returned with a large antique crystal ashtray and a gold-plated scale model of a Soviet-era tank on a heavy marble plinth).


Like Blake, the trio of siblings at the centre of The White Queen – Edward IV and his brothers, one of whom became Richard III – are all very good-looking, well spoken and popular with the laydeez. What is more, they carry off the codpiece-and-hose nonsense with aplomb, and when it comes to quilted gilets and jackets the show is quite fashion forward. In fact, I cannot help thinking that whoever designed the costumes had sneaked a peek at the autumn/winter collection at Belstaff – either that or there is some clever product placement going on.

As in art (or at least Sunday-evening period drama), so in life I find that I am not the only person to suffer from princely confusion, as I discovered when out at the Kent & Curwen Royal Charity Polo Cup the other day, an event of which Howtospendit.com is a sponsor. In a fascinatingly competitive twist, the two charities were Tusk and Sentebale: the former fronted by the Duke of Cambridge, the latter by Prince Harry of Wales, both of whom were pitted against each other in opposing polo teams. The only thing was that with the bright sunlight, the smoke from my cigar and the distance from the pitch, I couldn’t really make out which of the players were princes because, to my relatively inexperienced eye, one chap on a fast-moving horse does look rather like another.


Happily, one of my lunch companions came up with the perfect answer: they should play polo wearing crowns – a commendable suggestion, not least because it would open up sponsorship avenues for the crown jeweller, who could make a range of suitably princely sports crowns. The royal rivalry on the polo field was more good-natured than the squabbling between the Plantagenet siblings on the telly. The only friction I could imagine arising from the suggestion of the implementation of the sports crown as an item of polo apparel would be between the crown jeweller and one of the other sponsors of the event: Tiffany.