“It all began during an intimate lunch on the ski slopes of Switzerland,” an awed Prince William tells me in between sips of tea. “At least, that’s what the Herald Sun is reporting.”
The cup is Wedgwood. The tea is chamomile. The room of the palace smells like my grandmother. And Prince William’s eyes? Sparkling with deep, scandalous, click-worthy love.
Not for his wife and the mother of his children, the Duchess of Cambridge, of course. But for a 24-year-old Australian model, Sophie Taylor, who he happened to cross paths with on Monday.
"We were photographed hi-fiving during a 'boozy lunch', so from there the cat was really out of the bag," he admits coyly. "Oh, those cheeky Daily Mail paparazzi! Such monkeys! Daddy tells me I really must be more careful."
He giggles, like he can't even believe himself, before letting out a sigh.
"This was always going to catch up with me... especially the dancing thing from later in the night."
I run my finger along the mahogany table we're seated at, intently gathering dust on my index finger, trying not to visualise the Prince's dad dance again. I fail, let out a snort, and startle the royal corgi that is asleep on his lap. In the distance, a clock ticks monotonously.
"I must ask you this," I begin, stifling more snorts as I remember the Prince flapping his arms about like a deranged pelican in that TMZ video. "There are reports that this Sophie Taylor... that she is... your 7000th woman."
The Prince puts his hands behind his head, and arches his back towards the ceiling as he does the mental math. His salmon Ralph Lauren pullover moves upwards to reveal a tuft of belly hair, encircled by a tattoo of a turquoise butterfly.
"She was the 7003rd," he corrects me. "But you, you're the 7004th."
I furiously write down the figures in my notepad, feeling deep shame as I glance at the giant portrait of William and Kate on the adjacent wall. But that all vanishes as soon as I picture the headline I'll be able to put on this story, and all the extra Instagram followers I'll gain. Maybe I'll launch a lifestyle blog?
"And these women... I'm sorry, William, I must ask. I know this is really hard."
The Prince starts to sob quietly. He wipes the snot away on the snoozing corgi.
"Was it always hi-fives? What about smiles? ... Or small talk?"
"Well," his eyes widen. "We're not even counting all the royal waves I've given out over the years. There have been thousands when Kate isn't around, and many of them have been with other women, but... but..."
I gasp for dramatic effect.
"With men too?"
Prince William nods.
"Do you... do you think my marriage, my family, is broken?" he asks me.
We both stare off into the distance meaningfully, as a royal aide comes in to offer us fresh scones and jam. We take a bite in perfect unison.
"It depends," I reply. "You really must stop that god awful dad dancing, though."
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