The Prince and his royal affair

The palace is worried over Harry’s latest obsession because Cressida is no docile Catherine smiling her way into British hearts

Finally, it seems, the spotlight might shift away from the boringly perfect, ever cheerful (is-she-for-real?) Kate Middleton to someone who is a little more sparkling and less bothered with perfection.

The media buzz is that Prince Harry has either abandoned his former girlfriend Chelsy Davy or she has left him for the legal profession. Whatever the truth, they are each exploring the world minus the other and the press in London maintains that the often-naked prince might soon find another reason to cavort shirtless.
Cressida Bonas (could any other name sound more regal? This is certainly an improvement over the rather downmarket-sounding Chelsy Davy) has Hello magazine credentials with the further snob value that her mother was married four times. Besides, she is filthy rich and grew up in a National Trust House. So who cares?
Cressida’s half-sister recently married the son of Richard Branson, and it is rumoured that Prince William had been eyeing Isabella Anstruther-Gough-Calthrope (whoever thinks of these hyphenated names needs to be given a medal for creating mouthfuls) while he was mulling over marrying Kate. Yes, Isabella is Cressida’s half sister. Get it? Anyhow, the palace is worried over Harry’s latest obsession because Cressida is no docile Catherine smiling her way into British hearts.
Cressida’s photographs from the not-so-distant past have appeared (alas! those naughty mobile phone cameras!) in tabloids, in various unregal poses including one feeling up a shirtless man. Though the latter might be a Bonas bonus for Harry, who also has his shirtless moments. But there are media stories wondering if Cressida could turn into another Sarah Ferguson, taking the Royal family back into those bad old days when unloved and unwanted by the British public (because of the constant scandals), they shivered alone in their glittering royal palaces.
Cressida, to her credit, seems untroubled by the furore and has thus far not engaged with the media speculation. Neither has her family. Everyone is now watching Prince Harry’s next move and we are hoping he proposes, quickly. I would rather prefer that the nation go bonkers over another wedding than drool over Kate’s new baby, also due in summer. Most of us cannot bear discussing baby food and diapers and if there has to be a debate over a derriere (as we did two years ago with Pippa Middleton), I would rather it was one fully grown and not that of a baby. “Come on Harry, marry!” I can almost hear the whispers grow.

Meanwhile, as my book has just been launched in the UK — apart from going to the literary Mecca at Hay on Wye — I have also been doing a round of radio programmes. Perhaps, the highlight for me was to spend two hours on the BBC World Service last weekend. One sometimes forgets how fabulously connected the world service is with many more millions of listeners compared to any other radio show. Part of the reason is that the service actually cares about what is happening in parts of the world that we often forget about. Thus, early in the morning, over a coffee and croissant, with anchor Julian Worriker, we not only discussed the killing of Lee Rigby, a British soldier in Woolwich, but we also chatted about the withdrawal of French troops in Mali, the 130th anniversary of Brooklyn Bridge and the re-trial ordered over a genocide in Guatemala. Also, we discussed my book, The Sea of Innocence, and the rising sexual violence in India among many other issues.
Sexual violence, as we have also been debating, is not something that is only a problem in Asia. Recently, there have been some rather startling cases of white, British men involved in rape and paedophilia. The most high profile example is that of now-dead BBC presenter Jimmy Saville. Despite the fact that he is no more, scores of women have testified that Saville molested them as children. Other recent cases of kidnapping, molestation and sometimes murder of young girls has made everyone wonder if there is a trend of male violent behaviour that needs to be monitored even more closely. Even in the UK we are wondering whether the easy access to pornography on the Internet could be one of the reasons?

But let’s move on to more pleasant things. We attended a wonderful restrospective of artist Lance Robeiro, J.N. Souza’s brother at the resplendent Asia House. And what an amazing exhibition it was. It was obvious that the artist deserved much more recognition during his lifetime than he had ever got. His daughter Marsha Rebeiro had put the exhibition together with the tireless Betty Yao, who is also a member of the Pan Asian Women’s Association. Rebeiro was born in Bombay, but in his early paintings the jewel-like colours of the churches and houses belong obviously to his original Goan heritage. Even more interesting was the fact that he had painted in so many different styles in his lifetime that it looked almost like the exhibition was of four or five different artists and not just a single one.
Now one hopes that Rebiero’s work will return to India, especially to Goa. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have these paintings hung — however briefly — in the home and the place where he was born?

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