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A first-class hissy fit

The heir to the British crown is going through another bad patch, poor chap.

It seems that Prince Charles, as a result of some unexplained and inexcusable breach of protocol, found himself sitting in business class on a flight to Hong Kong in 1997, something he realized after noticing that his seat was uncomfortable.

To add insult to injury, members of the government - unspecified as to name and rank - were seated in first class.

It gets worse. How we know this and much more is that private diaries the prince had meant to share only with friends were leaked to the British press by a former deputy private secretary to the prince - something akin to saying that the sun rises in the east over the Scepter'd Isle.

Now, the incensed prince is suing the Mail on Sunday for violation of privacy and copyright infringement. So far, the judge is giving him no satisfaction.

It occurs to us that the British royals have brought much unwanted publicity on themselves, and that Fleet Street has merely taken advantage of irresistible opportunities.

It also occurs to us that the future king might have avoided all this embarrassment by refraining in his jottings from calling Chinese leaders "appalling old waxworks."

For his part, Prime Minister Tony Blair told reporters, presumably with a straight face, that Charles is "perfectly entitled to express his views." Now there's one Briton who understands the virtue of understatement.