“Absolute genius! You made us all giggle.” He probably says that to all the girls. I don’t care, it works for me.
I’m uber-delighted to meet Prince Charles. (Can you tell from the photos? lol) I’ve been a lifelong admirer of his championing of the environment, alternative medicine and work with young people. He always seems to be a very kind and insightful man with a great sense of humour.
“I did worry though,” he continued in a twinkly manner, “that you were going to pick me to tie you up.”
“I wanted to,” I replied, “I wanted to point at you asking for someone intelligent and then say, ‘No.’ But I didn’t.”
He laughed. “I like it when you do this,” he said putting his arms straight above his head as I am wont to do, rather a lot, on stage. I laughed and did again, just for him, by royal command. I think I’m a little smitten, he really is such a nice man. I hope that he’ll be king one day, I think his kindness will serve us well.
The call to the Palace came on an ordinary afternoon. A sexy heavily accented French voice belonging to the suave and magically proficient Etienne Pradier asked, “Are you free on Tuesday? I was. “Can you do ten minutes on stage for Prince Charles?” I could. “Good, I’ll give you the details nearer the date.” He rang off.
“Ooooooooooeeeeeeeooooo!” That was me squealing and jumping about my studio like a very excited thing. I stopped and took a breath. Then I did another little dance. “Eek, eek, eeeeeeek!” They say a cat may look at a king and a diva may meet a prince. Actually, I made the last bit up. It’s true anyway.
A few minutes later, my exuberance turned to worry. Isn’t it strange? One moment you get a great gift and it’s all hoorah, the next you’re thinking “but I would really like it in pink not blue.” Thus with this gig. Ten minutes? My act works by establishing myself as an proficient magician before I bring in the comedy. I need a bit of time for that. And what about a stage? The stage in the photo of last year’s party was teeny tiny, just ten inches off the ground and not really wide enough to fit three people. I text Etienne. “Could I have fifteen minutes?” Yes. I do a show that night and realise that fifteen is still way too short. I text Etienne again. “Can I have thirty?” “We’ll see”. Hmmm.
I arrive at the Palace four hours before the show. Security is tight. Even before I get through the police and armed security at the gate, I’ve been profiled and checked out to the nth degree. I park the Divamobile and unload. The room is well lit, walls lined with red flock velvet and twenty golden chairs arranged in a semi-circle in front of the stage. And look! Oh joy and jubiliation!! They’ve built me a proper stage. Three feet high, at least four metres square. Some angel has backed the wall behind me with a beautiful damask rose silk curtain which brings out the colour of my feathers. There is a proper team of sound and light technicians. Such a relief. A panting security spaniel is sniffing round with his police handler. Everything is relaxed. I set up in the room behind, lined with great portraits of important people I’ve never heard of, laying out my props on a huge antique mahogany table.
As I stand on stage going though my act in my mind still hours before the two hundred guests arrive, I think, “This is it. This is the time to give it your best shot.” I decide to do a thirty minute set whatever anyone says. This is my moment.
“We want you to use Prince Charle’s personal policeman and his head of security to tie you up” says Prince Charles’ PR manager. He’s not joking. Gulp. I don’t argue. You don’t at the palace.
But you know, I was really enjoying it all. I certainly wasn’t as nervous as I have been even for my own home Sequin Theatre events. I had the feeling that the audience would be kind. I was savouring every minute, after all who knows when I’ll be invited back?
Once summoned, the party guests eagerly ran down to stand at the front in a small semi-circle behind the front chairs. HRH Prince Charles and his wife HRH Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall had their chairs at the front. With extra cushions.
Phew, the show went well. My volunteers were funny and easy to work with, I didn’t flunk the technical magic, people laughed.
Show done, I ran back to my dressing room to dab my face with a towel.
“Quick! Quick! You’re expected in the line.” I dropped the towel and sprinted though another gilded portrait-lined room to where the band and my fellow close-up magicians were waiting in a line to meet Prince Charles and his wife. I reminded myself not to say anything stupid. The first time I met David Copperfield, I was so nervous my first words were, “You look young.” Idiot.
But you know, when you’ve just done a good show, all is well with the world. All is fun and twinkle and relief. Having a funny chat with Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall and hearing that they enjoyed my act was icing on the cake. Plus of course, they are super kind and gracious. You can see that from the photos. Then it was even more delightful to meet my audience at the party afterwards. The handsome head of palace security suddenly said, “I”m going to put you on my shoulder.” He literally swept me up and sat me almost on his head. He’s probably suffering from a hernia now. Ooh, a girl likes to be swept up on a strong man’s shoulders. Just saying.
Afterwards I went out for a late supper with my handsome French close-up colleagues and had a right old giggle. This is the life I thought. More please. More fun, more magic, more everything. May I wish you all MORE of everything YOU love in 2017!!! Abracadabra, may it be so!
With grateful thanks to Etienne Pradier (above) and the inspiring company of Pierre Manu