14 NOVEMBER 1970, Page 14


Prince Charles at the Albert Hall


All the auditorium and all the five tiers, all the Albert Hall is businessmen. Five thousand company directors, worsted knee to worsted knee, crouched over luncheon boxes like passengers in some gigantic aero-i plane on an eternal journey into an incal- culable exterior. Five thousand Possos with five thousand drum-sticks and five thousand napkins and five thousand quarter bottles of rose, while the smoke of ten-shilling cigars hangs in the air like ectoplasm. Bruegel is dead, but someone, somewhere is playing the organ in Celebration of awe.

A cool morning they had of it. Crumpled around their flies from all that sitting they take themselves to bars for brandies in plastic containers and chill each other with their conviviality. They assess, assert and estimate. They are competitors in judgment. Man in dark suit-white shirt-dark tie-red carnation to man in dark suit-white shirt4 dark tie-red carnation.

PM a bit of a let down. Didn't tell us any- thing we don't already know. Give him his due, he speaks up these days, didn't mumble like some of the others. Standing ovation he got last time; didn't get that today. He was a free man last year. It's all a question of responsibility. Responsibility makes you dull, fact of life that. That clergyman fellow now, and Vic Feather, don't mind admitting, they were the best. Scored over the PM.

The reassembling faces have lost their morning pallor and now radiate pink for digestion. But none so rosy as the tender complexion between crimson ears of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales as he awaits his own thirty minutes' worth.

'My goodness' says the Prince and five thousand businessmen roar out laughing, slap contented thighs with programmes, stamp cherry blossom boot polished heels. His naivety and innocence have been ex-4 ploited, he says, for little did he know he would have to address such a formidable array of whizz kids, tycoons, industrial giants and financiers. Pause. For thirty min- utes! Laughter. He is not yet, he says, fingers rubbing his face beneath the imperial nose, as though to encourage the bristles of maturity, quite a man of the whole world.

His speech, which he reads from a book, is as well tailored as his jacket. Certainly his family's preditsction for the Crazy Gang and the good old-fashioned stand-up comic has filtered through to Charles in the way of talent. His timing is immaculate, his gestures restrained but effective. He is a gifted man with a microphone, a natural entertainer, right down to the slick double-take towards the mistimed solitary guffaw.

Youth and the Commonwealth are his sub- jects. He is for putting the one and keeping the other in their places. He offers the assur- ance that for all the young people dropping out of our rules and codes (because their parents have failed to explain them cor-

rectly) there are those in the background who do wonderful things. He knows him- self, through his own experience, how boring rules can seem to be. He has under- 'gone and administered them himself, so he sees both sides of the coin. Rules are meant to be broken, they used to say at Gordons- toun, but they also knew the consequences of such behaviour. There are limits to free- dom, says the Prince of Wales. And we do not live on a desert island.

Our future king is on the right lines and cigars are unpeeled in private reverence. His feelings for the Commonwealth, continues the Prince, might well be influenced by the fact that he knows its Head rather well. We are further comforted by such intimacy and joy is unconfined.

Some young people, he says, meet black people over here and Read Things. Thus disillusion sets in and youthful idealism towards the Commonwealth is lost. This is a shame. Young people, urges the Prince, should travel to colonial countries and see for themselves. The fares, of course, are a little prohibitive for many young people, but perhaps there are those among us from BOAC who might care to take the hint.

It's knowing how the other half lives that matters. Prince Charles is aware of his °mil good fortune in this respect. He has been able to travel far and wide to learn respect for the customs of foreigners. Experiences, for instance, like finding spiders in his room in New Guinea and having what he de- scribes as a 'traumatic incident with the thunderbox', give you an awareness of the world. He was able, too, to appreciate and respect the Japanese way of life by virtue of the fact that while in that country he slept, ate, sat and 'did everything' on the floor. A surge of appreciative laughter suggests that something furtive of a sexual nature has been implied. 'Perhaps we will have to make this x certificate' responds the Prince, and he has been accepted, one feels, at last, as a man of the whole world.

Our Good Chairman asks God to bless Prince Charles. His thanks are brief for 'when you see pure gold', he says, 'you do not try to gild the lily'. His sentiments, eon- fusing though they might seem to an out- sider, are applauded by the five thousand. Indeed, such is the accord that one gentle- man remarks on the physical resemblance between the Chairman and HRH.

And so to our foreigner. John Lindsay, Mayor of New York, is generously greeted. Our Chairman makes lighthearted reference to a poll recently conducted by the Daily Sketch where Mr Lindsay is voted the man with the most sex appeal in the world. Spurred on by favourable audience reaction, and perhaps by his own gallantry, our Chair- man speculates that if the voters had been women no doubt Mrs Lindsay would have won a prize. But he has not rehearsed this remark and somehow he seems to be sug- gesting that only men recognise the sex appeal of the neat-featured Mayor. It has been, announces Sir Derek Prit- chard, the greatest conference of the Institute of Directors that has ever been. God. once again, is called upon for his blessing. Outside in Kensington Gore there is no unseemly scrabble for get-away taxis. Into the afternoon glory of Kensington Gardens they plunge. Thousands of bowlered. brol- lied and brief-cased businessmen, scattering like rays of the sun as though under fire: each in the desperate bid to hide from the . other four thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine that his company's Daimler did not come to collect him,