I saw Prince William up the park the other day. He was taller and more athletic in person than he appears on the telly. He’s 40 next month, and I know all too well how difficult it is to stay in shape once you reach that stage of your life – especially if you’re constantly dining at state banquets and what not. I figure he must have a gym in his house, or at least access to a Peloton.
Anyway, here’s how it happened. I was at the gym doing my regular Saturday workout with my 10-year-old son Lenny and our personal trainer Jordan. This is not a fancy gym, by the way. It’s just a small concrete structure owned by the council, with a few exercise machines and a punchbag inside it. It was a sunny day so we were warming up outside, looking out across the adjoining playing fields.
Mid-star jump, the future King of England sashayed past us on his own, dead casual like. “Fuck me!” I exclaimed, forgetting that I was in the presence of both a child and top-level royalty. “That’s Prince William!” The Prince looked over at me, smiled and nodded in affirmation. Jordan and Lenny were gobsmacked. We spotted a security guard walking a few feet behind William, giving us the once over and concluding that we posed no threat.
We gawped as the prince walked into the cafeteria next to the gym – the council-run cafeteria that is staffed by one woman and doesn’t even serve cappuccinos! – and ordered himself a drink. The security bloke just stood outside the door, keeping an eye out.
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As a journalist of some 25 years, I am no stranger to celebrity encounters. From pop stars to world leaders, I’ve brushed up against the best of them. I don’t mean to boast, but I even had dinner with Noel Edmonds once. Plus, I’ve lived in London my whole life which means, sometimes, you just encounter famous folk out and about living their normal lives once in a while.
Like when I was in the Kensington branch of Habitat in 2008 and I saw Mick Jagger trying to buy a small vase. “I like this,” he told a shop assistant while brandishing the porcelain receptacle. “But could you maybe make me one in wood?” (Clearly, Jagger had long since lost all connection with the protocols of ordinary retail outlets and presumed that everything was available to his own bespoke specifications).