Prince Charles blows £20 million on The Chippendales

I hear that the heir to the British throne, Prince Charles, has been raiding his piggy bank and begging the bank to let him buy the well known troup of male strippers known as The Chippendales. Apparently he has forked out £20 million on them.

He must be joking surely. Well he looks jolly enough these days and his wife Camilla can’t believe her eyes either. I came across those unembarrassed naked guys once myself when they were performing in Manchester and used my local gym as their, er, dressing room. it was the first time that I had noticed that men who shave their body hair have more than afternoon shadow if they don’t keep it up. These guys had whipped out their razors and were merrily shaving off their rather uncomfortable-looking chest stubble. Well, I am sure that Camilla wouldn’t mind but I am told that women mostly like their men to look as smooth as babies’ bottoms these days. Meanwhile,  I think I am one of the few people to have seen The Chippendales start naked and end up with their clothes on.

Even so, I was confused about all this when I was told that the prince thought any price was worth it to save a complete set of Chippendales just because he wanted to keep them in Dumfriess House, a drafty old pile in Scotland…..

….everyone to their own taste I guess.

If you ever go there and you get easily embarrassed then you could always look at the beautifully decorated ceilings……

…or the splendid furniture which, someone has just told me, is a complete set of, hmmm, Chippendales – a whole house full in fact and all preserved immaculately in the place where the well-known 18th. century furniture-maker, Thomas Chippendale intended. Silly me, I don’t think these chairs have seen a bare bottom since that night when….er, let’s not go there. No, forgive me,  Prince Charles has been throwing money at this place to “save it for the nation” – a palladian mansion with all its original furniture intact for the princely sum of £43 million with a bit of help from his charities, some public bodies and a loan form the bank.

All this happened in the glory days of 2007 when anyone could get a bank loan for anything they wanted…a troup of strippers, a stately home or even a sub-prime one. Prince Charles came into this deal at the last moment after someone told him about it at a dinner party.  He had put together the deal and given the 7th. Marquess of Bute, one of Britain’s richest men, a cheque for £43 million. Previously the Marquess had turned down an offer, nearer to the place’s valuation, of £25 million.  What a mean old buffer I thought, meaning the marquess of Bute, whom, I had assumed to be one of those old lairds with a  grizzled beard hanging down to his sporran. Well no, actually…..

The 7th. Marquess of Bute

The 7th. Marquess is the former Formula One racing driver who likes to be known as Johnnie Dumfries. He may not be an old duffer but he is pretty mean-spirited just the same. Then again, how did those Butes make their money? They were 18th Century Welsh coal mine owners who even then knew how to make a quick bob at other peoples’ expense before putting on the trappings of aristocray and joining that weirdly other-worldly group known as the British Upper Class.

The 3rd Marquess of Bute

After turning Prince Charles down at first, Scotland’s first minister, Alex Salmond, came in on the deal and it was all smiley faces when Dumfriess House, with not a stripper in sight, was opened to the public. There was a lot of hope around in those days especially as the prince had also bought some neighbouring land hoping to get planning permission, previously turned down, to build a “model community” with up to 770 houses which, presumably were to be in his favoured neo-classical architectural style and where model citizens could all live together in feudal bliss.

Sadly for Charles, for the would-be model villagers, for the prince’s charities but not for the bank, the value of the land has crashed since the recession and Dumfriess house is now in negative equity.

So Charles, listen mate, to your palace adviser who apparently joked “Never buy a £43 million house without looking at it first” you never know when the wind is going to change leaving you and yours exposed to the elements.


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