Consorting With Camilla

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LONDON: Since England got knocked out of the World Cup, Britons have had to find other things to fret about. Northern Ireland has been obligingly explosive, of course -- and now that other old standby, the royal family, has offered up its requisite amount of gossip. Wednesday a spokeswoman for Prince Charles confirmed that Camilla Parker Bowles, the Prince's longtime mistress, has met Prince William for the first time. When Diana was alive, Camilla was kept very much in the shadows. Her sudden flurry of interest in Charles' son -- they reportedly got together three times over the last month -- has sparked rumors that Camilla is about to become a stepmother, not to mention future Queen Consort.

Indeed, the news gave Britain's two biggest-selling tabloids -- the Sun and the Mirror -- something to splash on the front page, with both claiming a "World Exclusive." With so little to go on, the royal newshounds were reaching: "Camilla was extremely nervous," claimed the Mirror, "but very relieved she'd finally met Prince William.'' The Sun told us the meeting was "amicable," consisted of "small talk" and lasted for "thirty minutes." Still, at least this "world exclusive" has a basis in fact -- and coming in the form of an announcement from the Prince, has a very public ring to it. It is entirely possible that Britons could be watching another royal wedding before too long. And that'll keep them occupied for years.