I wonder what Prince Charles makes of the fashion for abdication? Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and the Pope are both vacating the seat of power before shuffling off this mortal coil. Perhaps the old Lupin-whisperer imagines his destiny is close. Royal chatter reaches Mr Steerpike that someone at Clarence House recently commissioned a private poll on the public’s perception of senior royals. I hear that they were delighted with one pearl amongst the grit: Prince Charles is the most popular Prince of Wales ever.

Funnily enough, the living population had little recollection of how previous heirs apparent conducted their public duties; smiled as they opened leisure centres; worked the room; or treated their spouses on awkward trips to India. I would have thought that Prince Hal or the Black Prince would have had a shot at all-time stardom.

Tags: Monarchy, Pope Benedict XVI, Prince Charles