Prince sees funny side of Spike's knighthood
THERE was much mirth at St James's Palace yesterday when the comedian Spike Milligan, 82, received an honorary knighthood from one of his most enthusiastic fans, the Prince of Wales.
The two men, who have been friends for many years, were unable to keep straight faces during the investiture. But even though they share the same sense of humour - Prince Charles was a huge fan of The Goon Show - he seemed a little bemused when midway through the ceremony Milligan suddenly pronounced: "Do you know there are no dry cleaners in Peru? I thought the statistic would interest you."
"Well, that is something," Prince Charles replied thoughtfully, before chuckling once more. It was an honour that Milligan himself confessed he never expected, having once humorously described the Prince of Wales as a "little grovelling bastard" at a comedy awards ceremony. By way of an apology, of sorts, he later sent a fax to the Prince, asking: "I suppose a knighthood is out of the question now?" Technically, a full knighthood was, but not for that reason.
The comedian's award, for services to entertainment, is honorary because he adopted his father's Irish nationality, having refused to swear the oath of allegiance necessary to obtain a British passport. When Prince Charles pointed out even he had to take the oath, Milligan retorted: "Yes, but it's your mother, isn't it? You don't get board and lodging at Buckingham Palace if you don't swear the oath."
The Prince and the comedian have been in frequent, and often eccentric, communication since the heir to the throne was a young fan of the Goons' radio show, which featured Milligan, Harry Secombe, Peter Sellers and Michael Bentine.