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Today is Coronation Day, the official day in which the eldest son of the late Queen gets to change jobs, wear a new hat, and become King. We wish King Charles well, although it is a sad reflection of the times that someone who otherwise qualifies for an old-age pension needs to go out and work. If only the Royals had a couple of bob spare so that he wouldn't be forced to graft away in his golden years, when he'd probably be sipping a glass of vino in Butlins, Benidorm or the Bahamas.


Of course, it isn't just Charles who becomes King, as Camilla will now become Queen. Obviously, conspiracy fanatics are not going to be pleased by this particular state of events - while some, inspired by David Icke, believe the Royals are leading players in the lizard alien plan to rule the world; there are others who think it was Diana who truly deserved to be the new queen, had she not been brutally knocked off on the instructions of some mysterious puppetmaser in Buckingham Palace.


Personally, as a republican, I don't give a hoot who should be queen. What I do find fascinating though is that this is probably the first instance in which a royal mistress became First Lady of the land. This is major change from events of the 1990s, when Camilla probably ranked alongside Cruella de Vil and O.J. Simpson in the popularity stakes. Along with being reviled for breaking up a fairytale romance, Camilla was a central character in Camillagate, when the media published phonechats where Charles was heard to confess his desire to be her personal tampax. Be that as it may, things have moved on in the intervening years, and we now have King Charles and Queen Camilla.


With that in mind, it did lead me to wonder about something: if you ever follow the history of English royals through the ages, while there are instances of them getting their leg over, such behaviour is usually expressed in euphemisms. So, while serial divorcee Henry VIII had numerous wives, other kings, such as Charles II, would either have a royal mistress, or be seen entertaining in the company of a retired actress (or, at a push, seeing "courtesans", who were the FMTY escorts of the powdered wig and horsebuggy era). Generally though, it is rare to read about an English king, or king to be, visiting a brothel or seeking the services of a common prostitute, as if this was a bawdy activity only fit for the lower classes. While some of this may have been down to a belief that you get what you pay for in terms of female company, in other cases, it was down to a need to maintain discretion in how they conducted ones affairs in private, lest it impacted on their public persona.


There appears to be only one exception to the rule, and what an exception he was. This notable royal punter of note was Edward VII, son of Queen Victoria and her consort Prince Albert (him of cockring fame), Edward was, like the current king, Prince of Wales for a hell of a lot of time; 59 years until he took the place of Victoria. However, unlike Charles III, Bertie didn't spend his spare time on organic biscuits, playing polo or talking to plants - rather his hobbies were travelling, mens fashion, and banging away at babes in a way which would make even the most seasoned members of UKPunting look like amateurs (except maybe Hendrix).


While Victorian Britain was characterised as being a land of rather prudish morals, over in France, life was different. The French were living in a demimonde of artistic expression and sensual exuberance, with Paris being the centre of it all. It was here that Edward, who was as popular as he was portly, became the libertine king, long before he became king of an empire. Unlike modern day clients, who pull their noses up at any escort who doesn't match their perceptions of perfection, Edward was a man of the people, in that he didn't give a hoot about such things. Thus, he was happy to consort with any woman of negotiable virtue regardless of her price, looks or social status, like a true king would.


That said, he did like his brothels, with one in particular being his favourite, namely Le Chabanais. While every brothel and massage parlour in Manchester likes to state on its website that it is luxurious, this place actually was the real deal, with gilded staircases, marble floors, fountains and imported silk bedding to match the beauties working there who were fit for a harem. In short, it had the sort of posh amenities you would only ever be likely to find in the old Gallery massage parlour (by comparison, Sandys had the decor of a Toby Carvery compared to that palace in Cadishead). Such was Edward's importance, wealth and regularity at this venue that short of getting a Royal Warrant, he did the next best thing here. Not only did they allow him to have his own personal room, they allowed him to decorate it with his coat of arms, and equipment of his own taste, going so far as to include a custom shagging chair which you can read about here.

Of course, all good things come to an end, so when Bertie eventually was crowned king, it appears his punting habit came to an end too. However, he still confided in certain ladies, with one such mistress being Alice Keppel, a lady whose sense of discretion, finesse and overall culture meant she remained by his side until his death. In a quirk of fate which brings us back to the present day, this royal mistress was to become the great-grandmother of one Camilla Rosemary Shand, who ended up not only in following in her footsteps, but doing one better.  Weird how the world turns out, so Huzzah for King Charles and Queen Camilla!