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Look, it was hard to pick one Joan Rivers story for this book. I’ll always miss her. I have countless meaningful and hilarious memories of our time together. But here’s a story that will blow your mind. It may have a couple of surprises, but I think it encompasses so much about Joan that I loved.
In 2011, she called me and said, “Chuck and Camilla are having a two-night event, one night at Windsor Castle, one night at Buckingham. It’ll be very fancy. Do you want to come as my plus one?” Now, I knew Joan was friendly with Prince Charles and Camilla, but what I didn’t know was that she hung with them, as in, she rolled deep with them. As in, she went out to Balmoral Castle on a painting vacation with them. Seriously. Hence, calling him “Chuck.” At the hotel, with our adjoining rooms, we were like a couple of teenagers getting ready to go to the prom. After we’d gotten ready for the first night, and we headed out to Windsor freaking Castle. Have I mentioned I’m from Forest Park, Illinois?
When we got inside, I was a nervous wreck. My eyes were like saucers. Joan immediately started cracking me up by making fun of Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, who divorced Chuck’s brother Andrew. “Can you believe her? How stupid. How stupid! She could have had this … forevuh!” I played along and fanned the flames. “Maybe she was unhappy,” I said. Joan was all, “Ugh! Please! Ugh! How could she … stupid, stupid, stupid!” I loved it. I can tell you it’s quite nerve-racking to be standing inside Windsor Castle, but Joan was prancing me around, acting like it was her vacation home. She gave me the lay of the land, pointing out the global movers and shakers in attendance, the secret old-money types who aren’t famous but have this kind of access.
Now, I realize that gay men everywhere are all about Harry, but for me, it was always Prince Charles. Sorry, boys, Chuck and Camilla are my royals. When Joan introduced me to Charles, she said, “This is my friend Kathy, and she’s a very outspoken, outrageous comedian in the United States.” Then Charles pulled me in and said, right in my ear, “Well, if it weren’t for comedians and journalists, who would keep us honest?” Way to go, Charles! We don’t hear that from power brokers, much less royalty. We also don’t hear a comment that I admit was in the back of my mind when I was speaking to him. I’m only human.
I’ll tell you right now, I’ve always found the surreptitiously recorded remark he made about wanting to be Camilla’s tampon to be nothing short of charming. Seeing how obviously thrilled he was to see Joan that night was very moving. It was obvious they had chemistry. He put his arms around Joan, and she was politer than I’ve ever seen her. Someone made a joke: “Well, it’s a good thing Camilla’s not here tonight, because in fact, Joan is the love of Charles’s life!” Later, alone, I said to Joan, “And you thought Sarah Ferguson was stupid? You’re the one who blew it! Charles could have been your tampon!”
When Joan passed away, I was devastated. It took me some time, but I finally worked up the courage to ask her longtime assistant, “I’m curious, have you heard from the royals?” She told me the Queen, Prince Charles, and Camilla had all called. Of course they did.
Kathy Griffin’s Celebrity Run-Ins: My A-Z Index is out Nov. 22. (Copyright © 2016 by the author; excerpt reprinted by permission of Flatiron/Holtzbrinck.)
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