Well-bred breathing on the phone? Must be Princess Di

September 07, 1994|By MIKE LITTWIN

Like many of you, I have been getting crank telephone calls from Princess Di. You may have seen the news reports of a woman, possibly a princess, repeatedly phoning a London art dealer and then hanging up right after he picks up.

Strangely, the same thing keeps happening to me.

There'll be a call, nothing on the other end, except occasionally some (not altogether unwelcome) royal-style panting. Until finally one day this person blurts out: "Do you have Prince Charles in a can?"

Ask yourself this: Who else makes that call? I'll tell you one thing, it's not Kato.

"Di, is that you?" I say. "You need help, kid. Let me be there for you."

But all I get is a dial tone.

This is very disturbing. It's not like I'm a big fan of royalty. As I may have said before, the last royal person I really cared about in any important way was the Duke of Earl.

But if there's anything you expect from the royals, other than good posture, it's manners.

The next thing they'll try to tell us is that Di and Roseanne are trading tattoos. Di is supposed to be the anti-Roseanne. Somebody has to do it.

Let's remember how Di got the job as princess. She was the best-looking virgin of voting age in what's left of the British Empire. Roseanne's life was slightly different. In fact, at the exact moment Di was marrying Charles, Roseanne was turning tricks in the back of a Chevy. Later, when she moved up in class, Roseanne used a Buick.

And now, all these years later, Di has turned into the Sol Wachtler of Knightsbridge.

She denies all, of course.

You'll love her denial. It's the kind of denial you could learn only in royalty-in-training school.

"I don't even know how to use a parking meter, let alone a phone box," she has insisted.

There are two things you can take from this. One is that the British say phone box instead of phone booth, which may explain why they're now a second-rate power. More important, Di is saying that she is not bright enough to drop a coin into a slot.

Of course, if I'm about to be Queen of England, I, too, get Margaret Thatcher or Ringo or whoever else is around to do my coin dropping for me. Otherwise, what's the point? You're just another parasite with good teeth.

And yet, I'm a little stunned by this behavior. OK, I know she's upset. Charles dropped her for some woman with a hyphen in her name. Di is stuck with the kids all day at Kensington Palace. The Queen will not take her calls. Some days it seems like Domino's won't take her calls.

Still, this is not the Diana I know. Her pal, Fergie, is different. If they told me Fergie had her own 900 number, I wouldn't blink. Of course, they kicked Fergie right out of the family.

But Scotland Yard apparently has the goods on Di. According to the British press, who have run with this story as if O. J. were involved, the phone calls were traced to her private line at the palace (do you think she has a princess phone?), to her car phone and to a phone box near the palace (maybe she had an accomplice for the coin part).

You can see the problem, can't you? It's the difficulty of bringing royalty, which is basically an anachronism, into the modern age.

Here's what I'm talking about. I called Buckingham Palace to get a comment from the Queen. They gave me her line and I get her voice mail. Here's the message: "Her Majesty's a pretty nice girl, but she doesn't have a lot to say." This can't be right.

Once upon a time, in fairy-tale land, they didn't have telephones.

(They didn't have remote either. And they still want us to believe people lived happily ever after?)

Think about it. If Cinderella has access to a phone, she's calling a cab from the ball and nobody turns into a pumpkin.

In the '90s (and I don't mean the 1390s), Rapunzel's got a cellular phone. And the only reason she grows her hair so long is to block out the possible effects of radiation.

What about romance?

What about make believe?

Once there were ladies-in-waiting. Now there's call-waiting.

It's enough to drive any princess nuts.

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