There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
When Camilla Parker Bowles marries Prince Charles this Saturday, she’ll thwart the fate of most of her predecessors who feasted on royal jelly for a time, only to be cast aside for a younger honey. The more usual relationship was expressed by Charles’ great-great-grandfather, Edward VII: When he was Prince of Wales, he told his mistress, professional beauty Lillie Langtry, “I’ve spent enough on you to buy a battleship.” Langtry retorted, “And you’ve spent enough in me to float one.” McLean author Eleanor Herman explores the fates of dozens of royal bed-warmers in Sex With Kings: 500 Years of Adultery, Power, Rivalry, and Revenge. Take, for example, the 19-year affair between King Louis XV of France and his fabled mistress, Madame du Pompadour. She created a sensual oasis for him that no harem could surpass. Her position was so important that she appointed the king’s ministers and, rather unfortunately, chose the generals who fought the Seven Years’ War. All the while, she served Louis’ sexual needs despite painful frigidity. Another royal mistress, actress Nell Gwynn, would surely turn in her grave if Camilla were actually crowned queen. As a rhyme of her day went, “Hard by Pall Mall lives a wench call’d Nell/King Charles the Second he kept her/She hath got a trick to handle his prick/But never lays hands on his scepter.” Decide if you could handle the job when Herman reads at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 14, at Olsson’s Books & Records, Washington National Airport, Terminal C, Arlington. Free. (703) 417-1087. (Janet Hopf)