NGATUTU, CONGO -- Victor Mbatugu, leader of the Watai clan, a remote tribespeople located in the forests of Northern Congo, expressed trepidation yesterday over his upcoming trip to England to stay with Prince Charles.
The Prince of Wales extended the invitation after visiting Mbatugu’s village in July on an official royal tour of the area. During his stay, as is customary with such State occasions, the Prince enthusiastically donned ceremonial robes and face paint and gamely if slightly stiffly performed a ritual tribal dance with his hosts to the delight of his entourage and assembled members of the tabloid press.
Now Mbatugu is concerned he will face a similarly ghastly and humiliating initiation to British culture on his return visit next week.
“Bwana Charles is a great man,” Mbatugu said from the comfort of his large hut on the outskirts of the village. “His visit brought much-needed attention and aid to the poorest people in my country, but he really should have just sat back and watched the celebrations like I told him. There was no need for the headdress (which he put on backwards), and the way he brandished that spear was effete and frankly just embarrassing.”
Oxford-educated Mbatugu gestured around his airy living quarters pointing out a number of his wives who lolled prettily on chaises longues while flicking through Western fashion magazines. A wide screen TV and computer terminals powered by a large electricity generator completed a picture of quiet sophistication.
“We are not savages any more,” Mbatugu said ruefully, sipping on a large gin and tonic. “I am a dignified man and cannot afford to compromise my image by prancing around like a loon. Obviously I will have to follow royal protocol when I’m in England; I just hope that it doesn’t involve desperate attempts to embrace popular culture or anything at all to do with Geri Halliwell.”
Mbatugu has been frantically boning up on all aspects of the Prince’s behaviour ahead of next week’s trip. He has shipped in videos of Charles at various domestic functions in the hope of gaining some clues as to his itinerary.
“I think I have perfected the nervous fiddling with the cufflinks thing,” he said, furrowing his brow and grasping at the sleeves of his splendid linen, hand-crafted Armani shirt. “But then I saw the footage of him shuffling uncomfortably in the queue at the unemployment centre to the strains of ‘Hot Stuff’ in that promo for ‘The Full Monty’. When he started doing those stilted pelvic thrusts, my throat went dry.”
Mbatugu has resigned himself to the fact that his stay at Highgrove will be an awkward succession of traditional banquets and ill-thought-though public appearances where he will be obliged to act the stereotypical charming yet primitive African dignitary. He also conceded that it is unlikely he will be able to squeeze in a game of golf or night out at Stringfellows during the trip (unless Prince Andrew is in residence).
“Still,” he reasoned, “these foreign junkets are a necessary evil. Anything that raises awareness to the plight of my people can only be a good thing.” He flashed a smile revealing a set of sparkling white teeth. “And if it happens to heighten my own status as a charismatic international playboy then all the better.”
Prince Charles checks out the local ladies on a previous trip to Africa