A new biography of Prince Charles says the heir to the throne is outrageously pampered, claiming that on his travels he brings his own bed linen, toilet seat and Kleenex Velvet loo paper. But is this really so extravagant? Leona O’Neill asks local personalities what luxuries they can’t live without.
Prince Charles has pooh-poohed the notion that he carries around a personal toilet seat when travelling abroad. The royal flush rumour was published in a new biography on the heir to the throne, Rebel Prince: The Power, Passion and Defiance of Prince Charles, by Tom Bower.
When challenged about the luxury item during a Brisbane radio interview this week the 69-year-old, who is in Australia with his wife Camilla for the opening of the Commonwealth Games, told the presenter not to ‘believe all that c**p’. A personal toilet seat is not beyond the realms of possibility in the world of royals who reside in a palace atop a converted air-raid shelter filled with the Queen’s spectacular jewellery and priceless art work.
But what of our own royals here in Northern Ireland — our television and radio personalities — what type of luxury can they s imply not live without?
TV and radio star Frank Mitchell (54), from UTV and U105, says his luxury item does not hold a large material value, but rather a huge sentimental one.
“When I’m travelling away from home overnight I take my pillow,” he says. “It’s not any old pillow but a pillow that is now well over 50 years in existence.
“Without the pillow I would not be able to sleep and if I did sleep I would, without doubt, have a headache the next day.
“The pillow is soft and silky and when I was a baby it was the mattress in my Moses basket.
“People often suggest I’m a basket case for still having it but I’ll keep it to the day I die and I’d be happy to have it as a coffin headrest when they carry me to my grave.”
But Frank says if money was no object and there was one luxury item he could get his hands on, it would be a very special microphone.
“I’d like a solid gold microphone and a matching pair of headphones,” he says.
“I could see myself on the seventh floor of City Quays Two glimmering in the sun and blinding all around me.
“I would be like the Midas of U105. Amazing.”
Q Radio Breakfast Show presenter Cate Conway (42) says her prized pedigree pets Leeroy and Teddy are the one luxury she could not forgo.
“I have two Burmese cats and they are one luxury I could not do without,” says Cate. “My friend had a brown Burmese for a couple of years and when she had a baby his nose was put out, so she asked me if I would like to adopt him. I’ve had Leeroy now for 17 years now.
“I bought another one, a cream one called Teddy about 12 years ago. He cost £400.
“The thing with pedigree cats is you can quite accurately predict what their personality will be like —Burmese are very chatty and affectionate. Some people prefer cats that are more aloof but these guys always want to cuddle up and chat.”
And if the world of luxury items was open to her, Cate says she would purchase a hot tub and an Aero chocolate bar to go along with it.
“I would love to have a hot tub,” she says. “I always enjoy those on holiday or at a spa.
“I’ve seen them for sale at various improve-your-home events and I’ve always fancied one.
“I imagine myself coming home from a busy day and relaxing in the bubbles with a glass of bubbly and a bar of Aero chocolate.
“However — the reality is the way my garden is positioned, the houses around me are all quite tall and everyone is overlooking my yard.
“I‘m not sure they’re quite ready for that.”
Vinny Hurrell (36) from BBC Radio Ulster’s The Vinny Hurrell Show and the Stephen Nolan Show says it’s the simple things in life he finds luxury in.
“I love hot showers and baths,” he says. “Cold ones are horrible and make everything shrivel up.
“I also couldn’t live without my car. I live in the sticks. I think it’s rural but people laugh at me when they hear that. Still, I couldn’t rely on buses and trains as they simply don’t come near my house. And I don’t like walking too far.
“Nor could I live without my smartphone. I couldn’t do my job without it.
“And I couldn’t waste so many hours on social media without it, reading colourful comments.
“Another luxury of mine is hairspray. This quiff won’t hold itself up. And a kettle. It’s all about the tea.
“If I was to think of a luxury or dream item that I really wish I had, it would have to be a private jet. That would be nice.”
BBC NI Presenter Cecilia Daly (47), her luxury must haves are not expensive or elaborate, just crucial to her life.
“I can’t live without Vaseline, mascara or my gym membership,” she says. “I’m not sure if they count as luxury though. If I could have any luxury item I would love an apartment in New York City.”
Hairdresser Paul Stafford (48) is married to Leisa and they have two teenage daughters, Joni and Ava. Stafford Hair is on the Lisburn Road in Belfast.
“I think we all get to an age where you don’t really need anything,” says Paul.
“I’ve certainly become more cautious or at least less needy about things that I used to consider impossible to live without, though I can still find the time (and more importantly) the money to buy records and I’m pretty sure I always will ....
“I read everything there is to read about music and I’m probably most likely to be ordering records online while waiting at airports or in hotel rooms when I’m on my travels.”
Paul says that if he could he would take a record player with him when he travels “but sadly my kit bag is already bulging, though some hotels now actually have record players in the rooms .... so when I can I stay in them. Ace hotels are great for that.”
He adds: “I’d actually prefer to buy records from a shop but unfortunately they are getting fewer and fewer but I’ll always find one when I’m in a new city... funnily enough of all my obsessions, collecting records is the one my wife least complains about, even though they take up quite a large part of her house.
“My only fear? That when I die she sells them and my Scooters for the prices I’ve told her I spent on them!”
Portstewart-based chef and broadcaster Paula McIntyre (51) would chose a range of foods.
“We have the best produce here but once a month I get a delivery of really good Italian olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Parmesan cheese and charcuterie from Bianca y Mora in London,” she says.
“They’re Italian food importers based in Borough Market. Nothing gladdens my heart more than seeing the box arrive.
“Enrico and Ewa who run the company are fanatical about what they do — they have started stocking Irish cheese lately including the wonderful Ballylisk from Tandragee.
“Combined with meat, fish and vegetables from here, it makes for sublime dishes. A dash of really good balsamic will lift a piece of meat to new heights and grilled fish anointed with a drizzle of excellent oil is such a thing of beauty.
“Like Prince Charles and his loo seat, I technically could do without it but it’s just such a treat that lifts a grey day!
“The luxury item I wish I could have if money was no object would be a private jet, with a pilot of course. I travel a lot and to be able to sip champagne and relax without someone’s knees banging into my back and the obligatory child screaming would be just lovely.”
Broadcaster Pamela Ballantine (59) says she doesn’t usually go for luxurious items.
“I’m not big on luxury,” she says.
“With regards to skincare I’m more likely to use Boots No7 than anything pricey and make-up is usually what has been given to me in a goody bag the week before.
“I love shoes and I do have a few pairs of Louboutins but they were presents rather than being bought by me.
“Occasionally, if I collect vantage points or have vouchers I will buy myself a nice bottle of Chanel No5 perfume.
“That would be my only luxury.
“If money was no object I would buy myself a Bugatti car and drive it everywhere. I’d especially like to take it a nice drive down the Cava de Tirreni outside Monaco.”