There are many answers to the question: “What kind of monarch will King Charles III be?” And one of them is: the kind who hangs out with the Spice Girls. As the Prince of Wales, he famously had his bottom patted by Geri Halliwell at a Prince’s Trust concert. Far from being affronted, the Prince was so charmed that he invited the band to afternoon tea at Highgrove.
It is an occasion which Melanie Chisholm, otherwise known as Sporty Spice, recounts in her new memoir, Who I Am. “We sat on deeply plush sofas with Charles, Harry and William in a very grand drawing room, where we were served cucumber sandwiches and tea in the finest china,” Chisholm writes. “Harry was 13 and William 15 at the time, so there was typical teenage banter. They were both very cheeky and made fun of each other as Charles grinned along.”
While Chisholm and most of her bandmates remembered their manners, Mel B (Melanie Brown) was, well, typically Mel B. “This is nice, but have you got anything more substantial?’” she asked, voicing her disappointment at the amount of food on offer. At that, William led the party downstairs to the kitchen, where he made them all peanut butter on toast.
Just another crazy day in the life of the Spice Girls, whose members remain just as well-known by their nicknames today as they did when they released debut single Wannabe 26 years ago. And their friendship with the King endures. “I saw him earlier this year at the Prince’s Trust Awards, and we do always have a little chuckle at some of the funny situations,” says Chisholm. Like the bottom-patting? “I say, ‘Look, it wasn’t me! I’m not to blame!’ He’s always had a sense of humour, which is obviously important. So I’m hoping for good things. He’s quite in touch with the people.”
Chisholm is sitting backstage in a BBC dressing room, on the promotional tour for Who I Am. She has always been open and approachable, remaining talkative and cheerily down-to-earth while other celebrities – perhaps even other members of the band – have dealt with fame by disappearing up their own fundament.