I've always had a soft spot for Prince Philip, the Queen of England's husband. Despite his royal position, he says what he likes in an often blunt and direct manner, cutting through protocol.
And he has a habit of making gaffes which have been widely reported, such as his comment to a group of British students in China: "If you stay here much longer you will all be slitty-eyed." Not exactly politically correct.
It was a similar kind of remark he made about me some years back that brought the house down. Here's what happened...
I was an air force photographer in my early twenties at the time. Our small photo unit covered work for all all three services... the air force, the army and navy.
And on this day the Prince was going to be presented with a gift at army headquarters on one of his rare visits here in the 70's.
I had to take the official photo of the ceremony as well as some casual shots of him with some of the top brass. And as a lowly corporal, I was a little nervous.
But he did as I asked, along with some brigadier or two, standing together with a smile as they posed for me. Things were going well so far.
Then it was time for the ceremony.... a hundred high ranking soldiers standing at a respectful distance round a table containing a model of a ceremonial cannon on a plinth.
As head of the army, the Prince would take this memento back with him to Britain to be placed in a cabinet somewhere important. Maybe.
As the presentation was made and I stepped forward to take the handshake photo, Prince Philip looked at me, and quipped in the official silence that always accompanies these big events, "Do you think we can trust this fellow?"
The hall immediately erupted in a roar of laughter.
He was of course referring to the fact I was the only person in air force uniform in a room of army bigwigs. And he was astutely pointing out the good natured rivalry that exists between the services.
What happened to the photo was another matter - I'll tell you about that in a moment.
Since that event I've often thought about trust. How much we rely on others to manufacture food that won't poison us, to stay on the right side of the road, to follow through on what they say.
A publisher friend of mine told me how he wanted to employ some people in the USA for a company he was starting. He duly interviewed around 50 qualified Americans and chose 10 for the position. And on the day they were to start, none turned up.
From these apparently keen and enthusiastic workers on interview day, all had failed to arrive at the office to start their jobs. To this day, many years later, my friend is perplexed about why this happened.
I think I know why. He was seen as a short-stay 'foreigner' in their country. He interviewed them on his large yacht moored in San Diego harbor - and boats are another sign of impermanence. They simply didn't have enough trust in him to stay around and pay them.
Trust is important. It's why I have two internet certificates on the order payment page for my products. These marks of trust from the world's biggest authorities say the site is authenticated and I am who I say:
So the two certificates on the order page shows that your payment will be honored, never compromised, and you can have trust in my payment method. And that's been the case since 1995.
Why two, when one is usually good enough?
Well, I've learned a thing or two over the years When I took the duke's photo in that ceremony, I also took another picture for good luck... to act as a reserve. My past experience has shown that anything can happen when you least expect it.
And it's just as well - because in the first one Prince Philip blinked, and that photo was useless. The backup photo was perfect, and he (and me) went on to greater things.
So put your trust in the fact that I'll do all I can to get the best results for you.
After all, British royalty did!
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Thanks!! John N.