Lady Catherine de Bourgh, mistress of Rosing Park, where the fireplace costs all of 500 pounds - we should say one of the fireplaces, for she has several, her ladyship being fond of a good blaze - has recently come forward in condemnation of the engagement of Prince William to Miss Kate Middleton, a commoner.
"Let me be rightly understood. This match, to which she has the presumption to aspire, can never take place," said Lady Catherine in a televised press conference from the drawing room of Rosings Park (we should say one of the drawing rooms, for she has several).
Her ladyship then went on to declare that such a proposal to a woman without birth or title "ought to be [impossible]".
"However," she conceded, "Miss Middleton's arts and allurements may, in a moment of infatuation, have made [Prince William] forget what he owes to himself and to all his family. She may have drawn him in".
Lady Catherine then astonished the assembled members of the international press corps by asserting that the Prince was in fact already engaged to her own daughter, Miss Anne de Bourgh, a sickly creature who has yet to appear at court. When questioned as to why the engagement has not been made public, Lady Catherine had this to say:
"The engagement between them is of a peculiar kind. From their infancy, they have been intended for each other. It was the favourite wish of his mother, as well as of hers. While in their cradles, we planned the union: and now, at the moment when the wishes of both sisters would be accomplished in their marriage, to be prevented by a young woman of inferior birth, of no importance in the world, and wholly unallied to the family!"
Added Lady Catherine: "Are the shades of North Wales to be thus polluted?"
Lady Catherine also denied that the marriage would be advantageous to Miss Middleton.
"If she were sensible of her own good, she would not wish to quit the sphere in which she has been brought up".
I send no compliments to your mother
Miss Middleton, in response, refuted Lady Catherine's claim.
"If Wills [HRH Prince William] really were engaged to Anne, you can have no reason to suppose he would have made an offer to me. And as for this 'quitting the sphere' business, in marrying Wills, I should not consider myself as quitting that sphere. He is a gentleman; I am a gentleman’s daughter; so far we are equal".
"Okay," she added in afterthought, "He's third in line for the throne, and I'm the daughter of an air hostess and some bloke who worked for BA, but sod it, it's the 21st Century".