"Are you ready to swing your hips?" Kylie Minogue asked the Royal couple at a surprise performance ahead of their trip Down Under. More surprising still was how Prince Charles and wife Camilla duly moved to the music of her pop song Locomotion, during a reception for about 200 guests at London's St James' Palace last night.
"Move if you feel the desire," Minogue told the crowd, gathered to mark the Royal couple's forthcoming tour of Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. His Royal Highness dutifully moved his hips "in a very royal, dignified way", according to an invited Australian guest. By some accounts he looked like a washing machine stuck in a slow spin cycle.
The Duchess of Cornwall, in a matching royal blue dress, was more in the swing of things, jiggling her hips, hands and strings of pearls in time with the music.
Behind Minogue was an enormous portrait of King Charles II, while the current heir thrashed about before her – together, a vision splendid of the once and future kings.
Minogue, dressed in a black peek-a-boo dress, also sang On a Night Like This and I Believe in You for the grateful Royals.
"They were standing side by side, kind of moving to the music. I don't know that they moved their feet," an observer told The Sydney Morning Herald.
Things were more lively down the back of the large room, where Barry Humphries was leading a merry dance atop the blood-red carpet.
Minogue described the experience of performing before the Royals as "terrifying but great". She chided Camilla for never having visited Australia, calling her a "naughty Duchess".
Humphries was unmoved by some of the sights awaiting Charles and Camilla in Australia. "I hope they're not forced to pat too many marsupials, they are very overrated."
He suggested Prime Minister Julia Gillard should curtsy when the Royal couple arrive in Australia early next month to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. "I really approve of our prime minister because she always makes me laugh. She finds it hard not to curtsy, you know, she's always bowing down like she did in India," he said, referring to Ms Gillard's accidental face-plant in New Delhi last week.
Also present were entertainer Rolf Harris, soprano Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and former AFL player Tony Woods, who presented Charles with a football. Staunch republican Tom Keneally made a surprise appearance at the 6pm reception and chatted about rugby league over salmon and goats cheese canapes. The wine was flowing into crystal glasses – including a spritely New Zealand sauvignon blanc.
Earlier, Charles and Camilla had entered the room moments before a rousing warrior dance by a British-based Maori group. They left soon after Minogue's performance, perhaps to pack their bags for the long flight Down Under.
"The one thing Camilla really wants to do is have a surf," writer Kathy Lette said. "So I suggested she go to Bondi Beach in a burquini so she's not noticed or maybe one of Sydney's male nudist beaches where no one would know who she is."