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ROYAL VISIT: Author Ralph G. Martin calls it "probably the best kept royal secret of the 20th century." That might be a bit hyperbolic, but the biographer of Jennie Churchill and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor says he has uncovered some palace hanky-panky. According to his book Charles & Diana, out next month, the Prince and Princess of Wales started living together more than four months before their July 29, 1981 marriage. At the time, the world press thought that Diana was sheltered at Clarence House and chaperoned by her grandmother, Lady Fermoy, and the Queen Mother. Actually, writes the author, she was living in Buckingham Palace, without a chaperone, in a small suite of rooms on the same floor as Charles. What Queen Elizabeth thought of the alleged arrangement is a mystery, writes Martin, who quotes a valet as saying, "Nobody ever pretended to know what was going on in her head."

TRUTH AND ADVERTISING: One of the few TV ventures that Bea Arthur undertook between Maude and her successful new sitcom, Golden Girls, was a series of commercials for Shoppers Drug Mart in Toronto. Although she did some commercials in the '50s ("I played a Halloween witch riding a Pontiac instead of a broom"), Arthur told the Toronto Star that she'd "stayed away from commercials until this thing came along. My agent told me it would be interesting because not only will it pay a lot of money, but nobody in the United States will see it."

USE AND ABUSE: Ike Turner, who is attempting a musical comeback, claims he bears his ex-wife, Tina, no ill will. But he says that her stories about his drug taking are unfounded. At least he's trying to say that. "I've never been a drug abuser in my life," he says. "Any time I ever tried grass, I fell asleep before I had the cigarette out of my mouth. I tried cocaine for three or four years, and it burned a hole in my nose."

A HUNDRED YEARS OF LATITUDE: In London to promote her autobiography, Jerry Hall's Tall Tales, the woman who would be Mrs. Mick Jagger was dropping the latest details of her domestic life. She said that "we will be getting married very soon" (possibly whenever the Stones' next album is released), that Mick wants to send new son James to Eton, and that—contrary to published reports—Mick does not change James' or daughter Elizabeth Scarlett's diapers. Hall also said she was broadening her intellectual horizons. "I've just bought a whole library of the world's best hundred books," she told London's Daily Mirror. "I'm really into the 18th-century writers like Charles Dickens and Jane Austen." A small gaffe, but good intentions.

BUT OFFICER, I WAS ONLY YABBA DABBA DOO-ING 50: To mark The Flintstones' 25th anniversary this year, Hanna-Barbera Productions has created a replica of Fred Flintstone's car, the Flintmobile. How fast can a Flintmobile go? Fast enough: On a test drive in Reseda, Calif., the vehicle was stopped by a half-amused cop and ticketed for speeding.

GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN: Ed Garvey, former executive director of the NFL Players Association, hopes to run for a U.S. Senate seat in Wisconsin. At a fund-raising party in Washington, D.C., two guests—one the wife of a current U.S. senator, the other the wife of a former U.S. senator—asked Garvey if Wisconsin's William Proxmire had endorsed him. "I think he would have," answered Garvey, "if he hadn't died in 1974. We were good friends."

CALLING DR. RUTH: At a party in Santa Monica, Simon and Simon's Jameson Parker was complaining about his show's demanding schedule. "I barely have time to shake hands with my wife at night," he said. Replied his wife, Bonnie, "Honey, I don't want you to shake my hand."