04/06/1998 at 01:00 AM EDT
As always, there were recitals and poetry. But for guests at the most recent of Prince Charles's cultural weekends, March 13-15 at the Queen's Sandringham retreat, there was a new attraction: Camilla Parker Bowles. Her presence—and the news that she now spends some nights at Charles's home, St. James's Palace—has friends betting the two will make their passion public by year's end.
Though critics abound ("They have been slightly insensitive in [being seen together] so quickly after Diana's death," says royal biographer Brian Hoey), Peter Archer of the British Press Association thinks the time is right: "There's an opportunity for Charles to be accepted as a divorcé with the right to a happy life. He is a one-woman man and that woman is Camilla."
After nearly six years at Ludgrove, Harry, 13, is set to graduate, and Dad is now vetting secondary schools. Top contenders: Radley, known for its athletics, and Milton Abbey, a place the Daily Mail's Nigel Dempster says is "regarded unfairly as a 'dunces' school."
No doubt, the decision will be weighed carefully. While William, 15, seems to be recovering his equilibrium at Eton (on March 17, he won the school's junior freestyle swimming finals), Harry, never much for scholarship, has struggled even more with his studies since Diana's death. "William has always had good results, and his confidence has grown from that," says Peter Archer. "Harry has been an underachiever, and this has been a further setback."
Last month, in a London court facing claims that he failed to honor two property deals, Prince Jefri of Brunei (the sultan's brother and a polo buddy of Prince Charles's) saw his hedonistic, billionaire lifestyle laid bare. Among the recently settled case's juicier allegations: He entertained up to 40 prostitutes at once in a London hotel and owns 600 cars, a yacht named Tits and speedboats called Nipple 1 and Nipple 2. On top of that he gives friends watches decorated with copulating couples.
The prince, 44, is no stranger to sordid publicity: Last year, former Miss U.S.A. Shannon Marketic sued him and the sultan, claiming they lured her to Brunei for the purpose of prostitution (the case was thrown out but is on appeal). Curiously, the British royal family seems unfazed by Jefri's ways. In September the Queen and Prince Philip are scheduled to visit him and his brother in Brunei.