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Former AP Journo Recalls ‘Royal Choke Job’

Although Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist Norm Clarke (pictured) is not invited to this weekend’s other royal wedding – the marriage of casino titan Steve Wynn to British gal Andrea Hissom – he takes the opportunity to muse about some run-ins with higher ups.

In 1999, the Hard Rock Hotel took a hard line against Clarke after he wrote about Ben Affleck‘s $660,000 winnings and six-figure tipping of waiters and dealers. Then there was the time, as coordinator of Associated Press coverage of the LA Summer Olympics, that Clarke was tasked with covering a $1,000-a-plate fundraiser for the British Olympic Committee.

The day before, keynote speaker Prince Andrew had sprayed journalists with a paint gun (seriously) during a housing project photo opp. Now, suddenly, after the Beverly Hills speech, there was the Prince, offering Clarke a handshake:

All I got out was my name and “Associated Press.”

“Press?” he said, biting off the word. “Did you say press?”

“Yes,” I said.

“Out!” he said, thrusting a thumb toward the door.

I stood my ground, explaining I had press credentials and that reporters were told he wasn’t attending [the reception].

“Out!” he repeated.

When I didn’t budge, he grabbed my tuxedo lapels. I envisioned a career-ending Fleet Street headline: “Reporter Tossed Out of Party by Prince Andrew.”

Finally, he said, with contempt, “Trust I didn’t get any (paint) on you yesterday.”

“No,” I said. “I wasn’t there.”

“A pity,” he said, turning on his heel.

Clarke considers this failure to royally communicate the most egregious stumble of his storied journalistic career. That may be overstating it a bit, but we get the general sentiment.

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