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Pick a dysfunction, any dysfunction. Odds are you can find it fast within this royal bunch. And with Sophie Rhys-Jones soon joining the clan, Statesiders may get to witness another round of: ROYAL ROULETTE

June 14, 1999|PAMELA WARRICK and CANDACE WEDLAN | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Sometimes being royal can be a royal pain. Take the House of Windsor. Please. Beyond the pageantry and the palaces, there has been enough treachery and lechery of late to rewrite the history of England. But come June 19, our favorite dysfunctional dynasty will celebrate the marriage of the last bachelor prince, Edward, to his live-in lady, Sophie Rhys-Jones. In a family so unaccustomed to happy events, dare we hope that the newest royal couple-to-be will live happily ever after? Do you believe in fairy tales? Perhaps we should send the happy couple a board game to practice avoiding the pitfalls of the palace and working toward connubial bliss.

START HERE

Queen of longevity, Queen Mother Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon was born a commoner on Aug. 4, 1900. Queen Mum, known for her substantial hats and formidable handbags, passes on her "House of Dowdy" fashion sense to daughter Elizabeth. Sigh and move ahead 1.

Princess Elizabeth takes a mate--Philip Mountbatten, who changed his last name (German), his nationality (Greek), and his religion (Greek Orthodox) to make himself more acceptable to his distant British cousins. He promptly fades into the background.

Elizabeth and Phillip marry Nov. 20, 1947, and six days before their first anniversary, produce the royal heir--ears first--Prince Charles Philip Arthur George. Congradulate yourselves and skip ahead.

Born April 21, 1926, the chubby girl nicknamed "Lilibet" becomes Queen Elizabeth on June 2, 1953, after her father, King George VI, dies.

Princess Anne is born Aug. 15, 1950. Ten years later, she is joined by Spare Heir I--Prince Andrew, born Feb. 19, 1960, and Spare Heir II Prince Edward, born March 10, 1964. Bonus points.

While dating her older sister, Prince Charles gets reacquainted with "Shy Di"--a coltish nursery schoolteacher. Charles and Lady Diana Spencer take their vows in the wedding of the century at St. Paul's Cathedral on July 29, 1981. Wedded bliss, move ahead 2.

About 10 months later, Diana gives birth to Charles' heir to the throne, Prince William of Wales--a.k.a. William Arthur Philip Louis--on June 21, 1982. Two years later, she delivers Prince Henry Charles Albert David of Wales, but you can call him "Harry."

Feeling neglected and bored by her no-longer-charming prince, Diana begins a string of affairs with men she calls soul mates. Trouble in paradise, move back 1.

Diana's secret affair with dashing gin scion James Gilbey becomes all too public after British tabs reveal l'affaire Squidgy-gate (after Gilbey's pet name for the princess). Move back 3 in humiliation.

Diana manages to reclaim her place as queen of Britons' hearts by reaching out to AIDS victims, orphans of war and needy children around the world. Take an extra turn.

Courting his married mistress, Camilla Parker-Bowles, by cell phone, Prince Charles unwittingly reveals his unusual pillow talk style. Electronic eavesdroppers tell all about Charles' desire to be her tampon. Lose a turn to attend charm school.

In 1982, after a string of unacceptable romances, Randy Andy goes cuckoo over soft-porn star Koo Stark. The queen is not amused.

Prince Andrew finally settles down and marries the merriest of the Windsor wives, 26-year-old Sarah Ferguson, on July 23, 1986. The palace announces the separation of the duke and duchess of York on March 19, 1992. Is it coincidence or just bad luck that March 19 had also been the date their engagement was announced?

In August 1992, photos of the duchess on holiday having her toes sucked by her financial advisor and apparent royal footman appear on the front page of the Daily Mirror. Upon seeing the pictures, the queen is not amused.

By the time Fergie and her prince call it quits, the woman that London scribes called the Duchess of Pork is suffering lean times indeed.

A fat $1.7 million per year contract from Weight Watchers helps the Duchess of Reduced Circumstances whittle down her $6-million debt.

After a fire in Windsor castle, the separation of the Duke and Duchess of York, Princess Anne's divorce, and the increasingly public rift in Charles and Diana's marriage, Queen Elizabeth dubs 1992 "Annus Horribilis"--or as the London tabs put it, "One Bum Year." Lose a turn, regroup for '93.

In November 1998, Prince Charles celebrates his 50th birthday. The queen throws him a party; Camilla does not attend. Camilla throws him a party; the queen does not attend. Nobody gives Charles the only present he asked for: the crown. Move back 2, plot overthrow.

Many Brits had grown rather accustomed to the idea that Prince Charlie might actually marry Camilla--until they met the future stepson. Tom Parker-Bowles, 24, talks to reporters about his cocaine use. The queen is definitely not amused.

The theatrical Edward squelches rumors of his royal gayness when he announces on Jan. 6 that he and Sophie Rhys-Jones, 34, are engaged. It took Fast Eddie five years to propose.

Sophie, who, a palace spokesperson allows, led a "full and active life" pre-Edward, is the subject of a compromising photo taken 11 years ago on a trip to Spain. The snapshot shows an exposed breast. The queen is not amused.

Queen Elizabeth still refuses to relinquish the crown. Charles is not amused.

The royal nuptials between the prince, fifth in line to the throne, and the "Di-dentical" Sophie will take place on the third Saturday in June at 5 o'clock in the afternoon in St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. Move back 3, shop for gift.

The newest royal couple lives happily ever after?

Researched by ED WEXLER / For The Times

Sources: Los Angeles Times Editorial Library; "The Royals" by Kitty Kelley (Warner Books, 1997); "The Royal Handbook" by Alan Hamilton (Prentice Hall Press, 1985)

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