Paparazzi snapped Kate Middleton and Camilla Parker Bowles enjoying a girls-only lunch on Feb. 9. Now all of London is wondering what Camilla said — and whether she offered commoner Kate any advice on how to be a Windsor.
Regardless, there’s no frosty stepmonster here. The two have clearly bonded in the privacy of Clarence House, Camilla’s official residence. That’s the only way to explain their apparent comfort dining together at Koffmann’s—a chichi restaurant inside the swank Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge. They were joined by Pippa, Kate’s younger sister, and Laura Lopez, Camilla’s daughter. Two armed bodyguards—also female—sat at an adjoining table (after all, this was a day for the ladies).
(More on TIME.com: See the terrifying video of a riot mob attacking Camilla’s car)
A diner seated two tables away phoned the Daily Mail after lunch to share what he overheard. “They were all getting on very well and they clearly hadn’t asked for an out-of-the-way table and nor did they attempt to lower their voices,” the awestruck informant said. “I did hear talk of trumpets and someone said ‘we can’t have trumpets, the ceiling is too high,’ which may have been a reference to Westminster Abbey….They followed that with talk of menus. I heard chipolatas, sausages on sticks and mini pizzas, but I don’t know whether it was ironic or not.”
They certainly weren’t discussing the meals before them. At Koffmann’s, Kate and Camilla could have indulged in an $80 roasted organic Laverstoke Park Farm chicken stuffed with bread and garlic, followed by a $22 pistachio soufflé with pistachio ice cream.
“I heard Camilla saying… ‘if I can give you one bit of advice…’ Kate was really enjoying the moment.”
NewsFeed has no idea what—if any—advice Camilla offered. But we hope Kate gleans the following five lessons from her royal mentor.
1. Don’t talk dirty on the phone. In 1992, the press got hold of intimate phone conversations between Prince Charles and Camilla in which he expressed a desire to be her tampon. That royal scandal was enough to make Queen Elizabeth blush.
2. If any of the royals hate you, give them time. Princess Diana did little to endear Camilla to the Windsors. In 1995, she publicly blamed Camilla for the breakdown of her marriage by telling broadcaster Martin Bashir, “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.” Time heals all wounds. When Charles wed Camilla in 2005, the Queen was thrilled and even threw their reception.
3. Know your place. By marrying Charles, Camilla automatically became the holder of the title Princess of Wales, which was previously held by Diana. Rather than parading around with that honor, however, she prefers to go by the lesser title Duchess of Cornwall. She knows she’ll never replace Diana in the public consciousness, and she doesn’t try to. Kate will want to carve out her own role in public life, too.
4. When a riot mob surrounds your car, try to keep your mouth closed. Nothing clashes more with an emerald necklace than terror written on the face. Cameras are always rolling, and you want to channel grace under fire, not shock and awe as Camilla did in this amateur footage of the attack. (P.S. It’s a bad idea to drive through London’s West End during rush hour. This is especially true when student protests engulf the capital, and when disgruntled youth are breaking windows and burning buildings).
5. Never lose your sense of humor. After the incident, Camilla still attended a pre-Christmas variety show at which she and the Prince of Wales were the guests of honor. Camilla emerged from the theater in seemingly good spirits. “First time for everything,” she said. (via People)
(More on TIME.com: See the royal wedding condoms that don’t even work.)