Peter Rosengard recalls giving Prince Charles a birthday present in 1981
Peter Rosengard, the co-founder of the Comedy Store, remembers delivering a little toilet humour at Buckingham Palace in 1981 .
By Jessica Salter
I got into selling life insurance for the glamour, fast cars and groupies… and actually I became very good at it – I’m in the Guinness Book of World Records for selling the world’s biggest life insurance policy in history. But in 1978 I went to the Comedy Store in Los Angeles and thought it was fantastic, so I decided that, even though I had no experience, I would set up a club like it in London. Don Ward – who owned a strip club in Soho – agreed to go into partnership with me (we would use his club and I would find the comedians) and we opened the Comedy Store in 1979. We had a whole bunch of young comedians – the likes of Alexei Sayle, Ben Elton, Rik Mayall, French and Saunders, Keith Allen – and it was a great success. But then in November 1981 Don woke up one day and decided he didn’t want to be in a partnership any more.
I was desperate to start up a new night. A friend of mine said I could use his club in Baker Street on Wednesday nights and I jumped at the idea. It was a huge space – about three times the size of the Comedy Store, and I didn’t stop to think that nothing north of Oxford Street at that time in London had ever succeeded. I came up with the name – the Last Laugh – and the logo. Then I needed a publicity stunt.
I had read a small piece in a newspaper about the Prince of Wales visiting a factory up north and it mentioned that he collected lavatories. I thought, ‘How eccentric,’ and decided to buy him one for his 33rd birthday. I phoned around all these shops and eventually bought a Victorian lavatory with Prince of Wales feathers around the bowl. I called up the Press Association and told them that I would be at Buckingham Palace the next day presenting the Prince with a birthday present.
When I got there, dressed in that jacket, a bow tie and trainers, the pavement was full of thousands of tourists waiting for the changing of the guard. After an inspection– one of the policemen took his hat off and stuck his head down the bowl – they told me to take it to the tradesman’s entrance, where they received it with great solemnity: ‘One lavatory received, embossed with Prince of Wales feathers,’ as if it were a bowler hat or an umbrella.
The stunt was a success – the story went around the world. About a week later I received a letter, which I still have, from the Prince’s equerry thanking me. But alas the night did not work out and after a couple of months I admitted defeat and went back to selling life insurance.