What are the Prince Charles rumours actually about?

And do they have anything to do with Michael Portillo?

There appears to be a fracas over allegations levelled against Prince Charles. Because of legal issues in the UK we don't know what those allegations actually are, but according to "Royal biographer Penny Junor" we hear that:

The allegations are so vile someone should put something in the public arena to counter that.

Serious stuff. But wait; a US-hosted blog says:

Looking over the posts at alt.gossip.celebrities, the rumor is that Prince Charles helped cover up the homosexual rape of a royal staffer by one of his servants, because he was having a sexual affair with him. Rumors have been floating around for years that Charles was not particularly picky when it came to bed partners.

You have to wonder about what Prince Charles is trying to cover up here. I mean, if Prince Edward came out and said he was gay, it would be front-page news for a day, tops. Nobody would be surprised. Similarly, given Prince Charles' previously-reported slightly weird ideas about sex (and who could blame him, given that the Duke of Edinburgh was his father and he was schooled at Gordonstoun?), few people would bat an eyelid if it turned out the heir to the throne had had interesting sexual experiences.

Let me say something about Michael Portillo here. (Background: Portillo decides not to stand at next election, recent commentary.) I've often thought that Portillo was an impressive Tory candidate who could do wonders against Tony Blair, because he has so obviously and impressively recanted; the days of Thatcherite bombast and SAS glorifying are over, at the very least superficially. This is why it's a horrendous setback for the Tory party him to publicly abandon the Tories just as Michael Howard is trying to construct a new Shadow Cabinet.

But I can't fault him on this. He's got a promising media career ahead of him, he's got his directorships, the party isn't poised to welcome him home with open arms and the Monarchy is being even more paleo-moralistic than normal. I am increasingly convinced that, by refusing to cut their losses and retreat to a Scandinavian-style bicycling monarchy, the current UK monarchy will not survive beyond the current Queen. I think the current Queen will live so long, Charles will be so discredited, but yet so determined to get at least a few years with the Crown, and William so bland, that once Elizabeth II finally snuffs it, the eventual successor will be so fragile and illegitimate that nobody will care about their legal successor. It will be so easy at that point to say "Well, we like the Monarchy and everything, but let's leave on a high point, and, you know, let's do a Chris Patten on the whole King thing." Look at the current pope: the Catholic church must be hoping for an early death, because every month that John Paul II clings on to life is a month that says to the world: "To hell with you modernist fools, we've got an almost-dying guy in power, and we think that's a good thing. In fact, we know this, because God told us."

In the mean time, I'm increasingly convinced that I need to pay more attention to the LibDems, given that I score far closer to them than I do Labour or the Tories.