Duelling Princes

Duelling PrincesThe Pulling Princes series are like being let in on the sensational secret life of Britain’s aristocratic and toff teens.

Duelling Princes is et in a fictional Eton College where Princes William and Harry attended & the nearby St Mary’s Ascot school attended by Princess Caroline of Monaco and which the authors daughter attended.

Although entirely fictional, the books accurate portrayal of the hitherto closed world of Royal teens, created feverish speculation and comparisons to actual royals and Aristocratic teens – specifically Prince William and Prince Harry – were inevitable. After a heated bidding war, Bloomsbury won the USA rights to the series at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2004. They have now been re-released in Kindle format.

Dating the second in line to the throne, Prince Freddie has made Year Eleven at St. Augustine’s the best year at St Augustine’s so far for American Calypso Kelly. Together with best friends Star and Georgina, and new chums Portia and Indie, LA-born Calypso at last seems to fit into the exclusive all girls Boarding school near Windsor Castle.

With the national fencing trials coming up, balancing school, friendships, and a royal romance is a lot harder than she imagined. Something will have to give, but what or whom will it be? Picking up where Stealing Princes left off, this funny, fast-paced third book chronicling the life and times of Calypso Kelly will not disappoint.

When her LA parents arrive in London causing mayhem, Calypso finds that having her prince, winning her bouts, evading the British tabloid press and staying on the right side of the Horrible Hon,’s Honey & Poppy O’Hare while convincing her parents to start acting like adults may be more than any girl can handle.

Just as well that her fabulous toff friends and the Nuns are on side to help Calypso with the chaos and the fun!

Doing the KR with My Posse

I had my head out the window of the cab and my hair was blowing about my face – only not so much as to blow my tiara off – as we cabbed it down the Kings Road. We were en route to Waterloo for the train, which would take us back to Saint Augustine’s.

This has officially been the most awesome half-term break in the history of half-term breaks,’ Georgina declared with that grand English drawl of hers that had once so intimidated me as she gave my hand a squeeze.

We’d bought said tiara for two pounds at Ad Hoc for a laugh in the morning. Immediately after that we piled into the photo booth at the Virgin Mega Store Centre, where havoc and mayhem ensued. This mood had carried us up and down the KR all day, and Indie and I had even been approached by model scouts. She had her security followers politely decline on her behalf. Indie’s security guys are meant to look inconspicuous and follow at a discreet distance, but the art of blending in seems to elude them. Their idea of a discreet distance and Indie’s are about ten yards apart. Indie is a real princess, with her own kingdom, personal zoo and everything, but she’s not a bit affected. They approach me all the time, darling,’ she groaned as the nice model scout was being despatched. They can be soooo annoying, don’t you think?’ she asked, grabbing my arm before it had a chance to greedily snatch at the business cards the model scout was begging us to take ‘just in case.’

I rolled my eyes as if I knew exactly what she meant when inside I was thinking, a real model scout just approached me and said I had the look they were looking for!

I’m not surprised they approach Indie all the time. She is the most beautiful girl I know. She looks like a young Naomi Campbell. I suppose Indie is right, though; the last thing I would want to be is a model because it means basing your entire life on your body image. Plus the camera puts ten pounds on you. And then one day when you don’t have ‘the look’ anymore, your body image must go to pot.

Indie had bought the tiara for me as I was paying for a pair of gorgeous green sequined slippers, turned up at the toe, to replace my Hello Kitty ones. Yes, I had reached that benchmark point when it was time to say a fond farewell to my Hello Kitty stage and leave that innocent babyish period of my life behind. Of course there would be a certain amount of regret and there would always be a place in my heart for Hello Kitty. I would never give up my Hello Kitty toaster back at home in LA because it toasts little Hello Kitty faces on your bread. It was just that at fifteen – well, two months off anyway – I felt it was time to feng shui my life. To make way for more, well, for more grown-up-ish pursuits. Like boys.

‘Now that you’ve pulled your prince you’ll be needing a crown, darling,’ Indie had teased in a nice piss-take of my American accent, plonking the ghastly purple paste tiara on my head. Once I would have been too embarrassed to walk the street in a paste tiara. Even when I was a little girl playing fairies, dressing up always embarrassed me, mostly because my parents had this little stage built in the living room with curtains and all the trimmings. I’d have to give performances for my two adoring fans who cheered and carried on like I was a superstar.

Can I just say, and I think I speak for a lot of only children here, it’s really, really hard being the object of all that parental love. Bob, that’s what my father likes me to call him, explained he was only trying to support my creative endeavours. Given that my creative endeavours at age five were, for the most part, focused on trying to get my mud pies to taste like chocolate and to defy gravity and fly, all the stages and curtains in the world weren’t going to help me, were they? When I have children, I’ll be much more restrained than Sarah and Bob are with me. I’ll be reasonable and sane and let my children call me Mummy or Mom, like normal children. Mind you, I am soooo glad that I am NOT a grown-up, because as far as I can tell being a grown-up sucks big-time.

Anyway, while I didn’t say anything to my friends, I couldn’t help this feeling that I had finally arrived. Okay, so I wasn’t a Trustafarian, or a real princess, and the car packed with security guys discreetly following us wasn’t for my protection, but I was here. I was on the Kings Road, that HQ of Sloaneishness where all public school girls and boys go to burn Daddy’s plastic, parade with their posses, and meet one another.

By the way, public schools in England are the opposite of public schools in America. They are ancient grand places where the great and the good parents send their children from age eleven (or seven even) to learn what it is to be great and good. My parents are good but not what you’d call great. They packed me off at age eleven to Saint Augustine’s School for Young Ladies because my mom, Sarah, went there and said it was super. My father’s American, but he always goes along with whatever Sarah thinks – actually I think they think with one mind, they are such clones of one another. My first three years at public school in England really sucked (apart from having Star as a best friend). But since working out how the system operates and pulling boys (well, one boy in particular, Prince Freddie, heir to the throne of Great Britain) my life has really been looking up.

If you ever want to go public school spotting, the Kings Road is the place to go. You can do the Ken High (Kensington High Street) as well, but it’s not quite in the same league. The long, narrow traffic-choked street of mostly Georgian buildings that runs from Sloane Square to World’s End, with its boutique shops and chichi High Street brands, is a Mecca for public school spotting. Well,’ as Star says, ‘we need some sort of meeting place when we’re locked up in our boarding schools like prisoners most of the year, don’t we?’

The last time I’d done the KR with Georgina and Star, I still hadn’t shaken my insecurities about being an American outsider taking an illicit peek at a parallel universe. A universe of privileged girls and boys, their names all listed in Debrett’s Peerage and Baronetage or, if European, the Almanach de Gotha – proving they are someone. You can scan yourself blind poring over Debrett’s and theAlmanach, but you won’t find a Calypso Kelly listed. But these girls and boys, armed with their Trustafarian credentials, rule this part of London, ever mindful that one day they would in all likelihood rule the world.

As Star has always opined in a wonderful piss-take of her own class, ‘Their sort always travel in packs, darling. Quelle horreur! that a posh teen be seen out on her own. No, no, no. You never go anywhere without your posse, daaarling.’ Star is rock-star royalty, which is virtually the same as real royalty these days. But even if she weren’t royal, Star is bursting with an energy and self-assurance that doesn’t acknowledge obstacles.

You can always recognise the public school tribes by their clothes: pashminas, short skirts or jeans, and long, glossy designer-blonde tresses for the girls. Ralph Lauren shirts, thin jumpers, and chinos or Levi’s for the boys. Sunglasses, if worn, are sported on the back of the head, darling, not the front. The girls will all be calling one another daaarling as they air-kiss members of their extended circle in greeting, or furiously text the friends they are already with on their mobile phones. The boys will be laughing loudly with their mateage, listening to their iPods and flicking butts. For some reason they always smoke their cigarettes right down to the filter, if not beyond.

I’ve watched these tribes since I first came to England – the way an anthropologist might observe another culture – and even though I would never have admitted it until a year ago, I had longed more than anything to be like them. Up until last summer, that had seemed an utterly impossible task for an American Freak brim full of insecurities and paranoia like me. But that was then. It seemed a long, long time ago too, because now I am one of them. Properly one of them. I had scaled the castle walls (only not literally, because I’m rubbish at climbing and scared of heights) and pulled one of their own; the heir to the British throne, Prince Freddie. Freds to me. My Freds. Just thinking about him made me glow.

In fact, apart from the Daddy’s plastic issue – my daddy doesn’t believe in plastic – you couldn’t tell me apart from the rest of the KR Sloanes on parade that day, and believe me they were all out in force because it was the last day of half term. I was there with my own posse, Georgina (George), Star, Indie and the rabbit George and I own together, Dorothy Parker. We’d been very popular strolling down the KR with our bunny, who is breathtakingly cute. Everyone we met stopped us to chat and stroke her, apart from the horrible people in Pizza Express Pheasantry, who wouldn’t let us in even with her in her pet carrier bag! The pimply maitre d’ had muttered something lame about health and safety regulations but was totally rinsed by Star before the word ‘safety’ was safely out of his prissy mouth.

‘How dare you,’ Star had railed. ‘There’s more intelligence in this rabbit’s ear than all your pizza dough brains put together!’

Indie, George and I managed to calm her down and drag her off before she could throw the maitre d’ in the pizza oven. Star can get very passionate about things, which is one of the million reasons she’s my best friend. Apart from Pizza Express, though, all the other non-food shops had insisted we let Dorothy have a little hop on the counter and asked to stroke her and ooohed and aaahed.

‘She’s got star quality,’ Indie explained earnestly as she twisted one of her braids seductively at this fit guy who worked in the magic shop where we all had our astrology charts done. You could tell the guy was mesmerised by her beauty; even I was mesmerised by it.

When he told us that her Jupiter was trined with her Mercury or something mad like that, Star announced in a bored sort of way, ‘I always suspected that, daaarling!’ and even the fit astrology guy laughed.

Seriously, it was a perfect day, just like in that song by that … that person, you know, thingamee whatsit, the one who sang that song, ‘It’s Such a Perfect Day.’ I just couldn’t wipe the smile off my soul as the cab edged its way slowly from light to light. I arranged my tiara and wondered what Freds was doing before stopping myself. I am determined to be one of those wildly cool girls who doesn’t scramble her brains, txt-ing and obsessing about her boyfriend all the time and neglecting her schoolwork and her fencing. Especially my fencing, because I have five tournaments coming up where FIE judges, BFA scouts and other important people of the fencing world will be watching my every move with eagle eyes.

No. As lovely and princely as Freddie is, I was going to be madly cool and mentally collected about our relationship. Even though that would be very difficult because my lips were still quite puffy from all the kissing we’d been doing yesterday, and he is the most distressingly fit boy in all the world. Oh, the bliss! When we weren’t quad bike riding around Star’s estate, we had barely drawn breath. Not just because of all our kissing but because we couldn’t stop talking. I find everything about him interesting and extraordinary, and here’s the maddest thing of all: he says the same about me! On Tuesday he said I was the most exotic creature he’d ever met. That was soooo cool that I was quite literally gob-smacked, meaning I couldn’t even blurt something stupid back like I normally would.

Yesterday, he went back home to Balmoral or one of his other famous ancient castles. I wasn’t really paying attention to what he was saying, it was just so mesmerising watching the way his lips moved when he spoke. And what are words to soul mates anyway?

It’s true, apart from being the fittest boy God ever breathed life into, Freddie kisses like, well… like a very good kisser. In America we say hot! Thank goodness he isn’t like those sloppy kissers you see on movies that look like they want to swallow one another’s faces and make slurpy slushy noises with their saliva. Star had a sloppy kisser at her house party. I think he was from the village. Clemmie pulled him and then regretted it because his lips roamed all over her face. Luckily Star spotted him and pulled him off to her father’s chill room, where Jim Beam poured out of an angel of death fountain onto a Japanese rock pool.

Star’s father being a madly famous rock star has made their whole house an homage to the rock-and-roll lifestyle as seen on MTVs Cribs. I love staying with Star, and even my stricter-than-thou parents are cool with it on account of how Bob is a huge fan of Dirge – that’s Tiger’s band. Tiger is Star’s father, and even though he’s perpetually stoned and calls everyone ‘man’ and goes into unconscious stupors on the floor so that you have to step over him to get your breakfast, he’s wildly cool. As Star says, ‘He’s incredibly bright and wise occasionally, you know, when he’s more or less conscious.’

But back to Freddie, he of the glossy, short sticky-up black hair that doesn’t need gel or mousse to make it gorgeous. Freddie of the smooth, long-fingered hands and soft lips – well, you get the picture, FIT – although I explained to my mother that he was HOT in fear of her thinking he was some sort of exercise steroid-taking freak. Even though he will one day be the King of England, he’s not in the least bit grand or pretentious about it. He sends me lovely txt messages all the time, and although he hasn’t said anything official, I just know he’s serious by the way he supports my neck when he kisses me and smells all lemony.

After living in England for four years I am fully aware that the term ‘dating’ is considered gauche by the English, and to use it would make one the object of derision and disgust. No one here does dates. They catch up, meet up, see one another and pull – pull like no other nation on earth. But the word ‘dating’ isn’t in their lexicon. So while Freds and I are not actually ‘dating,’ it’s sort of understood that we are boyfriend and girlfriend – especially after the half-term week which we spent quad biking around Star’s enormous Derbyshire estate, pulling one another’s lips off and micro-studying one another’s backgrounds.

And even though half term had now sadly come to an end, Star, George, Indie and I were going out on a high. Or at least we were until Star spotted Ed, the boy Indie had pulled at Star’s house party, talking to some girls from Cheltenham. We could tell they were from Cheltenham because … well … because of the subtle tribal things that suggested it.

‘Darling, check out Eds and his mateage,’ yelled Star as we were stalled at the lights. Who arethose Cheltenham slappers he’s talking to?’

Without anything needing to be said, we all stuck our heads out the window and hissed and jeered. Then, just as Eds turned around, we bobbed on the floor of the cab so he wouldn’t see us. We hated Cheltenham girls, for, erm, well, because they are … okay, for no particular reason whatsoever, actually. Apart from the fact that they aren’t Saint Augustine girls. And how dare they fraternise with Eds, whom the most stunning girl in our year had pulled and txt-flirted with relentlessly all break!

Indie was txt-ing furiously before we’d even wound the window up, which we did because it was autumn and bloody freezing and we were all wearing the skimpiest clothes we could feasibly get away with without dying of hypothermia. ‘How dare he!’ she said with a fearsome amount of feeling. ‘Bloody boys. I am soooo never, never, never …,’ she ranted before running out of steam.

What are you going to say to him?’ Star asked, looking slightly worried. Indie can get quite hotheaded – just like Star, really.

Who the hell are you talking to and why the fruup didn’t you tell me you were on the KR?’ she replied, holding up her phone so we could read the words for ourselves. Then she pressed ‘Send’ before we could discuss the matter further.

‘But he might know them!’ I blurted. That’s what I do; blurt things like that when emotions are running high and the last thing people want to hear is my blurt, even if it is vaguely reasonable. I don’t know why I do it. Bob, who is soooo PC and wholemeal it’s a wonder he hasn’t turned into a bowl of granola, says I need to be more grounded. He’s very big on grounding, is Bob, bless him. But seriously, for all their mad liberal ideas, I really do love my parents and miss them dreadfully when I’m over here at school.

I’d sent Bob and Sarah loads of e-mails during half-term break, but I hadn’t heard much back, which was unusual because they are normally delirious e-mailers. For all their foibles and mad LA theories, I am rather proud of my parents for being so kind and lovely and obsessed with me. Of course we’ve had our ups and downs, but compared to lots of my friend’s parents, like poor Georgina, whose father ran off with someone called Koo-Koo and barely ever sees her, Bob and Sarah are totally cool. And more important, they are always there for me.

Well he can bloody well un-know them,’ Indie said, replying to my reasonable suggestion about Eds – only she was smiling as she said it. Indie is fearsome when she’s cross. Thank goodness she’s never been cross with me. Yet.

Well, I didn’t like the look of them,’ Star told her supportively as we climbed off the floor of the cab and sat back up on the seats. They looked very slutty to me.’

‘Nor did Dorothy,’ added Georgina. ‘Madly unimpressed,’ she told us as she held Dorothy up so we could inspect her unimpressed expression. I suspect Dorothy was just cross because she hates going in cars, but Indie was sold. She rubbed her nose against Dorothy’s. ‘Dorothy, you are soooo wise. If you say I should dump Eds here and now, I will. Wiggle your nose for “no” and flap your ears for “yes,” okay?’

Dorothy wiggled her nose, but actually I don’t think she’s ever flapped her floppity ears in all her life, and I think Indie knows that very well.

A txt alert sounded, but it wasn’t Indie’s, so a mad scramble through tiny handbags for still tinier mobiles ensued, which resulted in all our handbags being emptied on the floor of the cab.

It was mine.

missing u alrdy. I’ve got a gorg photo of u on my laptop. U R distressingly stunning Kelly. No wonder scouts R after U! Freds xxx

How sweet and psychic was that? I bet our planets were trined. I’d only seen him, well, yesterday, actually, and already he was missing me. He had to go to some shoot thingamee. Most of my friends like shooting things, apart from Star. She’s a mad anti, only she can get away with it because she’s a proper rock royalty eccentric. Unlike me, who’s just an opinionated PC liberal American with misguided opinions about field sports and country pursuits, which is what the English call killing foxes, grouse, deer and pheasants.

Freddie had been very sweet when I’d lectured him about the killing of things wild and winged. He ruffled my hair and kissed my nose and promised to try and aim poorly. I hope he’d just aimed poorly, remembered me, and sent me the txt. How wildly romantic would that be!

I had the best boyfriend in the world. I had to keep pinching myself to stop screaming it out loud at the top of my lungs for all the world to hear.

Missing you too, xxxx C I typed into my mobile before thinking better of it and changing the four x’s to three.

Missing you too, xxx C – yes, that was much better. If he sent me three kisses, I should follow suit. I didn’t want him to think I was planning our wedding or something tragic like that.

Then I added a PS: hope you are missing all things winged too!

His response was immediate. Want to meet up in Windsor on Sat? F xxx

I didn’t need to even think about my answer.

Defs! xxx C

“Duelling Princes is sure to have fans of O’Connell’s previous novels rolling on the floor laughing their royal crowns off.” SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL, USA

“Funny exposé of It-girlschool life.” ELLE GIRL UK

“A deliciously naughty insider’s guide to sensational secret life of Britain & Europe’s royal teens from the midnight feasts, incredibly close friendships & romances to the tabloid escapades and code language – thank goodness there is a dictionary of posh teen slang included.” @BOOKCHITCHAT

“A right royal read” THE MAYFAIR TIMES

“It is sure to have fans of the previous novels rolling on the floor laughing their royal crowns off.” SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL, USA

“Outrageously funny and a serious contender for the teen chick-lit throne.” — THE BOOKSELLER on Pulling Princes.

Editorial Review From School Library Journal
“Featuring an American teen at a British boarding school, O’Connell’s Calypso Chronicles blend appealing components of such popular series as Gossip Girls and the Princess Diaries. In this instalment, Calypso is at the top of her game, as much in her fencing technique as in her romance with HRH Freds. Then her mother arrives unannounced, and slapstick machinations ensue as Calypso attempts to juggle fencing, Freds, and Mom, who may or may not be filing for divorce. A fencing and British-slang glossary helps to bridge the transatlantic gap, and there is enough moony romance to appease fans drawn by the series’ Cinderella premise.” Jennifer Mattson © American Library Association. All rights reserved