A Hampshire antique dealer had a surprise visit from the crown prince of Thailand and his 30-strong entourage when they swooped on his rural shop and spent more than £10,000 in a four-hour visit.
Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, the heir apparent and only son of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, also requested a cream tea when called in at Jerry Mahoney’s White Lions Antique Centre in Hartley Wintney.
Mr Mahoney, 52, closed the centre to the public while the prince and his wife, Princess Consort Srirasmi browsed the exhibits before buying 300 items of bone china.
The prince and his staff had flown into nearby Farnborough in a private 737 jet on June 20 for a holiday in the UK and had chosen the shop because it also served his favourite scones, strawberry jam and cream teas.
Mahoney said: ” It was a great honour to have him visit us. You would have expected him to call in somewhere in London so it was a bit of a pleasant surprise.
“It is a massive thing to have someone from a royal family visit a little provincial shop like ours. They seemed very pleased with what they bought.”
The Crown Prince, 59, has a reputation for living a playboy lifestyle. He was at the centre of a scandal in 2009 when an Australian TV channel obtained a video of a lavish birthday party he had thrown for his miniature poodle Foo Foo, at which Princess Srirasmi appeared wearing little more than a G-string.
US diplomatic cables released last year revealed senior Thai officials to have expressed misgivings about the suitability of the prince as a successor to his father.
General Prem Tinsulanonda, the head of the privy council, and council members Anand Panyarachun and Air Chief Marshal Siddhi Savetsila told the US Ambassador that they wished “other arrangements could be made”.