Princess Diana ignored royal protocol against answering press criticism to assure the world she is "not about to become an alcoholic."
One of London's Sunday newspapers alleged recently that Diana, Britain's future queen, and her "best friend" and sister-in-law, Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, were upsetting the rest of the Royal Family by swigging too much champagne.
"Contrary to recent reports in some of our more sensational Sunday newspapers, I have not been drinking," Diana told a formal luncheon.
After a short pause and a ripple of laughter, she went on: "And I am not, I assure you, about to become an alcoholic."
To prove her point, she turned down the vintage wine offered at the luncheon welcoming her as a "freeman" of the City of London.
Prince Charles, her husband and already a freeman, attended the ancient ritual giving Diana the right to drive sheep across London Bridge, to be hanged with a rope made of silk rather than hemp and a guaranteed place in a poorhouse should the need arise.
Royal protocol insists that members of the Royal Family never respond to press criticism. Buckingham Palace spokesmen said Diana's denting of this tradition came in "light-hearted" words that "are quite plain and clear and stand by themselves. I am not going to add or subtract anything."