Amis is made most angry by Britain's “superficiality”, by its tabloids, by “all these excited models and these rock stars in short shorts”. But he “adores” the English themselves: “they have spirit, they are tolerant, full of good humour”, he said, also praising Shakespeare – “an absolute giant”, and the UK's “very advanced” political system. “We had a revolution 100 years before France, and our civil war was not so horrible.” The interview also saw Amis describe the Royal family as “philistines”, and speak of his own encounters with the royals: the problem with the Queen, he said, is that she “does not listen to what you tell her”. He recalled telling her, “you knighted my father” [Kingsley Amis]. Her response? “She looked into the distance, vaguely staring at a picture on the wall.” Amis made clear in the interview that he would not accept a knighthood himself if it were to be offered to him. “I don't want to be linked at all to the British empire. It's so ridiculous,” he said. “No, there's no chance of that happening. Really, I would prefer not to be English.”
When he met the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip “appeared very surprised” at the bestselling author's profession. “Ah, you're a writer?” he said, according to Amis. Prince Charles, though, is “charming”, with a “pretty extraordinary laugh, like the snore of a pig”. Amis added that he recalled “one fairly memorable conversation with him on the subject of Salman Rushdie, just after the fatwa, in 1989. He was very anti-Rushdie. I asked him why. He told me: 'I'm sorry, but when someone insults the profound beliefs of a people …'” Amis replied that a novel is not a stance. “It insults nobody. It asserts nothing. A novel is a game, a mind play,” he told Charles.