Don't ever say Sen. John Warner was caught unprepared.

In an all-purpose statement similar to one paraphrased in the late editions of the London Daily Express today, the Virginia Republican said the following:

"During 1982, the senator attended a formal dinner in her honor at the British Embassy in Washington and several months later joined His Royal Highness Prince and Princess at dinner in London. The senator has a high respect for both of them and their family. The senator has not seen either of them for several years."

"Her," as it turns out, is Britain's Princess Michael, already the subject of speculation in reports of a romance with Dallas real estate tycoon Ward Hunt. Hunt has denied the reports.

The bulk of the Daily Express' story today, as well as similar stories in other London papers, deals with how Prince Michael and Princess Michael spent their day and what Queen Elizabeth thinks about it all. What Washington thinks about it all has yet to be determined.

Watch this space.

She did "about 8 million" interviews, so she knew a little something of the art even if it was from the other side of a tape recorder. Now comes reporter Eleanor Mondale, 25, and as reporters are known to do, she's covering everything from local politics to trapped kittens for KABC-TV in Los Angeles.

Much of the time it's new territory but sometimes the sources aren't. At a recent Los Angeles City Council meeting she saw several people she worked with on Walter Mondale's presidential campaign, among them Councilwoman Joy Picus who wondered what she was doing there.

"I said, 'Oh, I'm a reporter now,' " Mondale said by telephone yesterday. "And I could be wrong, of course, but it seemed to me everyone went 'oh,' zipped up their mouths and threw away the keys."

Sometimes her name rings a bell, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes people don't believe she's related to Walter Mondale and then she plays along. Such is life in the question-and-answer business and so far Eleanor Mondale says she's enjoying every deadline.

"The campaign was a grueling experience," she said, "and I can't believe I lived through it. I realize I'm lucky to have this job because it's hard to find something stimulating."

"Stimulating" might be an understatement. Once offered the job, she says KABC editors told her, "It's sink or swim, honey." So far she hasn't sunk.

And if Eleanor Mondale isn't yet swimming, she says: "At least I'm treading water."

They can hardly keep up with the mail, let alone the media. "It was an issue waiting to be born," says Pam Howar, cofounder of Parents Music Resource Center, a local group that quickly turned national when the word got out it wants the recording industry to clean up raunchy lyrics and suggestive album covers.

In the two months since then, Howar and several other Washington mothers, including Susan Baker, the wife of Treasury Secretary James A. Baker III, and Tipper Gore, wife of Sen. Albert Gore (D-Tenn.), have been pushing a rating system similar to that for films, printed lyrics on album covers and under-the-counter obscurity for covers depicting violence or explicit sexual themes.

They have also met with representatives of MTV and with the head of the Recording Industry Association of America, which represents 85 percent of the country's recording companies, and have testified at Justice Department hearings on pornography.

Concurrently, the National Association of Broadcasters has asked record companies to include lyrics with albums to enable stations to identify potentially offensive products and also has asked 800 radio and television group station owners to reevaluate how their programming responsibilities should be carried out under the Communications Act.

Writing in the June 29 Billboard, George David Weiss, president of The Songwriters Guild, asked those in the music industry "to open a dialogue with each other in the hope that responsible leaders can avoid the disaster to which inaction must inevitably lead . . . I submit that the only sensible course of action is industrywide self-restraint."

Meanwhile, as interest reportedly is mounting on Capitol Hill, Howar says she, Tipper Gore, Susan Baker and other PMRC members have a date Friday with Stan Gortikov, president of the RIAA, who is scheduled to report back on discussions with record company executives.

The group's first session with Gortikov was a kind of show-and-tell at which they showed him some albums they objected to and told him what they thought the industry ought to do.

"He seemed like a reasonable man and we came away feeling optimistic," says Howar. "I honestly think that some of those albums he had never seen before."

It's probably the ultimate strategy and even today, 15 years later, former Virginia governor Linwood Holton (1970-74), a Republican, doesn't mind sharing it. At a State Department luncheon not long ago where his tablemates included Donald P. Gregg, assistant for national security to Vice President Bush, he told how he hadn't been in office long when Virginia's "Mr. Democrat," former governor Colgate Darden (1942-46), who by then was president of the University of Virginia, asked how things were going for Virginia's first Republican governor since Reconstruction.

"I told him things were fine except that I really wanted to know how to get favorable coverage in the Richmond paper. He said, 'Oh, I can help you with that. Just advocate a return to slavery but explain it to them in very simple terms,' " Holton recalled.

Appropriately, the Washington Press Club's swan song tonight (before adjourning forever to merge with the National Press Club) will be musical highlights from club skits going back to 1948. Among them will be "C'est Moi, Jackee" sung by UPI White House correspondent Helen Thomas, in her original 1963 role. About 160 members will hear Thomas sing:

"If I want to fly away without taking JFK, that's me, Jackee,

"If I'm fond of French champagne, if I'd rather not campaign, that's me, Jackee."

Also on the program will be presentation for the last time of the coveted Cora Rigby Bowl to Newhouse Newspapers' Susan Garland, the club's last president. The bowl will be retired permanently to a display case at the National Press Club.