The British tabloids are full of it and so is the star-hungry American press: Prince Charles and Princess Di are having a royal rift. He's supposedly rekindled an affair with an old flame and she's supposedly dallying around on the side, too, when she's not poking people with her parasol at Ascot. There's even talk (in the papers, at least) of divorce.

Worse, there's even talk from the editor of Burke's Peerage that this could be the end of royalty in Britain. That may be a little off the wall, but it certainly doesn't bode well for the future of marriage in the human species. If this couple can't make it, who can? We're not talking about a couple that's got the shorts. Diana is not wringing her hands because she can't find a live-in and she's not hollering at Charles that it is his turn to pick up the kids at the day care center. She's not forced to serve hamburger meat a dozen different ways each month so they can save up the money for a down payment on a condo. This is the ultimate yuppie couple. Certainly, Diana, when it comes to acquisitions, has turned out to be the ultimate yuppie princess: she got everything, without having to get an MBA or a law degree.

Now, however, the prince and princess have, at last count, spent only one night under the same roof in 35 days. Or 36. Or, by the time this is printed and delivered in the morning, perhaps even 37. You don't have to be Barbara Cartland to know that the bloom is off this romance.

Some people are saying it is because they have different temperaments and some people are blaming the difference in their ages -- which is 12 1/2 years, but which I don't think has a thing to do with it. We're not talking about her being 12 and him being 24. He, however, is 39 years old and there's been some talk that he's headed into a midlife crisis, which would be highly understandable. His mother is 61 and in splendid health, by all accounts, so he could be looking at another 20 years of hanging around, waiting for his job. In fact, he could be 59 years old before he gets his real job. It's enough to make anyone consider switching careers.

In any event, the couple is in trouble and speculation is swirling so fast and furiously that responsible parties are heatedly denying that Charles and Di are even close to divorce.

This is relatively new territory for the royals, particularly for one who is going to ascend to the throne, if he can hold on long enough. Charles' position appears secure and he has several castles, so we don't have to worry about him landing on his feet. If Diana leaves him, he'll most likely hole up in some gloomy Scottish castle, spending his days killing animals, which is what he's been doing much of the past month anyway.

Diana is on much shakier ground. They won't send her off to a nunnery, but there is a lot of talk that she would not get custody of the royal princes. Assuming she does, however, there is no castle that has been set aside for princesses who have been set aside, so it is quite conceivable that Diana could become the world's most famous single working mother. Would she go back to teaching kindergarten? Not likely. Not after the taste she's acquired in jewels and clothing.

Diana is young, modern and unconventional so there's no telling what she might do, but there is considerable precedent among celebrated beauties for turning fame into fortune. She could, for example, make a lot of money writing books. If Harper & Row is paying for the teachings of Chairman Gorbachev, think what a publisher would pay for the teachings of Princess Di. Her first book, of course, would have to be autobiographical, a tasteful version of her romance and marriage and what the royal family is like. I bet she has mother-in-law stories that won't quit. A few years from now, if she needs money, she can write a sequel -- "Life after the Palace" -- that could begin to tell the true story of her marriage and the royal family, but that won't do for her first book. If she strings the publicity out wisely -- and she has shown a natural talent for that -- she could get a trilogy out of her life by the time she is 35, with a final volume about the royals entitled "Di Bares All." She could also do a couple of "how-to" books, such as "Di's Closet Storage Tricks."

Remember Queen Soraya? She joined the idle rich and ended up in places where they play. Di, however, is of a different generation, which makes her among other things, younger. If things don't work out with Charles, she'll probably go to work. She looks terrific, she's got good name recognition and good contacts among world leaders. Barbara Walters, watch out. Di's a natural for TV.