WITH THE POSSIBLE exception of his mother -- the exception that proves the rule -- Prince Andrew and Friend seem to have had the whole world on their side. Historical precedent and tradition provided authorization for this enterprise, even if the royal family wouldn't. The Roman playwright Plautus was enchanted by the story of the unruly young man who tried to keep his father from finding out not just that he had such a Friend but also that he had actually sold the family home to get the money to pursue her. The queen should consider herself lucky. She could have come home from her arduous journey to Australia to find Buckingham Palace gone.

Plautus, of course, was a comic writer, and this particular subject -- wanton youth, its passions and its swoons and especially those of frantic soldiers and sailors -- has always been the joy of comic writers. Shakespeare's Prince Hal, who finally did have to cut it out and say goodbye to his mentor Falstaff, was in fact a royal relative of Prince Andrew. Others come to mind, including a Henry, a Charles and a couple of Edwards.

As all parties seem to have been willing and happy participants in the Mustique adventure, we don't see a lot of exploitation-of-women or that sort of thing to gloom about. Consenting adults will be consulting adults, as they say. The onlookers have had a good chortle, and mums everywhere have been assured that their offspring aren't the only incorrigible ones. The single problem we can see is that Miss Koo Stark may not be considered fit company for her royal chum. If this is the case, the palace could easily give her a title. Prince Andrew would not be the first sailor on shore leave to sing "There is nothing like a dame."