Was it really a chance meeting?

British media debated on Friday whether what was billed as the first get-together between Prince Charles's lover and his son was just that - or part of a clever royal strategy to win her public acceptance.As the tabloid Sun defended its "scoop" of a day earlier about Camilla Parker Bowles and how she had "trembled like a leaf" when she met young Prince William, other newspapers saw manipulative palace tactics at work.

"Camilla and William - a cunning leak or just careless talk?" asked the Daily Telegraph.

The newspaper asked whether a newly named royal "spin doctor" had gone to work already, leaking the story to soften up public hostility to the woman widely blamed for wrecking Charles's marriage with the late Princess Diana.

The Express newspaper, tabloid competitor to the Sun, said it was not the first meeting between the 16-year-old William and Parker Bowles, whose friendship with Charles goes back over 25 years.

Prince William and Camilla were at the same fox hunt last December, the Express said.

And William and his younger brother, Harry, "were introduced to their father's mistress as young children while Princess Diana was still alive," the Express said, quoting senior palace aides.

Princess Diana died last August 31 in a car crash in Paris.

Charles and Parker Bowles first met in 1970 but their initial romance ended three years later.

Diana, who was always jealous of Parker Bowles, nicknamed her "the rottweiler" and told a BBC interviewer that there had been three people in her unhappy marriage to Charles. The Express noted that the Camilla headlines had helped divert attention from a row over Labour government lobbying and wondered if this was just a coincidence, because Camilla was a friend of one of Prime Minister Tony Blair's spin doctors, Peter Mandelson.

The Sun continued its attentions to Camilla on Friday with a banner headline proclaiming its advice to Charles: SHOW US YOU LOVE HER.

"For goodness sake, get on with it!" the paper said in a front-page editorial. "You're 50 in November, Charles. The clock is ticking. Don't leave it too late to enjoy an open relationship with Camilla."

This had even a spokeswoman at Charles's London palace chuckling, but she declined comment.

"We're not discussing the matter any more," she said.

She also declined to comment on whether the story of the meeting with William had been deliberately leaked as part of a Camilla coming-out strategy.

"We want to draw a line under this," she said.