In 1980, the Sunday Mirror sensationally reported that Prince Charles had squired a mystery blonde on board the royal train in the middle of the night, with the all-caps headline: ROYAL LOVE TRAIN.
The story caused a stir – had the future king enjoyed a clandestine rendezvous with his virginal-seeming paramour Lady Diana Spencer?
While the teenager denied it vehemently, and later claims emerged the blonde who had been smuggled onto the nine-carriage beast was actually Camilla Parker Bowles, "Traingate" was pretty much the last time the Queen's decades-old rolling stock was creating any noise.
However, the train is back – in the headlines that is. Toot toot!
Over the weekend, it was announced that William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, were off on a three-day surprise 2000km tour of the UK via the royal train. Across 10 stops, they will meet frontline workers and pay tribute to the countless Brits who have gone "above and beyond" during the Covid crisis.
On late Sunday night (GMT), the couple set off from London's Euston Station after being feted by carollers and 72-year-old pop star Shakin' Stevens, whose poster adorned the walls of many British teens' bedroom in the 1980s.
The idea behind this locomotive jaunt is that it will be a jolly national morale-boosting exercise set against the backdrop of the Victorian anachronism that is the royal train. That is, it will be a sure-fire PR win.
But as with all things palace-related, a train trip is rarely just a train trip, even when it is undertaken on-board a biofuel-powered train that is traditionally only allowed to be used by the Queen and Prince Charles.
When news of the engagement was released, the Telegraph quoted a "well-placed" royal source as saying: "What this year has done has reinforced the value of the royal family as natural actors of state. They are not celebrities – they are there, effectively, to thank people on the public's behalf.
"They could have gone really very quiet during the pandemic and probably wouldn't have faced much criticism. But actually they chose to keep busy."
These comments would suggest that, for the palace, sending the Cambridges off on this mini-tour is not just about reminding Britain who was there for them during their hour of need but also who wasn't. C'mon: Setting up the idea of "natural actors of state" versus "celebrities" is hardly subtle is it?
If we are to take the Telegraph comments as genuinely reflecting royal thinking, then in rolling William and Kate out across the UK (sorry, I couldn't resist) the palace seems to be focused on cementing the Cambridges' brand as leaders who stepped up while also reminding the world that another Duke and Duchess, to their mind, didn't.
During World War II, the Queen Mother cemented her place in the hearts of Britons by resolutely refusing to leave Buckingham Palace during the Blitz and visit the bomb-stricken East End.
Meanwhile, the then Princess Elizabeth spent the later war years as a mechanic. (She is still the only sovereign in the world who knows how to change a spark plug.)
During this year's horrifying pandemic, William and Kate picked up that mantle and ran with it. When their country needed them, there they were, Zooming from their very nice country drawing room and displaying a breathtaking array of inoffensive light sweaters.
Sure, they could have holed up in Anmer Hall (where they and their three tiny HRHs spent lockdown) and only sent out the occasional official tweet or Insta post.
Instead, they focused on coronavirus' impact on mental health and undertook dozens and dozens of virtual engagements. (I'm betting that rural Norfolk's broadband capabilities were thoroughly tested.)
Let us never forget the time that William, only weeks after actually contracting Covid in April, showed off both his less-than-stellar acting chops and just how much of a good sport he is by taking part in a Blackadder skit with Stephen Fry as part of a TV fundraiser.
Keep in mind too that Wills himself actually got the virus and yet toiled on when the man probably just wanted some beans on toast in bed away from the din created by three rambunctious children and a retinue of aides.
The underlying message in this whistle stop (I really will stop now, promise) train tour is that while the Cambridges were flying the flag for Britain and trying to buck up a miserable nation stuck at home rationing loo roll, the LA-based Sussexes were a continent and an ocean away.
In this trip – and by highlighting just what a smarrrrshing job William and Kate have done, there seems to be a tacit implication that Harry and Meghan have somehow let the side down.
The contrast between the brothers' approaches to the pandemic was marked.
This year, the Cambridges have shifted all of their professional priorities to largely focus on Covid, with William's Earth Shot Prize and climate change work being the glaring exception.
However, that is a luxury that Harry and Meghan have not had. Since landing in Los Angeles in March, they have had to establish their Stateside brand, find a place for themselves in the national conversation and media landscape and build paying careers – all during a global pandemic.
On the Covid front, in March, Harry and Meghan were caught by the paparazzi delivering food to vulnerable people in LA, while Harry Zoomed with the families of vulnerable children as part of his work with WellChild and has publicly thanked the NHS.
The duke has also encouraged Britons to volunteer to help frontline services and in August, told staff and volunteers from the UK Rugby League that he "definitely would have been back" to his homeland were it not for the pandemic, all among many, many other outings.
What sets Harry and Meghan apart is that during this time, they have also thrown themselves into a smorgasbord of pressing issues and projects beyond Covid, discussing gender equality and encouraging people to vote in the US Presidential election.
They also signed on with an A-list speakers agency, inked a $150 million Netflix deal, spoke out against racial injustice and controversially said the Commonwealth must "acknowledge the past" during a video engagement discussing historical injustice and racism.
The unanswered question here is that against the backdrop of Covid, what did the Sussexes owe the UK? And did they meet that obligation?
By the time that Covid started its terrifying march across the world, Harry and Meghan were no longer officially working members of the royal family, was it right for them to stay the course and not alter their plans in light of these truly unprecedented circumstances?
The symbolism of Harry remaining in the US is significant. In essence, the royal family is largely just a bunch of well-spoken cheerleaders whose job is to keep spirits up, perpetually bolster the nation, especially in times of need and not lose the keys to the Tower of London.
While technically Harry and Meghan were no longer senior members of The Firm, did they still bear some responsibility to fulfil that role, despite them officially being no longer required to?
On Wednesday this week, it will be nine-months exactly since Harry and Meghan walked out of Westminster Abbey and sashayed into the Californian sunset after completing their final engagement as official working members of the royal family.
At that time, while the coronavirus was becoming more and more of a global threat, the situation was still such that it was deemed perfectly acceptable to wedge 2000-odd people into the Abbey for the annual Commonwealth Day service. The landscape changed with horrifying speed and severity and only two weeks later, on March 23, Britain started its first lockdown.
There are two sides to the question of whether, in the face of such profoundly altered circumstances, the couple should have returned to the UK.
On one hand, although Harry has repeatedly displayed an unwavering dedication to serving his country, as we now know, by April, both his father and brother had contracted the potentially-fatal disease. Surely dashing back to Blighty would have been a powerful symbolic gesture of support for his family and the nation he has gone above and beyond for?
On the other hand, he and Meghan were now private citizens and therefore did not carry the same responsibilities as they would have in their previous guise as HRHs. By remaining in the US, Harry was resolutely staying the course and was doing the right thing by his wife and son in hard circumstances.
There is one last very telling thing to mention here, which is, William and Kate have been widely hailed in the UK for their blinder of a performance during these fraught months. Given this, why did the Telegraph's mysterious insider feel the need to obliquely reference the Sussexes at all?
I would wager the obvious inference is that the palace still feels deeply threatened by the long, dazzling shadow cast by Harry and Meghan.
Here's one last very interesting fact to leave you on.
This week's royal train trip is one for the history books because it will be the first time, despite being a member of the royal family for nearly a decade, that Kate has been granted the privilege of travelling aboard the Queen's locomotive.
And Meghan? Oh, she was given this honour – and with the Queen on board too – only six-weeks after she became a duchess in 2018.
• Daniela Elser is a royal expert and writer with more than 15 years experience working with a number of Australia's leading media titles.