WHAT a small world. When jeweller (and retired socialite) Kip Kirpalani met up with Prince Albert of Monaco on Cecil Chao's yacht a few days ago, the matey businessman recalled that he had met the prince at his pink palace in Monte Carlo when he was 11 years old (Prince Albert, as you may have guessed, remembered the occasion vividly!). It was in the days when Kip's uncle was Monaco's consul-general in India, and, naturally, from that moment of personal revelation, Kip and the Prince got on quite famously. The relationship between the two that started off formally with Kip making a courtly bow and addressing him as ''Your Royal Highness'' very quickly progressed to ''Prince Albert'' level. By the time the prince had got round to inviting Kip to joing him for tea the next day it was just ''Albert''. And had the royal visitor been able to change his schedule and stay on for an extra night, I'm sure Kip would have had the formalities neatly down to ''Bert''. The erstwhile party-loving Kip, who was divorced from his Tunisian wife Azzar last month, tells me that he is ''eligible again''. Although he admits that these days he is more inclined to have quiet dinners by himself on the 3,000 square foot patio of his Mid-Levels spread. Soon he's off wild boar hunting in Tunisia with friends. And Kip, who admits he's not an expert shot, says: ''I don't believe in waste. I eat everything I shoot.'' For the sake of his taste buds, let's hope the dozen or so bearers who will be accompanying him on safari stay well clear of his shotgun.