Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Queen and the Future

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Queen and the Future

Article excerpt

THE CHIEF ABSURDITY of the 'Wessex affair' is that the indiscretions of a young and minor member of the Royal Family has been allowed to wreak such havoc.

As Christopher Hudson discusses on this page, one of the major problems created by the Queen's tolerance of the concept of an extended family littered with titles and highnesses is that it exposes the monarchy to risk out of all proportion to the young generation's contribution. Most of the remarks made to the News of the World by Sophie Wessex are trivial or irrelevant. The one salient fact that matters, and has inflicted such damage, is she makes explicit what some of us have always feared and warned about - the Wessexs' willingness to exploit their royal positions for cash. The Queen did Prince Edward no service at all by conferring the Wessex title on himself and his bride on their marriage. Instead she should have been seeking to encourage the couple to perceive themselves as non-royal individuals with a living to make. That means no appearances with the Queen on public occasions, no right to public bowing and scraping, no titles on commercial letterheads for public relations businesses.

The Queen herself has done a wonderful job for the monarchy and for this country during her long reign.

But she has failed in one important respect - that of seeking to impose a clear framework and rules on her own family, for their conduct. Her objective should have been to supervise the transfer of all save herself, her consort and the heir to the throne into private life.

There is only one significant lesson from the largely ridiculous 'Sophie affair': minor royals can only make headlines and trouble if they are royal.

They should not be, nor should they be allowed to pretend to be.

Phoney war THE FINDINGS OF our detailed investigation into drug use in the capital, which begins today, represent a sweeping indictment of the Home Office and of Scotland Yard. The Home Secretary Mr Jack Straw, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens and the anti-drugs coordinator Mr Keith Hellawell are revealed as a trio of King Canutes enthroned on the beach, up to their necks in seawater. …

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