A young man called William Saxe-Coburg and a young woman called Kate Middleton “thrilled well-wishers” in Belfast yesterday, says this morning’s VO, and do you know, they kind of thrilled me too. Maybe it wasn’t the omigod-I’ve-actually-seen-in-the-flesh-one-of-the-Saxe-Coburg-family-and-his-fiancée thrill that the well-wishers in Belfast felt. More a thrill of astonishment at the way people manage to glide over awkward facts. How is it, for example, that British people are full of fury at the thought of unelected Muamar Gaddafi’s unelected son Safi succeeding him in Libya, yet thrill at the thought of unelected Elizabeth Saxe-Coburg’s unelected grandson succeeding her? (No, please, let’s leave her unelected son Charles out of this - it complicates things.) I also thrill when I think of the cost of William Saxe-Coburg and his fiancée flying into Belfast and flying out again. I wish I could see the bill for that in the flesh, as it were, because I know that’d really thrill me, but I know it won’t happen. Freedom of Information applies to ordinary people but it doesn’t apply to the Saxe-Coburgs. They get lots and lots of public money each year but they don’t have to tell the people who supply it – you and me – anything about how it’s spent. But we do know that William S-C’s Uncle Andy gets £249,000 every year, and his Auntie Anne gets £228,000. But don’t forget – they’ve all those horses to keep. And they have to spend over £500,000 every year on PR - getting people to feel thrilled that they got a glimpse of you – that costs. Just as it’ll cost a huge amount to send the unelected Saxe-Coburg boy and his girl-friend on a flying visit to New Zealand. They’ll visit Christchurch, where he’ll explain how badly he feels about the loss of life and destruction that earthquake caused. Many New Zealanders will be thrilled that they came so far to condole; but not half as thrilled as I’ll be at the thought of the cost to the public purse, when so many people are out of work and struggling to keep a roof over their head.
Still, the Queen Mum does a terrific job …What do you mean, she’s dead?