It had been a bad year for followers of Princess Michael of Kent, Queen Elizabeth's prickly cousin by marriage. As the member of the British royal family who best knows how to stir up a hornet's nest, the Princess seemed off-stride after 1985: That was the year it came out that her father had been a Nazi SS man, and she was spotted in a red wig meeting secretly with Texas oil millionaire John Ward Hunt. This year about the liveliest tattle had been that Prince Philip reportedly calls her "Motormouth." But now the Princess is back in form following publication of her first book, Crowned in a Far Country: Portraits of Eight Royal Brides, "which chronicles the lives of such women as Marie Antoinette. First, the London Observer disclosed that at least four passages matched, almost word-for-word, sections of a book by the late Harold Kurtz. Next, historian Daphne Bennett weighed in. "Almost half of [one chapter] is using my words," charged Bennett, not mollified by the Princess' explanation that her note-taking was faulty. Meanwhile, Princess Michael's uncredited ghostwriter, Dr. James Bentley, allowed as how she was so sore at his changes that she never spoke to him after their first meeting. Perhaps caught up in the spirit, Ward Hunt's ex-wife Laura gave interviews on royal borrowing to the London tabloids. "I can only assume [my husband] was mesmerized by her," she said. "Ward is much too good for Princess Michael...When she realized he was not in the billionaire class, she dumped him."

Princess Michael got in a few licks too. Appearing on TV to promote her, or somebody's, book, she declared her feelings about the Queen's corgis, namely, that they should be shot. And in the current LIFE, she expanded her critique by calling Monaco "a tin-pot principality," dismissing Princess Caroline as "the daughter of a movie star, for God's sake," and protesting (concerning her royal duties), "I was not made to cut ribbons and kiss babies."

Finally, it was like old times. Cried the Daily Mail: "The Queen must slap down this Pushy Princess," and Harold Brookes-Baker of Burke's Peerage concluded, "She will either have to be exiled or put out to grass."