She went shoeless in a Pakistani mosque last week out of deference to Muslim custom, but the Queen cut a less-than-formal figure in other ways as well during her first official trip since Diana's death. The Queen—who let it be known that locals need not bow or curtsy to her—told guests at a state dinner in Islamabad, "I pay tribute here to the work done in Pakistan during her life of Diana, Princess of Wales. It has been a source of comfort and strength to know that people round the world have shared our grief."
A day later, Her Majesty again appeared uncharacteristically open when she told her audience, "I sometimes sense that the world is changing almost too fast...at least for us older ones. It is the younger generation who must lead the way."
Younger as in Prince Charles? "She may be having thoughts about delegating to other members of the family," allows Ben Pimlott, author of The Queen: A Biography of Elizabeth II. But delegation does not mean abdication. Says Brian Hoey, author of several books on the royals: "She will stay on the throne until she dies."
British mourners who signed condolence books for Diana got a scare last week when London's Sunday Mirror reported that pages containing 120,000 signatures had been shredded at a Derbyshire recycling center. False alarm. The Derbyshire County Council, which was collecting the messages for eventual inclusion in bound volumes, says that although a few pages of condolences were mixed into papers destined to be recycled, they were rescued in time. "We haven't shredded anything," says a spokesperson for the Good Samaritan's Recycling Centre in Chesterfield. Apparently, an employee at the center sold one of the pages to the Mirror, and the story took off. Says Lisa Blockley, press officer for the Derbyshire County Council: "We're still looking into how things went astray."
LIKE MOTHER, LIKE SON
Prince Albert of Monaco, 39, took a crack at the other family business last week, wrapping up a cameo role in the Mexican period film One Man's Hero in Durango, Mexico. Persuaded to participate by his friend Bill Macdonald, the film's producer, Albert Grimaldi plays a former member of Her Majesty's Royal Artillery fighting against the U.S. in the 1846-48 Mexican-American War. "I thought, 'If he can stand in front of 140 delegates at the U.N. and give a speech,' " says Macdonald, " 'he can sure stand in the desert and ramble off a few sentences.' " Among the Prince's lines: when actor Tom Berenger's character tells him, "We'll have no royals here!" Albert replies, "Yes, sir!"
Princess Grace would surely be proud. Says Albert's friend Mark Thomas, who has a bit part in Hero himself: "On the set one day, Albert looked around and said, 'If Mum could see me now' I told him she's up there saying, 'That's my boy.' "