Ever the pragmatist, Queen Elizabeth has taken charge of mending the royal image tattered by her dysfunctional brood. Last month she asked advisers to conduct soundings about the relationship between the Palace and her subjects and to "examine ways in which she can personally help bolster confidence in...the monarchy," according to London's Mail on Sunday. Evidence of one confidence drainer is right on her breakfast table: London papers are in a lather over the Windsors' travel tabs. Prince Charles is set to use a Queen's Flight jet (an RAF aircraft reserved for Windsor travel) for a March ski trip to Switzerland—a jaunt that will cost taxpayers about $30,000. Next month Britannia will set out on a two-week Caribbean cruise with Prince Philip as its only passenger. Cost: about $650,000. In the meantime, working stiffs felt the pinch when the $3.75 fee for touring Sandringham, the Queen's home in Norfolk, went up to $4.50 this year. The hike could plump her coffers by $750,000 a year—enough for a long cruise to a friendlier clime.
An indignant pensioner drove home public exasperation with the royals when Prince Charles toured a London health center on Jan. 28. After the visit (which, of course, came in the wake of the racy tapes of his chat with Camilla Parker Bowles), the Prince was shaking hands outside when an elderly man shouted, "Have you no shame?" Shocked, Charles asked the man what he'd said, and he repeated, "Have you no shame?" Magisterially ducking into his limo, the Prince fled....
Charles did win a round with Diana, however. After what was reported to be a bitter phone battle with a tearful Princess, he told friends that Princes William and Harry would stay with him near Sandringham on the weekend of Jan. 30—their first long break since their parents' separation was announced.
Undaunted by the family's bent for marital disaster, Princess Margaret's son, Lord Linley, 31, is said to be planning to wed Irish-born Serena Stanhope, 22. Daughter of Lord Petersham, an Anglo-Irish aristocrat worth an estimated $300 million, she is a PR assistant for Giorgio Armani in London. Though friends expected an announcement last month, mum's bout with pneumonia reportedly set things back....
Now on the mend, the Princess is expected to continue her convalescence with a sojourn in Mustique. No Queen's Flight for her, though—she's going commercial.