If I were the Queen I wouldn't use duvets either

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THERE'S NOT a lot of point in being Queen if you can't boss people around and have your own way. What struck me most, though, after reading a list of Royal preferences in a leaked memo from Buckingham Palace to hotels in Pretoria hoping to accommodate the Royal tourists during their official visit to South Africa, was the Queen's restraint.

If I were Queen I'd demand a great deal more than wholewheat toast with Cooper's Oxford marmalade for breakfast and no telly in the bedroom.

There were a few other magisterial requirements on her list, but nothing that a self respecting hotel manager couldn't sort out after a few calls to housekeeping and room service. No mauve flowers, no carnations no bloody meat, raw shellfish or spicy food and, although she and Prince Philip would prefer cotton sheets and blankets, if this was not possible they would settle for duvets.

Settle for duvets? Ye gods. No wonder we're a second-rate nation heading south. We don't have authoritative leadership any more. Can you imagine Queen Victoria agreeing to settle for a duvet instead of Irish linen sheets, pure wool blankets with satin edges and a quilted counterpane with V&A embroidered in forget-me-nots on the pillows.

My own personal list for preferred goods and services when staying in hotels is far longer than the Queen's. Let's start with room keys. I appreciate this may not apply to the Queen and Prince Philip, who usually pack a couple of beefeaters to stand outside their hotel room for security, but what's happened to old-fashioned room keys? Now you're given a swipe card which either doesn't swipe or gets swallowed up by the cash machine you fed it into by mistake.

Another personal bete noir is the new breed of hotel coat-hanger that only allows you to remove the bottom half from the wardrobe rail. I can never re-attach the damn thing to its hook without all my clothes falling off. I bet Prince Philip has the same problem. On second thoughts, the beefeaters probably do his unpacking for him.

I share the sovereign's dislike of television in the bedroom (all hotel rooms should be equipped with short wave radios, one station permanently tuned to the World Service). But it isn't the television in your own room that disturbs, it's the neighbours' sets on either side blaring through the paper-thin walls. Same with bathrooms.

Recently in a Liverpool hotel I was privy not only to my neighbour's telephone conversations - he was a rep for Rowntrees Fruit Gums - but to his every most intimate body function and I don't mean picking his teeth. I pity the guests in the room next to Prince Philip - all that poop-deck pacing up and down, hands clasped behind his back, effing and blinding about the natives, the climate and the fact that he could be up at Balmoral bagging a few grouse.

It wasn't mentioned in the Mauve Flower and Raw Fish protocol, but I'm sure a sensitive woman like the Queen shares my views about hotel bathrooms. They never have enough shelf space. If Prince Philip gets in first and bags the side of the basin for his toothbrush and shaving stuff that leaves the poor Queen with only the narrow strip above the loo for the contents of her sponge bag. The only difference is that when my moisturiser falls into the lavatory I have to fish it out myself whereas the Queen can pull rank and get a lady-in-waiting to do it for her.

Bigger bathrooms, windows that open, no muzak, my hotel requirements are endless. But what that leaked list from Buckingham Palace really revealed was not our monarch's fussiness but her obvious reluctance to leave home. I read somewhere she likes nothing better than to cook herself a poached egg on toast and watch Coronation Street. Let's hope the telly in her sitting room in South Africa can get that at least.