Opinions: Does good breeding count?

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ARTHUR SMITH, comedian: I would have run under the table and cried if someone had shot at me. But I'm only the bastard son of the Duke of Balham.

FRANCES EDMONDS, writer: I think training counts, which is different from breeding. An SAS man wouldn't have moved a muscle either. I think Prince Charles was unwise to drag up the thousand years of breeding because if we go back into history we realise that he shouldn't be on the throne at all, but living in a hamlet in Orange or somewhere.

WILLIAM CASH, MP: There is too little of it around today. Breeding has nothing to do with class. It's to do with the gradual development from one generation to another of qualities of courage and integrity. People from the highest in the land to the lowest can have good breeding - it doesn't matter if you are a king or a miner.

RICHARD KIRK, editor, Southern Cross, paper for Australian ex-pats: It's a horrible idea, talking about people as if they were cows or sheep. Australia isn't very old, there's no aristocracy and people are less concerned about your family background. Of course, manners and education are important but people don't talk about breeding. I don't know any Brits who find it important, but I don't mix with the elite.

NAIM ATTALLAH: In certain circles it's like your badge of honour. People know that you will behave properly, that you are trustworthy. Good breeding is as inexplicable as charisma - it comes from your family and you've either got it or you haven't.

JENNY ECLAIR, comedienne: People from common stock have often got desperately thick ankles and are unable to tuck a Hermes scarf under their chin properly. I think I'm a bit common because I say 'toilet' and 'ta ever so'. Inbreeding leads to people with very short foreheads and squints and things like a ludicrously long big toe which makes them walk funny.

GRANT WESTALL-REECE, estate agent: I've been likened to Prince Charles because I don't carry any money - but I don't think it's anything to do with breeding] In my job it doesn't matter whether you have good breeding or not. What matters is if you can make a sharp deal.

UNA MARY PARKER, novelist: I don't think Prince Charles's reaction has got anything to do with breeding, I think it's repression. People who are 'well-bred' are taught from a very early age by mummy or nanny not to show their feelings - you can't cry in public, never be upset in front of the servants, all that sort of thing.

FRANK MUIR: It determines the colour of your hair I suppose - or whether you've got any.

SIR HARDY AMIES, couturier: Royal Warrant holders shouldn't comment.

(Photograph omitted)

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