Pembroke: Royalty treads Virgin territory

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The Independent Online
RICHARD BRANSON has pulled off a little coup with his mystery guest next month when he takes delivery of the first of his Airbus A340s at Heathrow. Throwing the champagne at the fuselage - if they do that with planes - and conducting the 'I name this aeroplane' duties will be the Princess of Wales. Though whether, in the light of the current rumpus, she will be in the mood for a spot of celebrity ribbon-snipping is another matter.

But at least she is being fair to both sides in the airline wars. Last month she was special guest at the Business Traveller awards where she handed out plaques-a-plenty to British Airways and a special gong to Lord King.

DORLAND KINDERSLEY, the recently floated reference book publisher whose catalogue includes titles such as Know Your Cat and Superb Salads, has published an interesting annual report. Obviously feeling pleased with itself after reporting increased profits and a doubling of the dividend, the company has splashed out a bit.

The white booklet with gold lettering comes encased in a dust-jacket. The chairman's statement is illustrated with diagrams and artists' impressions using a technique the company has christened with a new word - lexigraphics. This, purrs the blurb, 'is the word DK has adopted for its design principle: making words and pictures work together on the page'.

There's nothing new here at all, really - children's encyclopedias have been using this style for years. 'The idea is that through the picture I see reality, through the word I understand it,' said chairman Peter Kindersley.

DON CRUICKSHANK, the director-general at telecoms watchdog Oftel, is doing his best to give the regulator some teeth. He has just poached his new technical director from BT. Peter Walker, BT's planning manager in London, will join Oftel next year when Arthur Orbell retires.

Mr Walker has been with BT for 22 years, so he will have expert knowledge of the network he must now try to open up.

Mr Walker, a keen genealogist who has traced his roots back to some sixteenth century farmers in East Anglia, was not rising to the bait yesterday, saying things like 'new challenge' and 'contributing to competition'. There may be no cries of traitor or turncoat echoing down the corridors but probably a few anxious faces in the boardroom.

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CAPITAL EXCHANGE, an organisation which acts as a marriage broker between companies seeking funding and investors, has come over all witty in its latest newsletter.

It congratulates Chancellor Kenneth Clarke on the enlightened policies in his Budget, chiefly tax relief on investment in private companies. Is this more in hope than expectation?

'Well we did think we were getting on quite well with Anthony Nelson, financial secretary to the Treasury, but Michael Portillo seems to have put the damper on things,' said David Rose, the magazine's publisher, who is at home nursing a balloon- shaped foot after a large farmer in hobnail boots trod on it on bonfire night.

'But I must say we are quite good at forecasting things,' he added, counting a prediction of lower German interest rates as its latest crystal ball success.

BODY SHOP, the peppermint foot lotion and face-mask company, is trying hard to play down the impact of its Far Eastern fracas, where it is in dispute with Anne Downer, its head franchisee in Singapore. The fact that the 12 stores in Singapore have been closed since the weekend, and that the company cannot say when they will open again, will have little impact on the bottom line, the company said.

'Singapore accounts for less than one per cent of our total sales,' it said, trying to limit the damage. 'We have tried to resolve this for some time.'

BAA, the airports authority which owns Heathrow and Gatwick airports, appears to be suffering from a touch of Continental drift. A recent news release claims that the BAA-led cargo promotion group has made its first visit to South America. Funny that, as the group visited Cape Town and Johannesburg, in South Africa.