House of Windsor split over new look

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The Independent Online
Plans to reform the Royal Family led to claims yesterday that Prince Philip is obstructing change, and counter-claims that MPs leaked details of the plan prematurely and embarrassed Buckingham Palace.

According to reports in several newspapers yesterday, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales are said to be on opposing sides on the reforms, with the Queen steering a difficult and delicate course, although she is aware of the public mood for change since the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.

Prince Philip is known to have the support of the Queen Mother in his opposition to the proposals, which include the abolition of bowing and curtsying and the restriction of the title "royal highness". He is said to have strongly expressed his disapproval to Charles's office and Buckingham Palace officials.

The Duke's view is that the reforms of the l960s and 70s have not benefited the family, and going further down that path would weaken the monarchy. He is also believed to resent the perception that change is being driven by the death of the Princess of Wales.

The reform package was discussed by the Way Ahead group of Royal advisers presided over by the Queen and attended by the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, the Duke of York and the Princess Royal.

There was said to be acute annoyance at the Palace that the details were then leaked to the press.

Some courtiers believe that Tony Blair's government is trying to bounce the Royal Family into carrying out sweeping reforms, and the leak was designed to create a fait accompli.

One source said: " This is not the first time this has happened. There has been a series of timed leaks, and discussion documents presented as facts. One has got to ask, who is driving the agenda and why?"

The Prime Minister and the majority of the Labour party are known strongly to favour the reforms.

Downing Street, however, has strenuously denied being responsible for the leaks.

Fresh evidence of the Government's desire for change came with reports that the Palace is being pressed to simplify the State Opening of Parliament by doing away with some of the traditional pomp.

Plans to reform the House of Lords, where the Queen makes her annual speech to Parliament, will now move ahead without further consultation with the Opposition.

Mr Blair is said to be angry at the leaking of contacts with the Conservatives on the reform package.

Moves to take the title of HRH away from the Duke of York's two daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, was another issue causing problems.

Labour MP Alan Williams, a senior member of the influential Commons Public Accounts Committee, and a long-term critic royal expenditure, said that this might not be " the cleverest move, because some might interpret it, wrongly, as vindictive.

"I don't think it matters as far as the public are concerned.".

Mr Williams added that the rest of the reform proposals were merely cosmetic and a "PR exercise".

He continued that the Royal Family should face up to the fact that "five Royal palaces just aren't justified. The Royal Household, its hangers- on and the wider Royal Family have to address the fact that the public doesn't owe them accommodation".


Confusing. His father, Prince Andrew of Greece, was a member of the Danish royal family. His mother, Princess Alice of Battenburg, was "English", but the family had been German.

The Duke of Edinburgh was a Greek prince who spoke a mixture of English and German, with a smattering of Greek.


Perhaps the gaffe which caused the most trouble. Interviewed on radio after the massacre of children and with calls for gun control, he said: "If a cricketer, for instance, suddenly decided to go into a school and batter a lot of people to death with a cricket bat ... are you going to ban cricket bats ?"


Talking about his daughter and her love of equestrianism, the Duke snorted: "If it doesn't fart or eat hay, she isn't interested."


Loathes it. He has been repeatedly attacked by the media for his more controversial statements, some say unfairly. After the Dunblane comment one tabloid asked readers to call a particular number if they thought he was a fool.