It's swansong time for the Queen's Swanmaster

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The Independent Online
Buckingham Palaces lengthy cast of ceremonial titles faces extinction under plans being circulated among royal advisers, writes Constance Castle.

The move is likely to spell the end for ancient positions such as Silver Stick-in-Waiting to the Queen - once held by Andrew Parker Bowles, the ex-husband of Prince Charles's friend Camilla Parker Bowles. Other titles high on the hit-list include the Gold Stick and the Swanmaster.

The move to curb the list of ceremonial posts is in line with the modernisation plans which are being debated by the Way Ahead Group, a body technically headed by the Queen.

In the wake of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, royal advisers concede the monarchy needs to change and slimming the royal household is an obvious route. Although many positions are unpaid, bestowing only limited privileges, they are seen as symbols of an out of touch monarchy. Among the more unusual titles in a lengthy royal list is the Hereditary Bearer of the Scottish National Flag.

The drive to reduce the posts follows other modernising moves such as the decision not to replace the royal yacht Britannia. The royal train is likely to go and a rationalisation of the palaces occupied by the Royal Family is expected.

The fate of Britannia remained in the balance last night, with Glasgow emerging as a strong contender among bids to house it. Six rival offers have come from companies, with proposals ranging from Leith to Portsmouth. The Government is expected to decide, as early as this week, which will be successful.