Press pack on thin ice in search of royals

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The Independent Online
The Royal Family presented an agonising decision for the dedicated paparazzi yesterday - skiing in Klosters with Fergie or in Vail with the Princess of Wales.

Most plumped for Vail - one of Colorado's most popular resorts - as much the better story as Princess of Wales was seen sharing a ski-lift up the Rocky Mountains with a mystery man.

The problem for the press pack was that the Princess of Wales's arrival was a well-kept secret and most were more than 5,000 miles away in Switzerland with the Duchess of York. Part of the reason for the high excitement was that it was not immediately clear which American multi-millionaire was the Princess's host. Teddy Forstmann, the initial favourite, later denied he was in town and the spotlight switched to Mike Flannery, who has a £3.5m home in Vail.

Mr Flannery was reported to have booked a table for two at a swish restaurant and was identified sharing a chairlift with the Princess.

Less than 24 hours after being described as being "good friends" with Mr Forstmann, the Princess was said to be having a "close relationship" with Mr Flannery.

One royal-watching photographer summed up the dilemma for those left behind in Europe: "Fergie is a good story - but Diana with a man is better."

The tide is likely to turn for those stuck in Klosters next week when the Prince of Wales arrives with Prince William and Prince Harry.

Avoiding the attention of camera lenses has become a daily chore for the Duchess of York who is on a 10-day holiday with Princess Beatrice and Eugenie. A French photographer was told "Don't be so rude" after continuing to take pictures at the end of a stage-managed photocall.

Even when the professionals take a break, the Royal Family has to keep an eye out for the instant cameras of the general public.

A Swiss woman who had just been married insisted on having her photograph taken with the Duchess as she tried to board her mini-van to be driven to the ski-lift.

The Duchess, who optimistically asked for peace and quiet during her holiday, managed to force a smile.

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