The Royal Separation: Business as usual with smiles all round

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The Independent Online
AS THE Prince and Princess of Wales fulfilled their diary appointments yesterday, only a crush of media representatives at each event gave any clue of the bombshell dropped a day earlier.

The Princess was a guest at a luncheon at the Hilton hotel in Park Lane, central London, given by the American Chamber of Commerce, in her capacity as patron of the Headway Head Injuries Association, which she addressed later. She smiled happily and coyly as she was met by two Father Christmases, who took her in to lunch.

In the evening the Prince went to the London Docklands to open a testing plant for Thames Water. On his arrival, he paused to give a fixed smile for the cameras before going into the building for half an hour. He emerged to make a speech which could not be heard because the public-address system was apparently switched off. He looked relaxed and happy, and, after unveiling a plaque, went across to talk to spectators at a crash barrier before departing.

It was revealed yesterday that the Princess will not attend the wedding of the Princess Royal and Commander Tim Laurence tomorrow. Balmoral staff have been told she is no longer expected at the ceremony in Crathie, near the Highland estate. Her absence from the private family occasion is seen as a clear indication of her new official-only role in royal circles.

Last night, Buckingham Palace refused to comment on the guest list.

(Photograph omitted)