The Week in Review: Home news

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IF THE scriptwriters of Dallas had come up with a plot that moved at such blistering pace viewing figures would have soared while television critics complained about its increasing unbelievability. But this week's episode of life in the Royal Family must have made the producers of television soap operas feel thoroughly inadequate.

After the traumas surrounding two royal marriages, the Windsor Castle fire and the contentious issue of whether the Queen should pay taxes, it seemed impossible that the plot could thicken further. But we had not seen the half of it.

Last weekend it was announced that the Princess Royal, who divorced her first husband Captain Mark Phillips, is to marry Commander Tim Laurence in Scotland today. It seemed that it might be a rare happy week for the royals.

This was instantly followed by speculation about whether the Queen Mother, who has taken a dim view of divorce since Edward VIII abdicated to marry Wallis Simpson, would attend. Finally she said that she would.

By this time the Prince and Princess of Wales had announced they were to separate, sending royalists and republicans into frenzied speculation about the future of the monarchy. The press dragged out all the old wedding photographs and ran them under 'the end of the fairytale' headlines.

But all good dramas need some sub-plots and the Duchess of York, in disgrace since she was photographed topless with John Bryan by a swimming pool, provided this. She and Mr Bryan won pounds 90,500 damages in France on Wednesday for breach of privacy.

A bemused nation, some utterly exhausted news editors and the Queen, who has called 1992 her annus horribilis, are all waiting to see how the plot unfolds.

One can only hope that the royal separation is less stressful than that of Bill and Anne Garwood, who were married for 31 years. When she walked out on him he spent pounds 50,000 hiring private detectives who eventually tracked her down to Leominster in Hereford and Worcester.

Mr Garwood could not believe it when he found that the house next to hers was for sale and promptly bought it. His wife was equally incredulous and won a court order banning him from staying in his house at nights.

The uncharacteristic domestic harmony within the Labour Party since the election of John Smith as its leader is also beginning to show signs of strain. A pressure group called the Labour Co-ordinating Committee castigated his laid-back approach and demanded 'a firm lead'.

This is certainly the approach favoured by the leaders of Muslim and Hindu communities in Britain who have been urging their followers to show restraint in the wake of the demolition of the mosque at Ayodhya in India by Hindu fanatics. A series of attacks on mosques and temples have taken place here.