PEOPLE; Whither Lech Windsor?

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The Independent Online
Kazimierz Jagiellonczyk could have a lot to answer for. The 15th- century Polish king is not as familiar to those of our children who still learn about kings and queens as, say Richard III. Yet he is an ancestor not only of the Queen but of her husband. No one would suggest that the double dose of Polish genes could be a significant factor in the tendency of some members of the Queen's family to self-destruct. Nevertheless, there is something in the chemistry of the Queen's imminent trip to Poland that smacks of those nasty and obscure family quarrels known more for their consequences than for their origins.

Lech Walesa, the former president who has long thought of himself as King of Poland and therefore also related to Kazimierz, Elizabeth and Philip, has not yet replied to an invitation to meet the Queen at a lunch at the Hotel Bristol, in Warsaw, on Tuesday.

The explanation being put about is that he is refusing to come within spitting distance of the man who usurped his throne, the former communist Aleksander Kwasniewski. An alternative version now heard in Warsaw is that he is waiting till the Queen acknowledges that they share the same royal blood and starts to invite him to those family conferences on that grand ongoing theme, Whither the Windsors?

Male chauvinism may have been driven to those sad corners of the planet where rainforest husbands come home from a hard day's hunting expecting the wife to be ready with the pipe and slippers. But victory on earth is not the end of the story. When the American astronaut Shannon Lucid visits the Mir space station - she is due to blast off on the shuttle Atlantis today - the Russians waiting for her will expect her to keep the place clean and tidy.

"We anticipate that the fans will be taken care of in a more timely manner, because we know that women love to clean," said General Yuri Glazkov, deputy commander of the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre. Ms Lucid, 53, is a biochemist and one of Nasa's original female astronauts.

For all the myths of female equality under communism, the Russians are slow in changing their attitudes. Svetlana Savitskaya was presented with an apron by her male colleagues when she arrived in 1982 at the Salyut space station, and the British chemist Helen Sharman had to listen to her Mir commander complain in 1991 that space flight is "hard work, not a woman's work".

A man with a more subtle appreciation of the role of women is Musa Komeagac, the Turkish waiter who married the 13-year-old Essex girl Sarah Cook. The lovers' story has been turned into a four-part television film by the Turkish ATV channel, with the groom playing himself. Mr Komeagac, who has become a celebrity in his homeland, was paid $8,600 by ATV, which will broadcast the series next month. "My only intention is to show everyone how much I love Sarah," he said from his home in Kahramanmaras. Mr Komeagac was jailed on charges of having sex with a minor then released pending trial next month. He faces up to 10 months in prison.