Two royal weddings, but Prince Pavlos's takes the cake

Two royal weddings tomorrow, and the contrasts couldn't be greater.

In Monaco's town hall, Princess Stephanie will marry Daniel Ducruet, a former bodyguard and father of her two children. The private civil ceremony will be followed by a dinner for about 50 friends and relatives at the posh Hotel Loews in Monte Carlo. Stephanie abandoned plans for a career in fashion and rock music to be a full-time mother to Louis, 2, and one- year-old Pauline. Mr Ducruet went from bodyguard to fish wholesaler to estate agent.

In London, the exiled Prince Pavlos (Paul) of Greece, son of former King Constantine, and Marie-Chanel Miller, daughter of a wealthy American businessman, will marry in a gala Greek Orthodox ceremony before 2,000 guests descending from all over the world.

And despite stories to the contrary, the Sultan of Brunei is not chartering a jumbo jet to bring guests from Athens to the ceremony. The Sultan's public-relations advisers say ''there is no truth in this oft-repeated claim''.

So if you were counting on the Sultan, you'll have to hitch another lift.

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What can you do when you're president of a poor and troubled country, and you can't get your pounds 7,500 annual salary increased without altering the constitution? If you're Fidel Ramos, the Philippine leader, who is one of the world's lowest-paid heads of state, you ask your wife for help.

"First Lady Amelita Ramos will just have to work harder," says Mr Ramos. The constitution sets the president's yearly pay at 300,000 pesos. Mrs Ramos earns 22,000 pesos a month as a consultant for the International School in Manila. The First Lady has long resisted suggestions that she quit her job, saying she needed to maintain her financial independence.

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No matter how many roubles Mikhail Gorbachev might be paid, his wife, Raisa, opposes his return to politics. The former Soviet leader told Moskovsky Komsomolets his wife saw it as a ''relief'' when he resigned as President after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

"Politics took away the best years,'' Mr Gorbachev said. ''All our lives, our family was absorbed in one thing." But he did not say how Raisa's concerns would affect his future plans. Mr Gorbachev has not ruled out running for president in elections scheduled for next June.

Mrs Gorbachev apparently shares the concerns of Naina Yeltsin, who doesn't want her husband Boris to run either.

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Who's destined to be "the hero of Europe's independence" from the US? Jacques Chirac, according to the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Referring to the French President's decision to resume nuclear tests in the Pacific, Colonel Gaddafi told Agence France-Presse that "France alone, and only under Gaullist administrations, follows an independent line". Mr Chirac, says the admiring Colonel, will become a "hero of Europe's independence in the face of the hateful imperialism of the United States''. Although he opposes to weapons of mass destruction, Col Gaddafi added, the timing of the French announcement, on the eve of the G7 summit in Canada, was perfect. "I consider that as a sign of a European country regaining its independence," he said.

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