Rebecca Tyrrel: 'Oh to be the first fly on the wall in space when Hawking and Hilton meet on board'


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The Independent Online

Who knew that, among the galaxy of stars to have booked their tickets for Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic space tourist flight, is HRH Princess Beatrice?

Others with seats reserved on the maiden voyage, when it boldly goes where no bearded, faux-hippie billionaire has gone before, include Angelina Jolie. Brad Pitt, who's always keen to strap himself to the belly of a jet-powered mother-ship, will take the next flight (as befits Hollywood royalty, Brangelina never take the same flight, on what-will-become-of-the-97-kids-if-it-blows-up? grounds).

The obvious disappointment, for lovers of high fashion, is that Bea's younger sister, Eugenie, will not be going. It seems an act of cruelty to deny milliner Philip Treacy the chance to design a matching pair of astronaut helmets out of the whacky pretzel shape he used for last year's royal wedding hat (it's a hat, Jim, but not as we know it).

Then again, with her mother in perpetual financial strife and her father's commercial opportunities curtailed by bad publicity, perhaps Eugenie couldn't afford the £125,000 it costs to spend a few minutes beyond the atmosphere, gliding through the cabin, free from the tedious constraints of gravity. Bea, on the other hand, may well have had a healthy discount organised by her boyfriend, Dave Clark, who is not in fact the frontman for a Sixties rock band, but is nevertheless Glad All Over because he is a Virgin Galactic employee.

Apart from Bea and Ms Jolie, the passenger roster is believed to include Ashton Kutcher, James Lovelock, Stephen Hawking and Paris Hilton... and oh, to be the first fly on the wall in space when that latterday Marilyn and Einstein meet up. "How do you do, I am the world's leading authority on astrophysics and quantum gravity," would almost certainly be the voicebox-generated opening gambit. "OMG," replies Paris, noticing the 'Prof Hawking' on his name tag, "that's, like, totes amaze! We so have the same initials!"

As for Bea, while she might want to ask Kutcher if this trip into space is really about running away from Demi, there is the tantalising chance her unfamiliarity with weightlessness would see her drifting over to Lovelock who is longing to talk to someone about seeing Gaia from space. On the other hand, she might find that all the environmentalist wants to know is what the Queen's really like.