Matthew Bell: The IoS Diary (27/02/11)

Born on a red carpet

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The Prince of Wales is taking no risks with the music for the Royal Wedding. While there is no guarantee that the 1,900 guests assembled at Westminster Abbey on 29 April will know their way around the English Hymnal, the resident choir, for whom such occasions are standard – and lucrative – fare, is to be augmented by the chorus of Welsh National Opera and the Bach Choir. The prince is patron of both organisations. And he has alighted upon the Parry anthem Blest Pair of Sirens as fitting for the union. But the poet John Milton's line "Singing everlastingly" has taken on a new meaning. The entire massed choir has been summoned by royal command to perform the wedding music to the couple in private at the Abbey, two weeks before the ceremony, so that William and Kate can decide if they like what they hear. It is not clear exactly what will happen if they don't. Perhaps Princess Diana's favourites, Duran Duran, on tour in the spring, are on standby. We can leave aside the cost of booking some of the best singers in the country for the royal run-through of the austerity wedding music – for obviously the prince expects to pay, doesn't he? But you do wonder if they've heard of iPods at Clarence House.

It was with spectacularly bad timing, a couple of weeks ago, that Hammersmith and Fulham Council announced plans to close its borough archives, making two experienced archivists redundant as of tomorrow. For it came just as the finishing touches were being made to the country's biggest genealogy fair, Who Do You Think You Are? Live, which has been running at Olympia all this weekend, in H&F's own backyard. The announcement was – inevitably – greeted with wails of despair from local writers and historians, who say the archive is an essential resource for their researches. The clamour has reached such a pitch that the council has now performed a partial U-turn, and the archive may live to see another day, although it seems a bit odd that the archivists are still going, since they were due to retire in May anyway.

Terence Conran is aghast that the Design Museum will lose 65 per cent of its funding from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport over the next four years. The über-trendy museum was set up in a Conran-designed former banana warehouse near Tower Bridge in the 1980s, and has been his baby ever since. Despite that, the museum plans to move to premises three times bigger in Kensington, the former Commonwealth Institute building, at a cost of many millions. "We need the space," says spokesman. "We've got a fantastic permanent collection that is currently in storage." The question now is, what will become of the iconic building they're leaving? Needless to say, Conran will be getting involved in the refurbishment of the new home, which is expected to cost some £20m. The Heritage Lottery Fund has already awarded £300,000. Good to see there's still plenty of cash sloshing round for projects of vital importance.

Anne Robinson is due to reveal all to Mark Lawson in an interview on BBC4 tomorrow. A preview shows The Weakest Link presenter saying she despairs of "women in the workplace who don't accept that it can be a treacherous place and so don't handle themselves well". Robinson knows a thing or two about tough workplaces: she was the first female trainee reporter on the Daily Mail, where she fell in love with the deputy news editor, Charles Wilson, who had to fire her when they got married. Robinson bounced back, joining The Sunday Times where she then hit the bottle. Robinson says she wants to give classes to women on how to handle themselves in the office. Watch out!

A Russian electrician called Dmitry Stalin is upset because he was barred from running as a political candidate in Siberia, because of his name. Stalin, no relation to Joseph, is a candidate for the A Just Russia party but won't be allowed to stand in the 13 March election, unless he changes his name. Electoral bureaucrats are worried his name might cause confusion among voters. What could he change his name to? One wag suggests "Putin".

When Madonna said Guy Ritchie was "emotionally retarded", Emma Thompson agreed, saying British men were a bit stuffy. Now the Nanny McPhee actress has revealed she doesn't think much of Ritchie as a film director either. Thompson made the swipe at a party on Thursday to launch The Idler Academy, a bookshop and hang-out for literary types founded by my colleague Tom Hodgkinson. Thompson was overheard dispensing advice to an aspiring film-maker, when she said: "Danny Boyle is a great director; Guy Ritchie is not."

m.bell@independent.co.uk

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