Leading Article: Elizabeth and Tony head west

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The Independent Online
Moving palaces can be such a pain. Yet the Court is apparently awash with rumours that this is precisely what Her Majesty the Queen plans to do. Buckingham Palace - it seems - has lost its lustre. It is situated on a busy road junction, suffers from noisy parties full of riff-raff being held in its gardens practically every weekend and is highly inconvenient for the horses.

Worse, it doesn't look the part - there are no romantic battlements, winding stairs, or ancient towers. Eugenie, Beatrice and the other little princesses have been reared on Disney's Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty videos and expect grandma's residence to be a bit more, well ... castley. So goodbye St James's, hello Windsor. Like Queen Victoria, the second Elizabeth will from now on live in a proper palace.

Coincidentally, similar stories have been circulating around the offices of the Queen's loyal leader of the Opposition. The Booth-Blairs need to move to a house where Tony's study is more than a broom cupboard off the hall and which possesses a garden better able to host summer convocations of spin-doctors and their patients than the present tiny patio in Islington. Farewell then the People's Republic of North London, benvenuto Notting Hill.

Fortunately, neither of these two exalted families is so grand that it will disdain advice proffered in a friendly spirit. They know that after bereavement and divorce, moving home is the most stressful experience that people endure - narrowly beating election defeats and abdication crises.

So here are some helpful, humble tips that may make the transition a little less traumatic. First, don't feel that you have to take it all with you. Those old portraits of long-dead ancestors, that stuffed corgi, the children's milk-teeth in a ring-case, the stack of proclamations propping up one leg of a writing bureau - leave them behind. The same goes for you, your Majesty.

Second, draw up a list of people who need to know that you have moved: BT, the Post Office, Gas Board, the milkman and Special Branch. Don't forget to have your post, all paparazzi and Peter Mandelson redirected, to prevent the new occupants of your property being unnecessarily annoyed.

Third, make sure that you fit all the requisite security alarms and smoke detectors. Some old properties are notoriously prone to fire (especially in such areas as Notting Hill). It is all too easy to let your vigilance slacken amid the excitement.

But before doing any of this, just pause and ask yourself one last time whether you are making the right decision. Is a vast castle in huge grounds, close to England's top school, best suited to a lively pensioner? Or might she have more fun in a nice town house surrounded by citizens from all over her beloved Commonwealth? And would Windsor be so inappropriate to the growing needs of Britain's foremost politician? Surely something could be arranged.