THE LAST WORD

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So, the Wessex girl hasn't had long to adjust to royal married life before the in-laws have apparently laid into her.

Sophie denied reports last week that the Queen has asked her to choose between her royal duties and the PR firm she runs. This is because of mounting criticism that she is exploiting her royal status, since obviously it is wrong to marry into the biggest family of spongers in the country and then try to make money out of it.

It seems the Royal Family is worried about losing what little dignity it has left, if Sophie starts larging it round the PR circuit and garnering contracts because she married the one that couldn't hack it in the Marines.

The problem is, I can't think of any satellite of the Royal Family who hasn't exploited their favoured status. How could you avoid it, given how utterly and pathetically impressed people in this country are by the Windsors? Even the slightest whiff of the possible presence of a royal sends perfectly normal people into a frenzy akin to the sort of fervour engendered by bum-fluff-festooned boy bands.

And how can the appearance of a royal be anything but a disappointment? You either get an understandably depressed-looking short woman dressed like your slightly weird Aunty Daphne from the Isle of Man, who hangs around as long as she has to and sounds like a castrated Brian Sewell, or the male counterpart who tends towards tallness, awkwardness and on occasion downright rudeness.

But we love them, and that is why anyone touched by their patronage is going to get on.

What we are really talking about here is the visibility of the relationship between the Royal Family and filthy commercialism. If you can't see it, or it's confined to the private bestowal of privilege on your second cousin twice removed who owns three counties and dabbles in business, then it's fine.

But the ultimate nightmare of the royals and their mates is that the proles are getting into the inner sanctum and trying to make a bit of money for themselves in their vulgar way.

It has to be said that a lot of the proles have been discreet about their connections with the blue-bloods and tend not to drive round in gilded carriages with a loudhailer proclaiming: "Bleedin' 'ell, we've landed right in clover 'ere, my son."

There are many celebs, for example, whose working-class backgrounds and left-wing ideals have fallen off them like a dirty vest. But there are also the discarded spouses of various royals who cannot help seeing their connections as a meal ticket and exploiting them ruthlessly.

Criticism of Fergie is all about her never-ending attempts to use the royal connection to pay off her overdraft, which of course is inevitably punctuated by her propensity to take more holidays than Judith Chalmers.

Similarly, James Hewitt is rubbing his hands in glee, one would imagine, as he rakes in the money and weathers the temporary storm of "love rat" headlines fired at him by an easily bored tabloid press. Incidentally, anyone who has promoted Diana to the position of saint should bear in mind that she was once in love with this hideous chinless wonder.

So, back to Sophie and her dilemma. Is she going to be forced from the false, self-serving frying-pan of PR into the anachronistic, over-protective fire of Britain's premier family? Can the poor girl not just accept her position on the dysfunctional merry-go-round of the monarchy and stop being so silly in actually wanting to hold down a full-time job in a company not buoyed up by the Sultan of Brunei?

I'm afraid there is no way that Sophie's status as the wife of Eddie cannot affect her career. We are all too obsessed in this country with money for it to be otherwise. Like it or not, Sophie's market value has rocketed and the vultures are homing in.

If I were Sophie, I would get a divorce and chuck in the PR work, which is very unfulfilling. I suggest perhaps she trains as a nurse or social worker and does a job for a while that will put her in touch with ordinary people. The choice between Absolutely Fabulous and Absolutely Stupefying shouldn't be that difficult.

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