The best of both worlds

LONDON, JULY 6. Reports of ``tu tu main main'' at the Palace have emerged as the Royal family decides what its minor members, who are never likely to get to wear the crown, should do with their lives. The Duke of Edinburgh is reported to have ``out-argued'' his son and daughter - Prince Charles and Princess Anne - and won for the minor royals the right to have the best of both worlds. They can continue to run their own businesses in whatever manner they please while retaining all the privileges of their royal lineage.

A telling photograph of a grim Duke and a grimmer Queen, both looking away from each other, was splashed on the front page of The Guardian which quoted Whitheall sources as saying that the Duke had won his ``battle'' against Prince Charles and the Princess Royal over tough new guidelines to ban the minor royals from running their own businesses. He had successfully vetoed them, it said.

Prince Charles and the Princess Royal were - and still are - believed to be strongly opposed to this laissez faire lifestyle arguing that there is potential here for a conflict of interest which might cause embarrassment to the family. And indeed it did recently when the Countess of Wessex, wife of Prince Edward, who runs a public relations firm was conned by a fake client into making indiscreet remarks about the royal family and leading political figures, including the Prime Minister, Mr. Tony Blair, Mrs. Cherie Blair and the then Tory chief, Mr. William Hague. She thought she was humouring a rich Arab sheikh who had shown interest in hiring her firm, but it turned out that he was a News of the World reporter.

The incident caused embarrassment at the Palace. There was also criticism of her husband who was accused of using taxpayers' money to make business trips abroad. This led to a debate whether members of the royal family should be allowed to run businesses which would inevitably benefit from their family connections and status. New guidelines, which would have forced the Countess of Wessex and her husband to wind up their businesses or dissociate themselves from them, were proposed with Downing Street said to be ``very keen on ending the links between royals representing the Government and running their own commercial businesses.''

The Guardian claimed that Downing Street was ``furious'' that the Duke had been able to get the guidelines watered down to a point where the whole exercised has been reduced to ``window dressing''.

``Prince Charles has already let it be known that he believes being a member of the royal family is incompatible with having a prominent role in running a commercial business,'' it said pointing out that the Duke's ``veto'' was the first major reargard offensive from within the Palace against significant reforms of the monarchy.