Sunday, October 30, 2005


In the six months since she became Prince Charles’s second wife, the former Camilla Parker Bowles has been steadily insinuating herself into British public life with largely low key appearances at her husband’s side.

Last week she suddenly got bolder and donned the Delhi Durbar tiara at a State banquet in Buckingham Palace for the King and Queen of Norway.
Lent by the Queen, the tiara had previously only been worn two Queens. But the gleaming determination and triumph in Camilla’s eyes said her transformation from the pariah women once pelted with bread rolls in a supermarket car park to top ranking Royal was complete.
There was no mistaking that beneath the tiara she was marking out her territory, signalling that she will be Queen Camilla and doesn’t give a damn whether anyone likes it or not.
All that rubbish put out at the time of her wedding that she would be Princess Consort was just that — rubbish.
What’s happening is that we are starting to see the woman who for years was an albatross around the neck of the Royal family emerge in her true colours.
The myths put about her are disappearing fast.
Even on her wedding day this reportedly shy and retiring woman was so bang full of self-confidence she was already glad-handing well-wishers like a seasoned trouper outside St George’s Chapel, Windsor.
Since then her hair, which used to look as if it she had been dragged backwards, forwards and sideways through and underneath a whole line of hedges, has become immaculately coiffed.
She who was supposed to have no interest in fashion now steps out in designer numbers and elaborately stylish hats.
The theory goes that men marry women who remind them of their mothers. The second time around it looks as if Charles has married a woman who reminds him of his beloved grandmother.
The late Queen Mother’s sugar sweet smile cloaked a will of steel and a cunning, conniving, calculating nature.
You need a steely will and a manipulative turn of mind to have contributed to the creation and destruction of a man’s first marriage the way Camilla did.
This week’s she off to America to meet the cream of US society in New York, Washington and San Francisco on the couple’s first official foreign trip since their marriage — a schedule which includes lunch and dinner with President George W Bush and his wife, Laura.
To counter any unfavourable comparisons with the American debut of Charles’s glamorous first wife, Diana, who danced with John Travolta at a glitzy White House dinner, Clarence House has launched a high-powered PR campaign to lay the ground for a spectacular media welcome.
It started with letting ABC broadcast from Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace on two successive mornings and last week an influential group of US media, including CBS, CNN, Fox and the New York Times, were invited to lunch to interview the prince down on his home farm in Gloucestershire.
And the myth that Camilla only wants to be known as the Duchess of Cornwall? That too was part of the wedding hype, the spin to silence critics of the marriage.
I suspect that neither she nor Clarence House courtiers will be too upset if the American media hail her as the new Princess of Wales.
Lamenting lack of public understanding for his charity and environmental projects, with a painful laugh Prince Charles will today tell viewers of America’s most popular news programme, CBS’s 60 Minutes, ‘I only hope that when I am dead and gone they might appreciate it a little bit more.’
There’s a touch of Jekyll and Hyde about his attitude to the environment.
While he promotes eco-friendly policies in his Highgrove and Duchy of Cornwall business ventures, they don’t get a look in where his lifestyle is concerned.
In the last financial year he clocked up 65,000 miles, mainly on private charters, jets from the Royal Flight and helicopters, including one for a 25-mile flight from Highgrove to Gloucester before taking it on to Buckingham Palace.
For his US trip this week he’s chartered a gas-guzzling 200-seater Boeing 757 for his party of 50 at a cost of £300,000.

Though he owns an energy saving dual-fuel Toyota Prius car, he also runs a fuel-guzzling motor fleet — including a £160,000 Aston Martin Vantage (12 mpg), a £155,000 armour-plated Bentley (14 mpg), and an Audi A8 Quattro (20 mpg) plus several Range Rovers (18 mpg).

Right now he is fighting the proposed erection of an eco-friendly 60ft wind turbine near his home on Royal Deeside because he claims it is a ‘horrendous blot on the landscape.’
As his eco-conduct is so contradictory, how can he expect anyone to ‘appreciate’ him while he’s still here?


The lovely Emily Maitlis brings much needed late evening glamour to BBC2’s Newsnight. Bossy, badly-dressed Kirsty Wark, schoolmarmish Martha Kearney and the prancing Stephanie Flanders need to smarten up their acts.

Copyright © Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved

Sunday, October 02, 2005


There is nothing like the threat of change to make people who may have complained loudly about their lot desperately want to cling to it.

Suddenly what they’ve got is what they want and they will fight to the last man or woman to keep things the way they are.
Even when the need for change is staring them in the face, the desire to put it off is overwhelming. Let it happen some day, one day. But not today. Not now.
It’s too expensive. Profits would be slashed. People would lose their jobs. It would be a political disaster. The reasons for delay are endless.
Fear of change is why the recent German election resulted in gridlock.
The country is bust economically and can no longer afford its generous welfare and pension schemes. But the prospect of change, which could mean the loss of comfort and financial security for millions, was too much. So they voted for stalemate to put off the evil day.
It was exactly the same fear that change might reduce their enviable living standards of short working hours and long holidays which made the French reject the European constitution.
By resisting and putting off change, France and Germany, who have been at the heart of the European Union since its beginning, have ensured that just when it needs to be looking outwards to ensure its power and influence in the global world, it will be looking inwards for years, so consumed by its own problems that it could lose its voice and place.
Yet neither country would be in the mess they’re in —locked into the old-fashioned ways of the 20th century as the UK was in the 1970s — if their leaders had faced up to change by streamlining their economies instead of shying away from the problems for short-term political gain.
Now we learn that a third of the Arctic ice has melted in the last decade and could be gone completely in eighty years. People are already growing potatoes in former ice fields in Greenland. Flowers could bloom in spring near the North Pole by the end of the century — unless there is international agreement to put a firm cap on carbon emissions.
Except it will never happen.
Governments and the lobbies who lean on them have too much to lose NOW.
China is not going to inhibit its march to superpower status by giving up burning fossil fuel. The great global corporations will never risk their profits by abandoning ways which produce carbon emissions – or stop sending their executives around the world in clouds of jet stream.
Individually, people will not cut back on their holiday flights or give up the comfort and convenience of their cars.
No one will give up anything today for the sake of a tomorrow they are unlikely to see.
Instead we will continue to make the cosmetic alterations we have been faffing around with for years to stave off global warming and hope that the scientists have got it wrong — despite the very real risk that the consequences may be a lot worse than if we took real action now.
The tipping point may already have been passed. The drought and floods and forest fires which swept Portugal, Spain and France this summer may only have been the beginning of far greater and perhaps now inevitable change to come. Ditto the possibility that climate change may have contributed to the force of the hurricanes which have devastated America’s Gulf Coast.
The way it’s going, the most likely prospect if the day comes when the planet is consumed by fire and flood is that we will still be making cosmetic alterations in a last ditch attempt to avoid catastrophe.
By then it will be a bit like taking a bow and arrow to fend off an asteroid heading for Earth.
Copyright © Rebecca Hamilton 2005. All Rights Reserved