News for February 4th-7th, 2000


Princess Beatrice to go to Swiss school(Electronic Telegraph)
Enough of the prince of wails (The Guardian)

Britain's Prince Edward named as debtor(Yahoo: Reuters)
Bankrupt builder may sue Prince(Electronic Telegraph)
Drunk son of Duke's friend is jailed for death of cyclist (Electronic Telegraph)

Charles and William in nightclub row (Sunday UK Times)

Planning row threatens Diana's former school(Electronic Telegraph)
Queen Mother 'feeling better' (BBC News)

(Feb 4)

Princess Beatrice to go to Swiss school
By Neil Tweedie

PRINCESS BEATRICE is to become the first member of the Royal Family in recent times to be educated abroad.
The Duke of York announced yesterday that his elder daughter had passed the entrance examination for Aiglon College, a private boarding school in Switzerland. The 11-year-old Princess will take up her place in September. Her father made the announcement in an interview that was published on the Buckingham Palace website to mark the approach of his 40th birthday on Feb 19. Fees for boarders at Aiglon, a British-run international school near the Alpine ski resort of Villars, begin at 17,000 a year.
The decision to educate the Princess abroad represents a break with royal tradition and is expected to result in the Duchess of York setting up home in Switzerland in the next few years. The Duke and Duchess of York's second daughter, Princess Eugenie, nine, will join her sister at Aiglon after completing her primary education at Cowarth Park School near Woking, Surrey. It is understood that the Duchess will base herself in Switzerland at least during term time once Eugenie has transferred to Aiglon. But it is not yet clear whether she will leave Sunninghill Park, the home near Windsor she still shares with the Duke. The Duke will foot the bill for the fees, which will rise to 22,000 a year as the Princess enters the upper forms.
The decision could only have been made with the consent of the Queen, whose rights of supervision extend to her grandchildren. British police bodyguards are expected to accompany Beatrice, who is fifth in line of succession to the throne.
Aiglon, a co-educational school, has about 300 pupils of 50 different nationalities. Roger Moore, Sophia Loren, Jackie Stewart and Jonathan Aitken have had their children educated there. The Duke said: "Sarah and I were delighted to hear this week that Beatrice has passed her entrance exam to Aiglon and will begin in September. Eugenie will follow in the normal course after completing her time at Cowarth Park.
"We have done exhaustive research into which school to send them to. In the end we feel that the opportunities offered by Aiglon and the teaching and community philosophy are exceptional, to say nothing of the languages that are available to them there."
Aiglon is a member of the Round Square, a group of schools that subscribes to the teaching philosophy of Kurt Hahn, the founder of Gordonstoun School. The current headmaster of Aiglon, Richard McDonald, was a contemporary of the Duke at the Scottish boarding school.
During the interview, the Duke spoke warmly of his family. On having children, he said: "It is a fantastic gift to have and one that I am determined not to squander. I love our children and I strive to do the best for them. I am immensely proud of them and I love them completely.
"You only have to be with them to see how wonderful they are. Each is of course unique and each has her own particular way of trying to get me around their little finger. I try not to let them succeed all the time, but it can be hard to resist them.
"Sarah is a brilliant mother and together we are ensuring our children will be able to withstand the pressures they will ultimately have to face in their lives. Beatrice is the responsible one - her sense of duty and concern for others is quite amazing. Eugenie can be a tearaway. She is undoubtedly a leader and she has a maverick streak in her."
Speaking of his plans for the future, the Duke said he was not looking beyond his career in the Royal Navy. One of his main ambitions, he joked, was to improve his golfing handicap. Life, he believed, began at 40. He said: "If I had one wish and one aim it would be to be blessed with continuing good health and a determination to see the best for my children's future."
The Duke said his experiences in the Falklands War, in which he served as a helicopter pilot, had been life-changing. He said: "All these things develop your character."

Enough of the prince of wails

Charles is hardly a philosopher; it's time he stopped pontificating Leanda de Lisle
Prince Charles is a man who looks as if he is carrying all the problems of the world on his shoulders. However, the first ever published accounts of the Duchy of Cornwall reveal that he has a fortune of 290m to temper his gloom. As the old joke runs: "Money can't buy you happiness ... but it makes misery a great deal more comfortable".
A truth that has particular significance for a man who sees the world's problems in terms of the terrible shortage of classical buildings and organic chocolate thins.
Our future king's appreciation of other people's misery is founded on personal experience. The difficulty of finding fulfilling work, the unpleasantness of all that is cheap, nasty or vulgar and the prison of materialism are all things that he feels profoundly. So profoundly, in fact, that he believes he may be stumbling towards some great truth. A conviction that has earned him a reputation as a "philosopher prince".
His whining self pity is forgiven as the consequence of being the sensitive son of a fiendish father. But it is one of life's little ironies the thing for which he is best known - his interest in the environment, whether it be the cityscape or the natural world - was actually learnt at Prince Philip's knee.
Furthermore it is Prince Philip rather than his son who is the better at eschewing frivolous luxuries. He drives around Windsor in a taxi powered by LPG, the latest green fuel. Prince Charles's idea of a green car, on the other hand, is a gas-guzzling Aston Martin or two, painted green.
This may, in part, be a consequence of their different upbringings. Prince Philip had to learn to make do and mend, while Prince Charles's easy access to beautiful things taught him that exquisite living was his by divine right. Unfortunately his education was not so extensive that his taste has developed beyond those of his ancestors. He likes what he knows and damns anything with which he is not already familiar, be it a GM tomato or a Picasso.
The Prince of Wales supports organic farming because it produces classy vegetables for his table and ensures the countryside around him has an attractive and, above all, traditional appearance. It is part and parcel of his 18th-century model village approach to housing (so well displayed at Poundbury), and the minute attention to detail he expects from his tailors (on whom he is said to lavish 50,000 a year). He would make a world fit for princes, but has neither the will nor the ability to look for ways to better the lot of mankind.
Prince Charles's message to the world's hungry amounts to little more than: "Don't breed so much, you're spoiling the view", and: "Let them eat Duchy Originals".
Closer to home, he has talked a great deal about restoring communities. However, he sees himself as above their common rules. At Highgrove he enjoys what he calls his "haven", but he ruins his neighbours peace by buzzing though the sky in his new Sikorsky helicopter whenever he has to leave it. This sense of separateness allows him to buy ruby necklaces for his mistress and have vast quantities of cut flowers delivered to his homes, while delivering heartfelt speeches condemning "modern materialism". For all his introspection he is not very self aware. But then who can blame him, when others see fit to call him "a very spiritual man"?
A "very spiritual man" who has some affection for High Anglican ritual, but for most of his adult life has thought nothing of breaking the Commandments "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife", and "Thou shalt not commit adultery".
People point to the fact he likes to talk to plants, as if the key to his much vaunted spirituality lies there - and perhaps it does. He may be a kind of animist - one who believes first rate turnips and Louis Vuitton luggage have souls, but carbuncles and carrier bags do not. Prince Charles's thoughts are so profound it is difficult to plumb them. However they do appear to reflect many of the prejudices of middle England.
People fill their larders with his branded tea biscuits and raspberry jams. These are goodies which suggest elegance and embody the desire to stop all those horrible brown people chopping down the rain forest and ruining their adventure holiday destinations.
But there is also something more: many feel the absence of meaning in their otherwise comfortable lives. Restlessly they try paganism, psychiatry or whatever the Laurens Van der Post of the week comes up with. In Prince Charles they have found a pundit at the apex of society who expresses something of what they feel.
Unfortunately he is living proof that just as money can't buy you happiness, billions can't buy you brains.

(Feb 5)

Britain's Prince Edward named as debtor

LONDON (Reuters) - Prince Edward has been named as owing a "substantial" amount of money to a building firm which has gone bust.
The debt is related to renovation work at Edward's 50-room mansion Bagshot Park, in Surrey, south- east England, which he shares with his wife Sophie. Media reports said building firm CJ Sims, which went into receivership on Monday, collapsed after Edward refused to pay a 600,000 pound bill. Receiver Keith Goodman, of accountancy firm Leonard Curtis, confirmed to Reuters that Edward, the Queen's youngest son, had been named among the firm's debtors. He said the amount of the debt had not been finalised, "but according to the company it's a substantial figure".
A spokesman for Buckingham Palace said: "Prince Edward's arrangements for the renovation of Bagshot Park are very much a private matter for him."
The Daily Mail quoted an unnamed Royal source saying Edward was involved in a dispute over the final cost of the work.
"It is far greater than the two million-odd which was originally agreed when CJ Sims won the contract. He sees no reason to pay the final bill until he knows exactly what he is paying for," the source said.
"At present it is around 30 per cent higher than the original estimate." The source said Edward had paid the "vast majority" of the fee but had withheld the disputed amount, put by the Mail at 600,000 pounds.
CJ Sims, which has been trading since 1946 and ironically had recently received the Royal warrant, is not expected to survive.
Goodman said the company employed 90 staff and "hundreds of sub-contractors".
Edward's role in the collapse of CJ Sims was the second piece of unwelcome publicity for the prince and his wife this week.
On Wednesday Sophie was forced to apologise for her "error of judgment" after being seen wearing a fox fur hat.
Sophie, a public relations executive, had been branded cruel and out of touch with public opinion after being photographed wearing the hat in the exclusive Swiss resort of St Moritz.

Bankrupt builder may sue Prince
By Neil Tweedie

THE Earl of Wessex was warned yesterday that he could be sued by the receivers of a bankrupt building company unless he pays up to 600,000 owing on the renovation of his country home.
Prince Edward has been named as one of the main debtors of C J Sims, which collapsed on Monday. The receivers claimed yesterday that the London-based company might have survived, albeit in the short term, if the Prince had paid bills incurred in the renovation of Bagshot Park.
C J Sims, which employs 90 people and had only recently been awarded the Royal Warrant, claimed that it was owed about 600,000. The sum was in addition to an agreed payment of 1.8 million, which the Prince paid in instalments before the completion of the renovation work in August last year, shortly after his marriage to the Countess of Wessex.
Keith Goodman, of the accountants Leonard Curtis, who are acting as receivers, could not say whether the demand for 600,000 had been valid until he received advice from his quantity surveyor and lawyers but there was no doubt that money was owing. He said: "There will be a significant debt due in respect of the contract on the work. It has to be said that it's that contract, and other contracts where the client has not paid with alacrity, which has caused C J Sims to have the difficulties it has.
"There are always straws which break the camel's back, and his [the Prince's] may have been the final straw. At the end of the day, if they don't come and talk to me then I must follow the normal routes that one would follow in collecting in a debt, and that would be resorting to litigation if we had to."
Yesterday, a friend of the Prince defended his decision not to pay the bill, saying C J Sims had produced it "out of the blue" a couple of months after the 1.8 million valuation had been agreed on - minus 1.5 per cent as was normal in case of teething problems.
The friend said "An offer was made to pay more but his proposed settlement was rejected."

Drunk son of Duke's friend is jailed for death of cyclist

A FORMER public schoolboy whose father is a close friend of the Duke of Edinburgh was jailed for 4 years yesterday for killing a cyclist while he was more than three times over the limit.
William Hobbs, 21, the son of Major-General Sir Michael Hobbs, had previously been counselled for a drink problem, the court was told.
His family live in Windsor Great Park and last year Sir Michael, Chief Executive of the Outward Bound Trust, was appointed Governor of the Military Knights of Windsor. Hobbs was said to have turned to drink after finding it difficult to cope on his own with university life and student debts.
After drinking all day, he ploughed into 20-year-old Sarah Westwood, another student, who was pushing her bicycle along a designated cycle path. Ms Westwood, from Barnstaple, Devon, suffered severe head injuries and died in hospital 13 days later. She never regained consciousness.
Hobbs, a student at Oxford Brookes University where he is a friend of the daughter of Camilla Parker Bowles, pleaded guilty at Oxford Crown Court to one charge of causing death by dangerous driving in April last year. When breathalysed, he was found to be more than three times over the drink-drive limit but told police he was "fine to drive".
Wearing a pin-stripe suit, Hobbs, who was a second-ear student in hotel and restaurant management, sat with his head bowed throughout the hour-long hearing. His father sat in the public gallery with his wife.
The court was told that Hobbs had been driving at up to 70mph before the accident. David Bright, for the prosecution, said: "He had been drinking heavily in an Oxford public house for several hours before he got into the car. He had previously been counselled for what has been referred to as a drink problem. He was certainly not in any fit state to drive anywhere that night."
Sentencing him and banning him from driving for six years Judge Anthony King said that Hobbs had put a scar on his future by his own stupidity. "You will have to live with that but she cannot. The most important tragedy is that by your own conduct you have brought to an end a young 20-year-old's life suddenly and with no good reason.
"Secondly, and incidentally, by your own stupidity, you have put a great scar on your own future. You will have to rebuild your life. I have a public duty and that can only be to pass a substantial prison sentence."
The court was told that Hobbs had felt instant remorse and had to be restrained by police from harming himself after he was detained. In a letter to the dead girl's parents, but not posted, Hobbs had said: "I can't begin to say the remorse I feel for this tragic waste of life."
John Alban-Williams, for Hobbs, said that he now suffered "flashbacks, loneliness, trauma and humiliation". Hobbs, who attended Ampleforth, the Roman Catholic boarding school, attained four A levels but did not have the maturity to deal with the commitment and responsibility of going to university, he said. Despite his background and loving parents, he found it difficult to cope with the mounting debt he was incurring as a student. Hobbs voluntarily withdrew from the university after the incident.
The parents of the dead girl, who are devout Christians, had written a letter forgiving Hobbs, the court was told. In a statement after the hearing, Ms Westwood's family said she was a caring, sensitive, thoughtful girl with a keen sense of humour and with many friends.
"Sarah's family is trying to come to terms with the outrageous curtailment of her life. This has totally devastated every member of the family," it said.
Sir Michael and Lady Hobbs said: "On behalf of our family we wish to express to Mr and Mrs Westwood and their family our heartfelt sorrow and regret over the death of their daughter, Sarah, and the pain they must feel as a consequence." Lady Hobbs is an internationally renowned garden designer. Her husband retired in 1988 after a distinguished army career. He was latterly Commander of the 4th Armoured Division in Germany.
He was director of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme for ten years until 1998, working closely with the Duke and becoming friendly with the Earl of Wessex.
The court was told that Hobbs had planted a tree in Kent in memory of his victim and buried a letter to her among its roots.