Of Cruising, Swans, and Brown Royal Lawns
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There's a lot of news to cover, so let's dive right in.

Crowd Control Needed

In the wake of the Duchess of Cornwall’s “workshy” obloquy, Camilla made an appearance in Humberside during the last week of July, and six people turned out to welcome her. Said one non-fan: “It’s that Camilla woman who’s coming. Who cares? People round here don’t like her. She had an affair with Prince Charles behind Diana’s back.”

Camilla also attended the Bowood Dog Show, but no word on who turned out to see her (besides the dogs).

Anyone looking for work might be able to make a few quid as a groupie for “that Camilla woman.” Contact Clarence House.

These Two Know How to Make an Entrance

Charles and Camilla rolled into the Sandringham Flower Show in Norfolk on a hot sunny day last month, arriving in an open carriage drawn by grey horses, with two smartly turned out footmen perched in front. (Hey, what happened to the mini-bus that was used at their wedding?) Charles was looking for ideas for the Highgrove garden. The Darlings spent two hours chatting with the locals. Camilla carried a white parasol to ward off the hot sun, but she didn’t use it. I guess she’s not worried about the aging effects of the sun.

  
 
Home Sweet Home

Camilla’s country home, Raymill House in Wiltshire, is undergoing some hefty renovations. Apparently, Camilla and her kids are tired of the cops camping out in the courtyard, so a new police lodge is being built on the property, and extra surveillance equipment is being installed, to the tune of £1.8 million of taxpayers’ money. Camilla bought the house after her divorce in 1995 and considers it her “family home.” By the way, this home is only 17 miles from Highgrove, the Prince of Wales’s Gloucestershire estate, where Camilla has taken up residence. It’s been said Camilla doesn’t like staying alone at Highgrove when Charles isn’t there. Oh, Camilla, grow up!

There Goes the Neighborhood

And speaking of Camilla’s country home, an 83-year-old neighbor of the Duchess is a bit miffed because there is an overgrown hedge belonging to Camilla that’s preventing the dustmen from collecting the pensioner’s trash. Instead, the arthritic neighbor must wheel his trash can out to the main highway. The old man says he’s ready to arrange to have Camilla's hedges chopped if something isn’t done soon. Meanwhile, the local council is going to step up its efforts to get a truck in there to collect the guy’s trash. I hope they’re careful not to hit Camilla’s new four-bedroom police lodge.

A Little Bit of Nepotism Never Hurt Anyone

Word has it that Camilla’s son, Tom, a food writer, turned in over £1,000 of taxi receipts to Camilla’s office over the past two months for day-to-day travel expenses around London. Clarence House wouldn’t discuss the matter.

Sailing Along on Moonlight Bay

The Queen paid £125,000 to rent the MV Hebredian Princess, an old car-ferry-turned-luxury-liner, to tour the British Isles and picnic on beaches with her family as an 80th birthday present to herself. (Word has it Camilla left after one night, due to lack of sea legs. Oh, Camilla, get a grip!)

The craft boasts 30 “spacious and expensively furnished cabins” and room for only 49 guests. I must say, the Hebredian Princess looks like a bucket of bolts compared to the opulence of Brittania, the former royal yacht, decommissioned in 1997, now a tourist attraction in Scotland. Brittania has five decks, 22 bedrooms, and a 24-carat gold leaf detailing around her hull. The dining room seats 56, and the dining table takes three hours to set for a banquet.

I’m sure the Royals weren’t bored on the Hebredian Princess. I heard there was clay-pigeon shooting on the Skye deck. (Geez, these people will shoot at anything.) There was no shortage of help aboard, either, as the ship was staffed by Latvians earning £40 a day.

File Under: You Don’t Miss What You Never Had.

Dirty Harry

While playing polo in Windsor last month, Prince Harry was in desperate need of a loo. Not finding one available, he peed in some poor horse’s trailer. He came out to a round of applause from a group of observers. What the hell is wrong with these people?

And Now For the Really Big News

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, once again it’s time for the annual Thames swan count. Bear with me here, and I’ll try to explain this.

As I mentioned in a previous column, the Monarch of the United Kingdom owns all unmarked mute swans on the River Thames by tradition. Once a year, in the third week of July, the Queen’s Swan Marker and Swan Uppers travel up the River Thames in skiffs to take a census by rounding up broods of swans. The ceremony, known as Swan Upping, dates back to the 12th century, when swans were a common food of royalty. Then, in the 15th century, a Royal Charter entitled two London livery companies, the Dyers’ Company and the Vintners’ Company, to share in the Sovereign’s ownership. Swans caught by the Queen’s Swan Uppers remain unmarked, whereas swans caught by the Dyers’ Company are marked by a ring on one leg, and those caught by the Vintners’ Company are marked by rings on both legs. Get it?

Nowadays, the tradition of counting the swans focuses on the conservation of mute swans and their habitat.

You may be relieved to know that the swans are no longer eaten.

Went to a Garden Party…

They were dropping like flies at the Palace garden party last month, due to a heat wave in Britain. The Queen protected herself with a parasol (á la Michael Jackson), but about 30 unfortunate guests collapsed and were treated for heat exhaustion.

By the way, the Queen was not happy with the condition of the Palace lawns. It seems that, because of the heat wave, citizens are only allowed to water their flowers. While the Queen is exempt from the lawn-watering ban, she has elected to help conserve water. (She even had water-saving devices installed in the toilets in Windsor Castle.) Deprived of water, the royal grass is now shot to hell.

Hey, maybe Prince Harry can pee on the Palace lawn and perk it up a bit.

Well, that’s all we have room for this month. I don’t know about you, but my head is positively spinning. Check in next month for some more rowdy Royal fun.

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