Wales, Wine, and the Bottom Line
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A Wedding in the Works?

Rumor has it that Prince William will propose to Kate (“Call Me Catherine”) Middleton come Christmas. The gossip is further fueled by Kate’s decision to decline an invitation to spend Christmas with the Royals, opting instead to stay with her family, sparking speculation that this will be her last Christmas as a non-Royal. A wedding would then be planned around the Royal engagement diaries (read: when they can fit it in). You know how it is.

Now I’ll have to get a new hat and ask for the day off.

Welcome to Our Home

Hey, great news! Prince Charles and the lovely Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, finally stayed at their newly refurbished Wales residence, Llwynywermod. (Don’t ask me how to pronounce it.) Isn’t that terrific? One can never have enough homes, I always say. Despite the fact that it sits on 192 acres, Llwynywermod is more cottage than palace. The furnishings are simple and traditional. But lest one forget who one is, a three-plume Prince of Wales crest hangs over the dining hall fireplace.

The Prince and his darling Camilla mingled with the 100 guests they invited to the place–including neighbors and refurbishers–for wine and canapés. Unfortunately, I couldn’t go–I had to work.

Best-Dressed Cowboy

Prince Harry visited the Royal Norfolk County Show. He talked to farmers while he patted and inspected cattle in a very nice suit and tie. Lunch was Norfolk beef and a selection of local wines and cheeses. What? First you meet it, then you eat it.

Well, hey. What else does he have to do?

50 Years and Still Going Strong

Prince Charles marked his 50th anniversary as Prince of Wales. A celebratory dinner was held in Wales at Caerphilly’s Caernarfom castle. **Sigh** Always a bridesmaid… No word on the dinner menu, damnit.

By the by, Charles’s personal harpist played at the festivities.

Where’s the Eats?

The Queen held a banquet to celebrate the Aga Khan’s golden jubilee. (The Aga Khan is leader of the world’s 15 million Shia Ismaili muslims).

No word on this menu, either. Okay, someone’s holding back, and I’m getting mad.

1001 Uses for Unsold Wine

Special thanks to Shirley M. for this tip: Prince Charles’s Aston Martin has been converted to run on waste wine, i.e., wine from a Wiltshire vineyard that’s past its sell-by date.

So all of you out there with the homemade hooch: don’t throw it out. I betcha hard cider works, too.

With Friends Like These…

Even though he gave her a ₤130,000 Bentley Continental Flying Spur, Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, denies a romantic relationship with Norwegian tycoon Geir Frantzen, claiming they’re just friends.

Yeah, my friends are forever giving me cars, too. I wish they’d stop.

The Numbers Are In

The official report on the cost of the British Monarchy is in, so I thought I’d share a few fun facts.
  • Cost of the Monarchy: ₤40 million ($80 million), an increase of 6.5% over last year. The Palace says the increase was due to travel and maintenance costs, not a free-spending lifestyle, and that “real costs” had dropped more than 3% in seven years due to cost cutting. Okay, I don’t know what they mean by “real costs,” and I don’t know how something can go up 6.5% yet also drop 3%, but whatever.
  • If you add in the cost of security, unpaid taxes, and other costs, like paying the local council to come out and meet the visiting Royal(s), the cost is more like $150 million. Geez. Everyone has their hand out.
  • The cost of a senior Royal is 17 times that of a working member of Parliament. Buckingham Palace says it only costs 66 pence ($1.30) per taxpayer to support the Queen and senior Royals in their official duties, less than two pints of milk or an iPod download. Money well spent, they say.
  • Cost of Queen’s day out at the Kentucky Derby: £22,000 ($44,000). The Palace says this is okay, because the Queen was asked by Foreign Office officials to travel to the United States, and the Kentucky Derby side trip was part of the official visit.
  • Cost for photo op for Prince Charles’s “The Pub is the Hub” campaign: ₤18,900 ($37,800). “The Pub is the Hub?” I’m sure this was money well spent.
  • Charles and Camilla’s two-week Caribbean visit: ₤275,000 ($560,000). Charles’s details on this expenditure are supposedly forthcoming.
  • Prince Andrew spent ₤144,000 ($288,000) for flights alone as an adviser on International Trade and Investment. If that ain’t a hack job, I don’t know what is.
Royal Engagements

The Queen: 440
Prince Charles: 609
Duke of Edinburgh: 350 (and he’s 87)
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall: 207.

‘Nuff said.

Stay tuned.

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