ff With Her Head." That was the
front page headline in The Mirror, a British tabloid, after Sophie
Ryhs-Jones, Duchess of Wessex, got caught on tape making rude
comments about her royal relatives to a reporter.
Seems slightly draconian, but this is the stuff dreams are made
of for U.K. tabloid editors. You can almost see them rubbing their
hands with glee as they devise just the right headline to run in
95-point bold type.
In this most recent case, Sophie, wife of Prince Edward and
daughter-in-law of Queen Elizabeth II, thought she was talking to
an aide to a sheik who was looking for a public relations rep.
The duchess works for a public relations firm -- make that
worked. She has resigned over the flap, saying her position in the
royal family made her the target of "blatant exploitation." There's
little doubt of that.
But poor Sophie had some unkind things to say about the queen
and some others, including the prime minister, Tony Blair, and her
comments were published. For one thing, she referred to the queen
using the word "old" and implied that Blair is out of touch with
his rural constituency.
Her remarks caused quite a stir. But despite what the royals do
or say, I think most Americans admire them. At the very least, we
are curious about them.
Tens of thousands of us line up every summer for a tour of
Buckingham Palace. We get up to watch their weddings on TV at 3
a.m. We buy books about them. We return from vacation with royal
souvenirs in our carry-ons. We yearn to catch a glimpse of
I once saw Queen Elizabeth II in person. I happened to be in
London on the opening day of Parliament.
On that day every year (I think it's Nov. 11), the queen travels
by horse-drawn coach to the Parliament for an ancient opening day
ceremony. I was standing on Pall Mall with thousands of other
people, and she drove by in her coach and waved to us.
I have a picture of it somewhere. It was thrilling.
I envy the royals for their lives of quiet leisure. It must be
nice to live in a castle or a palace where your time is your own,
and you don't have to think about the mortgage or the car tune-up
or that you've run out of dog food.
But alas, the royal life is not for all of us.
Maybe it doesn't even suit Sophie, who is no run-of-the-mill
royal anyway. Say what you will, but she was paying her own
And then there's the reporter who, in order to get the story he
wanted, pretended to be what he wasn't. It was underhanded, but
serves to remind us of a golden rule we learned a long time ago: If
you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.
Donna Tunney is executive editor of Travel Weekly, Travel
Weekly Crossroads and Travel Management Daily.