Helen Martin: Royals learn to love limelight

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HE’S a cute little baby, but then most babies are cute. Actually if you plonked him down in an Edinburgh nursery I don’t think I’d recognise him even after being exposed to his photos for a week. Most babies look pretty similar to anyone other than their parents and close family.

As it happens I like the Royals and consider them good value. Wills and Kate seem about as down to earth as is possible for a future British/English/Scottish king and his missus to be. But Royal tours do my head in because of the way we – the media – cover them to the point of mind-numbing saturation.

The obvious exception is Prince Philip whose plain-speaking (some people refer to that as a “gaffe”) is highly entertaining, especially when he clearly doesn’t give a fig about upsetting the politically correct apple cart.

For the rest, I don’t care what they are wearing, who’s best at water-rafting, or if the Antipodean breeze has the temerity to ruffle and raise the royal skirt. Nor can I believe that, at Wills and Kate’s age, they have really never tried mixing on a deck before.

It’s all stage-managed, sanitised and artificial. I am glad they do a good job despite the exhaustion, boredom and enforced civility that comes with it, poor things. I just can’t understand the wall-to-wall, obsequious, inescapable coverage that leaves me as bored as they must be, any more than I can understand people who decorate their homes with commemorative Royal pictures, plates, mugs and place mats.

The Royals have modernised. The middle generation clearly had personal lives that were as trouble-prone as the rest of us. That was a relief to me even if it led to an annus horribilis for the Queen. I even hugely – if disloyally – enjoyed the moment many years ago when the hassled Princess Anne told the demanding Press pack to f***off.

I like to imagine that when Wills and Kate – possibly the first generation who have actually entered into marriage for love – have any moments of privacy on this tour, they kick off their shoes, pull on the trackie bottoms, knock back a few beers and belch. I’m absolutely positive that’s what Harry would do.

Yes, it’s their job to perform on the world stage, to be as diplomatic as possible, to pretend they are “reluctantly” returning home rather than longing for their own space and routine, to be hard-working ambassadors for the UK, and for Kate – Lord help her – to appear as the perfectly dressed, perfectly made-up, perfect wife and perfect mother.

But I also want to believe that left to their own devices, they are normal, imperfect and in some way representative of their subjects rather than a breed apart, giving rise to weird and cruel conspiracy theorists suggesting they are alien shape-shifting lizards. (Just Google “Royal family + reptiles” and you’ll see for yourself.)

If we do become independent, I hope we keep the monarchy who now seem to be fit for the 21st century.

Modernising the most fanatical, anachronistic, Royalists in the population, not to mention containing fawning press and broadcasters, may take a lot longer.


GAMBLING websites stand accused of using pictures of kittens and cupcakes to attract women players or “glamblers”. If they’re daft enough to be lured by a kitten or a glittery cupcake, what makes them think they are clever enough to win?

Scary response to breast cancer

IT is truly alarming that one in three Scottish women are failing to complete five-year courses of breast cancer medication such as Tamoxifen because they believe tripe on the internet and turn to “alternative therapies”, and worse, that they do so without consulting their doctors.

Every medicine has side effects. Some women may find these intolerable and will have to stop under medical guidance. But the simple matter is that many breast cancers are “hormone feeders” thriving on oestrogen. Tamoxifen inhibits oestrogen to prevent the cancer returning. It doesn’t make young women menopausal and it’s been tried and tested for more than 30 years. I had no issues with it whatsoever.

I did, however, realise that the internet is a dangerous and potentially deadly place which attracts comments only from the minority who have complaints and horror stories to share. The contented majority have no need of it. So please sisters, if you have a problem, speak to your doctor. Otherwise, keep taking the tablets.

Left in the dark over the meter

ALL I wanted was to give the meter readings for our new rental flat and open an account with the power company. I should’ve known it wouldn’t be so easy.

The flat number is “6”. The power company has it both as “3F2” and “3FL”. The electricity meter number doesn’t tally with the one on their database, though the gas meter number does. They won’t take my word for it, despite double and treble checking it and can’t open an account until we resolve this. They can’t send someone out.

They told me to be there so they could ring me on my mobile. They didn’t phone. I believe them when they say “switching couldn’t be easier”. It’s becoming a customer in the first place that’s a problem.