02/17/2011

Royal wedding gift sparks Republican sentiments

A call for the people of Berkshire to chip in for a royal wedding gift hasn’t gone over well.
Berkshire
Mary Bayliss, the Lord Lieutenant of Kate Middleton’s home county, had hoped local parishes would hand over donations towards a present to commemorate the young couple’s big day.

But she didn’t count on the anti-monarchist gift uprising.

"Some of our members are republicans and were strongly against it,” Gill Hall, chairman of Cold Ash Parish Council, a few miles from Middleton’s home town of Bucklebury, told the Mirror, adding that she didn’t feel comfortable contributing taxpayer money.

"We have a budget which does not include an item for such matters. Although we represent the parishioners we felt we could not contribute without consulting them."

Parish councils are the most local level of government in the U.K.

While other parishes were happy that the monarchy still reigned, they still weren’t up for handing over any cash.

“The wedding's going to gel the country and it's going to be a good occasion. I think it's a marvellous thing - what with redundancies and firms closing and all that,” Keith Williams, branch secretary of the Newbury Royal British Legion told the Mirror.

"But I think if West Berkshire had done it as a block, we could have contributed together to a charity," he added.

The parish council inhabited by Middleton’s family did make a contribution.

Blayliss insists she never asked for taxpayer funds in the letter sent to the parishes and hope private donations will raise the four-figures needed to purchase the perfect gift.

So, what does an entire county buy you as a wedding gift?  Apparently, the funds are going towards an engraved silver plate by artist Rauni Higson.

Still no word yet on what Prime Minister Harper plans to hand over to the happy couple on behalf of Canada, but you can probably cross off the list our past royal wedding gifts of mink skins (for Elizabeth and Philip in 1947) and a four-poster maple bed (for Charles and Diana in 1981).

--Toronto Star staff

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