Will and Kate fly the budget skies
You can't accuse Prince William and Kate of flaunting their wealth -- even when you throw in the designer clothes and Caribbean/Alps vacations.
The royal couple's carefully crafted image depends on the maintaining the common touch, while still having an untouchably royal aura.
So, there is a conscious attempt to balance the "ordinary" with the "extraordinary." Hence, they take a week of skiing in the French Alps at an exclusive resort ... then fly a budget airline to get back to their Wales home.
So it was this week, with William and Kate flying from Geneva to Manchester on easyJet, the UK's largest airline and one of the Europe's busiest low-cost carriers. If they booked far enough in advance, they could have flown for as little as $100 apiece (of course, their party would also include a few protection officers).
Their unexpected presence among the passengers caused a bit of a stir.
"Still can't believe how close I was to Will and Kate," Chris Nash tweeted before snapping a pic of the Prince as he climbed into his Range Rover at Manchester for the drive back to Anglesey, Wales.
The royal penny-pinching, of course, has been going on for some time, with the Queen sending out a clear signal to the family that some belt-tightening is in order.
That's not to say Will and Kate shouldn't go on vacation. Heck, they've already had two major breaks this young year -- swimming in Mustique and skiing in the Alps, both times with the Middleton family.
And there's still the family fortune to fall back on. As a helicopter pilot for the RAF's search and rescue team, Prince William makes about $62,000 a year. That's the walking-around money. There's another $450,000 or so a year that comes from investments made from the inheritance left by his mother, Princess Diana. Millions more from that fund await when he turns 30 this June.
But appearances count. Not only in clothes -- as Kate will attest -- but also in spending decisions. Seeing royalty wrestle with an overhead bin on a discount airline might still be a pleasant novelty for fellow passengers, but it's becoming an expected norm for this generation of bluebloods.
And that's a good thing, balance-wise.