Queen's exposed to some solid gold fever
Is it just our imagination, or does the Queen look just slightly more wide-eyed than usual in this photograph?
Could be that even she feels a little in awe of the contents of the Bank of England vaults -- 4,600 tons of gold bars (about 27 pounds apiece). Total worth? About $312 billion.
T+he monarch was also given a mini lecture by the bankers on how economies fall into crisis. It's a question she herself posed in 2008 when she asked some financial experts why nobody noticed a worldwide collapse.
"People thought markets were efficient," Sujit Kapadia of the Bank of England told the Queen. "Because the economy was stable there was this growing complacency. ... People didn't realize just how interconnected the system had become."
Later, when the royals were assured there were people working at the bank to prevent another crisis, Prince Philip quipped: "There's not another one coming, is there?
"Don't do it again."
The royals also kept up a VIP tradition dating back more than 100 years by signing a banknote worth £1 million.
Philip couldn't resist: "Is this just lying about? You won't miss it, will you?"
The Queen was also shown the very first banknote she signed when she visited the bank in 1937 with her grandmother Queen Mary -- a mere £1,000 note back then.
Examining the "Elizabeth" signature written as an 11-year-old, the Queen deadpanned: "It hasn't improved much you know."
This was the Queen's ninth visit to the bank and the first since 1998. So far, no gold bars have been found in her purse.
Queen Elizabeth along with Prince Philip inspect gold reserves in a vault at the Bank of England on Thursday. (Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip keep their hands to themselves as they tour a gold vault on Thursday. (Reuters)
PRINCE MISSED SUPPORTING ROLE
Speaking of golden opportunities, Prince William may have missed out on one when his grandmother the Queen was pegged to star as herself in the James Bond spoof video that highlighted the opening ceremony at the Olympics.
The Sun tabloid reports that William was originally in the script as the helicopter pilot who would fly the Queen over the Olympic Stadium before she parachuted down. In the script, according to a BBC source, the Duke of Cambridge would turn from his controls and give the Queen a thumbs-up.
When the Queen agreed to the role (Helen Mirren was second choice), it's claimed that the idea of including William was dropped so as to not draw any attention from the Queen.
William himself says he was as surprised as everyone else when the Queen appeared on the video. "We were kept completely in the dark about it, that's how big the secret was," he said.
And speaking of the Queen's starring roles, her annual Christmas Day message will be in 3D for the first time this year. She recorded it last Friday, but what was said stays under wraps until the big day.
Thus, the 86-year-old Queen again breaks new ground for the royals. Sky Cable failed in its attempts to have Will and Kate's 2011 royal wedding broadcast in 3D.
PRINCE'S FRIEND CLOCKED AT 207 KM/H
One of William's and Harry's best friends is going to need a ride for the next few months.
Guy Pelly, a 30-year-old nightclub owner and close buddy of the royals, was nabbed on the highway near Salisbury last March in his $160,000 Audi R8 V10 doing 207 kilometres an hour. That was slightly over the posted limit of 110 km/hr.
Pelly didn't show up for his court appearance, but the judge went ahead and took his licence away for 56 days while ordering him to pay $1,200 in fines and $420 in court costs.