Will and Kate fly the budget skies

Will plane
Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge are trying to cut corners, at least when it comes to flying.

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.

EasyjetSo, 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.





Prince Harry praised for riding to the rescue

Prince Harry helps Bash Kazi, who was knocked unconscious after being thrown from his horse while participating in the Sentebale Polo Cup in Campinas, Brazil, on March 11. The incident happened on the final day of the Prince's week-long tour of the Caribbean and Brazil. (Reuters)

Like the song says (sort of), when you’re down and troubled and you need a helping first-aid hand, who are you going to call?

You can’t do better than Prince Harry, at least according to the British Red Cross … and one very grateful polo player from Washington, D.C.

Harry3Harry has earned some praise for his quick thinking a few weeks ago when he was participating in a charity polo match in Brazil. At one point, three horses were on a collision course while chasing the ball. One horse couldn’t stop and slammed into Bash Kazi’s horse. Kazi, a 41-year-old defence contractor, was thrown to the ground and knocked unconscious.

The Prince, who was not involved in the play, was the first to reach Kazi, jumping down from his mount and gently rolling Kazi onto his side, or the recovery position, enabling him to breathe easier.

“Given the prince is a veteran of Afghanistan and an active duty officer in the British Army, he’s presumably had good training in basic trauma care – so it’s not surprising he knew what to do,” the Red Cross said on its blog.

“But his actions do underline a very serious point: when accidents happen, particularly on a sports field, someone needs to have the confidence and skills to step in immediately and help.”

Kazi is certainly glad he did.

The third in line for the British throne “is a fabulous person” and “such a gentleman,” Kazi told the Washington Post.

“I remember waking up with these piercing blue eyes looking at me.”

Kazi was helped from the field, but later returned to the match.

“I think I had a minor concussion,” he said, “but I’ve since had a CT scan and everything is clear.”



Nudists aim to be Will and Kate's neighbours

Llandwyn Island a small magical place off Newborough Beach Isle of Anglesey North Wales
Llanddwyn Island is an oasis for those who like picnics by the seashore, a day of rustic exploration, or even some nude sunbathing. (Shutterstock)

The town of Anglesey has become famous in the past few years as the home of William and Kate -- at least while the Prince is stationed at RAF Valley.

Apparently, that is not quite enough to boost local tourism, though. British Naturism -- an organization of UK nudist groups -- wants to turn one of sandy seasides near Kate and Will’s home in Wales into a designated nudist beach.

Cpt50067292_20110624062546The Newborough beach area includes Llanddwyn Island, which is named for the patron saint of Welsh lovers. Its scenic vista has also made it a good movie set (some scenes from 2010’s Clash of the Titans were shot in the region, as was Half Light with Demi Moore).

Of course, the sandy shores are also close to home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and a fine spot for walking their new cocker spaniel. (By all accounts, though, Will and Kate prefer to keep clothiers in business.)

Some parts of the beach have long attracted nudists, but locals say it's time to put controls on it, lest they and their kids have their nature walks interrupted by naturist walkers.

The people who enjoy the all-tanned look say the official designation would be good for tourism. Some locals are a little more wary.

"It would be better either for them to be banned or, if they are going to be there anyway, for there to be proper regulation," local councilor Peter Rogers told the Telegraph. "It's not the nudists who are really the problem, but the people who go and watch them from the trees."

British Naturism has about 10,000 members, according to its website.

"We support this call although we don't need official designation,” said the organization’s commercial manager Andrew Welch. “It takes away the hassle factor because a lot of people see naturism as illegal. Naturism isn't against the law … you can't legislate about what someone wears.”

True enough. Just don't expect any royal walkabouts.



Canada's Autumn Phillips delivers Queen's second great-grandchild

Autumn phillips
Peter Phillips, son of Princess Anne, and his wife Autumn have welcomed a new member to their family. Isla Elizabeth Phillips was born Thursday night, a second great-grandchild for Queen Elizabeth.

The Royal Family is never very far from its own history, steeped in it own traditions as the torch is passed to each generation.

On Friday, they stopped to remember two members of the family who died 10 years ago, just months apart -- the Queen Mother and Elizabeth's younger sister, Princess Margaret.

And, as it turned out, it was also a celebration of the arrival of a new generation as Queen Elizabeth's daughter, Princess Anne, announced that her son Peter Phillips and his wife, Montreal-born Autumn, have a new addition with the birth of a baby girl Thursday night.

Isla Elizabeth Phillips weighed in at 7 pounds, 4 ounces and is the Queen's second great-grandchild. Her first name has Scottish origins, derived from Islay, an island off Scotland's coast.

Church memorialIsla is a sister for Savannah, who is 15 months old. Just by being born, Isla jumps to 13th in line for the throne, behind her sister.

Peter, who was present at the birth, met Autumn -- a McGill University grad and management consultant -- in 2003 at the Canadian Grand Prix. They were married in 2008.

On Friday, led by Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh, many members of the Royal Family attended the memorial service for the Queen Mum and Margaret at St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle. Both women are interred there. (Photo: Margaret and Elizabeth with their mother, marking her 80th birthday in 1980.)

The Right Rev. David Conner presided over the service, noting how the two women -- mother and daughter -- "significantly enriched" the family.

Princess Margaret, who died Feb. 9, 2002 at the age of 71, was a controversial figure in royal circles, having been linked to -- for their time -- scandals around her love life and, ultimately, divorce. Her colourful life, always the source of tabloid fever, gave way to a series of strokes in her later years. Less than two months after her death, the Queen Mother died on March 30 at age 101.

Both of Margaret's children -- Vicount Linley and Lady Sarah Chatto -- attended the memorial service along with their families, as did the majority of Elizabeth's clan. Notably missing were Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, who were vacationing in at a French ski resort with Kate's parents. Also absent were Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall, and Prince Edward.

Members of the Royal Family arrive for a thanksgiving service for the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret at St George's Chapel on Friday in Windsor. From left, Princess Beatrice, Timothy Laurence, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, Princess Eugenie, Prince Harry, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Princess Anne. (Getty Images)

Church harry
Prince Harry arrives for the thanksgiving service in memory of the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret. Welcoming him are the grandchildren of Princess Margaret -- Charles and Margarita Armstrong-Jones, and Samuel and Arthur Chatto. (Getty Images)

Church queen Beatrice













Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip exchange pleasantries with Dean of Windsor David Conner following the thanksgiving service at St. George's Chapel. Right: Princess Beatrice, daughter of Prince Andrew, arrives at the service. (Getty Images)


Church wessex

Prince Harry shares a joke with Sophie, Countess of Wessex as they arrive at St. George's Chapel. (Getty Images)



Prince Philip can't resist a one-liner with disabled man on scooter

Queen Elizabeth casts a critical eye on a sculpture as she visits Valentines Park and Mansion in Redbridge, north London on Thursday for the London Pride Art and Design exhibition. (Getty Images)

At 90 years young, Prince Philip can get away with just about anything.

Tour4His famous sense of sometimes inappropriate humour was on display Thursday as he cheerfully greeted the many well wishers in the London borough of Redbridge who came out to see the Duke of Edinburgh's better half, Queen Elizabeth as she continued her Diamond Jubilee mini-tours.

Philip , ever the dutiful escot, followed the Queen through her walkabout, chatting with people along the way.

When he came up David Miller, 60, a disabled man who was sitting on his four-wheeled mobility scooter.

"How many people have you knocked over this morning on that thing?" Prince Philip asked.

Without hesitation, everyone who heard the remark burst into laughter.

“I told him no, your Royal Highness, I had not knocked anyone down," said Miller, who is a trustee of the Valentines Mansion where the royals were viewing an art show.

“That is just typical from the Duke," Miller said later. "He is renowned for his humour but no offence was taken, it was all in good humour."

Philip has long had a mischievious sense of humour that has gotten him in hot water. A few of his ill-timed comments over the years:

-- In 2002, he asked an Aboriginal leader in Queensland: "Do you still throw spears at each other?"

-- In 1994, he remarked to a Cayman Island resident: "Aren’t most of you descended from pirates?"

-- And this, to a Scottish driving instructor: "How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to pass the test?"

-- Canada was not immune from his blunt observations. In 1976 on a visit here, he remarked: "We don’t come here for our health. We can think of other ways of enjoying ourselves."

Want more? Check out our Duke of Oops gallery.

Queen Elizabeth checks out a portrait of herself made of postage stamps by students of Ilford County High School during a visit to Valentines Park and Mansion in Redbridge. (Reuters)


That's former prime minister Margaret Thatcher -- pop art-style -- staring out in this portrait as Queen Elizabeth tours the London Pride Art and Design exhibition. (AFP/Getty Images)

Children from Krishna Avanti School in Edgware bring out their flags to salute the Queen on Thursday as she continued her Diamond Jubilee tour. (Reuters)


Kate and Will have a new neighbour ... Prince Harry

Three's a crowd? William, Kate and Harry are new neighbours at Kensington Palace. (Reuters)

There comes a time in everyone's life when they need to leave the family nest.

That time has come for Prince Harry after 27 years of sharing quarters with his father Prince Charles.

Not that he's moving very far, or away from family.

After returning from his royal tour of the Caribbean and Brazil, he began packing up things at Clarence House and moving them to Kensington Palace, where he's taken an apartment not far from the cottage Will and Kate have on the grounds.

PalaceSt. James's Palace confirmed the move, first reported by CNN. "Prince Harry moved into accommodation at Kensington Palace(right)  when he returned from the overseas tour. This will now act his official London residence. He still anticipates moving into the property currently used by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge once they vacate it in the future."

Kate and William, who reside in the Palace's Nottingham Cottage, are scheduled to move into the late Princess Margaret's apartment (some apartment ... it's 20 rooms) at the Palace next year after renovations.

Harry, reports the Daily Mail, will be living in a "modest" one-bedroom apartment in the residential wing of the sprawling Palace. The Palace, much of which is open to the public, underwent a $19 million facelift completed this month.

"Some people might find it strange that he is moving in next door to his brother and sister in law,," an aide told the Mail. "But the three of them get on brilliantly and love spending time together. Prince Harry adores his brother and says Catherine is the sister he never had."

How much time Harry will actually be in the apartment is another matter. The Apache helicopter pilot is expected to be spending a lot more time in preparation for deployment to Afghanistan.

A source told CNN that there will be no extra security around the Prince in the war zone, even though he will be a tempting Taliban target. 

"The thinking is that being an Apache pilot is quite an anonymous job and the Apache is already a target," the souce said. "They can't be more of a target than they already are."


Queen Elizabeth is putting on a new face at Madame Tussauds.

The famous wax museum is giving the monarch a fresh look for the Diamond Jubilee, replacing the steady stare she has had since 2001. This will be the 23rd time the Queen has been remodeled in wax at the museum.

The new Queen is being modeled after the official Jubilee photograph and is expected to be unveiled in May. She will be taking up her place beside Prince Philip. Figures of Prince William and Kate are on top to be unveiled in April as they close in on their first anniversary.

The cost of remodeling the Queen is about $235,000.


Will and Kate's romantic getaway a family affair

Keeping track of Will and Kate is a bit of a cat-and-mouse game.

Last week, after Prince William returned from six weeks in the Falkland Islands,  it was reported that he and the Duchess of Cambridge had gone for a romantic ski getaway in Verbier, Switzerland.

Kate williamWell, now the Daily Mail reports that the royals are indeed in the Alps, but in France’s Meribel resort in the Trois Vallees ski region.

And, romantic as that still may be, they are not alone -- Kate’s parents, Carole and Michael, and brother James are also in the party.

“They were sitting all together in an alpine restaurant half way up the mountain and looked very happy and relaxed,” one skier told the Mail’s Richard Kay.

While holidaying with the in-laws may not be some people’s cup of tea, it suits Prince William just fine. In fact, he quite enjoys the family atmosphere, having been raised in quite a different world.

The last time they all got together was in January on the Caribbean island paradise of Mustique.

Between holidays, Will and Kate led very separate lives. While William was in the Falklands as a search and rescue pilot, Kate took up the royal torch with several engagements focusing mainly on her new royal charities.

The couple has one major foreign tour scheduled this year as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. They will visit Malaysia, Singapore, the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu in September.

Trois Vallees
Les Trois Vallees is a region of linked valleys that form the largest ski area in the world, with more than 600 kilometres of slopes. (Shutterstock)


Sweden baby1A month into her life, Princess Estelle of Sweden was formally introduced to the world on Tuesday via official photos from the Haga Palace in Stockholm.

The Princess's fully name is Estelle Silvia Ewa Mary, otherwise known as the Duchess of Oestergoetland. She was born to Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel on Feb. 23.

This is the royal couple's first child and she becomes second in line for the throne behind her mother Victoria.

Victoria, 34, and Daniel, 38, were married in 2010.



Sweden baby


Harry and Chelsy: Is romance on the mend?

Harry and davy
Prince Harry and Chelsy Davy can't seem to be away from each other long enough for the rumours of a reconciliation to quiet down.

In what must rate as the most lingering break-up in royal history, there is again talk of a rekindled romance between Prince Harry and Chelsy Davy.

HarryThe clues:

  1. Prince Harry wore a pendant around his neck (right) during his tour of the Caribbean and Brazil this month that reportedly was a long-ago present from Davy. “It's a pretty big sign that she's back in his thoughts,” a source told the tabloid Daily Star. Davy was also spotted wearing a ring that Harry had given her during their seven-year relationship.
  2. Harry and Chelsy were both guests Friday at the 22nd birthday party for Princess Eugenie at Windsor Castle. “Clearly they are still close,” reported one ‘insider.’ “They appeared at ease with each other and were chatting happily together.

“It’s unlikely they’ll go public for a while, but things are definitely hotting up between them again.”

Harry’s love life has been a source of party talk for months, ever since he and the 26-year-old Davy broke up after the royal wedding. The prince re-energized the rumour mill a few weeks ago when he talked to CBS about the difficulty of “finding someone” who is up for the rigours of a royal life.

It has long been thought that one of the reasons Harry and Davy broke up was her reluctance to embrace royal life the way Kate Middleton has. She and Harry, however, do share much in common, including a long-standing love of Africa. Davy, a lawyer by trade, is from Zimbabwe, while Harry’s charity Sentable helps children in Lesotho.

Princess beatrice-eugenieIf Harry is carrying a torch for Davy, he’s not letting it stop his nightlife. The day after Eugenie’s party, he was partying it up at the Embassy Mayfair restaurant. Davy, meanwhile, has reportedly been dating art dealer Blaise Patrick, who had (?) been a friend of Harry’s.

And Davy continues to hover around the royal circles. She and Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie (right) have been friends since her early courtship days with Harry.

Eugenie's small birthday party was a small but lavish affair, catered by TV chef Heston Blumenthal, featuring a seven-course meal. Among the attendees was Eugenie's parents, Prince Andrew and his ex, Sarah Ferguson.

As for Harry, as if life isn’t complicated enough, he still has more Apache helicopter training to go through before he gets his expected deployment to Afghanistan later this year. And there are also reports that he is in talks with the BBC about fronting a program about his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth.

The show, due to air over Christmas, is meant to give a glimpse of the Queen’s day to day life as she goes through her 60th year on the throne.


Queen stuns newlyweds by crashing their wedding


What do you do when the Queen crashes your wedding?

You bow and shake hands of course.

John and Frances Canning had the shock of their lives on Friday when the Queen and Prince Philip showed up at their wedding at Manchester Town Hall.

2012-03-23T151909Z_01_PNN11The unlikely meeting began many months ago when the couple had booked the hall for their wedding, well before anyone knew the Queen would be making a tour of the city as part of her Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

John decided on the "spur of the moment to write a letter to Buckingham Palace inviting the Queen to drop by.

"It was a bit tongue in cheek in some ways," he told the BBC. "I thought 'What have we got to lose? If we get a letter back, even better.

"I put in my letter that I hoped she would have a lovely day in Manchester, all the very best on the Jubilee and if you've got any spare minutes, we're only next door."

He received a reply back from the Palace saying the Queen would not be able to attend.

Sneaky, that monarch. She had decided to grant their wish and the palace got in contact with Manchester City Council to arrange it. They kept the secret until the very end.

"After we'd got married, we walked through our guests into the middle room where we were going to spend five minutes together," said John.

"The gentleman from the Town Hall came up and said the Queen had agreed to meet us."

The Queen greeted the couple -- "hello John, hello Frances" -- spent a few minutes with them and even posed for photographs.

"It was a bit scary... but it was lovely," said Frances.

"She commented on how beautiful Frances looked in her dress and wished us all the best for the future," said John, who added that Philip was a "lovely man" and had asked about where the couple would be honeymooning in Italy.

"We're going to have to get a bigger wedding album now,'' Frances, 44, said.  ''Not many people will have pictures like that.''


Prince William surprises Kate with ski getaway

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are getting re-acquainted with a ski holiday in the Swiss Alps, according to reports. (CP)

Whether it’s in a helicopter or on a mountain, Prince William seems attracted to high places.

No sooner did he return to London from six weeks of ‘copter duty in the Falkland Islands, than he whisked his bride Kate off to Switzerland, according to reports.

VerbierAfter their longest separation since tying the knot last April, the royal couple are taking a mini-holiday in the exclusive Swiss resort of Verbier, 1,500 metres high in the Alps.

“They’ve had some brilliant times skiing, and William decided a getaway in Switzerland, where they can wear goggles and hats and go around unnoticed, would be perfect,” London’s Daily Mirror quotes a source.

The resort is popular one among royals and celebrities. Prince Harry has been there, and the royals families of Denmark and Sweden are regulars.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are no strangers to the Alps either, having made several trips to Klosters.

This will be a short holiday. Duty still calls for Prince William, who is expected back soon at his RAF base in Wales to resume his search-and-rescue duties. Kate, who's been holding down the fort royal-engagement wise, is free of public appearances for now. She has spent most of the time while William was away making stops at her royal charities.

It’s not certain if the royals will be celebrating their first anniversary April 29 in their Anglesey home, but if they are, they will have a ready-made celebration already going on.

The organizers of  the annual Gay Carnival in the Welsh town have re-scheduled their festivities to coincide with the royal anniversary.

“We thought it would help create a romantic atmosphere -- and spread the love around a bit,” said carnival organizer Alan Jones.

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