For royalty, privacy is a problem

The Queen is angry about intrusion by photographers and is prepared to take legal action against them. No recent instances are cited. It's interpreted as a warning to the 'paps' who congregate around Sandringham over Christmas.

The Prince of Wales's communications secretary, Paddy Harverson, said yesterday: 'Members of the Royal Family feel they have a right to privacy when they are going about everyday, private activities.

'They recognise there is a public interest in them and what they do, but they do not think this extends to photographing the private activities of them and their friends.'

Media warning: The Queen wants photographers to respect her family's privacy

Media warning: The Queen wants photographers to respect her family's privacy

Who'd argue with him? Republic does. It's the pressure group that wants the monarchy abolished and replaced by an elected president.

Spokesman Graham Smith said yesterday: 'While everyone has a right to a certain level of privacy, the Queen cannot expect the media to dance to her tune. The media is not there to act as promoter of the royals.'

Smith adds: 'There have been a number of photos taken of Windsors apparently hitting or killing animals - highly questionable actions the public have a right to know about.

'If people who claim a God-given right to head our nation are falling out of nightclubs then clearly there is a public interest. The Windsors cannot have it both ways.

'If they demand privacy then they must submit to accountability, transparency and scrutiny.'

You don't have to be a supporter of Republic to feel unease about warnings from the Palace about intrusion. Is the new anxiety about photographers anything to do with pictures of royal shooting parties at Christmas?

Of course, its infuriating when the public react angrily to pictures of the Princess Royal wringing the neck of a pheasant (or a photographer) and write letters of protest. But surely it's better to live with that than ban pictures taken from a public road.

The Press can't be confined merely to recording the official doings of the Royal Family. If it were, I doubt if the monarchy would last. We need glimpses of how they really live in order to maintain our interest and support.

'Naomi's a loyal friend', says PM's wife

Besties: Sarah Brown has defended her 'loyal friend' Naomi Campbell in a magazine article

Besties: Sarah Brown has defended her 'loyal friend' Naomi Campbell in a magazine article

Does Gordon Brown's wife, Sarah, really believe the bad-tempered supermodel Naomi Campbell is a ' 21stcentury heroine'?

'The Naomi Campbell I know has proven herself a loyal friend and a woman of her word,' says Mrs Brown, justifying her choice of Naomi for a magazine poll.

'She is a fearless challenger of the established position if she sees the need for change, whether in her call for greater diversity in the media, or the demand for greater focus in international development on women's health and rights. She is generous, authentic and hard working.'

What's fearless and heroic about challenging established positions in media diversity, women's health and rights? Sarah chose Naomi because the latter is famous, and perhaps because she enjoys the reflected attention of hanging out with the model and her glitzy pals.

Confession or an ad campaign?

The Speaker's wife, Sally Bercow, 40, was praised by one member of the sobsisterhood yesterday for confessing she was once a heavy drinker who enjoyed one-night stands with men she'd picked up in bars.

'Sally Bercow is a breath of fresh air: recognisably human, recognisably female, recognisably one of us,' enthused columnist India Knight in The Sunday Times.

Mrs Bercow made her confession in an interview with London's Evening Standard last week. She explained: 'I want to run for Parliament as a Labour candidate, so this has all got to come out and I'd rather tell it myself.'

Pre-emptive confessions are also a way of garnering publicity. Did she feel this would assist her to become first a Labour councillor and then a Parliamentary candidate?

And is it appropriate for the wife of the Speaker, John Bercow - the most senior Parliamentary official - to advertise herself in this way?

She said in her interview: 'John has to be above party politics as Speaker. Anyway, I've never been a constituency wife for John. He knew that when he married me.'

Bercow was a Tory MP. His wife supports Labour. Moreover, she says: 'He's still very Eurosceptic, I'm pro-European. I'm really keen on Harriet Harman and her equality agenda - and I completely agree with all-women shortlists: they transformed the Labour Party.'

No one really cares that Sally Bercow once drank too much and slept around, but seeking to make a virtue of it is surely an embarrassment to her family, particularly her husband. So is her outspoken support for Labour and her contempt for the Tories.

But maybe this is what it takes to become a Labour MP now.

Primeval Tiger, but he's not out of the woods yet

'Crazy Ambien sex': Rachel Uchitel remains tight-lipped on allegations of an affair with Tiger Woods, but a friend said she has boasted of sleeping drug-fuelled sex sessions

'Crazy Ambien sex': Rachel Uchitel remains tight-lipped on allegations of an affair with Tiger Woods, but a friend said she has boasted of sleeping drug-fuelled sex sessions

The Tiger Woods affair must have done wonders for sales of the sleeping pill which mistress Rachel Uchitel said helped them have 'crazy Ambien sex'.

Meanwhile, the eminent zoologist Desmond 'The Naked Ape' Morris offers words of comfort to the world's No1 golfer, whose extra-marital love life is exposed in a frenzy of 'birdie' headlines.

Morris says the adult male is driven by primeval reproductive urges to sleep with pretty well every woman he fancies. So, too, are adult women - 'both partners may occasionally stray under the influence of primeval reproductive urges'.

So Tiger and his Swedish-born wife, Elin, should accept that his flings are 'a relic of our ancient past' and move on, Morris suggests. Then we might again see Tiger's 'particularily attractive face, a wonderful face, rather childlike and with a beautiful smile'.

A upbeat point of view, but would it convince golf-club-wielding Elin? Men are more prone than women to rely on the 'primeval' defence of extra-marital canoodling. Women are more likely to say they strayed because they felt unloved at home.

The primeval defence is hopelessly out of fashion. We are scorned for suggesting we can't resist ancient instincts. But the 'I wasn't loved at home' strategy used by flighty women works because it pins the blame firmly on men. Where I suppose it belongs. We don't take enough care to cover our tracks.

Is it laziness, indifference, or a subconscious desire to be found out?

A friend says he had the perfect explanation when asked by his wife why there was lipstick on his underpants. It was: 'I was dancing with a dwarf.' Foolproof!

This isn't the last we'll be hearing of 'Foxy Knoxy'

The conviction for murder of American student Amanda 'Foxy Knoxy' Knox is 'a failure for the city of Perugia and the community around it, as well as for Italy as whole', says her father, Curt Knox.

Rather over the top, but understandable: his 22-year-old daughter faces a 26-year jail sentence.

Seattle lawyer Anne Bremner, of the Friends of Amanda support team, says: 'Amanda has been depicted as a she-devil, a temptress and a promiscuous manipulator and that's just not true.'

Her family and friends will never accept that Knoxy is guilty, even if she made a full confession. Neither would they think any trial that found her guilty was fair.

Some suggest anti-American feeling lies behind her conviction, although her former boyfriend, Italian Raffaele Sollecito, was also convicted of murder.

From what I read of the trial, it doesn't seem to me that Knoxy and Sollecito set out to murder Meredith Kercher but - drunk and under the influence of drugs - they wanted their friend, African Rudy Guede (who earlier was handed a 30-year sentence), to rape her while they watched.

Meredith resisted fiercely and - had she survived - would have reported the attack to the police, with serious consequences for her trio of attackers. Defence supporters say there were flaws in the crime scene evidence, but isn't there always?

The friends and family of the accused rarely want to believe the person they know is guilty of the crime alleged. Each deficiency in the prosecution case strengthens their belief. The Americans are unhappy about Italian legal procedures, but I dare say natives of Perugia would have doubts about U.S. courts.

My guess is Amanda Knox's family and supporters will succeed in reducing the length of her sentence, or overturn the convictions of Knoxy and Sollecito on a technicality. If so, it's hard luck for Rudy Guede, 22, who opted for a 'fast-track' trial in the hope of a lighter sentence.

I'm a Celebrity... with a court date

The Australian police and RSPCA have demanded footage of I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! to see if a rat killed and eaten by contestants Gino d'Acampo and Stuart Manning was wild or tame.

According to reports, the pair face charges of animal cruelty and are due to appear in court on February 3. Have the producers co-opted the Aussie police and animal protection establishment into a publicity stunt, or is the complaint genuine? We are entitled to be suspicious.

In order to generate publicity for future shows, perhaps the producers could encourage an outbreak of cannibalism rather than the beheading of a poor rodent.

Blair's starring role in war on terror

Former Deputy Chief of Defence Staff Lt Gen Sir Anthony Pigott told the Iraq Inquiry that Tony Blair planned a 'meaty' role for Britain in the U.S. invasion because it would 'enhance no end' our influence with America.

More pertinent, surely, is whether Blair sought a meaty role for us in the hope of influencing Americans into making him very rich after he retired as premier.

If so, he succeeded, didn't he?

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