The Queen’s fall from grace

Her Majesty has fallen out of the top 300 richest Britons for the first time on record.


The Sunday Times' annual rich list functions like a political inkblot test. If you think that people getting rich is a good thing, then you'll like the fact that, as the paper's own leader writers note, the list is dominated by "the founders of builders of businesses and the generators of jobs".

If you're more concerned about inequality, you'll worry that, as The Guardian's Juliette Garside points out, "Britain's billionaires have seen their net worth more than double since the recession" while "average UK incomes have yet to recover".

It might reassure Garside to note that it's not just the Joneses who are failing to keep up the Windsors are lagging behind too. Helen Nianias in The Independent notes that the Queen has fallen out of the top 300 for the first time on record. That's quite a fall given that the Queen topped the list in 1989. Now she's slid to 302 even although "her income has actually risen by £10m".

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Mind you, if you believe the FT's Lucy Kellaway, dropping off the list might be a blessing. "To be a billionaire, the first thing that you need is a personality disorder." Justine Musk, ex-wife of Tesla founder Elon Musk, recently stated that most successful people "are square pegs in round holes they piss people off, get into arguments, rock the boat". Their success inevitably leads to "family drama" and "issues with the Significant Other you rarely see". In short, "billionaires are rotten people to marry".

Of course, Her Majesty may have other things on her mind, such as the imminent birth of a new great-grandchild. Gamblers are excited too, wagering on everything from the sex of the child to his or her name. The Daily Mail reports that one punter "will collect more than £15,000 in winnings, which includes his original bet, if the royal baby is a princess". Interested in having a punt? Ladbrokes reckons that "Alice remains the favourite girls' name at 5/4".

Put an end to thesesilly gimmicks

Every election has its gimmick. 2010 was the "Twitter election", though predictions of a Lib Dem landslide based on analysis of "tweets" proved wide of the mark. This time around the big fad seems to be "letters of support" signed by large numbers of concerned people.

Earlier this month, The Telegraph printed a letter signed by a hundred business chiefs arguing that a Labour victory would "threaten jobs and deter investment". It backfired when it turned out that many were either longstanding Conservative supporters or weren't even UK taxpayers.

Undaunted, the newspaper has again given over its front page to a letter signed by "the leaders of 5,000 small companies" backing the Conservatives. However, it turns out that a large number of signatories aren't actually business people. And that the whole thing is a publicity stunt engineered by Conservative peer Baroness Karren Brady.

Given that a pro-Labour letter from 100 "working people" a few weeks ago led to similar criticisms, maybe now would be a good time to call for a moratorium on such outpourings.

Tabloid money: Domestic Goddess rustles up a budget meal

Now that he's 80, Sir Michael Parkinson is planning to write a follow-up to his autobiography, notes Adam Helliker of the Daily Express. "He'll have to find time to write this recollection in between his lucrative work promoting the AXA Sun Life Guaranteed Over-50 Plan", which "has been shown to offer poor value for its subscribers.

In one case, an 84-year-old woman was assured a payout of £2,738, but had already put in £3,727". This meant that, "while she lived, she was paying £22 a month to fund a nest egg that could not grow". Of course, Helliker has "no doubt" that "she enjoyed the free pen Parky promises in his ads".

"Nigella Lawson is coming back on our screens" to launch a new cookery show based on "pared-down meals", says Brian Reade in the Mirror. "If the Tory ex-chancellor's daughter truly wants to show us how to make pared-down' meals in Austerity Britain, why doesn't she test her genius on a bag of pasta, a few tins of tomatoes and a tin of sponge pudding in a kitchen where the gas has been cut off". Let's see "how much of a Domestic Goddess she feels like then" although "Nigella Does Foodbanks has a ring to it".

Jeremy Clarkson took some friends back to an old drinking den in Fulham at the weekend to enjoy a pint in the sunshine. "We thought it'd be like the good old days. It wasn't," he writes in The Sun. We couldn't smoke in the courtyard, but we couldn't take our drinks out to the front of the pub to smoke there.

"These days there are always too many rules" and people wonder why pubs are closing down the length and breadth of the UK. It's nothing to do with the financial crisis it's down to "the local authorities who seem to view pubs as an unnecessary evil. They're the people who come up with all the rules which then have to be enforced if the pub wants to keep its licence". This "has to stop, because a pub is the beating heart of a community If I wanted to be shouted at every five minutes, I'll join the army."