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James Whitaker Column: Soph can make the Pope cross.

Byline: James Whitaker

IT IS not just peacockish actresses and tiresome models who will have to rethink the way they vaingloriously drape diamond-festooned crucifixes around their necks.

I can think of one royal who, hopefully, will be sitting down this morning to rethink what's right and proper when it comes to using religion in a manner that is unacceptable to Il Papa.

I refer, of course, to the accident-prone Countess of Wessex, who makes quite a habit (sorry) of wearing this Christian symbol of self- sacrifice when she's seeking to be especially alluring.

Made of pearls, the particular crucifix favoured by Sophie Wessex was a wedding day gift from Prince Edward.

She has worn it often since. Sweetly, this always makes Eddie beam. That is, of course, until this week, when Rome made it clear they thought the vulgarisation of the crucifix had gone too far.

Fides, a charity organisation based in the Vatican, condemned leading models and actresses for wearing crosses decorated with diamonds and other precious stones.

Names were named and accused: Jennifer Aniston, the ghastly Naomi Campbell, the naff Catherine Zeta-Jones. Asked the charity: "Is it relevant to the gospel to spend thousands to buy a sacred symbol of Christianity and then forget those that suffer and die of hunger?"

Pause for thought. Quite what will happen now, as all these famous people ponder what to do with their expensive trinkets, I'm not sure.

Many of the trinkets are beautiful and exquisitely designed (although doing little more than representing Christ on the cross). They have become faddish over the last two decades. My wife, Iwona, has one from Tiffany, as did Princess Diana 15 years ago. I recall the occasion, a Birthright gala evening in 1987.

Diana, who had the ability to make even an old tin can look good around her throat, wore a purple dress that night. The crucifix of gold and amethyst was the perfect contrast. But how happy was the Princess wearing this symbol? I ask because Iwona recalls how "uncomfortable" she was when first I presented her with a crucifix, and I believe Diana may have had similar feelings. I don't recall her wearing one ever again.

WHAT a treat I have in store for millions of you next week. The This Morning team have asked me to join them as a host-commentator on celebrations leading up to HM's Golden Jubilee. I will be on the box from Monday to Thursday giving my expert judgment on matters royal. Also presenting the show (to run from noon to 12.30pm each day) will be John Leslie (what a massive fellow he is) and Fern Britton. See ya!

CAPTION(S):

CROSSING GOOD TASTE: Diana and Sophie; Pictures:TIMGRAHAM
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 25, 2002
Words:454
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