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Opinion; Last hope for the Royal Firm to show they're human.

The death of Diana, Princess of Wales, a year ago tomorrow gave the Royal Family the fright of their pampered, complacent lives.

As the country absorbed the shock, their response was widely perceived as one of cold formality. It was a public relations disaster.

So there was little surprise when a poll published shortly after her death showed that 72 per cent of people thought the Queen was "out of touch".

And that 58 per cent thought the monarchy in its current form would not exist in 30 years.

But if there's one thing the Royals have never been out of touch with it's their self-interest.

The Firm, as they like to call themselves, knew they were in a jam and a crisis Annual General Meeting was called.

The outcome was the appointment of a new spin doctor. Some bowing and scraping was scrapped, and a few minor titles abolished.

But a year on, has that been enough to restore their public standing?

The Queen has tried hard to show that she at least has learned a thing or two.

She visited a pub - though she didn't have a drink. She went to a drive- in McDonald's - though she didn't risk a Big Mac.

She may have felt and looked like a fish out of water, but at least she's making an effort to imitate Diana's common touch.

And let's face it, few really expect a 72-year-old woman to change her ways all that much.

Prince Charles appears to be doing his level best to be the kind of parent Diana would have wanted for William and Harry.

And his visit to Omagh was clearly more than duty. Dispensing with protocol, he dropped his guard and showed he is a human being.

But with his 50th birthday approaching in November, it's unrealistic to expect Charles to find a completely new role, any more than his mother.

And to a lesser degree, the same goes for Anne, Andrew and Edward, all prisoners in the same time warp.

Yet if the monarchy is to survive, it must put the clock forward and catch up with the rest of us. And as the years go by, that burden will fall increasingly on William and Harry.

The princes have been allowed to grieve in private and get on with their education without undue intrusion.

But when they leave school they must be encouraged to enter the real world in a more wholehearted way than their father, aunt and uncles ever have.

Diana exposed the monarchy's greatest weakness - its remoteness. But she also showed them the way to reach out and live in the same country as the rest of us.

She did not wish to see the back of the Royals. She just wanted them to join the human race.

If even that is more than the Windsors can manage, they really are beyond all hope.

THE only thing positive you can say about Boris Yeltsin right now is that the Russian rouble looks in even worse shape than him.

And as for Bill Clinton, the American President must be wishing his tastes had also run to vodka rather than women.

This week the boozer and the sex addict meet at a summit in Moscow.

Compared to encounters between Roosevelt and Stalin, Kennedy and Krushchev, Reagan and Gorbachev, this one looks more like a couple of lame ducks trying to prop each other up.

The whole thing has been summed up nicely by a cartoon in the French newspaper Le Monde showing both men dressed only in their underpants.

"Did a woman do this to you, too?" asks Clinton. "No," replies Yeltsin. "The rouble did."

A summit? This one should be called a trough.

POLITICAL life in Scotland will be the poorer for the loss of Dr Allan Macartney, deputy leader of the SNP, who died last week.

A thoroughly decent man of strong character and principles, he was popular and respected across the political divide.

Even opponents who disagreed with independence acknowledged his total commitment to Scotland.

As Euro MP for the North East, he was also a fine ambassador for his country in Europe.

He was a man of whom all Scotland could be proud.
COPYRIGHT 1998 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
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Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Leader
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Aug 30, 1998
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