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Monday, 9 April, 2001, 12:16 GMT 13:16 UK
Bicycling monarchy: Getting on yer bike

bicycling monarchy, n, • A royal house (esp. northern European) which shuns state coaches in favour of bikes with wicker baskets and proper mud guards (a model oft suggested for the House of Windsor).

ORIGIN (CONFUSED): famed for being terribly flat, the Low Countries are held to be the natural home of bicycling monarchs.

Beatrix Wilhelmina Armgard, queen of the Netherlands, reportedly inherited a love of cycling from her mother.

The late King Frederik and Queen Ingrid of Denmark took to their bicycles during WWII in solidarity with their subjects and as a show of defiance to the Nazi occupiers.

CONFUSED? Despite knowing what the chalk in puncture repairs kits is for, the monarchs of Denmark and the Netherlands retain most of the powers and privileges Queen Elizabeth II enjoys.

BEST OF BOTH WORLDS: the Belgian royal family is often held up as a bicycling monarchy. This despite the fact their personal wealth exceeds that of the Windsors; that the king is vested with executive and legislative powers; and that heir Prince Philippe prefers a "stockbroker special" Porsche to a boneshaker.

DO WE WANT MONARCHS ON BIKES? "I don't want a bicycling monarchy, just a pottering one," said playwright and Daily Mail columnist Keith Waterhouse.

"My own preference had always been for a bicycling monarchy, a modest, homely, citizens' monarchy, where the children became primary school teachers rather than Royal Marines," said David Aaronovitch, the Independent's "lukewarm quasi-republican" columnist.

WILL "THEY" GET ON THEIR BIKES? "It is no good trying to get a bicycling monarchy out of the Queen. The traditional way is the only one she knows," said veteran courtier Sir Edward Ford.


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