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Tuesday, 17 April, 2001, 10:13 GMT 11:13 UK
Should the Royals pursue professional careers?
The Countess of Wessex is embroiled in more allegations in the tabloid press with the publication of the alleged transcript of a secretly-taped meeting with her and her business partner.
The details are a further embarrassment for Buckingham Palace and for Sophie and Edward after a week of intense media attention.
Sophie has announced she is to step aside as chairwoman of her PR firm for the time being, but wants to continue in business.
But it may now be difficult for the the Queen's daughter-in-law to insist on continuing as a "working Royal".
Is there a conflict of interest between the public and private roles of the Royal Family. Or can they follow a professional career? This Talking Point is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
OK, Sophie was set up, but its inevitable in their Hello magazine world. A life of junketing and pseudo-work is not a good example to set to the young. The minor Royals should get some useful employment, not be lapping round Arab sheikhs, real or feigned. Cut off their public funding and give it to our poorest "subjects".
The tabloid press simply can't make up their minds. Firstly they humiliated the poor woman and forced her to resign stating that the Royals shouldn't work.
But now they are saying that because she no longer works she will be sponging off the taxpayer.
She simply can't win!
I disagree with Gareth, UK. Why should the tabloids, or any other section of the media, "back-off"? The Royalists have been using propaganda machinery for aeons, whenever it suits their purposes. Like the rest of us, they've got to take the rough with the smooth!
I think most of what is printed is absolute rubbish and should be ignored. I feel that the Royals should be left alone.
I completely support the Earl and Countess' efforts to support themselves. It is an honourable move, they are sending the message 'Hey, we are willing to pull our own weight.' The Countess' only error was her desire to close the deal lead her to being indiscreet, she should have known better. Now she does. She was not given the luxury that ordinary people have, of making a mistake in private. This mistake was sent around the world by scrupulous individual trying to pass himself off as a new reporter. The Royal Family have been making efforts for years to curb their spending in an effort to funnel money to charities. If they weren't doing this the media would be complaining about that too.
Actually, I think Royalty should be abolished entirely. There is no justice in the fact that they are born millionaires. Or the fact that a significant portion of their wealth and riches are based on thievery on other nations, from the colonial days.
Should the Royals have careers?
Yes they should. We (The British) should abolish the monarchy, and send them out into the real world to find real jobs, and support themselves.
Why not? If it were me, I couldn't possibly sit around all day and let the taxpayers pay for me. I'd want to get out and support myself for pride's sake.
Sophie was hunted like a animal for these quotes because they knew that it would sell news papers. We as a nation like to build people up only to knock them down again. Sophie was unlike most royals working and now we along with the media have brought her down. I am not a royalist but I can't help but feel for her. The only way to look at this is by thinking - today's news is tomorrows chip paper.
Every one should be free to choose career they like unless it harms to the society. Sophie is not just the part of Royal Family but also an attractive centre of public hope who might be able to contribute something definitive to the British Society.
I would hardly describe the reported comments of the Countess of Wessex as professional.
People would respect the Wessex couple more if there were a display of sincerity and integrity. At the moment they appear rather grasping and opportunist in their pursuit of money to maintain their lifestyle.
Mike Brown, England
I can see no reason why they shouldn't have professional careers just like anyone else. It does seem rather odd though that an executive of a PR company should exhibit such a lack of integrity. I don't think my company will be using them.
I think that the present Royals should be encouraged to earn their own living, and their off-spring required to do so. As some of your correspondents have pointed out, it is the 21st century, and long past the time that a royal family is needed. The Civil List should be phased out in the next twenty five years, and all members of the Royal Family receiving hand-outs via the tax system will thus have plenty of time to prepare for their future.
Why should they not have personal careers? Everyone else on the planet is entitled to try for one! The Countess has my heartfelt sympathy. She was certainly unwise to be so frank in a private interview but it seems a huge coincidence that the one thing Sophie has been pressed to do since her marriage, i.e. resign from her job, has been achieved by yet another underhanded reporter. I wonder who was paying him?
I reckon they all should have proper jobs and stop being kept by the humble taxpayer.
As an expatriate for over 10 years I have noted how many large-scale contracts and spin-offs have been awarded to British (and Commonwealth) companies following Royal visits. Perhaps it would be better to train Mrs Wessex in the field of diplomacy/sales and provide a blanket press 'D' notice into the bargain.
The Royals have jobs already! The Queen, along with the other Royals, have extremely hard schedules, with hundreds of meetings, openings, visiting, etc. We should be congratulating them on the important and beneficial work which they do for our country, rather than criticising them!
I wonder how many law briefs Ms Booth has had because of her family links.
As an American it is hardly my place to comment on what junior members of the Royal Family should or should not do over there. However, if you do decide you don't want them anymore please don't send them here. While the Queen Mary, London Bridge and the red telephone boxes that keep popping up everywhere are quite nice, I am getting rather tired of seeing Fergie in a seemingly endless string of television commercials. If Edward, Sophie and the rest of the gang start hawking goods on primetime TV it will be too much to bear.
I don't believe that there is a conflict of interest between the public and private roles but it's common sense to realise when to keep your opinion to yourself!
The recent events simply show that it is time the Royal family defined its 21st century role. Otherwise people like Sophie will have to change their current career to the Royal family career - ribbon cutting.
I don't see any problem with Royals following professional careers. I feel however that they can't win whatever they do. People blame the media but I wonder how many of the 4 million or so people that bought the News of the World actually recognised it's their need for scandal and sensationalism that fuels these underhanded 'journalists'. It's simple - don't buy the papers and eventually they'll either start publishing worthy news or go under.
If the Countess wants a new job, there are two that spring to mind - Prime Minister and Queen. It was high time a Royal dared to exercise free speech against those who have been ruining the country. Enemy alien journalists bent on entrapment of Royalty should be horsewhipped.
Sarah Henderson, Germany
An argument used for the continued state support of the Royal family is that they promote Britain. If Sophie's comments are an example of that promotion then where does that leave that point of view?
Hurrah - it looks as though the gutter press has done itself more harm than they have Sophie! To all the jealous whingers who come out with the same trite remarks - there are a majority of us who like the Royals so no-one will "get rid of them" - you'll just have to keep on being jealous won't you. And to the likes of Stanley USA - butt out - they are our Royals, not yours!
It's high time that this country dropped this archaic royal hierarchy. The Royal family have become no more than a tourist attraction to the UK, born into a life of wealth and high social status. Their "Spoilt Brat" shenanigans and seedy scandals have become the hotspot of the British press, and quite frankly are seen by myself and my peers as something to be ashamed rather than proud of.
Paul, London, UK
Royal family members must contribute to society not only by cutting ribbons. They ought to work like everyone else but with a difference. They should do a bit of each occupation and post so to speak, to become acquainted with every aspect of society, be it the welfare office, the XYZ corporation, the bank, the Ministry of Defence etc. This way they would know what is required to function from a different perspective.
They should only work manually. As plumbers for instance as there is never one around!
I am surprised that the media are being blamed for the indiscretions of a member of the Royal family. Maybe she is not as professional as stated. If it is necessary for her to be rude about people in order to clinch a deal, which I presume was the purpose of the meeting, it seems a bit drastic.
The question is not whether the Royal family should, but can they pursue professional careers? I do not think that they have enough qualifications to hold a decent job.
Clay Nichols, US
Of course the Royals should be able to pursue a career. I am more concerned that the scum in the media are not being hounded out of a job for this act of treachery. I note that there is almost no criticism of the evil journalist concerned: the entire media stand condemned in my eyes, BBC included! Ask the public their opinion on intrusive journalists, if you dare.
The Royals, in every country where they exist, should be encouraged to take up roles and responsibilities in the normal society, develop their own business and self-sufficiency as a first step towards the abolition of monarchy.
Leave this poor woman alone! She didn't say anything scandalous, and the only improprieties committed were by the News of the World and the other tagalong tabloids.
Susan Kallman, USA
I am impressed that so many Americans favour the rights and privileges of the Royals. Well, guess what, you can have them. Perhaps exhibit them with London Bridge, or the Queen Mary. We have a lot more broken down, sad, anachronistic garbage that you can have as well. We will disinfect the lot against foot-and-mouth for you, by the way.
Course they should work like the rest of us...with their intelligence they should just about qualify for waste collection.
I get just a little bit sick and tired of the press constantly sniping at the Royals. I for one am very proud to live in a country where we still have a Royal family even if they do have their problems, well, who hasn't (people who live in glass houses springs to mind). It seems that the Royals can't do right for doing wrong. Give the girl a break.
Jane Sexton, UK
What the Countess of Wessex may or may not have said about various politicians and members of the royal family is essentially irrelevant, though extraordinarily ill-advised for someone working in PR.
What is important is the allegation that she and her firm were exploiting her connection to Royal family to drum up business. That, surely, constitutes an abuse of privilege.
Jane Green, English in Italy
Yes, they should pay their own way. An obsolete, antiquated institution that has no place in a modern society
Yes of course they should be "permitted" to work, they have civil rights just like everyone else in the UK. I can tell you that after many long years of residence in the US that you are very lucky to have a Royal family. They bring in a great deal of overseas business, do a tremendous amount of good charity work, are for the most part I am sure decent people who care for the UK greatly.
It amazes me that YOU the people actually allow your bitter, cynical, amateurishly written tabloids to attempt to bring down one of your most prized national assets. These people didn't ask to be rich and privileged, they were born into it, which I can tell you is in itself a full time job.
Stop whining like jealous, resentful children and realise that what you have in the UK is unique and should be treasured.
You're missing the point. The real debate is whether or not there should be a monarchy in the 21st century. Once you decide that question, the idea of working in commerce becomes virtually irrelevant.
I think the Monarchy should modernise. I'm not sure what they do really. It would be good if they devoted themselves to something like the Royal awards for people that made a difference in the world. Rather than living in a bygone age parading around with no real direction and having no business in a modern democracy.
I'm all for the Royal Family paying their own way but this won't happen until the British taxpayer stops subsidising the Royal lifestyle through the civil list.
Dave Riley, Cambridge, UK
Sophie, like anyone else in the UK is entitled to her opinions. Yes, she was a bit naive and too trusting in speaking to the "reporters" - but I think once again the media have set someone in the Royal Family up on a pedestal just so that they can have fun trying to knock them off again. The press should now back off and leave Sophie and Edward to get on with their careers.
Lets just get rid of them all together and bring our democracy in the 21st century.
Sure the Royals should be permitted to work. They should also be "permitted" to pay taxes, rent, and utility bills as well.
Janet Gladstone, UK
I think the Royal should work if they want to. They should not expect to live off the taxpayer. Besides, why should the Countess be forced to quit her own company just because of the unscrupulous behaviour of the press.
Am I really the only person in the country who doesn't give two hoots what Sophie Rhys-Jones thinks about anyone or anything?
Julian Hayward, UK
Lets face it, what would the media have in the way of gossip to fill the pages if it wasn't for the Royals? Personally I think that most of them do a good job in terms of charity work etc and if they want to work like the rest us i.e. for a salary, although I can't imagine why they would want to, then good luck to them!
I fail to see how a case of entrapment can call in to question the future of the Monarchy. Maybe the tabloids have been a bit homesick for the days of good old scandal, and as there hasn't been any for about three years, they decide to create it! Perhaps a debate on the future of the tabloids would be more to the point.
I think it disgusting the way the media have done this. They think they are doing it in the public interest, but actually they don't realise half the time that the public find this distasteful. Do any of the media get taken to task and have their lives messed around. Are their lives any better?
I feel sorry for the Royals - every time they lift a finger in the "wrong" direction the media vultures swoop.
James Crosby, Telford, England
Take away all Royals' privileges and let them work for their money - their counterparts on the continent do. They won't feel so high and mighty then, and will know what life really is about - not something you learn by shaking hands for half an hour in a hospital to improve your image. Not that they would get far, apart from Prince William they can't even get some simple A levels!
The media are out of control trying to make the country go down the route they choose. Lets all put them in their place and stop buying their gutter rags, this will also help the environment. I get all my news by balancing all the inputs from the internet, TV and radio
Is there nothing more important going on? I cannot believe my ears and eyes this morning at the amount of TV and Radio news coverage this is getting . Who cares? Let them do what they want, but the news paper "reporter" who tricked her should be prosecuted for fraud, if the police used tactics like this it would be called entrapment and slung out of court, reign in the newspapers not the Royals .
Saima Ahsan, Pakistan
Here in Spain members of the Royal Family, which is broadly respected by its citizens, including the press, have normal careers except for the King and Queen. But then we do not have tabloids such this 'News of the World'.
I think it is disgraceful the way some members of the Royal family are treated when all they are doing is earning a living. If Edward and Sophie were to draw from the Civil List the press would complain bitterly so why don't the press back off and leave hardworking young people to get on with their lives!
My solution is to fire the Queen and let all the Royals
get a job. It's the 21st Century. At least, we elect our
Head of State and they only rule for 4 years at a time.
In reply to Stanley, USA,
If given a choice between a Royal Family and George W Bush - Give me the Royals any day.
I honestly can't see what the fuss is all about. She called the Queen an old dear - so what! I think the whole case's been blown out of proportion by the tabloids. As for whether members of the royal family should have a career, well why not? We certainly don't want to subsidise them so they can get out and earn their living like the rest of us.
Why oh why can't the British Royal family be like the numerous other European Royals who work and are also marvellous ambassadors for their respective countries. Unfortunately 'The Windsors' want their cake and they want to eat it too. I agree with the comments made by Dr Kim Howells...they are totaly bonkers !!!
Can the Royals pursue professional careers? On balance, probably not, given that none of them have enough qualifications to merit entry to any of the professions.
I remember Fergie being slated for "sponging" and not working - and I'm sure Sophie would get the same. The real evil here is the News of the World for staging the set-up in the first place!
Quite honestly there are more things to worry about at the moment than a particular "foot in mouth" Royal story. Given the nature of the way the story was obtained, via deceit, what is more irritating is the way the media continue to prove themselves to be of no particular use other than to subvert truth and wage their own selfish campaigns whilst hiding behind the guise of "public interest".
Judith Broadhead, England
This malicious attack on Sophie Wessex, by the gutter press, is unimportant except in the way it is being used subversively. The tabloids have a hidden agenda.
Hoorah for Sophie. Here we have a young lady who confirms what we all thought we knew about the Royal Family. On the other hand her chances of a career in PR are not at all good.
Frankly who cares what this disfunctional family get up to. They offer nothing to a modern democracy.
This whole fuss is caused by a newspaper trying to make money by generating rather than reporting news. When the Countess of Wessex married she already had a career. Given how Sarah Ferguson was treated the countess would be advised to keep her career intact.
The Royals definitely can have a normal career. In fact, they should be encouraged to! Why should we be surprised when their careers go through ups and downs just like the rest of us?
Yes you can have working Royals. They can be doctors or teachers etc, but not in a place where they trade off their status for business. After reading Mr. Harkin's comments on Americans, I say his days as a PR man are finished(as well as Sophie's). Yes we do care for royalty. But...not in the way he would think. We loved Grace. She had class. She was one of "us".
We loved Diana for caring so much about other people, those in need.
We loved Sarah, because she is down to earth. When she was pushed out of the family, we took her to our hearts. Our nation was built on giving people a second chance.
They are still citizens of their country, being a Royal doesn't negate that fact. They should be permitted to work in whatever profession they choose. If anyone should be angry, it should be the Royals themselves, for continually being mistreated by the press, and for their individual rights being violated routinely because they hold a title. Give them a break, they're just as human as you or I.
When status and connections count, and sadly in some forms of work they do, there will always be a temptation for the Royal to exploit their background. The answer isn't to stop them working but to give them a choice: the profession, or the Civil List and all the trimmings that come with it. But not both.
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