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Saturday, 2 March, 2002, 23:17 GMT
Wessex move 'wise and timely'
Earl and Countess of Wessex
The couple are expected to increase their charity work
The announcement that the Earl and Countess of Wessex are standing down from their business roles has been welcomed by a constitutional expert.

Lord St John of Fawsley said the decision was "wise and timely", but added that the couple should resume work after the Queen's Golden Jubilee year.

A spokeswoman for Edward and Sophie said they would focus on charity work.

As "full-time Royals" looking to the Queen for their income, they are now expected to extend the list of charities they support.

Public relations is full of pitfalls

Lord St John of Fawsley, constitutional expert
But Lord St John told BBC News the couple "should earn their own living and not be dependant on the public purse or Civil List".

And he warned they should be "extremely careful" over their choice of profession, and should avoid public relations "at all costs".

Lord St John urged the earl and countess to "be guided by common sense" and take "great care" to choose professions that would not conflict with their roles as members of the Royal Family.

"Advice should be sought from the Palace, and in particular from the Lord Chamberlain's Department," he stressed.

"Public relations is full of pitfalls. It is not an occupation but a bear trap to be rigorously avoided.


"This was illustrated by the trap into which the countess fell over the bogus sheikh. The News of the World acted immorally, the countess merely acted foolishly.

"But this situation should never be allowed to arise again."

They will not be short of money by any stretch of the imagination

Clive Goodman,
News of the World royal editor
The News of the World's royal editor Clive Goodman stressed that the couple's business careers had been "brought down" by their own activities.

"We were simply witnesses to it," he told the BBC.

"They chose careers completely incompatible with their status as members of the Royal Family."

The earl's career had "turned into Edward's home movies" while the countess "was always going to come a cropper because of the double-sided bargain you have to make in order to achieve public relations", Mr Goodman added.

He stressed the couple would "not be short of money by any stretch of the imagination", as they still received 141,000 a year from the Queen.

Lord St John of Fawsley
"Lesser members of the Royal Family should earn their own living"
Clive Goodman, royal editor, News Of The World
"They certainly won't be short of money"
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