The royal family has been rocked by the sad passing of the Queen Mother and while the British media have been full of tributes the underlying trend is what comes next for the Windsors. Republicanism is said to be in the air but to what extent no-one knows. In a country obsessed with being modern and young and politically correct perhaps the time has come to let the people decide. I have no doubt that if a referendum was to take place in Britain tomorrow there would be a majority verdict for the royals, probably much higher than many people would expect. A referendum is needed to end this constant barrage of speculation and claim over the future of the royals. Just hours after the death of the Queen Mother on Saturday night the BBC was speculating over the future of the royal family. Judging by their programming and how they handled the death of the Queen Mother it might be a better idea if they speculated over their own future and analysed how they were spending tax-payer's money. Radical action is needed because I don't believe that things can continue how they are at the moment. The time has come to let the people decide, in a referendum, which as far as I am concerned is more important than the one on the euro. Many people feel let down by the younger members of the royal family, and I am among them. But we mustn't forget that the royal family have served Britain well and still enjoy a large popularity in areas across the world long abandoned by the British government. I hope that the issue can be put to the people and resolved once and for all and all those who feel that the age of the royal family has come and gone can quietly find something else to speculate on.
Forget Iraq. Put the steel import surcharge on the back burner. Never mind disagreements over Arafat and Sharon. AngloAmerican relations took a distinct turn for the better this week with an announcement from the British government that the passports for pets scheme is likely to be extended shortly to enable Americans to bring their pooches with them when they come to visit or work in the UK. This will be wonderful news for people like Dame Elizabeth Taylor, who nearly optedout of her investiture at Buckingham Palace because her Maltese terrier could not join her at the ceremony. More seriously, it will be good news for the diplomatic and international business communities whose members have sometimes had to make the difficult choice between the trauma of having a loved pet in quarantine for six months and refusing a careerbuilding job.
Since the Pet Travel Scheme was introduced two years ago some 40'000 cats and dogs have been allowed into Britain from the 52 countries to which it applies. Given this number and the lack of problems from the operation of the Scheme, it does not seem unreasonable to ask why the campaigners for its introduction had to wait so long to see it established. And since it got started the American government has been asking with increasing insistence why it could not be extended to the United States. The timing of the announcement that this will be happening is interesting. Was Tony Blair worried that he would get a hostile reception in Texas from Bush's Scottish terrier Barney if he had not taken this action?
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