x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

A royal wedding may be just the thing for the recession-rattled UK

Relaxed luxury has a brand name, Putin has a puppy, and the wait is over for the next British royal wedding.

Britain’s Prince William and Kate Middleton are engaged and will be married in 2011.
Britain’s Prince William and Kate Middleton are engaged and will be married in 2011.

They'll never be able call her Waity Katie again. Kate Middleton's patience has finally paid off and she has a sparkling ring on her finger at last.

I must admit, I had a sharp intake of breath when I recognised the distinctive sapphire and diamond engagement ring as Princess Diana's - in view of the way that marriage ended - but it clearly means a great deal to Prince William to make the link between his mother and his future wife.

It was hardly a surprise, more a matter of time, but the young commoner from Bucklebury in Berkshire has had a lot to put up with - not least the snide comments about her mother, a former flight attendant.

The 27-year-old former art history student who met Prince William at St Andrew's University has conducted herself with impeccable dignity as every step of her relationship has been analysed, not always kindly. Family skeletons were rattled and her uncle Gary's colourful life exposed in the tabloids. Even her parents' mail-order business was criticised and questions were asked in the media about Middleton's suitability as a bride.

Kate may well have wept in private but even when she and Prince William split up briefly, she remained silent and discreet, a sure signal that she was serious about him.

She appears to share the same interests as her fiancé, unlike the late Princess Diana who wasn't remotely interested in standing around damp grouse moors. More importantly, Middleton has known the prince for nine years and experienced enough of the lifestyle of the British royal family to know that she will be able to put up with it.

On top of that, Kate is exceedingly pretty and photographs beautifully, which will give the British royals back the glamour that they haven't seen since the death of the Princess of Wales. That may be a mixed blessing for the family, but it will boost the image of the prince and add to the gaiety of a nation that has become increasingly gloomy of late.

After all the misery of the recession, there's nothing like a royal wedding to give the UK a bit of a lift.


Louis Vuitton demonstrates stylish relaxation

There’s something very stylish about Louis Vuitton. I know that sounds like a statement of the obvious but I’ve never been to one of their events before.

I was lucky enough to have been invited to spend an afternoon on the luxury yacht Dubai Magic – which was floating around the waters near the Palm Jumeirah – to watch four boatloads of hunky young men hauling up spinnakers and spinning their multimillion-dollar racing yachts on a dirham as they practised for the coveted Louis Vuitton trophy.

It’s clear that LV chooses its people with the same unerring good taste as they design their scarves and luggage. Old fashioned courtesy and understated charm were the order of the day as CEO Yves Carcelle padded round the yacht making everyone welcome.

I needn’t have worried about what to wear because they all dressed down. Sailing folk are generally fairly unpretentious, even if their yachts are worth squillions. The LV brand and the trophy, which took the place of the America’s Cup during all the legal wrangling, seem like a perfect match.

One guest, the American rapper Kanye West, clearly exhausted after his Abu Dhabi concert, fell asleep in the main salon and missed most of the afternoon – but even that was an indication of how relaxed the LV people made their guests feel.


Putin and his puppy

A picture of Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin cuddling his new puppy is undoubtedly supposed to make us all feel a warm emotional response. You can imagine Putin’s image makers salivating over the gift of a Karakachan puppy from the Bulgarian prime minister in terms of photo opportunities.

So why does it have the opposite effect on me? The fact that the fluffy bundle will grow into a fierce 125lb guard dog might have something to do with it. Putin, generally photographed disporting his action-man credentials, seldom responds to humans the way he is responding to the new puppy. I just think it looks a bit creepy.