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MPs hear the details of the Queen's finances

British aristocrats have long worried about ‘keeping the roof on’ their ageing and stately piles, and it seems the Queen is not immune from such concerns.

Queen Victoria's Train Car

The Royal train in Queen Victoria's Day (Science & Society Picture Librar)

The  Keeper of the Privy Purse Sir Alan Reid revealed yesterday - as he faced his annual grilling from MPs - that buckets are used to catch water leaking through rooves, and that most of the state rooms used for entertaining foreign heads of state have not been decorated since the Queen came to the throne 60 years ago.

The maintenance of the royal palaces has been neglected as the royals have attempted to cut costs.

Yes, We Know Who You Are

Pay Up, Hillary! London Parking Warden Tickets Clinton's Car

Hillary Clinton fell foul of a fearless London parking warden at the weekend. What a shame the Americans in London refuse to pay their parking fines.

Even in a relationship as special as ours, there are limits.

And Hillary Clinton well and truly overstepped that mark at the weekend when her people-carrier parked illegally in London – and was promptly slapped with a ticket by a London parking warden, despite a posse of security men leaping out of the car and trying desperately to keep the man away from her vehicle.

Hillary Clinton

Olivia Harris/Reuters, via Landov

But British parking attendants are made of sterner stuff than that. It takes more than a few heavily armed secret service dudes to put them off. And, most importantly, in this country, just because you are a former first lady and secretary of state, that doesn’t mean you cannot pay your £3:30 hourly parking rate and expect to get away with it.

Critics accuse the government of genocide, but Commonwealth meeting will go ahead as planned

Charles and Camilla will make a nine day visit to India next month, before moving on to Sri Lanka where The Prince will represent the Queen at the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), it was announced today.

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Prince Charles in India in 2011 (ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP / Getty)

The conference in Sri Lanka is controversial as activists have accused the Sri Lankan government of carrying out genocide against the minority Sri Lankan Tamil people during and after the civil war in that country which came to an end in 2009.

This will be Charles and Camilla's third official visit to India together.  Their office said that they will undertake a broad range of engagements "to promote the strong UK-India partnership in key areas such as conservation, education, growing business links, women's empowerment and training."

Dressy Cressy

Dissecting Cressida's Style

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(From left to right) Cressida Bonas in June 2013 at the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts, in June again at the wedding of Melissa Percy and Thomas van Straubenzee, and in September 2012 at a party. (Getty)

Prince Harry's girlfriend is the opposite of Kate in every way. Tom Sykes examines the evidence: a pair of Doc Martens, some Dungarees, and that infamous scrunchie.

The easiest way to understand Cressida Bonas, Prince Harry’s epically-named girlfriend who is currently in the hot seat to be his bride, is to think of her as the anti-Kate.

Where Kate is mild-mannered and middle-class, Cressy, 24, is a wild, blue-blooded aristocrat with bohemian heritage. Her mother, noted Sixties beauty Lady Mary-Gaye Curzon, has been married no less than four times and posed topless covered in engine oil for a gentleman’s magazine, back when posing topless covered in engine oil was still considered rather daring.

While Kate was horrified when Prince Harry was photographed naked in Las Vegas, Cressy – who was actually going out with him at the time – told friends that she really didn’t see what all the fuss was about. After all, what self-respecting Prince wouldn’t get naked with a bunch of blondes one had just met in the casino downstairs on lad’s weekend in Sin City?

And while Kate was always rather eager (too eager, some said) for William to put a ring on it, Cressida is really rather hoping that Harry doesn’t rush into things, and is careful to put him off marriage and baby talk at any opportunity.

Latest security headache at Buck House

An armed man has attempted to gain entry to Buckingham Palace in the latest dramatic security scare to take place at the royal palaces.

At 11:30 today, the man who was armed with a knife, attempted to force his way in via the North Gate, the main everyday entrance to the palace to the right of the ornate central gates used for ceremonial occasions.

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The police said they arrested the man following the incident, on suspicion of trespassing on a protected site  and possession of an offensive weapon. He is in custody at a London police station.

What Are You Doing?

Carole and Mike To Carve Turkey With The Queen

Unprecedented invite insures family unity

I know it's a bit early to ask, but, what are you doing for Christmas?

I only enquire because the Sun is reporting that Mike and Carole Middleton are going to be gathered round the festive table with the Queen, after being invited to her country estate at Sandringham for Crimbo.

"This year's celebrations are set to be extra special after Prince George's arrival," a royal source told The Sun.

"What better way to mark such a magical year than by having the whole family present?. Kate is very close to her family. Any child's first Christmas is one no grandparent would want to miss."

Uncensored

What Mothers REALLY Want To Know

The cult British parenting website has the answers to all the questions every parent has ever asked, and quite a few most of us haven't as well.

The parenting website Mumsnet (think Reddit for Moms) saw a discussion thread go viral this week after a poster asked whether any other users of the website had a "penis beaker"—a beaker of water by the bed that her husband could dunk his member in after having sex (the bathroom was all tied up—by her).

“We have a dedicated post-sex cleanup area on the bedside table,” the poster, using the name SaraCrewe, wrote. “A box of tissues, a small bin, and a beaker of clean water for temporary cleaning/dunking while the bathroom is occupied by me. Apparently our penis beaker is strange and not the done thing. Does everyone else just lay there in a post-coital glow until morning? Really?”

After some users questioned whether she was just trolling and asked detailed practical questions (Is the water warm? Does it overflow? How does one avoid mixing up the "spermy" water with nighttime drinking water?), SaraCrewe added, “I have only ever slept with my husband and we've always done this! Might have started when we were teens and couldn't make a dash to the bathroom in our parents’ houses. Luckily my drinking water is in a sports bottle.”

So what are some of the other classic Mumsnet discussion threads? We rounded up some of the best...

Not a Kindle Fan

Queen Fears e-Books and Computer Games

Queen says there is no substitute for books

The Queen probably won't be buying Prince George an iPad or a Kindle.

She told a writer today that she thinks there is no substitute for books.

Queen Elizabeth

Pool Photo by Philip Toscano/Reuters

She spoke of her fears over e-books and tablets as she presented Chocolat author Joanne Harris with an MBE for services to literature at Buckingham Palace.

William and Kate continue to break with tradition and do things their way

Prince William and Kate continue with their determination to do things their way, with news today that baby George will be christened without the usual compliment of senior royal uncles and aunts.

Celebrity Baby of the Summer

John Stillwell/AP

The Queen's daughter Anne, the Princess Royal, will be in Canada for a series of engagements in and around Toronto, while the Countess of Wessex will spend the day carrying out official duties in Somerset, Devon and Bristol, according to a an exclusive report in today's Daily Mail by Rebecca English.

The paper adds:

The incredible fund-raising ability of the ginger Prince revealed!

Nice work, Harry.

Prince Harry's one-night stopover in Dubai on Sunday night on his way back from Australia raised over $1m for his African HIV charity Sentebale, his spokespeople said today.

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Chris Jackson / Getty Images

Prince Harry spoke Arabic at the fundraising dinner which  raised the money to help build Sentebale's Mamohato Children's Centre of Excellence in the African kingdom of Lesotho.

Irish singer Sinead O'Connor keeps controversy alive by penning new open letter seeking apology fom Miley

I thought we had reached the limit of 'the open letter' (especially as Miley Cyrus is probably like, 'What's a letter?') but Sinead O'Connor is not giving up.

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Al Powers/Powers Imagery/Invision /AP; PicSol/Retna Ltd/Corbis

For the feisty Irish singer has now penned a fourth open letter to the teen popster, demanding (once again) that she apologizes to both her and Amanda Bynes (despite the fact that Ms Bynes has not made any such demand herself) for mocking their mental health problems.

The fresh letter comes after Miley’s appearance on Matt Lauer’s show, in which she said, of O'Connor, "I think she's an incredible artist, I think she's an awesome songwriter, and I was really inspired by her for my 'Wrecking Ball' video, which was what started the whole thing. I don't know how someone can start a fight with somebody who said, ‘Hey, I really respect you. And I really love what you what you did.' That was kind of crazy. But as I said, I'm a big fan of hers, so it doesn't really matter."

Another day, another Instagram user not clear on how the service works...

There's nothing a British aristocrat loves like a jolly day spent blasting pheasants out of the sky, yet there is still a certain amount of surprise that any of Pippa's friends could have been so stupid as to Instagram pictures of Pippa grinning broadly in front of a heap of dead birds after a shoot this weekend - on an open account.

Still, at least she is wearing Dubarry boots in the picture. Wellie-snobbery is terrible but growing vice among the British upper classes. Wearing the wrong sort of wellies is a crime at least as serious as not understanding the privacy settings on your account before uploading snaps.

Prince William today hosted the first ever game of football to be played at Buckingham Palace

Prince William - president of the British Football Association - today hosted the first ever football match to be held at Buckingham Palace, telling the teams before kick-off,  “One warning, though: if anyone breaks a window, you can answer to my grandmother.”

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WPA Pool

The Queen is still in Scotland, prompting William to add, “The one small silver lining to Her Majesty not being present today is that there shouldn’t be any corgis running on to the pitch!”

Prince William presented medals to the 150 football volunteers before kick-off.

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Fashion, Sex & Power

Royal Wedding Bells?

Harry and Cressida Could Wed Next Year

More chatter suggests that Harry and Cressida could be preparing to get married next year. Tom Sykes reports

The Royalist was reporting all last week that there seemed to be fresh impetus on the part of Camp Harry to move towards an engagement with his girlfriend Cressida Bonas, and this weekend the British royal gossips were abuzz with further speculation on the matter, after the Sunday Telegraph reported that Cressida’s friends were confidently expecting a 2014 wedding.

“Cressie is going to marry Harry,” one of her friends told The Telegraph.  “Harry never stops talking about marriage and children, and she has now got used to the idea. The wedding is likely to take place next year.”

Harry (29) has made little secret of the fact that he is actively wife-hunting, going so far as to explicitly bemoan the difficulty of finding someone to fill the “role” of royal wife in interviews, and this, understandably, ‘freaked Cressida out’ according to one of the Royalist’s sources.

Friends of the young royals have previously told the Royalist that the romance with Cressida (24) represented Harry’s most serious relationship since the Chelsy Davy days, but with Harry’s and Cressida’s friends now allowing themselves to believe that the still-rowdy royal and his blue-blooded girlfriend could actually tie the knot next year, it’s clear the relationship is moving up a gear. Cressida has been unwilling to commit, and also to give up on her dreams of a showbiz career (she is a dance graduate).

READ ON

The Royalist

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IN CASE YOU MISSED

Dissecting Cressida's Style

Dissecting Cressida's Style

Prince Harry’s girlfriend is the opposite of Kate Middleton in every way. Tom Sykes examines the evidence: a pair of Doc Martens, some dungarees, and that infamous scrunchie.

Sibling Rivalry

Mad About Pippa

Not A Stretch

Kate Flashes Tummy on First Solo Engagement Since Birth

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