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Lindy McDowell: Why the Queen’s had a gem of an idea to reel in Duchess of Excess

Meghan Markle on her wedding day
Meghan Markle on her wedding day
Queen Elizabeth

By Lindy McDowell

She may have taken the crown this week as new and undisputed queen of Instagram but Meghan, Duchess of Sussex has apparently lost the tiara.

According to reports, Her Majesty the Queen, no less, has decided that Meghan is to be banned in future from borrowing certain jewellery items from the fabulous royal collection that dates back 400 years and is worth even more than Mark Zuckerberg.

The thinking behind the move is said to be "to maintain order, hierarchy and precedence".

In other words, to show who's who in the pecking order.

This is not the first time Meghan has been caught up in what one headline this week gloriously referred to as "tiara tensions".

First there was her reported determination to wear an emerald tiara to her wedding - scuppered after it was revealed the provenance of the piece could not be established and there were concerns it may have come from Russia (were they worried Vladimir Putin would want it back?).

The set-to over this tiara led to the alleged (and now infamous) declaration by Harry that: "What Meghan wants, Meghan gets."

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You can imagine how this type of diva strop would have gone down with the Queen, a woman known to breakfast from Tupperware, to prefer jumpers and wellies to ballgowns, and blustery weather to baby showers.

On then to "tiara tension" mark 2.

During an official visit to Bali the Duchess had reportedly planned to wear another tiara she'd eyed out. Prince Charles put the kibosh on that. He is said to have pointed out that flaunting gem-encrusted headgear on that occasion would be deemed inappropriate.

Much has since been made of the fact, however, that on the same evening, at a ball in London to welcome visiting royals, Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, sported a priceless tiara worn by her late mother-in-law Diana.

Did Meghan, and by extension Harry, subsequently feel put out? That they were being shown their place?

For months now rumours have persisted about a duel between the duchesses and a rift between their respective husbands.

The fallout from that was never going to help bolster the monarchy. But undoubtedly destabilising too was the injection of Hollywood extravagance Meghan brought to the stuffy corridors of royalty.

Her no-holds-barred splashing out on a lavish and wildly expensive couture wardrobe has dazzled but also dismayed.

Then there was that baby shower in New York with macaroon towers alone which cost more (£350) than many a weekly wage back home in the UK. The words Marie Antoinette have been mentioned... never a great comparison for a royal.

It's suggested that it may be hard to put the PR brakes upon Meghan, though. She's used to being in the limelight. She's comfortable centre stage.

But if it is indeed true that the Queen has turned the lock on the tiara cabinet and will in future decide who is loaned what bauble, there's a very real signal there that someone in royal circles feels Megs needs to learn her place.

The message isn't just that Kate and William rank above Meghan and Harry. But that their position must be acknowledged and respected.

The Cambridges are, compared to the glitzy, shiny Sussexes, a more muted, serious couple. A lot less showy. Although it has to be acknowledged that both also live lives of enormous privilege. Kate too spends a fair oul bit on the wardrobe.

The trick with such great privilege and wealth is in not being seen to rub people's noses in it.

Meghan is still learning the ropes, of course. Being suddenly related by marriage to the Crown Jewels could turn any girl's head.

But gaining a reputation for being the cause of friction between two brothers, not to mention being labelled extravagant, difficult and demanding doesn't just hurt Megan. This continuing tiara tension takes a bit of shine of the Crown.

The Duchess of Excess needs to reel it in a bit.

Rodgers fired up over pallets

Understatement of the week. The comment from councillor Jim Rodgers that it's too early to be building bonfires. On a couple of recent occasions council workers have had to remove material (ie pallets) from Bloomfield Walkway in east Belfast. If the bonfire builders are starting this early you can just imagine the size of the intended pyre. What I've always wondered is where do all these pallets come from? Isn't there some way to trace them to source?

Tandragee stalking me online

You know that thing where you're trawling through a website and it keeps firing up ads tailored to suit your particular demographic or previous online activity? That pair of shoes you considered buying that are now taunting you on every site you click on to. This week I'm being stalked by Tandragee. Dozens of ads mentioning Tandragee. Such as the "laser eye treatment that's sweeping Tandragee". It's years since I've even been to Tandragee. Why is Tandragee now coming to me?

Better beware of being DUPed

The DUP saw some slippage in their role as lynchpins in the Government's Brexit battle this week. The party had the rug pulled from under them when so-called supporters Boris and Moggy U-turned away from their previous avowed position as defenders of the Union.

Then, to make matters worse, the DUPers found themselves frozen out after the detente between Mrs May and Jeremy Corbyn.

Trying to work out where the party goes from here is a bit like trying to calculate the trajectory of a defunct satellite spiralling to Earth. It could land anywhere.

In fairness they aren't alone in putting their trust in others whose own best interests may define future strategy.

Taoiseach Mr Varadkar has been much in demand this week. Feted by Emmanuel Macron in Paris. Hosting Angela Merkel in Dublin.

How they all love Leo!

For an obvious reason. To them he is the one-man hard border sneering at all attempts by the hapless British Government to try to find a way out of the backstop quandary.

The EU that now fawns over him wasn't quite so accommodating, however, when Ireland was badly hit by recession.

So Leo would do well to learn from the DUP's mistake in depending on those who side with you primarily to advance their own agenda.

Brexit, however it pans out, will impact most upon Ireland, north and south of the border. People living along that border will be affected. But so too will people all across this island. Not just in the south. Not just nationalists.

Wouldn't it be an idea then for politicians from opposing sides from both sides of the border to sit down together like Theresa and Jezza? To talk to each other. Not at each other.

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