The edge - Amanda Platell salutes Anna Ford

They may be trying to prepare us for the idea of Camilla as a dormant queen, but what do we get inst

The Prince of Wales is keen to be seen as a modern monarch in waiting, hence his recent outpourings on global warming and eco-friendly farming. The palace PR machine has had some success portraying him as a caring single dad with two fit sons. Now, with the assistance of 40 stylists and spinners, Charles is hoping to make us swallow the idea of a thoroughly modern Queen Camilla - you can hear feminists up and down the kingdom choking on the very thought.

Not because she was the cause of so much of Princess Diana's misery, nor that she is too old or too dull to be our Queen, but simply that she is hardly a role model for 21st-century females.

What is modern about a woman who has never done a proper day's work in her life, who struggles to live on a tax-free allowance of £180,000 a year (after horses, houses, horrible tent frocks, cars, children, etc, are paid for), whose sycophancy to her partner reaches new heights even for royalty, and whose only apparent skills are talking tampons and lying back and thinking of England?

She is so keen not to upstage her hapless husband that she even refuses to work the DVD player in front of him (it's a skill our future king has been unable to master) for fear of making him feel inadequate. Camilla's married motto is "be boring", something she achieves with staggering ease as she avoids stealing the fragile Charles's limelight. She has taken up talking to turnips and painting in watercolours to please him.

And now the latest PR stunt, the trip to the US to prepare the world for Queen Camilla in waiting. They may be trying to sell us the idea of a dormant queen, but instead what do we get? A doormat queen.

It is a great shame the wonderful Anna Ford is retiring from the BBC, and an even greater shame that news of her leaving after 27 years as one of our most highly respected newsreaders is greeted with comments such as "bad news for a generation of men" and the quote from Robin Day that every man who saw her wanted to sleep with her. Be that as it may, she was, is, sexy and smart, raising her two children alone and continuing to work after the death of her husband, Mark Boxer, in 1988. Anna's 62 years should make her more not less sought-after at the BBC, given the country's ageing population. Certainly, I'm delighted to see on TV a beautiful, intelligent woman in her sixties who has not succumbed to the cosmetic surgeon's knife.

The father of the Aldgate Tube suicide bomber Shehzad Tanweer, who murdered seven people and destroyed the lives of countless others, has attacked the media for its coverage of the July atrocities. Mohammed Mumtaz Tanweer said his son was so British, "even on the night before he died, he was playing cricket". He accuses the media of being "highly biased" and "treacherous" in its account of the bombings."They have called us murderers, killers, slaughterers and assassins," he says. No, Mr Tanweer, the media has not called you any such thing. It has, however, called your son all of them, which is exactly what he was.

The emergence of gastro pubs, raked gravel and supermodels has sent novelist Joanna Trollope fleeing her beloved Cotswolds home for London. She wants to avoid the Kate Mosses and Liz Hurleys of this world, she says. Hasn't anyone told the silly woman that while the likes of Kate and Liz have weekend homes in the country, they live in London.

News that Tony and Cherie Blair have pocketed 18 luxury watches and various items of jewellery from the dubious Silvio Berlusconi has been met with the usual calls for more transparency, and for them to declare the

gifts or return them. Wouldn't it be better if they gave them away, perhaps to Cherie's favourite Australian children's charity - you know, the one on the verge of closure after forking out a fee reported to run into the tens of thousands for her to speak at a fundraising dinner which raised, er, £7,000 for the kids? That's about two of Cherie's watches by my count.

This article first appeared in the 07 November 2005 issue of the New Statesman, Ambushed: Why America turned on Dubbya