In a shock announcement, HRH Queen Elizabeth the Second has declared that she will be putting Buckingham Palace on the market this spring, at an asking price as yet undisclosed.
This move has come at a time of hardship for the Royals: two weddings in the months ahead and increasing costs on the upkeep of the Royal households has forced the Queen and Prince Philip to conduct a serious review of their finances.
"One simply can no longer justify the expense of a place the size of Buckingham Palace," said the Queen yesterday through her spokesman. "At a time of national recession it is the least we can do. One wishes to assert one's solidarity with the people in their enforced austerity. Also, in this way, we shall not have to ask the tax payer to fund the weddings."
"Nice bit of dosh in the jolly old bank,too," her consort was reported to have muttered, but this was not confirmed by the Palace, and this paper fully supports and congratulates the Queen on her sacrifice for the nation.
Interest has already run high on the upcoming sale. A Saudi Prince is said to be very keen, though the drawback in this case might be that there is insufficient parking space for his fleet of luxury automobiles, including four wheel drives, limousines and camping cruisers. Then there are the camels.
"It's a dilemma," frowned the handsome, bearded Prince, "but we could concrete over the gardens, I suppose."
Another source of interest is a wealthy Indian businessman, one of the early dot.com billionaires, who would keep the gardens and for whose extended family the Palace is just roomy enough.
"It would be a delicious irony," said Mr. Bindi, 48, with his smiling wife beside him. "You people came to colonise and rule us - and now we will be living in the residence of kings!"
The slight drawback in his potential purchase is the question of re-training the Palace staff in the art of Indian cookery, as Mr. Bindi very generously wishes not to throw out existing domestics, particularly as bringing over his own workers and paying for visas would be exorbitant.
The third offer came swiftly after the above two gentlemen had made their enquiries, and appears to be from Russian oligarch Gregori Komiskowskiovskalaskavitch, though he prefers to deal through his agent, a burly man of about thirty who wore dark glasses throughout the news conference. It appears that the Russian would-be purchaser wishes to run casinos, gaming rooms, vodka bars and special quarters for Russian escorts within the Palace, as well as high quality hotel suites for wealthy visitors to the capital.
"They will be able to boast that they have had a shag where the Queen and her husband did it!" chortled the bespectacled Dimitri, whose English no doubt suffered in the translation.
Bidding will start in earnest some time in late March, and, as the Queen will be free to reject a purchaser, however high his or her offer, we can only hope that Mr. Komiskowskiovskalaskavitch does not succeed. His name is far too long to fit on the Palace mail box.
It is also possible that the London Borough Council will purchase 'Buck House' and convert it to social housing, with a lot of nice green play space for the kids. The Princes William and Harry are said to be keen on this idea, and would suggest the name of 'Diana's Court Buildings' could be given to the project.
Who knows? We live in exciting times.