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Royal Tour
Court Circular, Issue 1482
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The Marble Hall in Buckingham Palace was included in the tours.
OVER the summer, rumours swirled that newlyweds Harry and Meghan – referred to by unkind courtiers as Chandler and Monica – were to be presented by the Queen with a home in Windsor, Adelaide Cottage. These turned out not to be accurate – but they did result in hacks digging up the fact that the current occupant, Simon Rhodes, son of the Queen’s late cousin Margaret Rhodes, had registered the house as the address of his tourist guide business Willowmead Associates.

A couple of phone calls to the palace resulted in almost all mention of Rhodes’s activities being instantly scrubbed from the internet – which means the full extent to which he was cashing in on his royal connections has not been revealed.

Exclusive and very pricey
Simon Rhodes Tours, which offered exclusive and very pricey royal “experiences”, was Rhodes’s most daring venture. It offered seven-night trips at £40,000 per couple, but failed to last more than a few months this year. On a website and glossy brochure, Rhodes broke the cardinal rule of discretion by boasting that “I feel hugely privileged to have been welcomed at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and the private estates of the Royal Family over the years as a family guest”.

Always referring to himself as “Simon Rhodes Esq” (to cover the fact that he doesn’t even have a Royal Victorian Medal let alone a title), he even allowed upmarket travel agents Humphreys of Henley to promote his “Privileged Royal Tours” as being “guided by a member of the royal family”, which is rather pushing it for the third child of the daughter of the Queen Mother’s sister.

What he was offering wouldn’t have been possible without some help from friends in high places. He offered trips around Buckingham Palace outside of its usual opening months, on a “private basis” with champagne and canapés in the Marble Hall. St James’s Palace, which is never open to the public, was also on his itinerary, as was the Royal Stud at Sandringham, where guests would be hosted by the “Queen’s Stud Manager or other senior figure”. Rhodes boasted that at Sandringham, “Luncheon will be in Field Barn, a small estate cottage used solely by the Royal Family for barbecues and shooting lunches”. Guests were also offered access to the Royal Enclosure at Royal Ascot, something that money shouldn’t be able to buy.

Hidden gem
The Royal Library at Windsor, another hidden gem not accessible to the public, also opened its doors for him, with Rhodes boasting that “access is only granted by highly privileged authority”. So enthused was American travel blogger Jean Newman Glock that she wrote a glowing and lengthy review of the experience on her website - which has mysteriously disappeared. As has Rhodes’s own website and virtually any other mention of the tours. Because once the palace got wind of what he was up to, most of his friends in high places suddenly vanished.

When Peter Phillips and his company gained the rights to organise his granny’s 90th birthday party in the Mall, the palace went to great lengths to explain that due process had been followed in appointing Princess Anne’s son. Brenda must always remain above suspicion. For a distant cousin to trade on his tenuous links to her publicly, and to blunderingly expose that officials aren’t above supplementing their wages with some extra-curricular activities, demanded swift action.

A number of senior figures in the royal household have been sharply reminded of their responsibilities. It must all have been something of an embarrassment to Rhodes’s wife Susan, who was appointed as a lady in waiting just last year.

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