Business columnist, with a political twist, for NZ Herald

Dita De Boni: Right job for royals


Better a tourist attraction than just another member of the unemployed graduates club.

Illustration / Anna Crichton
Illustration / Anna Crichton

One 2011 graduate of the British higher education system stands out for her exemplary connections to royalty, questionable taste in hats, and the sodding great silver spoon in her mouth.

But Princess Beatrice Elizabeth Mary of York, known as Bea, the daughter of train wreck Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew, aka "Airmiles Andy", is not so unusual in one respect: she is still, almost a year after graduation, unemployed.

Well, technically that's not true: she's currently doing "work experience placements" with a view to finding herself a career. Bea is not so enamoured of the one-step-removed royal life that she's prepared to devote herself to its inevitable duties - a ribbon cutting here, a visit with a despised Balkan warlord there, a weepy interview with Oprah over there.

She'd prefer to turn up every chuffing day to paid employment. But it's a hard road finding the perfect job. From her refurbished, four-bedroom flat at St James' Palace, is she scouring the "help wanted" section of the newspaper daily before darting to interviews in her sleek black Range Rover Evoque with interior designed by Victoria Beckham?

She wants to work in fine arts or fashion, but a BA in the History of Ideas will only get you so far. Furthermore, Bea has chosen precisely the wrong time to be joining the workforce. One in every four graduates of UK universities last year remains unemployed. The unemployment rate of all young Britons between the ages of 16 and 24 is almost 22 per cent. Politicians have been quick to blame the eurozone crisis, but more level-headed economists say the figures - the worst for youth since the 1980s - point to a chronically slowed economy.

Which also spells trouble for the young New Zealanders who continue to look to the UK to provide a more exciting life at a better pay rate. Already, the weakening British pound has meant the country is not the high-earning mecca it once was. Despite news this week that a record number of people are leaving NZ for more promising economic climes, a counter-trend has also been noted: young Kiwis with tolerably good jobs here are holding onto them and buying return tickets to Europe and the UK - visiting, rather than relocating. They are adjusting to the new reality.

Which is, of course, also what Bea is doing. If her uncle Prince Charles ever ascends the throne he has promised a pared-back monarchy. He apparently takes a dim view of his brother Andrew's gallivanting across the world with all manner of discredited persons. He supposedly takes an even dimmer view of the fact Andrew's daughters have lived high on the British taxpayer hog for so long.

But in fact royalty, whatever one might think of them, continue to be a huge pull for tourists to England and are an enormously successful industry themselves. Thanks to a recent royal wedding and the promise of fresh progeny, pride in, and loyalty to, the royal family is running hot. Perhaps, rather than pursuing a career at a high-end art gallery or couture house, Bea would be better served redoubling her efforts at the onerous duties of royal life, all the better to ensure Britain's biggest tourist attraction remains able to buffer the country against the recession it so surely faces.

* Illustration by Anna Crichton:

- NZ Herald

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Business columnist, with a political twist, for NZ Herald

Dita De Boni is a columnist, commentator and TV producer/journalist. She first wrote columns for the NZ Herald in 1995, moving to daily business news in 1999 for four years, and then to TVNZ in Business, News and Current Affairs. After tiring of the parenting/blogging beat for the Herald Online she moved back to her first love, business (with a politics chaser), writing a column for Friday Business since 2012.

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