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    • Taking the 'l' out of flame

      News this week has been alight with celebs causing a hoo-ha with their smoking habits. Enter Miss Cheryl Cole: reportedly desperate beyond belief to land herself a place on the judging panel of the US X-factor alongside Simon Cowell (which, by the way, she has just managed), speculation that she was to be disappointed caused the beauty to hide away in hotel rooms, and, uncharacteristically, neglect her superficial appearance. But there’s a simple solution, love (or so the tabloids will have us believe). Just stop smoking. Apparently, the 27-year-old Geordie currently indulges in a 20-a-day habit, and although has tried to quit, admitted last year: “I miss smoking when I stop. It's not cool to say so, but I do.” No, it’s not cool Miss Cole. Not cool at all. Forget having elocution lessons to Americanise your lovably-thick northern accent; according to the Daily Mail, you’re currently speaking a universal language that the Americans don’t understand; your smoking habit. And now that you have been accepted on to the programme, it may be more vital than ever to quit.

      Next up; British actor Jeremy Irons. Currently living in New York, Irons has launched a scathing attack on Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, for banning smoking in city-owned open spaces to improve public health. “Smokers deserve special protection – like disabled people”, Irons has claimed. Unsurprisingly, this has caused offence to many, no less than The National Organisation on Disability, who called the comment a “very inappropriate comparison.”

      So, it would seem that the Americans may have it right with their adversity to cigarettes. And the British failure to comply against this somewhat idealised backdrop has only been magnified this week with the third in line to the throne, Prince Harry’s, public ‘cigarette break’ whilst on a charity walk in the North Pole.

      Reportedly having started smoking at 14 whilst at posh boys’ school, Eton, Prince Harry made his first public appearance with cigarettes in 2003 whilst at a polo match, looking on contentedly as he puffed away. He has since also been disciplined by his father, Prince Charles, for smoking marijuana. And although he has reportedly made several attempts to stop over the years, one source explains that “Harry doesn’t seem able to give up once and for all. One reason he smokes is boredom.” You can hardly blame the poor boy; it must get terribly boring being part of the most famous family in the world, and having that very same world at your fingertips.

      But putting aside any royal-related bitterness and contempt which seems to inflict many, and whether or not we agree with the rocketing level of fame attributed to a normal family who happen, by name alone, to be defined majestic, the members of this family, whether they like it or not, have a duty to uphold a role-model status. And smoking, I’m afraid, does not fit in with what is supposed to be a picture of perfection (neither does dressing up as a Nazi, but hey, that’s for another day).

      The country is grinding to a standstill in time for the big day (no, not mine, or any other ‘normal’ person who’s getting married), but that of elder brother Prince William and his betrothed, Kate Middleton. You can’t open a paper, watch the TV, or walk down the street, without some related-content jumping out at you. We even have the day off (not that I’m complaining!) And although many people are elated, excited, and desperate to join in the celebrations, there are many (including myself), who are getting somewhat tired at the level of importance attributed to this event. But Royals are Royals, and they will always be treated as such. That’s just something we have to accept. They will always be special, they will always be loved, and they will always be glorified.

      But they will also always have a duty to influence. They will always be scrutinised and judged. And most importantly, they will always be expected to comply. In order to retain the godly status of which they have been endowed, it has to be this way.

      It is always heart-wrenching to see someone who you look up to doing something you disagree with. Unfortunately, in this day and age, because people become famous at the drop of hat for, more often than not, extremely mundane things, and although they still have a duty to the fans they influence, the level of expectation has to be reduced somewhat with regards to their role-model status. And although in an ideal world a mutually-exclusive relationship between ‘flame’ and ‘fame’ would exist, it is unlikely to ever materialise. However, the Royal Family have always, and will always, be as they are. If they’re not to be treated as mere-mortals for things such as the level of celebration attributed to their weddings, then surely they should also not be involved with the trials and tribulations of us mere-mortals which one would rather be without. Sort it out Prince Harry.    

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