5 JUNE 1971, Page 27

Royal fragging

Richard Crossman was simple enough to be at the receiving end of an editorial fragging* when he printed Paul Johnson's vicious anti- monarchy piece as the New Statesman's leader last week. Poor Richard Crossman back-pedalled hard over the weekend sug- gesting that royal possessions, not subject to tax, should be put into 'something like the National Trust'. His srairce was close at hand—the 'Spectator's Notebook' of 17 April this year said : 'What surely is required is a decision as to which of the royal posses- sions are more properly regarded as public property : and the maintenance of these, subject to public access, ahould be the pub- lic's financial responsibility. A Royal Trust, somewhat similar to the National Trust,

could well be established.' • No one argues that there is a case for a less conspicuous level of outlay by the Royal Family and that they need help in being decisive. Not some pennypinching business of footmen or whether gold or silver plate is to be used at dinner, but a gesture such as the breaking-up or sale of Sandringham (there being a national case for Balmoral) would be no great hardship and would dem- onstrate more .(early than popping the crown jewels, that a start is being made in economy.

*Frogging: Vietnamese war jargon for en- listed men's assassination of their officers by fragmentation bomb.