Queen Elizabeth strapped for cash

Elizabeth II has joined the ranks of the credit crunched.

Recent figures reveal that the Queen's estate, the Duchy of Lancaster, has lost £75 million as a result of the recession. Her private portfolio of land and property assets lost a fifth of its value and is now down to a paltry £322 million.

This is further bad news for her Highness, who has had her many, many requests for increases to the royal budget rejected by parliament in the last year. The monarchy's annual expenses currently run at £41.5 million, excluding an estimated £50 million in security costs. Nonetheless, Palace officials continue to engage in talks with the Treasury to elicit more funding for the Crown for, amongst others, planned household refurbishment and the 2012 diamond jubilee celebrations.

The Queen recently dipped into her now-dwindling private funds to pay for a few royal expenses, including Prince Harry's latest trip to New York.

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Thongs for peace

Maybe it was bound to happen. The Save Darfur Coalition says its mission is "inspiring action, raising awareness and speaking truth to power on behalf of the people of Darfur."

You'll be relieved to find out that this $12.00 thong is not an official product of the Coalition, but the sales description promises that it can be used to do all of these things:

"Toss these message panties onstage at your favorite rock star or share a surprise message with someone special ... later."  

Admittedly, this description is the same for the thong regardless of which logo is chosen. But I'm still cringing.

The dealer, CafePress, gurantees that "100% of the profits will be dontated directly to the Save Darfur Coalition (" And the deal goes beyond just thongs. Save Darfur pet bowls and beer steins are among the other items on offer. 

Judging by some early reactions, raising funds or awareness like this might not exactly help mend divisions among Darfur activists or get policymakers to take them seriously.

In fact, even though they didn't make it, I'll be surprised if the Save Darfur Coalition doesn't distance themselves, given that they are featured as the recipient. On the other hand, if the Save Darfur Coalition's "millions of everyday citizens" all sent a thong to the White House, someone would have to pay attention.