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Duchess of York leaves queen's holiday home

By PETER KENNY

LONDON -- The embattled duchess of York left the Scottish holiday home of her mother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth, Sunday and took cover at a home near London as taboids continued to criticize her dalliance with her American 'financial adviser' and questioned the need for a royal family.

The flak continued to fly over intimate pictures published in Britain's tabloid press showing the former Sarah Ferguson frolicking topless at St. Tropez in France with her children and 37-year-old Texas businessman John Bryan, at one time described as her financial adviser.

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As the media spotlight bared Britain's royal family, the Sunday Express newspaper published the results of a poll it commissioned that showed that Britons are increasingly questioning the role of royalty, while simultaneously expecting there would still be a royal family in 50 years.

In an editorial headed, 'Anarchy in the Monarchy,' the normally pro-royal Sunday Mirror said Ferguson should be stripped of her title and the royal family should pay its way.

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'The time has also come for the queen to volunteer to pay tax on her vast personal fortune. The monarchy by its example must continue to give Britain the stability other nations envy,' said the Mirror.

The Mirror carried a front page story headed, 'My love for Fergie, by Johnny Bryan' in which it quoted a friend of Bryan, Whiteny Tower, as saying, 'He left me in doubt that he's very fond of Fergie and the children.'

'I believe he got caught up and was blinded by the glamor and glitter of the London social scene.'

The duchess flew from Aberdeen airport to London and arrived at Romenda Lodge in Wentworth, Berkshire, near London three days after the tabloid newspapers published the intimate pictures.

Buckingham Palace said the duchess's departure from Balmoral was 'as planned' before the publication of the photographs.

'There was no change in the arrangements,' said a spokesman.

Wearing a navy blue jacket and mid-length polka dot skirt, the duchess looked composed but serious with occasional smiles between her and the rest of her party.

Her daughters, dressed in white tops and tartan skirts, clutched little travel bags decorated with cartoon characters as they were gently helped up the aircraft steps by their mother.

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On the ground near London, the duchess, with princesses Beatrice, 4, and Eugenie, 2, smiled for more than 20 photographers as she was driven through the gates of her rented home at Romenda Lodge.

The rest of the royals put on a display of unity as they arrived without the duchess at the small church of Craithie near Balmoral in the Scottish Highlands for a traditional morning church service.

Ferguson's husband Andrew, duke of York, had the first passenger seat in the leading limousine, with the queen and her husband Phillip, duke of Edinburgh.

In a second limousine came the prince and princess of Wales, Charles and Diane, with their children.

Andrew, like his parents, appeared relaxed and happy, waving to a crowd of more then 1,000 lining their route.

The Sunday Express poll by the ICM organization showed that 86 percent of those questioned thought Ferguson should be stripped of her title if she separated from Andrew, the son of the queen.

Even the popular princess of Wales, Lady Diana Spencer, wife of the heir to the throne, did not escape criticism. Nearly one in five polled said she wanted the privileges of royalty without the responsibilities.

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The News of the World, one of the raunchier tabloids, carried a story about a tape recording said to be circulating of a titillating conversation between Diana and a male friend.

The Express poll found that almost 60 per cent of the public believed the royal family is extravagant; 48 percent believed the royals gave good value for money and 45 said they did not.

Yet confidence in the monarchy remained high, with 42 percent believing Britain would still have a monarchy in 50 years.

But at Balmoral one of the royal neighbors in exclusive West Drive, annoyed at the attention the duchess of York was attracting to the area, said: 'I'll be glad when she's gone. She's a flaming nuisance.'

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