This week's UK news: 21 May 2010
21 May 2010

The strange lives of the Royal Family

The Queen’s mother had a £70m fortune but liked to save money, we learned this week.

The Queen Mother, who died in 2002 at the age of 101, liked to spend summers at her castle in Scotland. One of her staff has said that she refused to buy a television set for the castle. Instead, she rented one every summer.

The Queen Mother also loved to watch horse races. The problem was that she wanted them recorded – but only had a very old VCR. It did not work properly.

We also found out this week that Princess Diana had a very bad headache on her wedding day. Her brother says this was because she was wearing a little crown, called a tiara, on her head. It was heavy and she was not used to wearing it.

Cash on demand

The man credited with inventing the world's first hole-in-the-wall cash dispenser after a "eureka" moment in the bath has died, aged 84, after a short illness.

John Shepherd-Barron came up with the idea after failing to get to his bank in time to withdraw money. Later, while in the bath, he had an idea. “There must be a way I could get my own money anywhere in the world or the UK. I hit upon the idea of a chocolate bar dispenser, but replacing chocolate with cash," he said.

He sold the idea to a bank manager as they drank pink gin, and the first machine officially opened in London in 1967.

New government reveals joke

When a UK government changes, outgoing ministers sometimes leave letters for  new ones.

But David Laws, who now works in the Treasury, was surprised by the note he got. It read: "I'm afraid there is no money."

Mr Laws said: "It was honest, but slightly less helpful than I had been expecting."

2012 Olympic mascots launched

Official mascots are usually cuddly, like bears and dogs. But the London Olympics has just launched its mascots for the 2012 Games.

Wenlock and Mandeville are supposed to be drops of metal left over from the building of the Olympic Stadium. They each have one large eye and are shiny. They are meant to make people think of London taxis. They are also supposed to please children.

Lots of people do not like them at all. And lots of people did not like the 2012 logo either.


by Susan Young


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