Charity is whey out of order in trying to milk this royal visit

'Are you sure that cow's real?'
'Are you sure that cow's real?'

The heir to the throne and his consort don't always manage to avoid embarrassing photos, as when Camilla was snapped enthusiastically brandishing a knife rather close to her husband recently. But Prince Charles is sufficiently experienced and well advised to spot the more obvious elephant traps - or, in this case a cow trap.

On a visit to the excellent charity Send a Cow in Bath, he politely declined an invitation by volunteer Mark Hillman to sit on a stool and tug on the plastic teats of Milky Way, a fibreglass model on wheels used to publicise the charity. One doesn't voluntarily make oneself look daft, does one? And anyway, one already has people to do one's milking.

The Civil Service might not be what it was, but some of those Yes, Minister skills still remain. When the Cabinet Office was asked why the "no-lobbying" clause was first made public in The Daily Telegraph on a Saturday, the reply, on behalf of charities minister Rob Wilson, was: "This announcement was made as part of the usual cycle of government news." Oh, ten out of ten, Sir Humphrey! The real answer, of course, is likely to be that they knew the Telegraph would play it big and there was a fair chance the Sundays would follow up.

You can depend on the Red Cross ... can we depend on you?" That's the slogan on the big envelope that's just been mailed out to older people, containing a bookmark, three cards with envelopes, a notebook, a lapel badge, a sheet of 48 stickers with the recipient's name and address on them and, of course, an appeal for money. "Special gifts are enclosed for you," the envelope says. "If you have no use for them please do not return them. Instead, please recycle them or pass them on ..." The Code of Fundraising Practice says enclosures shouldn't induce financial guilt. Older people often feel it's wrong to get something for nothing. Perhaps the Red Cross missed the Olive Cooke case.

The Association of Charitable Foundations stayed rather in the background when the Charity Commission crossed swords with the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, an ACF member, over Cage. Now it's come into the foreground by contributing a supportive comment to the commission's press notice about new commission guidance for foundations giving to non-charities such as Cage: "We are grateful for the opportunity to engage with the commission etc". A bit cosy? It has certainly raised eyebrows among those who would prefer a more arm's-length relationship between the two bodies.

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