Mazher Mahmoud, the News of the World reporter who has already fooled Sophie Wessex with this scam, posed as a sheikh interested in buying Prince and Princess Michael of Kent's agreeable Gloucestershire home, Nether Lypiatt.
If he hoped Princess Michael would say something mildly embarrassing, he got what he wanted. But, aside from referring to the late Princess Diana's alleged role, in Prince Charles' eyes, as a mere "womb" to bear royal heirs - a common enough aspersion, if distasteful and untrue - she came out of it perfectly well. The elegant Princess - daughter of Gunther von Reibnitz (who was dismissed from the SS in 1944 for his devout Catholicism), and mother of two charming children, Freddie and Gabriella Windsor - came out with the kind of stuff any of us might to pass the time of day with a fake sheikh, and the story Mahmoud has cobbled together reflects this. It isn't journalism, exactly, but it seems to keep the News of the World happy.
As it happens, Princess Michael is a distant cousin of the blog's, descending from Hero Oomkens "the Younger" (+1522) and his wife Armgard (née von Oldenburg) through their daughter, Onna Oomkens von Esens, who married Otto III von Cuyk-Rietberg. But such a descendancy is probably shared with dozens of people, and is certainly not the reason for the blog's warm feelings towards her. In fact, her persecution is yet another example of how powerful newspapers attack those who are in no position properly to fight back.
The News of the World is owned by rabid anti-royalist Rupert Murdoch, who pursues his vendettas tenaciously. But for all the spin the paper puts on the story, it reflects much more badly on the paper's own scummy sensationalism, and Murdoch's sour disrespect, than it does on Princess Michael.
Full story in:News Of the World - Online Edition