April 21, 1997 12:00 PM

THE WEB SITES ROYAL

The sun can never set on the British Empire—at least the portion of it that’s now on the World Wide Web. With a touch of her gloved finger in a March ceremony at a London high school, Queen Elizabeth switched on Buckingham Palace’s Web site (www.royal.gov.uk), a dignified, 150-page collection of biographies, history and minutiae. “The Internet is rapidly becoming a part of everyday life,” she declared, “and, used properly, it opens the door to a huge range of knowledge, which has no national boundaries.”

If Her Majesty only knew how open that door already is. The official site may not meet any definition of dishy—dispatching with Fergie in seven opaque sentences—but its commoner counterparts are considerably bolder. One would-be usurper is RoyaltyUK (www.royaltyuk.com), produced by London’s Daily Mail. It offers breezy daily dispatches—for Di-hards only at $8.95 for a six-month subscription—but no Squidgygate audio clips. Says its editor, Steven Lynas: “We’re not doing the site in order to be scurrilous.” So, for true cheek, head for RoyalNetwork (www.royalnetwork.com), where users can eyeball doctored photos of Palace players, decorate their desktops with images of royal seals and read others’ poetic paeans to Prince William.

Of course the Windsors aren’t the only game in town. The handy Marivi’s Royalty Buffs page (www.serv.net/~marivim/royalty.html) offers directions to a Web site for the princely House of Liechtenstein and a snazzy page celebrating the golden jubilee of Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Some monarchs are honored from afar—King Mswati III of Swaziland’s home on the Web (www.pitt.edu/~tgsst 10/swaziland.html) is provided by Swazi native Gugulethu Terence Sibiya, a U.S. doctoral student—and others rule only virtual kingdoms. Yugoslavia’s Karadjordjevics, ousted by the Nazis during World War II, thrive on the Net at a friendly site (www.suc.org/royal), with family photos provided by Crown Prince Alexander, 51, now a Londoner. But the Kingdom of Araucania and Patagonia (www.pitt.edu/~jwcstl7/kap.html) is a real trivial pursuit. After reading of the kingdom, now a part of Chile, Pittsburgh writer Dan Morrison tracked down Prince Regent Philippe, 70, in Paris, where the Araucanian rulers have lived in exile for over a century, and snared a photo for his site. Why? He’s royalty, says Morrison. “Sure, we live in a republican age, but monarchy never goes away.”

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