BRITAIN ROYAL ASCOTCredit: AP

The woman the Queen once described as "too grand for us" has said that she too has been hit by the economic downturn.

Speaking to The Times in an interview promoting her first novel, Princess Michael of Kent says that she and her family no longer go out to restautants. "We invite people here. I cook. Well, if I'm giving a dinner party I get in help," she says.




And, she adds, she's a big fan of EasyJet - although for long-haul flights she always travels Club Class.

Princess Michael, 68, and her husband paid only £69 per month in rent for her grace-and-favour apartment in Kensington Palace until 2010, when the couple became required to pay the £10,000-per-month market rent as part of a review.

She has no royal duties, but told the Times: "I'm a workaholic. I'm a Capricorn, it's my nature, And I'm convent educated: I sew better than any nanny we've ever had." She has written three historical books, as well as what she describes as "a little bit of decorating in Russia, consultancy."

However, there's little evidence that the country's super-rich are being affected by the government's austerity measures to anything like the same degree as the poor. "The only people benefiting from austerity are the richest 10 percent, who have seen their share of income rise whilst the poorest have seen their share fall," says Max Lawson, Oxfam's head of advocacy.

Indeed, figures from the Institute for Fiscal Studies indicate that the poorest tenth of the population will see their incomes drop 4.5 percent over the next four years, while the richest 10 percent will see them rise by one percent. Income inequality is now higher than it's been for 30 years.

Former Labour leader Lord Kinnock yesterday told the BBC's Andrew Marr show that the poor were currently bearing the brunt of the government's austerity measures. "What we have got is a country in which the top rate of tax on people over £150,000 per year has been cut from a 50 percent rate to a 45 percent rate," he pointed out.

Liberal Democrat chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander countered this by claiming the government had worked hard to minimise tax avoidance by the rich and was considering introducing a mansion tax and changing the rules on capital gains tax.