I MUST congratulate Andrew Dunlop on his article on Queen Elizabeth II as it wins the 2021 prize for being the biggest pile of sycophantic drivel ("Dutiful, loyal and selfless, the Queen is the best of Britain", The Herald, December 28). He himself acknowledges that fewer people watch her annual Christmas address to the nation simply because most of us now feel it irrelevant.

The Queen and the royal family have one purpose and one purpose only and that is to maintain the social order in the UK exactly as it has been for a thousand years. We have always been a nation divided into the haves and the have-nots. Without a royal family and the layers of facilitators it spawns who support and perpetuate the class system simply because their own status and wealth depends on its existence, the whole rotten system would collapse.

Without a royal family perhaps we might even live in a democracy, but then again that’s what the Americans thought back in the 18th century and look at them now.

David J Crawford, Glasgow.

PHONES WILL BE LESS RELIABLE

IN 2025 BT is switching off the the traditional copper line telephone network, the Public Switch Phone Network, or PSPN. It is replacing it with a broadband connection such as Voice Over Internet Protocol or VOIP. Broadband connections are susceptible to outages and power cuts.

During Storm Arwen the only phone I could use was the BT line into the master socket using a simple cabled handset – the copper wires supply their own electricity. The digital (portable) phones were down as were all the mobile networks. If I and my neighbours had been on VOIP during the power cut, we would have been unable to dial 999, or any other number. The same would apply to thousands of people in the affected rural areas.

BT is offering a battery backup for customers who are already on VOIP, at the cost of £85, but these are in short supply, and only last for one hour. But this will only work if your broadband works and clearly this isn't always the case. It isn't really a back-up at all.

We should be making the phone system more reliable, not less.

Willian Loneskie, Lauder.

CRACK DOWN ON AMBULANCE HOAXERS

WE are told that Scottish ambulances have lost 70 days of operational service in recent years because of hoax calls. Presumably the ambulance service has the technology used by taxi companies – that enables them to know your number when you phone them. That should enable the easy tracing of vandals who make hoax calls.

These people should be charged and sentenced. There is no case for pussyfooting around this important issue.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh.

MAKING A CALL ON COVID

FOLLOWING a survey of the way in which diners within restaurants communicate, a government source has indicated that discussions have taken place with representatives of the hospitality sector that, in order to further reduce the spread of transmission of the Omicron virus, any face to face conversations between seated diners should be conducted by mobile telephone.

Evidence has shown that, as 85.7 per cent of conversations already take place by such means, this should have minimum effect on the industry.

It is rumoured that any such move will not take place until April 1, 2022.

When asked to authenticate the source of such a proposal, the correspondent responded that his lips were sealed.

Malcolm Allan, Bishopbriggs.

THOUGHT OF ABBA HAS ME REELING

CHRISTINE Smillie's letter on weddings (December 28) made me think of the tunes that couples ask pipers to strong-arm into the nine notes of a bagpipe chanter. In anticipation of the worst, I'm working on Gimme, Gimme, Gimme a Man After Midnight. Harder still, indeed impossible, would be I Believe in Miracles. No one has requested it so far, but as Tom Jones is one of its singers, I'd imagine It's Not Unusual.

Gilbert MacKay, Newton Mearns.

THE CONFIDENCE OF AGE

R RUSSELL Smith ("Have I got the oldest fairy", Letters, December 28) shows perspicacity, indeed confidence, in his inferred assumption that he will be around to help the happy wee Christmas fairy celebrate her diamond jubilee.

Aged 95, a golfing friend asked me whether he could afford to buy a new driver. Said friend lived for another 10 years, and legend has it that he bought new golf shoes at the age of 99.

David Miller, Milngavie.

* AS regular readers of the Letters Pages in The Herald, we always await with great anticipation the frequent musings of our fellow Largsonian, R Russell Smith. While we cannot begin to compete with his witty, erudite comments, I think on the matter of whose Christmas fairy is the oldest, I may just have the edge.

Our little Fairy has just celebrated her 68th birthday, just like her owner, and I am pleased to report we are both still sound of limb, and continuing to dispense festive cheer. I am sure there will be at least one other reader out there ready to stake a claim.

A Miller, Largs.

* I THOUGHT at first I had misread the letter from R Russell Smith referring to his vintage Christmas tree decoration. Living in Largs as he does, I initially wondered if he meant “Have I got the oldest ferry?”.

Bill Brown, Milngavie.

Read more: Why the Queen embodies the best of Britain