Camilla turns on the Christmas lights – but the festive feeling is not universal

This article is more than 10 years old
Bath councillor wanted local Olympic medallist to switch on the lights, not someone 'associated with pomp and ceremony and wealth'
Olympics - Amy Williams Bus Parade - Bath
Amy Williams ... a better choice for Bath? Photograph: Ali Jennings/PA
Amy Williams ... a better choice for Bath? Photograph: Ali Jennings/PA
Thu 18 Nov 2010 11.12 EST

It has been a jolly week for the monarchy thanks to the announcement of Prince William's engagement. But in one corner of the kingdom a member of the royal family may have detected a slightly frosty reception today after the council chairman in Bath criticised a decision to invite the Duchess of Cornwall to turn on the Christmas lights.

Sarah Bevan, the public face of Bath and North East Somerset council, was at Camilla's side when she turned on the lights and will also host a reception for her tonight.

Bevan did not think it "appropriate" that a royal should be chosen in these tough times: "I felt that we should have had somebody who isn't associated with pomp and ceremony and wealth."

Bevan, a Liberal Democrat councillor, said she was a fan of the royal family – "I do appreciate the job they do and I don't want the monarchy abolished" – but did not feel inviting the duchess was sending out the right message when people were bracing themselves for job losses and spending cuts.

Bevan claims many citizens feel the same way. "Nobody I have met is over the moon about the choice this year," she said.

The Hollywood actor Nicolas Cage turned on the lights last Christmas and Bevan claimed someone such as Amy Williams, the Bath athlete who won gold at the Winter Olympics, would have been more popular this time.

Bevan is also smarting that she was not asked to approve the choice. "It was presented to me as a fait accompli – they told me it's Camilla, this is the protocol, we'll deal with the palace, all you've got to do is turn up and look nice."

Bevan said she would be polite and is looking forward, at least, to the former Ultravox frontman Midge Ure performing an acoustic set of Christmas songs at the event. "That will be nice," she said.