Ritchie and Madonna’s sly wedding upsets press

The covert operation otherwise known as the Madonna-Guy Ritchie wedding had at least one good side effect: It made those British newspapers cry like baby weasels when the newlyweds stiffed them of their tabloid photographs. Mr. and Mrs. Ritchie must be snickering up a storm at their honeymoon site, reportedly at Sting and wife Trudie Styler’s estate in Wiltshire, England. The New York Post reported Tuesday that the twosome surprised a British pub crowd Christmas Eve when they popped by for a pint, which apparently fortified them enough for midnight services and carols at the medieval St. Michael’s Church.

Said an ordinary drinker at the Bridge watering hole: “We couldn’t believe it when they walked into the pub. We see Sting and Trudie around the village but we never thought we’d be drinking with Madonna. They sat on their own and nobody bothered them. They looked very much in love.”

But back to the sniveling. The Independent viewed the shunning as a dis-invitation to the press: “The Ritchies kindly invite you to keep your distance.” Meanwhile, the Daily Mail’s headline weakly blared: “Madonna the secret bride.”

From the reports of the Agence France-Presse, the biggest whiner sounds like the Daily Star, which christened the singer not a blushing bride but a “stuck-up prima donna” who “put two fingers up to all her fans. They don’t matter to her.” And it did go on: “The whole world watched when Princess Diana was married same thing when the Queen wed for that matter. But Madonna obviously thinks she’s much grander than royalty. It was all done in total secrecy, behind closed doors.”

Hmmm, someone got his best cummerbund in a wad. Obviously the more tasteful route is to sell exclusive rights to one’s wedding, like a certain American couple starring in “Traffic.”

ROYAL GRINCH: In another bit on British bad manners, Agence France-Press reports that as the royal family graciously greeted well-wishers after Christmas morning service in St. Mary Magdalene Church, Queen Elizabeth II’s daughter clearly didn’t care to be in the receiving line.

When 75-year-old fan Mary Halfpenny offered a basket of flowers, Princess Anne commented, “What a ridiculous thing to do,” and snatched the flowers away, according to witnesses. Then she told the princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, daughters of her brother Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, to “get a move on” and stop taking flowers.

The downcast Halfpenny says she deemed the comment “really hurtful I’ve made baskets for the queen, and she has always said how nice they are.

IS STANDING IN RETURN LINES CONSIDERED EXERCISE?: If you unwrapped a celebrity cookbook as your holiday present, you might want to look for the gift receipt. Those calorie-counting spoilsports at the Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine have let the fat out of the bag: The recipes by luminaries such as World Wide Wrestling Federation, Patti LaBelle and George Foreman will clog your arteries more than a batter-fried fruitcake encased in eggnog icing.

Isaac Hayes, for instance sings a cholesterol-laden tune in his cooking directions for turkey deep-fried in peanut oil. Meanwhile, the do-it-all Yankee decorator might think about giving household hints on how to slip in your own artery stint with her recipes. “Martha Stewart’s book is a formula for chunky hips and heart disease,” said PCRM president Neal Barnard in a statement.

Today’s People Column was compiled by Vera H-C Chan from staff and wire reports. Comments? Write to us c/o the Times, P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596-8099. Or call 925-943-8262, fax 925-943-8362, or e-mail