Non-royal women will now be accepted into Britain's knighthood. Buckingham Palace said Queen Elizabeth II decided to open the Most Noble Orders of the Garter and Thistle--the highest of her nine appointed chivalric orders--to non-royal women for the first time. "She amended the statutes of the orders to do away with sex discrimination," a palace spokeswoman said. "She wants worthy women to be able to be installed in the orders." The action prompted speculation that the queen had made the move to pave the way for Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to become the first non-royal woman in the Order of the Garter, Britain's most esteemed chivalric order, once she leaves office. But the palace spokeswoman said the report was "only speculation." Commoner men appointed to the orders are known as knights and become "lords," and women installed will be known as "ladies of the Garter or Thistle," the palace spokeswoman said. Until now, only women born into royal families could be members of the orders.
--Roy Foster of Madisonville, Ky., won't have to leave his ailing daughter's bedside for jury duty. Foster's daughter, Tabatha, 3, underwent a grueling transplant operation that ended Nov. 1 in which she received a new liver, pancreas, small intestine and parts of a stomach and colon in a Pittsburgh, Pa., hospital. Foster wants to be near her as she recovers from the surgery. So, when Kentucky's governor-elect, Wallace Wilkinson, visited the hospital, Foster asked for a couple of favors--that his driver's license be renewed by mail and that he be excused from jury duty. At the urging of Wilkinson, the license was indeed renewed, by a clerk who paid the $14 fee out of his own pocket, and the call to jury duty was withdrawn. Wilkinson brought gifts for Tabatha on his visit but he did not get to see her. Tabatha is listed in critical condition.