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Coutts loses interest in counter service

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The Queen will soon be one of the first Brits forced into banking online or over the phone. No longer will Buckingham Palace servants be able to pop into Coutts Bank to cash the royal cheque or bring back a few fifties from the hole in the wall. The high society outfit has announced it is withdrawing counter services at all its branches in favour of 24-hour banking. The NatWest subsidiary claimed there was no demand for over-the-counter transactions. Alternatively, it could just be too expensive to fulfil their clients' demands. Coutts has been gradually shutting down branches around the country. Its Eton branch, where cashiers wore the regulation tailcoats, was ditched last year following too many rich nippers cashing cheques for as little as £1 into "cornflakes accounts" opened for them by their parents, today's Times reported. Now the Etonians are reduced to queuing up to use the hole in the wall at the nearby HSBC cashpoint. The bank closed its Bristol branch at the same time. The head office in the Strand in London will remain and offer a full range of banking services, according to a Coutts representative. "We tend to go and see our clients at their home or place of work, or they can come and see us here," she said. Maybe Coutts will use this opportunity to call on some of its debtors. HRH the Queen Mother is reputed to have a £4 million overdraft with the bank. ® Related Stories Queen invests in Web firm Queen's bank Coutts to fire Bristol, IOM staff Queen's Web site runs on Linux

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