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During July, there were several British news items I did not have time to cover.

Without further ado, here they are …

St Swithin’s Day

July 15 was St Swithin’s Day, traditionally thought to successfully predict the weather for the next 40 days.

It was cool and cloudy.

So it is two weeks later.

The Mirror tried to debunk centuries of tradition that day by saying temps would reach 29° C that weekend. They never did, at least in the UK. We had a maximum of 24°.

Since then, it’s been cool, cloudy and rainy — with a few hours of sunshine here and there.

The Mirror was wrong. As my late grandmother-in-law always said: ‘The old ways are the best’.

This isn’t the first year I’ve tracked the weather following St Swithin’s Day.

Trust what happens on July 15 in the UK. That’s the weather for the next six weeks.

Admittedly, we might get the odd, sunny, warm day, such as today — but, that might be a rarity during the month ahead.

Friday, July 17

This was the day when temps reached a maximum of 24°.

More importantly, Princess Beatrice was married at Windsor. Her father, Prince Andrew, stayed out of the photos.

The wedding was small, in keeping with coronavirus guidelines:

Another wonderful event took place that day at Windsor. Captain Tom Moore, 100, received a socially-distanced knighthood from the Queen:

Captain Sir Tom Moore raised tens of millions of £££ for the NHS during the height of the pandemic by walking around his garden 100 times on a zimmer frame (walker). I am sure that was not easy for him, yet he persevered.

Afterward, the Second World War veteran said:

It’s been an absolutely outstanding day and you could never have believed I was never going to get such an honour as I have today. I really believed never ever would I be so privileged I could be so close to the Queen and speak to her, and that really was something absolutely outstanding.

Fantastic! May God continue to bless him abundantly.

Boris’s first anniversary as PM

Thursday, July 23 marked Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s first anniversary.

This delightful video shows clips of him promoting the 2010 Olympics when he was Mayor of London:

Although it’s been a miserable year, he has achieved the impossible, as Guido Fawkes reminds us:

  • Defeated Corbyn
  • Delivered Brexit
  • Won an 80 seat Conservative Party majority

Boris listed many more achievements over the past year. He could not even list them all in two minutes:

But there was no time to rest, as Boris was busy planning for the best and the worst in the months ahead:

Conservatives are still happy with his performance:

Writing for UnHerd, Matthew Goodwin, professor of politics at the University of Kent, analysed Boris’s appeal among his supporters (emphases mine):

To find a similar degree of constant and tribal support for the Conservative brand, you have to go all the way back to the spring of 1987 when Margaret Thatcher began a similar period of total dominance in the polls that lasted for around two years. Though even that is a little misleading — Thatcher might have had a lot going on, but she never had to grapple with a global pandemic and the shutdown of the entire economy …

why have Johnson’s voters stayed so loyal?

The first thing to remember is how Boris Johnson achieved power. He pushed through what David Cameron had little interest in and Theresa May never really understood — the “realignment” of British politics. By organising around Brexit, which was itself an expression of a deeper fault line, Johnson was able to consolidate the Leave vote.

By doing so, he was able to anchor his party far more securely in a cross-class coalition of traditional “true blue” Tories and instinctively socially conservative blue-collar workers. By doing so, Johnson injected a greater degree of tribalism into his electorate and, by extension, a greater degree of “cultural polarisation” into the country. In a country where six in every ten constituencies broke for Brexit, this strategy makes sense. You might not like it but, electorally, strategically, it makes complete sense.

It also brings us to a point that many of his critics have failed to grasp. What unites Boris Johnson’s voters is not so much their economic experience, as their values. They prioritise the nation and the national community. They prefer stability over change. And they favour continuity over disruption and discontinuity. This is why they cherish Britain’s history, heritage and collective memory and are more sensitive to attempts to deconstruct them. And while they acknowledge that this history is complex, they believe that, on the whole, it was positive and that Britain has been a force for good in the world. In short, they believe in their country. They are proud of it. And they are proud of their fellow citizens …

Johnson is offering a positive and forward-looking creed that is more interested in national renewal and salvation than decline and repudiation. He is proud of the country and its people. And until his opponents figure this out and change track, then I suspect that many of those voters will continue to stand behind him while keeping their distance from his critics.

Boris’s war on fat

Boris has been on a diet since recovering from coronavirus. So far, he has lost a stone (14 pounds):

Now he wants all of us to lose weight — five pounds each — and save the NHS an estimated £100m. Hmm.

Guido Fawkes reported (emphases in the original):

Boris promises his health push will “not in an excessively bossy or nannying way, I hope” persuade Britons to lose a few pounds. Which is a curious line given the now-almost imminent, nonsensical ban on pre-watershed ‘junk food’ ads…

Agreed.

Last summer, London’s mayor Sadiq Khan banned what he termed ‘junk food’ adverts across the capital. Last June, when Wimbledon was in full swing, Guido reported:

London’s blanket ban on ‘junk food’ advertising is not only ineffective, inconsistent and impractical, it’s going to cost a fortune too! Estimated at a whopping £35 million, it will deprive dilapidated public services of desperately needed investment. Who’s decided that chicken burgers are not junk food but olive oil is? And no mince pies allowed at Xmas? No strawberries and cream for Wimbledon?

The simple truth is ad bans don’t work – there’s no proof they reduce childhood obesity. However, there is clear evidence that wide-ranging, collaborative and positive approaches are an effective solution. In Amsterdam, childhood obesity rates fell by 12% between 2012-15, through investment in positive lifestyle and education campaigns.

Telling people what they can do is much more effective than hectoring them about what they can’t. Evidence-based solutions are more effective than political ones.

One year later, Boris thinks this is a great idea for television:

British artist David Hockney, who opposed the UK’s smoking ban in 2007, was less than impressed:

I said to my far better half on Monday that they will probably target all the good foods, e.g. butter and meat.

The next day, I drank my morning coffee while waking up to this:

I love hummus! It’s good for you, too.

Guido posted an extensive list of what falls under the category of junk food, based on UK government guidelines.

In addition to hummus and raisins we find butter (as I predicted), more than half of all meats (mm-hmm, also as predicted), margarine, pesto, tomato soup, nearly all cheese, most yoghurts and, strangely, the driest, blandest thing on the planet: cream crackers, which have no cream in them, by the way. Hell is a cream cracker.

Something’s gone very wrong with this Conservative government. Most of us thought Boris was a libertarian.

Whatever the case, there must be a better way than another ban:

Maybe Boris is still frightened from his serious illness. I suspect it took him a long time to recuperate, judging from his appearance in the weeks that followed.

Cat contracts coronavirus

On Monday, July 27, Reuters reported:

The British environment ministry said “all available evidence” suggested the cat had contracted the coronavirus from its owners, who had both tested positive for COVID-19.

Both the cat and the humans made a full recovery and there was no transmission to any other animals or people in the household, the ministry said without identifying the individuals involved.

“This is the first case of a domestic cat testing positive for COVID-19 in the UK but should not be a cause for alarm,” said Yvonne Doyle, medical director at Public Health England.

“The investigation into this case suggests that the infection was spread from humans to animal, and not the other way round,” Doyle added.

The government said the infection was confirmed in lab tests on Wednesday, adding there was no evidence that cats could transmit the virus to humans.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said cats are the most susceptible animal species to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and are able to transmit it to other cats.

Delays in getting stranded Britons home explained

When the pandemic broke, the Foreign Office pulled out all the stops to get stranded Britons back to the UK.

Arranging flights for some tourists overseas took longer than for others because hundreds were in remote places of the world.

Now it emerges there were other factors involved:

NHS relaxes self-isolation for patients entering hospital for treatment

Not so long ago, the NHS wanted all patients attending hospital for treatment or operations to self-isolate for 14 days beforehand.

Thankfully, as of Tuesday, July 28, that is no longer the case. The Daily Mail reported:

Updated guidance says strict social distancing and hand washing is enough to cut the risk of patients taking the virus into hospitals in England.

NHS patients will only need to self-isolate for a few days after taking a test in the run-up to them entering hospital, health bosses now say.  

Surgeons hope the relaxation of rules will help them to tackle the huge waiting lists that have built up during the Covid-19 crisis.

But they called for all patients to be given tests for the coronavirus before and after their operation to keep a lid on any potential outbreak.  

The change in advice was made because the virus is circulating at much lower levels than it was during the peak of the crisis in March and April.

Lewis Hamilton opines on a COVID-19 vaccine

Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton had to walk back a video and post he made on social media regarding a COVID-19 vaccine:

On Monday, July 27, The Guardian reported:

Hamilton has since deleted the video and published a statement saying he hadn’t seen the comment attached to the clip, but wanted to show there is “uncertainty around side effects” of vaccines.

“I’ve noticed some comments on my earlier post about the coronavirus vaccine, and want to clarify my thoughts on it, as I understand why they might have been misinterpreted,” he said.

“Firstly I hadn’t actually seen the comment attached so that is totally my fault and I have a lot of respect for the charity work Bill Gates does.

“I also want to be clear that I am not against a vaccine and no doubt it will be important in the fight against coronavirus, and I’m hopeful for its development to save lives.

“However after watching the video, I felt it showed that there is still a lot of uncertainty about the side effects most importantly and how it is going to be funded. I may not always get my posting right. I’m only human but I’m learning as we go.”

I agree with the highlighted bit 100%.

Holidays abroad

Whether it’s a good idea or not right now, Britons want to enjoy a summer holiday in Europe.

Some made their reservations early in the year, before the pandemic arrived. Understandably, they want to get what they paid for.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and his family managed to arrive in Spain hours before the UK declared a quarantine for British travellers returning from that country. Shapps flew back to the UK on Wednesday, July 29:

He is returning early to get through a 10-day quarantine and, in the meantime, from home, to ‘handle this situation’. The Foreign Office has advised against all non-essential travel to Spain.

Presumably, Europeans are travelling all across the continent.

The result is that coronavirus cases are rising again:

On July 28, RMC’s Les Grandes Gueules (The Big Mouths) interviewed Dr Robert Sebbag, a specialist in infections who works at La Pitié Salpêtrière hospital in Paris. He said that, although the COVID-19 ward is seeing a small uptick in hospitalisations, no one is on a ventilator and most cases are ‘mild’ compared to what they were only a few months ago. If I understood correctly, the hospital has 24 patients in that particular ward. He said that the uptick in non-hospitalised cases points to those that can be treated safely whilst self-isolating at home.

Dr Sebbag wasn’t too concerned and said that it was the normal progression of the cycle of a virus. The question remains, he said, whether or how COVID-19 will mutate.

For now, we will have to find ways of learning to live with the virus. Dr Sebbag does not see that herd immunity will become widespread. He estimates that only 6% to 10% of the French are immune.

Lockdown in the north west of England

As of Thursday, June 30, a lockdown is now in place in parts of the north west of England.

Matt Hancock should have announced it via a formal press conference. Instead, he did so via a pooled television interview, leaving it to Boris to do a coronavirus briefing from Downing Street on Friday to further explain the new measures.

Because of this new lockdown and rises in cases elsewhere, the proposed measures for reopening more facilities and close-contact beauty services are on hold for the foreseeable future.

Masks must now be worn in nearly all enclosed public spaces, not only in shops, but also in museums and houses of worship.

Boris also encouraged Britons to enjoy a staycation in the UK rather than abroad.

Brexit

Meanwhile, in Brexit news, the international trade secretary, Liz Truss, announced that she would like to get haggis with meat into the US as part of a trade deal:

Earlier this year, exports of Macsween’s vegetarian haggis — branded as Scottish Veggie Crumble — were allowed into the US just in time for Burns Night on January 25. That was the first time in 49 years that any type of Scottish haggis was allowed in America.

And that concludes my roundup of the second half of July 2020.

Roll on August, come what may.

Easter resurrection Karl Heinrich BlochEaster 2020 is like no other.

Pray this never happens again for centuries to come.

In England, this is the first Easter without church services since 1213.

Because of the coronavirus lockdown, the Queen’s dispensing of Maundy money on Maundy Thursday could not take place. The Palace had to send this year’s Maundy money by post to worthy recipients such as Jane Armstrong, who has volunteered at her local church for over 50 years.

The Mirror interviewed Mrs Armstrong, a retired teacher:

Jane, 76, of Bishop Auckland, County Durham, has run youth clubs, crisis support groups and food banks, at Woodhouse Close Church, since the late 1960s.

The Maundy Thursday service at Windsor would have been the third time she met the Queen.

Her package from the Queen contained a £5 coin commemorating William Wordsworth in a red pouch, a 50p coin for the 2020 Olympics in a silver pouch.

The 94 specially-minted silver pennies were in a white pouch.

The married mum-of-two and grandmother-of-one said: “In the letter she expressed her sadness that it couldn’t go ahead.

“I understand that she has never missed a service and that Maundy Thursday is very important to her as she has strong Christian
commitments.

“I think she is quite sad about it. It was way before Christmas I had the invitation.

“I was surprised but it’s quite an honour. I’m very committed to my work at the church and I felt it was important. I think it was for the
work I do at the church.

“All my life I’ve worked at the church. We are very involved in the community.

“It’s been a privilege to be part of that. I’m still in and out every day even at my age.

“We are still working during coronavirus and the food bank is open every day.

“It would have been the third time I had met the Queen after I received my MBE in 1996 and later a ceremony with the Queen for the Church Urban Fund …“

This churchless Easter and the coronavirus lockdown must have affected the Queen deeply, because she issued another message only six days after her televised message which reached audiences around the world. Her Easter message is audio only and revolves around the light in the Paschal candle which symbolises the hope that Christ’s Resurrection brings to all believers. This is subtitled, but the Daily Mail also has a transcript:

It’s hard to disagree with this:

Since childhood, Easter has always been my favourite holiday, for religious and secular reasons. Consequently, today, April 12, 2020, is bittersweet.

The main thing to remember about Easter is that, without Christ’s Resurrection, there would have been no Church.

Therefore, I was somewhat dismayed to see that our local Easter services leaflet which arrived a couple of weeks before lockdown showed an image of the Crucifixion rather than an image of the Resurrection. Sadly, many Britons today, unchurched as they are, believe that Christianity is stupid because Jesus died and that was the end of His story. We get very few lessons about the Resurrection in schools here. Questions will be asked on the Day of Judgement.

What follows are the readings for the Resurrection of the Lord, Year A, in the three-year Lectionary.

Emphases mine below.

First reading

There are two options for the first reading, Acts 10 or Jeremiah 31.

First option

I wrote about this passage from Acts 10 at length a few years ago:

Epistle for Easter in Year C — Acts 10:34-43

Acts 10:34-43

10:34 Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality,

10:35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.

10:36 You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christhe is Lord of all.

10:37 That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced:

10:38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.

10:39 We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree;

10:40 but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear,

10:41 not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.

10:42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead.

10:43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Second option

The Lord promised His chosen that He would bring them out of captivity in Babylon.

Jeremiah 31:1-6

31:1 At that time, says the LORD, I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people.

31:2 Thus says the LORD: The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought for rest,

31:3 the LORD appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.

31:4 Again I will build you, and you shall be built, O virgin Israel! Again you shall take your tambourines, and go forth in the dance of the merrymakers.

31:5 Again you shall plant vineyards on the mountains of Samaria; the planters shall plant, and shall enjoy the fruit.

31:6 For there shall be a day when sentinels will call in the hill country of Ephraim: “Come, let us go up to Zion, to the LORD our God.”

Psalm

Psalm 118 is a fitting one for Easter. This post explains more about it:

Psalm 118, Christ’s Passion and Eastertide

Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24

118:1 O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever!

118:2 Let Israel say, “His steadfast love endures forever.”

118:14 The LORD is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation.

118:15 There are glad songs of victory in the tents of the righteous: “The right hand of the LORD does valiantly;

118:16 the right hand of the LORD is exalted; the right hand of the LORD does valiantly.”

118:17 I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the LORD.

118:18 The LORD has punished me severely, but he did not give me over to death.

118:19 Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the LORD.

118:20 This is the gate of the LORD; the righteous shall enter through it.

118:21 I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation.

118:22 The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.

118:23 This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.

118:24 This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Epistle

There are two choices for the Epistle. One is the passage from Acts 10 above. The other is from Colossians 3.

Colossians 3:1-4

3:1 So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

3:2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth,

3:3 for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

3:4 When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.

Gospel

There are two choices for the Gospel: John’s account and Matthew’s.

This post discusses both accounts:

Happy Easter — He is risen!

First option

John recounts how he — ‘the other disciple’ — and Peter went to see the empty tomb after Mary Magdalene alerted them.

John 20:1-18

20:1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb.

20:2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”

20:3 Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb.

20:4 The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.

20:5 He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in.

20:6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there,

20:7 and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself.

20:8 Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed;

20:9 for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.

20:10 Then the disciples returned to their homes.

20:11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb;

20:12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet.

20:13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.”

20:14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus.

20:15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”

20:16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher).

20:17 Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'”

20:18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

Second option

This was the Gospel reading for Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday.

Matthew 28:1-10

28:1 After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.

28:2 And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.

28:3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.

28:4 For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men.

28:5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified.

28:6 He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.

28:7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.”

28:8 So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.

28:9 Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him.

28:10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Newer readers might find these Easter posts of interest. The Easter poem by the Revd George Herbert is a good one to share with children:

The significance of Easter to the Church (various questions answered)

Easter poems from an inspired Anglican, the Revd George Herbert

George Herbert: 17th century poet and priest

Part I of a Martin Luther Easter sermon: the story of Christ’s Resurrection

Part II of a Martin Luther Easter sermon: the fruits and benefits of Christ’s Resurrection

Easter: the drama and glory of the Resurrection (John MacArthur explains Gospel accounts)

Holy Week and Easter — the two-part story

The road to Emmaus — a great Easter story

Happy Easter — yes, Jesus rose from the dead! (2018, with explanation of Resurrection accounts, Year B readings)

The Easter story: reflections on Mark 16:1-8 (Dr Gregory Jackson, Lutheran)

Judge Andrew Napolitano on the meaning of Easter (great, especially from a layman)

Easter, the egg and the hare (one of the fullest accounts of Easter symbolism)

Mary Magdalene and the legend of the egg (Christian — not pagan!)

Despite our restrictions, today is the day to keep the risen Christ in our minds and hearts.

Happy Easter! He is risen!

Forbidden Bible Verses will appear tomorrow.

As I close a week discussing Disroyalty starring the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, here are a few more views about their plans as well as a summary of what went on at Sandringham on Monday, January 13, 2020.

Before I get to those, however, it is important to remember that other Royals will have to pick up the Sussexes’ slack, leaving 200 engagements per year to divide among them.

Key points about the Sandringham summit

Here’s what to know about the Sandringham summit on Monday.

The Daily Mail says that Harry arrived at 11:20 a.m.

By then, Prince Philip had already left and was driven elsewhere on the estate. He was reportedly furious last week:

Philip was reportedly ‘spitting blood’ with anger when he found out last Wednesday and yelled at his aides: ‘What the hell are they playing at?’

If he left, he wasn’t feeling any calmer.

Prince Charles had arrived the day before. Prince William showed up 15 minutes before the meeting began at 2:00 p.m.

The meeting was held in the Long Library, which used to be a bowling alley. Princes William and Harry spent much time there as children.

It is located away from other rooms where the Royals might have been overheard.

Meanwhile, the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, denied charges of racism (same link):

Ms Patel, speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, said: ‘I’m not in that category at all where I believe there’s racism at all. 

‘I think we live in a great country, a great society, full of opportunity, where people of any background can get on in life.’

Asked if the media had been in any way racist, she replied: ‘I don’t think so, no… I certainly haven’t seen that through any debates or commentary or things of that nature.’

On January 14, the Mail reported that Prime Minister Boris Johnson wisely refused to be drawn in on the controversy:

In his first major TV interview since the election, Mr Johnson said: ‘I am a massive fan of the Queen and of the Royal Family…

‘I am absolutely confident that they are going to sort this out.’

I was happy to read that Harry’s early arrival ensured that he could have a lengthy one-on-one conversation with his grandmother.

Bolter

In 2018, a few months before Prince Harry and Meghan Markle got married, Germaine Greer gave an interview to Australia’s 60 Minutes in which she said she thought the bride would end up leaving.

The Cut posted the story on April 16. Prescient (emphases mine):

During an interview with 60 Minutes Australia this weekend, outspoken and controversial feminist author Germaine Greer said she thinks Markle “will bolt” as soon as she gets a sense of what life in the British royal family (which Greer refers to as “the firm”) is really like.

“Let’s hope they’re in love. If they’re not it’s going to be totally unbearable,” Greer told journalist Tara Brown. “She will see vistas of boredom that are unbelievable. I think the pressure to escape from the firm is crushing.”

When Brown asked what she predicted for the couple’s future, Greer answered, “I think she’ll bolt.”

“She bolted before. She was out the door,” she said, referring to Markle’s 2013 divorce from Trevor Engelson. “I think she’ll bolt. I hope in a way that she’ll bolt but maybe she’ll take Harry with her.”

When asked why Markle, already a successful television star, would give up her career to marry into the royal family, Greer quipped: “Why would a girl born in poverty marry a man with 53 million quid? I can’t think of single reason.”

It seems Harry might be worth less than that — possibly £30m, but the point stands.

There is also the status involved.

Opportunism

The deputy political editor at the Daily Mail, John Stevens, had this to say about the Sussexes’ announcement last week:

In fact, that is quite possible.

Allegedly, Justin Trudeau knew of their plans before the Queen and the rest of the Royal Family. So did Elton John.

On January 11, the Daily Mail reported:

There was speculation last night that Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may have given a cryptic Twitter clue about the crisis that was about to engulf the Royal Family.

When news emerged that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex had turned their back on Royal tradition and flown to Canada for Christmas, their powerful friend was one of the first to welcome them on social media.

He wrote: ‘You’re among friends, and always welcome here.’

Just weeks later, the Royal couple were looking to test that ‘always’ by announcing their move to Canada.

And the tweet has done little to dampen gossip in Embassy circles that Mr Trudeau was more aware of the Sussexes’ emigration plans than even their closest family.

Diplomatic sources claim Mr Trudeau and his wife Sophie were consulted about the decision late last year, before members of the Royal family and even the Queen.

The Trudeaus are friends with the Sussexes:

Last night, the Canadian government did not respond when confronted about the claims, but sources close to the Sussexes denied they had discussed the move with Prime Minister Trudeau.

The Canadian First Couple and the Sussexes have been close friends, with Meghan and Sophie even sharing a stylist – Meghan’s best friend and sometime babysitter for Archie, Jessica Mulroney.

Prince Harry, 35, and Mr Trudeau, 48, are two of the younger fixtures on the world stage, with both men appearing to enjoy each other’s company at events such as Commonwealth commemorations.

The two have also encountered each other on multiple occasions through Prince Harry’s Invictus Games for disabled servicemen.

I wonder if the Sussexes are aware that, many years ago, Trudeau once attended a fancy dress party in blackface. He thought nothing of it at the time. Terrible.

Returning to John Stevens’s tweet, here are a few responses:

Money

Although, technically, what Prince Charles does with his income from the Duchy of Cornwall is his business, the British would be annoyed if he continued to finance Prince Harry:

This YouGov poll shows similar results:

This Briton tweeted about the video of Harry touting Meghan to Disney’s Bob Iver for voiceover work:

Naturally, some of the money she would earn from such work would go to charity. Of course:

Trudeau said that his country will pay for the Sussexes’ security detail. Canadians won’t be too happy about that:

Another Daily Mail report said that Canada would pay half the Sussexes’ £1m annual security detail cost. We shall see. On January 14, the Mail published an article quoting Trudeau, who said:

I think most Canadians are very supportive of having royals be here, but how that looks and what kind of costs are involved, there are still lots of discussions to have.

Family

The young Anglican priest who tweeted the following has mistakenly said that the Sussexes are on the Civil List. They are not.

However, the larger point about their role in the Royal Family is what is important:

The Revd Giles Fraser, formerly Canon at St Paul’s Cathedral and now Rector of St Mary, Newington in South London, wrote a considered article on the topic that the Revd Philip Murray raised. The Bishop of Dorking (Surrey) complimented him on it:

Excerpts follow:

Do we still recognise moral obligations that exist prior to our having chosen them? That is, it seems to me, the question embedded within the whole Megxit scandal. It couldn’t have been better designed to drive a wedge between two very different ways of seeing the world

But this isn’t just about monarchy. For the same tension exists within the very idea of a family — the Windsors being, as well as royal, the most famous family in the world. How does liberalism — of which Meghan Markle feels like a supreme representative — deal with that age-old sense of moral obligation towards those who have brought you into life and have raised and nurtured you, without you having chosen them for the task. Of course, some families fail in this very basic duty. And most of us parents only get it half right, at best.

Without this very basic idea that we are born into some fundamental unit of existential solidarity, something towards which we owe an allegiance long before we are able to choose it, human life is released from its moorings and we are all deeply lost. This is where liberalism flounders. For when it comes to the most important basis of human flourishing, family life, liberalism has nothing useful to say, other than to remind us that some families are destructive and dysfunctional and best escaped from. Be your own person, it advises. Break free. But this is to cut off the branch on which nests are built.

Sense of duty

A Theology graduate from Cambridge University has the ultimate analysis of the Duchess and her outlook on a sense of duty.

This is a must-read:

So true — especially the closing thought about helping minority Britons!

When they got married, I thought she might look forward to such a role. I was wrong.

Poll on the monarchy

Between Thursday and Friday, January 9 and 10, Deltapoll conducted a survey on the monarchy. This was after the Sussexes’ announcement.

The favourable results were lower than I’d expected:

A Pole responded to that tweet, encouraging us to keep the Royal Family:

Good or bad? It’s important. I come originally from Poland. I read Polish papers and monarchy issues make front page headlines there. The monarchy is ‘s trademark, as it were, recognised worldwide. Try and lose it to see how good it actually is to have it.

I fully agree.

This is a breakdown of the question by age group:

I also agree with these replies:

I do not think that most of our Prime Ministers would have made great Presidents.

The Royal Family are good for Britain. Let’s not discard them because of the actions of a few bad apples.

Being a member of Britain’s Royal Family requires special personal characteristics which, when combined, are as rare as hen’s teeth:

– intestinal fortitude;
– a stiff upper lip;
– a perpetual sense of duty;
– the ability to keep one’s mouth shut;
– control over one’s personal life.

Many are called, but few are chosen — and even fewer succeed.

In recent memory, Sarah Ferguson didn’t make the mark. Nor did Princess Diana. Nor has the Duchess of Sussex. Nor has her husband, Prince Harry.

It is not easy, and it is a constant obligation.

The Royal Family is not called The Firm for nothing.

In fact, in reality, it carries with it more obligations than a corporation.

People see formal dress, tiaras and crowns in sumptuous palaces and castles. The flip side is that one’s life is never one’s own. One serves Queen and country under the unsparing eye of the media and the British public.

Being a British Royal is one of the world’s most difficult jobs imaginable.

For the most part, with the exception of those conferred at birth, one’s titles are on loan.

It is important not to assign oneself a title one does not possess. Case in point, with reference to the Duchess of Sussex:

To be clear, she is NOT a Princess (unless you consider a future Disney voiceover role as one). She is a Duchess, and that can just as easily be taken from her as it was given.

Another important point is not to show disloyalty. It’s bad enough offending the Queen, without casting shadows on the British public and expecting to get all the glory for no guts.

If you get a ‘sensitive content’ message about the second tweet, please ignore it and open it up. It’s a parody letter:

The publicity surrounding the Sussexes was positive for at least two years. Note the 2018 headlines from their engagement and wedding in the second tweet below. They reflected the national mood:

Many of the Sussexes’ pronouncements since then, including the secrecy surrounding their young son, made many members of the public feel as if they no longer wanted to be part of our nation.

It turns out we were not wrong.

An opinion piece on Spiked, a free-thinking, quasi-libertarian website, pulls no punches. This is from ‘A woke Wallis Simpson’ by Brendan O’Neill, a republican — not a monarchist. Yet, even he sees a problem with the Sussexes (emphases mine):

H&M, the most right-on royals in history, are breaking off so that they can foist even more woke bollocks on the plebs without having to worry about receiving a tutting phone-call from Her Maj’s press secretary reminding them that they’re royalty and not virtue-signalling Hollywood celebs.

Megxit, as this royal bombshell is wittily being called, is a striking sign of the times. What Harry and Meghan are doing is virtually unprecedented in the history of the royals. They are jacking in their jobs (I say jobs) as senior royals and pursuing a more ‘financially independent’ path that will allow them to earn, travel and – this is important – jabber on about their pet concerns and causes as much as they like.

This is also a major sticking point:

Even leaving aside the fact that they won’t actually be financially independent – they’ll still get wads of cash from the Duchy of Cornwall and will still stay in that Frogmore Cottage us British taxpayers just splashed 2.4million quid on – still their move is a startling and concerning one.

This is the difference between Meghan Markle and, say, Prince Charles:

What it fundamentally reveals is the incompatibility of the modern culture of narcissism with the values of duty, loyalty and self-negation traditionally associated with royal life. To someone like Meghan, who sprang from celebville, who sees herself as the embodiment of right-on goodness, and who loves nothing more than advertising her eco-virtue and performing her PC credentials, life in the British monarchy was never going to be a good fit.

Yes, the woke agenda Meghan expresses so well shares much in common with the old-world elitism of the monarchical system. Both obsess over inherited characteristics (the woke bang on about race and gender, the monarchy is all about bloodline). Both have a penchant for looking down their noses at the little people. And both have an instinctive loathing for modernity, from Charles’ longstanding conservationism to H&M’s humanity-bashing eco-hysteria.

But there’s one big, irreconcilable difference: where the woke value the self over everything else, senior royals are meant, ostensibly at least, to be selfless, to submerge the self into the crown. It looks like this is a deal-breaker for the younger, more celebrity-oriented royals, especially newcomer Meghan but also Harry, too. Their unprecedented ‘stepping back’, and the fury this has allegedly caused in the Palace, suggests the cult of the self that Meghan and other showily virtuous celebs embody and promote, does not work within an institution whose ideal is the Queen: opinion-free, emotions hidden, dutiful, unquestioning and in it for the long haul.

Correct!

But wait, there’s more. Their way of speaking about the Queen is also unprecedented:

Even more startling is the way they talk about the queen. They say they will ‘continue to collaborate with Her Majesty The Queen’. Collaborate with? They sound more like Kendall Jenner talking about her adverts with Pepsi than individuals who are meant to devote themselves for life to royal duty and the preservation of the crown. I’m about as republican as it gets (abolish the monarchy is my view), but even I recognise that treating the queen as a kind of big business one temporarily ‘collaborates with’ is out of order. Meghan comes off like a woke Wallis Simpson, taking away a senior royal into a new life of PC globetrotting.

One of the readers’ comments (second one, no hyperlink available) describes the contrast between the Sussexes and the Queen’s parents during the Second World War:

The current situation should remind us all of the remarkable differences between generations. Winston Churchill was desperate to move the Royal family to Canada when hostilities commenced in WW2. The King refused and said that he wanted to stay with his people. In fact the Queen Mum said she was relieved when Buckingham Palace took a direct hit during the Blitz as she could then look the Eastenders in face thereafter. Princess Elizabeth herself served in the military as a mechanic and truck driver. The King, in fact, wanted to be part of the advanced landing parties on D-Day, fortunately he was talked out of it. The Royal family’s sense of duty inspired the British people to see the crisis through even though at the beginning of hostilities it was touch and go for Britain. Running away to safety was not an option for them.

Harry and Meghan find Royal duties tedious and boring. It’s not for them and they want to make lots of money instead. The Press have given them a hard time and some gutter types have written some nasty things about them. They would, it seems, prefer deference rather than criticism. The only option available to them is to escape to Canada.

Is it no small wonder that older people view the Millennials as mere snowflakes.

The first readers’ comment is about personal dynamics between the Sussexes. This is another danger, namely for the Duke:

I have the feeling it is Meghan manipulating Harry as I think she is quite narcissistic. And she knows Harry has a problem with British press re: his mother. She may be exploiting that. I also think their marriage will therefore be in shambles in the not too far future

There is a good article on narcissism relating to this, ‘A Very Royal Narcissist — Part 9’, excerpts from which follow.

Is it possible that this is what has been going on behind the scenes for the past several months? Emphasis in the original:

    • Smearing the family members (“They are trying to control you, I am just trying to help you see that.”)
    • Exaggeration of Threat (“They do not want you to be happy, I do, that is why they see me as a threat.”)
    • Projection (see the above comment).
    • Pity Play (“Your family do not like me.” “This country has it in for me and I have tried so hard, you know, tried the stiff upper lip, but they just do not like me.”)
    • Guilt (“If you loved me, you would move for me.”)
    • Triangulation (“If we stay, it will end up the same for me as it was for your mother and you do not want that to happen do you?”)
    • Use of The Victim´s Weaknesses Against Them …
    • Promised Gain (“If we live there, we can do our own thing and both be happy, you want that for us don’t you?”)

Remember, the narcissist will do this through unconscious manipulations. The narcissist genuinely believes that they are doing the right thing and cannot see, because of their narcissism, that they are actually being manipulative.

Such manipulations will have been used in isolating Prince Harry from his father, brother, grandparents, friends and extended family (save those who are viewed as supportive and therefore no threat to the control) and thus choosing water over blood.

The article on narcissism goes on to speculate as to what possibly happened at Sandringham on Monday, January 13, and the aftermath.

Whatever the outcome, the article concludes:

In the short term, Miss Markle will exert control in some form and in her “world” she will be winning. Of course, there is much more that is yet to happen with this ongoing saga of a Very Royal Narcissist.

I hope that means that this awful saga comes to an end, in favour of the Royal Family.

Tomorrow I will close a week of disroyalty with two more views about the Royal Family and the Sussexes.

Sooner than expected, I am writing about the Sandringham summit, held on Monday, January 13, 2020, to provide a way forward for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in their disroyalty.

Present at Sandringham were the Queen and Princes Charles, William and Harry. Contrary to earlier reports, the Duchess, in Canada, did not participate via telephone. The Daily Mail reported that aides issued a brief statement to that effect:

The Sussexes decided that it wasn’t necessary for the duchess to join.

Afterwards, the Queen issued a statement:

That would seem the most sensible solution.

No commercialisation of the Sussex titles, either. (I don’t care what arrangements are in place at present.) The Queen issues titles, and they are not the property of recipients.

The Queen’s statement reads as follows (emphases mine):

Today my family had very constructive discussions on the future of my grandson and his family.

My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family. Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working Members of the Royal Family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family.

Harry and Meghan have made clear that they do not want to be reliant on public funds in their new lives.

It has therefore been agreed that there will be a period of transition in which the Sussexes will spend time in Canada and the UK.

These are complex matters for my family to resolve, and there is some more work to be done, but I have asked for final decisions to be reached in the coming days.

ENDS

Political pundit Guido Fawkes wrote, using a Brexit term (emphasis in the original):

Looks like an orderly transition to a Canada Plus model…

His readers, however, are sorely disappointed.

So am I.

However, the monarch is much wiser than her subjects. Her statement is probably not all it seems on the surface. She might want to take the venom out of events from the past week and let the wound begin to heal. She probably also wants to avoid a Princess Diana situation: different circumstances, granted, but the same reaction from certain quarters, which turned Prince Harry’s mother into a martyr figure.

Whilst journalist and television presenter Piers Morgan was as disappointed as I, a few of his readers think the Queen could be playing the long game:

On Monday, January 13, British GQ posted an interview with Piers Morgan:

In 2017, Morgan supported Prince Harry’s choice of future wife. He wrote an article for the Daily Mail: ‘PIERS MORGAN: Hearty congratulations, Harry, you picked a real keeper’.

Excerpts follow from the British GQ article (emphases in purple mine).

Contrary to what he thought in 2017 and 2018, Morgan believes the Duchess is a threat to the monarchy:

GQ: You have engaged in some very personal and sometimes vicious arguments over Meghan and Harry over the past few days. Did you feel passionately about this before the news about them broke or did it just get out of hand?

Piers Morgan: I’ve felt strongly about this for about 18 months, ever since I could see the way the wind was blowing. The truth about Meghan Markle is that she’s a social climbing piece of work and all the people rushing to her defence have not, I’ve noticed, had any personal dealings with her. The number of people she has used and then cut loose is long and illustrious and involves almost her entire family, most of her oldest friends, most of Harry’s best male friends and now she’s trying to extricate Harry from the royal family. I think she represents a clear and present danger to the future of the monarchy and I don’t say that lightly. If you are going to have two renegade celebrity part-time royals bestriding the globe cashing in on their royal status, I think that could accelerate an atmosphere of republicanism that can be very dangerous to the existence of the monarchy. There are very important issues here and I think it’s something people should be emotive about if they, like me, value the monarchy and the royal family.

He objects to the Sussexes wanting all the benefits of being Royals without having to put in any of the day-to-day duties:

I noticed you have focused on the Queen in these discussions.

The Queen’s a 93-year-old woman who has been on the throne for over six decades – she’s probably the most respected world leader of modern times. She’s recently had to put up with a scandal involving her middle son, whom she’s had to effectively fire; her husband is 98 and suffering serious health issues. So she’s got enough on her plate without these two upstarts deciding they’re going to rewrite the way the royal family conducts itself with their new agenda. Nobody wants a progressive royal family, nobody wants a woke royal family. This is entirely driven by Meghan Markle, who has turned Harry, I’m afraid, into a simpering doormat and the result is fairly cataclysmic. They want to leave the royal family on their terms where they get to keep all the good bits – the taxpayer-funded security and travel, the free mansion which was refurbished at our expense – but they don’t want to do the Wednesday duty at a community centre in Stoke. That’s not going to wash.

He explains why he changed his mind about the Duchess:

Do you think the mainstream media have been fair in their scrutiny of Meghan and Harry?

PM: Yes, I wrote a lot of very positive things about Meghan Markle. Then a number of stories began appearing about the way she had ghosted people. Look, I was a very minor ghosting. I thought we were good friends. She tweeted we were good friends – tweets she has now deleted. She was the one who reached out to me for media advice so I did and I thought we got on very well, but the moment she met Prince Harry, bang! And she’s done that to many people. She is a social climbing cut-and-runner. I fear what will happen to Harry.

He says that what the Sussexes are doing is not what the Royal Family is about:

How do you think the future royal relationships will pan out and could it help the royals in the long run?

You can’t be half royal and half not. You can’t take public money and flog your status off to commercial entities. I don’t see how this works. They are entitled to lead any life they want to lead, but they are not entitled to be a drain on the British taxpayer. Also, why is Meghan Markle a global star? It’s because she married into the British royal family and I think the public will take a very dim view of somebody coming into our royal family for three years and then buggering off and fleecing everything off the back of her royal status. You can’t be a part-time royal and not do the dirty work that goes with it. If they want to give up all their free stuff and pay for everything themselves then good luck to them, but even then if she makes tens of millions of dollars it won’t be because of her acting work, it will be because she married Prince Harry.

In his Daily Mail column published the same day, Morgan listed the reasons why he went off the Duchess.

However, going back further, he cites his column on the Sussexes’ wedding and reminds us of how much the British public looked forward to it (emphases mine):

From the moment Meghan Markle came on the royal scene, and it was revealed she was from a mixed-race background, she was welcomed with warm open tolerant arms by a wonderfully multi-cultural and diverse modern Britain that was thrilled to finally see a non-white member of the Royal Family.

She was showered with almost universal praise, especially when the engagement was announced.

The media, in particular, was unanimous in its verdict that this was a great thing for the country. In fact, I haven’t seen a press so united in joy for anything royal since Diana first became Charles’s girlfriend.

This extraordinary tidal wave of goodwill continued through to the big wedding in May 2018, which by common consent was a triumph.

As I wrote myself in the Daily Mail the following day, ‘it mixed the best of traditional British pomp and majesty with large dollops of Markle Sparkle and the result was a biracial, Hollywood-fused union of very different cultures that worked magnificently well.’

True! People were thrilled. Royal fans lined the streets of Windsor that day, even if they had little hope of seeing the new Royal couple.

He is criticising the Duchess — and the Duke — for the following:

… her erratic conduct – and Harry’s – since the wedding, which has been spectacularly ill-advised;

hypocritical of Meghan to have a $500,000 celebrity-fuelled baby-shower party in New York, including a lift on George Clooney‘s jet, on the same day she and Harry tweeted a plea for people to think of the poor;

… they went to such ridiculous lengths to hide basic details of their baby Archie’s birth from the public that pays for much of their lavish lives;

… appalling when Meghan’s bodyguards stopped members of the same public taking her photo at Wimbledon;

… she refused to meet President Trump during his UK state visit, despite being the only American member of the Royal Family;

… dreadfully two-faced of her and Harry to preach about the need to watch every carbon-footprint, as they jumped on Sir Elton John’s private jet every ten minutes;

she ended a tour of poverty-strewn parts of South Africa by moaning about her own ‘struggle’;

their incessant war with the media, throwing hysterical abuse-laden warnings and lawsuits out like confetti, so pathetically thin-skinned and self-defeating given how much positive press they’ve also enjoyed;

the way they’re treated the Queen so deplorable and cruel, given her age (93), the fact her 98-year-old husband Philip has been so ill, and the recent enormous stress she has suffered over having to fire her own son Andrew over the Jeffrey Epstein scandal

He concludes, in part:

The reality is that Meghan and Harry have brought this ugly situation entirely on themselves

Here is one more self-inflicted injury by the Sussexes:

The youngsters complaining about the media were too young to remember the press drubbing that the Duchess of Cambridge — Kate — received when she got engaged to Prince William. Her mother was also ridiculed for having been a former airline attendant. A few years ago, the Duchess and her mother were criticised for having young Prince George stay at the Middleton home now and then so that he could spend time with his maternal grandparents.

She got her media flak, but she rose above it. Now she can do no wrong:

As Morgan says:

That is definitely true.

Before then, there were Charles’s girlfriends from the early 1970s, all roundly sniped at in the press.

Princess Anne was similarly criticised during the same time period.

So did Princess Anne’s first husband. The media called him ‘Foggy’, not just once or twice but often. So often, in fact, that to this day, I do not remember his real name.

Before that, there was Princess Margaret — the Queen’s sister — who suffered a barrage of negative press during her adult life, from the 1950s to her death in 2002.

Conclusion: Meghan Markle is NOT the only Royal who has ever been criticised in the media. Others suffered far worse for no compelling reasons at all.

More tomorrow on other commentators’ reactions to the Sussexes.

In the meantime, for anyone compiling pub quiz stumpers, here’s one for you:

Q. What was Prince Harry’s last public engagement as a senior Royal?

A. The official draw at Buckingham Palace on January 16, 2020, for the Rugby League World Cup, which will be hosted in the UK in 2021.

Of course, that could well be subject to change in the years to come, but it’s good for the time being.

On Monday, January 13, the Queen, Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry held a family summit with their respective advisers on Harry and Meghan’s future:

I hope to have more on that at the end of the week.

For now, the British public’s reaction at the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s disroyalty (not a real word) was largely one of disgust with the couple and supportive of the Queen. For proof, please read the readers’ comments in the tweets and articles below.

Many British journalists also oppose the Sussexes’ attempt to leave royal life and still get paid while showing great disrespect to the Queen.

Tim Stanley of The Telegraph is around Harry and Meghan’s age, but even he takes a dim view of their actions:

Stanley explained the situation (emphases mine):

It might seem counterintuitive, but the monarchy survives by appearing modest and the Windsors figured out long-ago that they reign not by the grace of God but the good will of the people – so going all “progressive”, cashing in and running off to Canada (“But I get to keep Frogmore Cottage, right?”) is not the behaviour of a 21st‑century royal.

“Who do you think you are, young man? A Kennedy?”

Like most Britons, he thinks the storm will pass:

The threat of a tell-all interview, termed ‘blackmail’ by many Britons, has not gone down well, either:

On Sunday, January 12, The Sun reported that the couple could give the interview to the queen of daytime television, Oprah Winfrey. Meghan is allegedly busy working on it:

Her American PR team is already in touch with major US networks and chat show queen Oprah Winfrey.

The couple could use the TV threat to try to secure a better deal at the Sandringham talks with the Queen, Prince Charles and Wills over their plans to step down from frontline royal duties.

A royal source said: “Harry and Meghan’s people have been reaching out to all the big US networks to explore the possibilities of a sit-down warts-and-all interview.

“Perhaps Harry and Meghan will use this as a negotiating tactic as there is no way the royals want their dirty laundry out in the open.

Maybe they will get more money if they agree not to talk.”

It is believed Meghan’s team has been in contact with ABC, NBC and CBS and celebrity chat show hosts such as Oprah.

She was a surprise guest at Harry and Meghan’s wedding and is known to be in contact with them. Meg’s mum Doria has been pictured leaving Oprah’s home.

Harry has already worked with Oprah for an Apple TV series on mental health.

The source said the couple want to “tell their side of the story” — adding: “Meghan feels she’s been silenced and is no longer prepared to be muted.

“She and Harry feel the royals have been racist and sexist. Her people are actively exploring opportunities.”

I wonder if the Queen discussed this with her grandson at the Sandringham summit.

In 2019, Prince Harry succeeded his grandfather, Prince Philip, as Captain General of the Royal Marines.

On Monday, January 13, a retired officer in the Royal Marines told the Telegraph that, based on last week’s antics, he would not raise a toast to Harry if he attempts to cash in on his royal title:

The retired military chief urged the 35-year-old Duke to honour his pledge of allegiance to the Queen, while a decorated war hero described his decision to stand down from the Royal family as “disgusting”.

James Glancy, a former captain in the Special Boat Service, said he and many military colleagues would not raise a toast to the Duke if he tried to earn money from his royal position with commercial ventures.

His criticism came as a highly decorated Army figure told The Daily Telegraph: “Prince Harry has every right to want to balance his responsibilities between the Royal family and his wife and young family. But first and foremost Harry was a commissioned officer who pledged allegiance to the Queen and the Queen is his grandmother, so when push comes to shove, Queen and country come first.”

Speaking to Nigel Farage on LBC radio, Capt Glancy, who won the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross in 2012 for courage and leadership during three campaigns in Afghanistan, said: “Harry’s been a great public servant.

He’s done two tours of Afghanistan. I was there for one of his tours … He’s done brilliant work in charity since he’s left the Armed Forces, especially with the Invictus Games, but his behaviour in the last year is not becoming of somebody that holds these important positions, these patronages, including that of the Captain General.”

Captain Glancy also told the following to Nigel Farage:

Insisting others in the Royal Marines and military were “very upset, if not disgusted by the disrespect to the Queen by not discussing this”, Capt Glancy added: “Everybody agrees that if he wants to leave these positions … he’s absolutely entitled to have another life, and he’s entitled to live overseas. But you can’t do this half and half. You’re either in or out … “

The Telegraph article went on to quote the father of one of the men who served alongside the Prince in Afghanistan who:

accused the Duke of “abandoning his Army family”.

Derek Hunt, whose son Nathan was mentioned in dispatches for neutralising Taliban bombs in Helmand province in 2008, said: “Nathan kept Prince Harry alive in Afghanistan. He’d have been blown up had my son not found those IEDs. After everything they went through together, I think it is terrible to see him turning his back on everyone.

We all thought Harry really understood what life is like for veterans and their families, as if he was one of us and by our side – but he’s shattered that impression now. It’s like he’s lost his spark, like he’s not the same person.”

Tied in with Harry’s military service are the Invictus Games, a sports competition he helped to develop for disabled military veterans. I watched some of the first Invictus Games and they are very inspiring, indeed. They have given the participating veterans a new lease on life.

On Saturday, January 11, The Telegraph reported that the future of the Invictus Games could be in doubt following the Prince’s announcement to retire from public life:

Military backers of the games, which have brought together wounded servicemen and women since they first launched in London in 2014 are known to be concerned the event may fall into a “limbo”.

The Invictus Games have relied heavily on the Duke of Sussex as its public figurehead, and his close association with the event has guaranteed them a high profile to date.

It was at the Invictus Games in Toronto, in September 2017, that Harry and Meghan made their first official public appearance together.

But there are fears that if the Duke and Duchess withdraw from part of their public duties as part of their aim to “step back as senior royals”, then the Invictus Games could lose much of their purpose and drive.

One source familiar with the thinking of the Palace said: “There is a big question about the Invictus Games. Where does that stand? The military are pretty annoyed because he seemed totally disinterested at the last meeting

They were very worried and concerned. They are thinking ‘now what? It is in limbo. They don’t know where it sits.”

Another military snub has not gone unnoticed. On Friday, January 10, The Sun quoted one of their employees, veteran Royal photographer Arthur Edwards, who said:

I don’t think you can “pop in” for Trooping the Colour but not be there for Remembrance Sunday.

Arthur Edwards was speaking to Fox News about the Sussexes and had this to say about Meghan:

The veteran snapper said she had won over the British people and was “brilliant”.

He remembered how “the Prince of Wales walked her down the aisle, what a way to compliment.”

But added: “It seems that it’s not enough, it’s not enough for Meghan.”

As for Harry:

You couldn’t take your eyes off him because he was guaranteed to do the unexpected, like playing football with street kids, racing Usain Bolt or hugging a prime minister.

He was a joy to work with, a normal guy in the street who just happened to have a royal title. The whole world loved him.

But over the past two years his relationship with the media has not just turned sour — it has become toxic.

I haven’t seen him look really happy for a long time.

The Sussexes’ complaints about the Royal Family — if true — seem rather petty.

Before Christmas, the Queen posed for a photograph with three generations of her family, all in the top three places as heirs to the throne: Prince Charles, Prince William and young Prince George. The Sun reported:

It has been claimed that the succession photo was the last straw for Meghan and Harry.

Why on earth is that a problem? They are the immediate princes in line to succeed the Queen and each other. Harry is sixth in line.

Here’s another alleged complaint. Harry allegedly got upset with his older brother when he introduced him to Meghan. The Sun says that was the beginning of the rift between them:

Prince Harry fell out with Prince William when his older brother told him to “heed” Princess Diana’s warning not to “marry in haste”, it’s been claimed.

The Duke of Sussex, who has now quit the royal family, accused his once-close brother of trying to “wreck his relationship” with Meghan Markle.

William had told Harry to take his relationship with the former actress slowly after he was first introduced to her at Kensington Palace.

And he reiterated the warning after Harry and Meghan got engaged – this time using mum Diana’s advice to drive it home.

She had explained to William how she and Prince Charles “hardly knew each other” before marrying, the Daily Mail reports.

The comments sparked a rift between the two

Well, who could be angry about that? That’s just common sense advice to avoid a problem marriage.

One accusation that both Princes Harry and William say is false is the claim that the latter bullied the former. On Monday, January 13, The Sun reported that the brothers issued a joint statement denouncing the story:

Prince Harry and Prince William have united to say they are “deeply, deeply unhappy” about claims the latter’s ‘bullying’ caused the royal split.

The Duke of Sussex was originally said by a royal source to have felt pushed out of the royal family by his big brother.

But he has spoken out with William today slamming the “offensive” claims ahead of crisis talks being held by the Queen at Sandringham.

Their statement read: “Despite clear denials, a false story ran in a UK newspaper today speculating about the relationship between The Duke of Sussex and The Duke of Cambridge.

For brothers who care so deeply about the issues surrounding mental health, the use of inflammatory language in this way is offensive and potentially harmful.”

Meanwhile, the Sussexes have Elton John as a close confidant. Nothing wrong with that, except that they told him of their plans to withdraw from royal life before they told the Queen. On Sunday, January 12, The Sun reported on a story published in the Sunday People:

The Sunday People also revealed that Harry and Meghan have turned to Elton John after secretly telling him they were planning to quit royal life before they informed the Queen.

An insider said: “Sir Elton is constantly at the end of the phone for Harry and Meghan and speaks to them every day.

“He is an inspiration to them and has been an almost motherly figure to them throughout this process. They made their decision on their own but he has been a shoulder to lean on and listened to them as they spoke about their own plans.”

The public will stand by the Queen.

A few of her subjects, frustrated with the Sussexes, have suggested that Charles could demand that Harry take a DNA test. Yes, the paternity rumour mill has started again. However, it is said that red hair runs in the Spencer family, so he would have inherited it from his mother’s side.

I do hope everything works out well for all concerned. Whatever is decided upon will have far-reaching effects one way or another.

A few years ago, we all had high hopes for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

Around the time of their wedding, it was thought that the Queen was going to make them Royal ‘ambassadors’ to the Commonwealth countries, which would have been splendid.

Now, their latest announcement on leaving the UK to live somewhere in North America — likely Canada — has divided admirers of the Royal Family, including the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

This looks like disloyalty — perhaps disroyalty. It is not a good look.

This move reminds many of us of Edward VIII’s abdication in 1936 in favour of the American divorcée, Wallis Simpson. Talk to any Briton who is over the age of 60 and, even if they were not alive at the time, they will tell you that abdication is a very big deal and destabilising for the Royal Family, even if only temporarily.

The former Ms Markle — real first name Rachel — is also a divorcée:

This is how the New York Post reported the story on Thursday, January 9:

Many of us hope that the Queen steps in and, along with Prince Charles, lays down the law to these two. They want to commercialise the Sussex titles. Yet, they are but temporary holders — renters — of them, not their perpetual owners. The Queen lent the Sussex titles to them. She can surely take them away.

Did the couple think this over carefully? One wonders. It will bring all sorts of issues:

Yes, things in future might not be all they seem at the moment.

The question of the public purse is also a valid one, mainly with regard to security, as they receive personal upkeep from Prince Charles (Duchy of Cornwall, 95%) and the Queen (Sovereign Grant, 5%):

The Queen had Frogmore Cottage on the Windsor estate refurbished for the Sussexes at the cost of £2.4m. She also threw a rightly lavish wedding for them, also costing millions. Now they want to split their time between the UK and Canada. This rankles:

This will be a hot topic in the months to come, even though the couple are not on the Civil List. The following is a reply to journalist and broadcaster Piers Morgan:

Then there are the family optics and dynamics involved. Views on these have been divided, especially with regard to the Queen and Prince Philip:

The Queen is our longest serving monarch and Britain’s Head of State. She is a national treasure. Does Harry owe her more allegiance than he does his own family? It is a sensitive subject with the public:

It has been reported that Prince Harry did not discuss his and the Duchess’s impending lifestyle change with the Queen, Prince Charles or Prince William. That has not gone down well with supporters of the Royal Family:

Some people say that Harry has an excuse for his behaviour because of the manner in which his mother died. However, as Piers Morgan points out, he is not the only person who lost a parent at an early age. Piers Morgan’s father died when he was a youngster, too:

People forget that Princess Diana was Prince William’s mother, too:

On now to the statement from the Sussexes, which they posted on their website and on Instagram:

January, 2020

“After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution. We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family, and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen. It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment. We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages. This geographic balance will enable us to raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter, including the launch of our new charitable entity. We look forward to sharing the full details of this exciting next step in due course, as we continue to collaborate with Her Majesty The Queen, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge, and all relevant parties. Until then, please accept our deepest thanks for your continued support.”

Their Royal Highnesses, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex

What about the carbon footprint??

Buckingham Palace issued this terse response:

Discussions with The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage. We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through.

Morgan, writing for the Daily Mail, said on Thursday, January 9 (emphases mine):

Seriously?

I’ve seen some disgraceful royal antics in my time, but for pure arrogance, entitlement, greed, and wilful disrespect, nothing has ever quite matched the behaviour of the ‘Duke and Duchess of Sussex.’

I put inverted commas around those titles because I sincerely hope they won’t exist much longer.

Indeed, if I were Her Majesty the Queen, I would unceremoniously strip Harry and Meghan of all their titles with immediate effect and despatch them back into civilian life.

These two deluded clowns announced yesterday they were quitting life as senior royals.

In a series of staggeringly pompous statements on their gleaming new Hollywood-style website, they laid down the law to the Queen and to the rest of us about exactly how things are supposedly going to work from this moment on.

To summarise, they want to stop being ‘senior royals’ with all the tedious duty that entails.

And instead, they now want to be a ‘progressive’ force within ‘the institution’.

In other words, they want to be super-woke celebrities (with all the outrageous ‘Do as we say not as we do’ hectoring hypocrisy they’ve already brought to that status) who get to keep all the trappings of royal life without any of the hard, boring bits and the right to cash in on their status however they choose.

So, they want the glitz, the glamour, the splendour and the stupendous wealth….they just don’t want to have to actually earn it.

What a pathetic joke.

He was appalled that the Sussexes took this decision independently:

It was shocking enough that Harry and Meghan didn’t even have the courtesy to tell either Prince Charles, who they sponge off, or Prince William of their grandiose plans.

But it was absolutely appalling that they failed to notify the Queen.

This woman is not just Harry’s grandmother, she’s the Monarch for god’s sake.

She has spent the past six decades on the throne and by common consent has served her people with magnificent grace, commitment, respect and skill.

Elizabeth II will go down in history as one of the greatest, if not THE greatest, monarchs.

Yet now, at the age of 93, and with her 98-year-old husband Prince Philip suffering ill health, she’s had to suffer the repulsively rude indignity of being treated like a piece of insignificant dirt by her own spoiled brat grandson and his scheming, selfish D-list actress wife.

He discussed Edward VIII’s abdication:

Of course, and very ironically, she is only Queen because her own uncle, Edward VIII, also fell under the romantic clutches of another American woman, Wallis Simpson, and felt compelled to resign as King.

That led to his brother George VI taking over, and when he died, his eldest daughter Elizabeth was crowned Queen in her mid-20s.

Now, after surviving a number of royal crises including the death of Princess Diana in 1997, Her Majesty faces another that could cause potentially irreparable damage to the Monarchy.

Yes, coupled with Prince Andrew’s fall from grace last year, this development is very bad, indeed.

Timing is everything, it is said. This is excruciatingly poor timing.

When my generation were growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, our parents and teachers were appalled at our self-centredness. If I had a $1 for every time they said to us …

Me, me, me! That’s all you ever think about: self, self, self!

… I’d be writing this from Monaco.

Yet, this is what the Sussexes are doing: thinking about self, self, self!

Piers Morgan agrees:

Unfortunately — but quite rightly — the goodwill previously accorded to them is likely to vanish quickly.

This is what they are attempting to fob us off with:

This is closer to the stark reality of the situation:

January 9 happens to be the Duchess of Cambridge’s birthday:

It’s a shame this news overshadowed what should have been a happy day for her.

Self, self, self!

The Queen’s Chrismas Day message to the nation was as thought-provoking as ever:

The Express has a transcript. Note that the Queen says that 2020 is the start of a new decade — not 2021, as pedants say (emphases mine):

as we all look forward to the start of a new decade, it’s worth remembering that it is often the small steps, not the giant leaps, that bring about the most lasting change.

The new decade, beginning in a few days’ time, is further confirmed on Twitter:

Contrary to what the media has reported this month, she kept family issues out of the speech.

On Christmas Eve, the Mail‘s Richard Kay wrote:

After so many broadcasts the Queen, of course, is comfortably familiar in front of the camera, but even so this year she will quite possibly deliver her most difficult, her most painful and perhaps, from the monarchy’s point of view, her most crucial Christmas message ever.

Sure.

In reality, the Queen focussed on the notable anniversaries in 2019:

As a child, I never imagined that one day a man would walk on the moon. Yet this year we marked the 50th anniversary of the famous Apollo 11 mission.

As those historic pictures were beamed back to Earth, millions of us sat transfixed to our television screens, as we watched Neil Armstrong taking a small step for man and a giant leap for mankind – and, indeed, for womankind. It’s a reminder for us all that giant leaps often start with small steps.

This year we marked another important anniversary: D-Day. On 6th June 1944, some 156,000 British, Canadian and American forces landed in northern France. It was the largest ever seaborne invasion and was delayed due to bad weather …

Since the end of the Second World War, many charities, groups and organisations have worked to promote peace and unity around the world, bringing together those who have been on opposing sides.

On that subject, The Express reported her words and what lay behind them:

“It was the largest ever seabourne invasion and was delayed due to bad weather.

“I well remember the look of concern on my father’s face.

“He knew the secret D-Day plans but could of course share that burden with no one.”

This subtle nod to her father also seems to reflect on the burden of loneliness which wearing the crown can entail at times.

Mentions of family were happy ones:

Two hundred years on from the birth of my great, great grandmother, Queen Victoria, Prince Philip and I have been delighted to welcome our eighth great-grandchild into our family.

The broadcast included a clip of Prince George stirring up Christmas pudding:

As Defender of the Faith in the United Kingdom, the Queen always mentions the Reason for the Season, dispensing pragmatic wisdom when speaking of our Lord:

Of course, at the heart of the Christmas story lies the birth of a child: a seemingly small and insignificant step overlooked by many in Bethlehem.

But in time, through his teaching and by his example, Jesus Christ would show the world how small steps taken in faith and in hope can overcome long-held differences and deep-seated divisions to bring harmony and understanding.

Many of us already try to follow in his footsteps. The path, of course, is not always smooth, and may at times this year have felt quite bumpy, but small steps can make a world of difference.

As Christmas dawned, church congregations around the world joined in singing It Came Upon The Midnight Clear. Like many timeless carols, it speaks not just of the coming of Jesus Christ into a divided world, many years ago, but also of the relevance, even today, of the angel’s message of peace and goodwill.

It’s a timely reminder of what positive things can be achieved when people set aside past differences and come together in the spirit of friendship and reconciliation. And, as we all look forward to the start of a new decade, it’s worth remembering that it is often the small steps, not the giant leaps, that bring about the most lasting change.

And so, I wish you all a very happy Christmas.

The broadcast, which airs at 3 p.m. GMT every year, closed with the choir at Windsor Castle singing the famous carol, accompanied by a military band.

I wonder if outgoing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn saw the speech, which he said was broadcast in the morning:

On Christmas Day at Sandringham in Norfolk, the Royal Family look forward to a church service and family lunch.

Normally, the Royal children do not attend the service. However, Princess Charlotte and Prince George made their first appearance this year (top photo on the left in the second tweet):

I hope that the Queen’s cousin, Princess Alexandra, had a very happy birthday:

This year’s Christmas speech by the Queen proved the media wrong once again. Why do we lean on their every word?

Instead, let us heed her words about small steps being significant in creating great transformation.

The State Opening of Parliament on Thursday, December 19, 2019 is the last we will see for a while.

We had a State Opening of Parliament on Monday, October 14, after the last prorogation.

Two State Openings in one year — and so close together — is a highly unusual situation.

I watched both on television. The symbols and pageantry are tremendous.

Parliament’s website states:

The Queen’s Speech sets out the government’s agenda for the next session of Parliament and outlines proposed policies and laws …

State Opening is the main ceremonial event of the parliamentary calendar, drawing a significant audience online, on television and in person.

In the days preceding the State Opening, both Houses of Parliament — the Lords as well as the Commons — swore in all members individually for this new session following the General Election of Thursday, December 12:

Once complete, the State Opening could take place.

It is the only time the three elements of British government are brought together in one place, in the Palace of Westminster, home to the Houses of Commons and the Lords:

Yeoman warders from the Tower of London do a symbolic inspection — centuries ago, it was a real inspection — to ensure there are no saboteurs or explosives lurking:

This recalls the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, involving a handful of rebellious Catholics, the most famous of which was Guy (Guido) Fawkes, although Robert Catesby was their leader. They attempted to blow up the House of Lords. The explosives were already there.

Today, after the inspection, each of the Yeoman Warders (‘Beefeaters’) is rewarded with half a pint of port.

Meanwhile, the Queen prepares to leave Buckingham Palace for the short ride to the Palace of Westminster. Prince Charles accompanied his mother for both State Openings this year, as Prince Philip has retired from public duties:

October’s State Opening was much more formal. The Queen wore a crown and was dressed in a full length white gown with an ermine cape:

This time, she wore a dressy coat and a hat. Her mode of transport was a Bentley rather than a carriage. The photo on the left shows her walking with Prince Charles in the Royal Gallery in the Palace of Westminster, eventually into the House of Lords to deliver her speech, written by her government:

While the Queen is preparing to give the speech, Black Rod walks from the House of Lords to the House of Commons to summon MPs to the Lords to hear the monarch. We have seen quite a lot of Sally Clarke, the first female Black Rod, this year.

This video explains Black Rod’s duties, which are more than ceremonial:

When Black Rod arrives at the House of Commons, the door is slammed in her face. This symbolises:

the Commons’ independence from the monarchy. Black Rod then strikes the door loudly three times with his ebony staff, or rod, before it is opened, and the 250 Members of the House of Commons follow him back to the Lords Chamber, to stand at the opposite end to The Queen’s Throne.

The video in the second tweet shows the route MPs take to the House of Lords, with Black Rod leading them. The first video dispels the myth that the Lords wear their ceremonial robes every time they meet:

MPs stand in the back of the House of Lords to listen to the Queen’s Speech, which the Lord Chancellor presents to her in a special silk pouch.

During the State Opening, one MP is ‘held hostage’ at Buckingham Palace. I do not know who the two MPs were this year:

Afterwards, MPs return to the Commons:

When the Queen leaves, a new parliamentary session starts and Parliament gets back to work. Members of both Houses debate the content of the speech and agree a reply, known as the ‘Address in Reply to Her Majesty’s Gracious Speech’.

Each House continues to debate the planned legislative programme for several days, looking at different subject areas. The Queen’s Speech is voted on by the Commons, but no vote is taken in the Lords.

Friday, December 20, was MPs’ last day in session before Christmas recess. Brexit was at the top of the agenda.

They approved the second reading of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s deal from October:

They also approved the timetable — programme motion — for the second reading:

They meet again on Tuesday, January 7, 2020:

We have much to look forward to in the New Year.

This week’s posts have largely been about last Saturday’s televised interview that Prince Andrew gave to BBC Newsnight‘s Emily Maitlis.

My post from Tuesday has a link to the full interview, and for those wondering why the public sentiment is so against him, here are several reasons. Yesterday’s post featured his announcement to retire from public life and subtitled video clips from the interview.

Today’s looks at the reasons why Prince Andrew maintained his friendship with the late Jeffrey Epstein. The following quotes are taken from the transcript as published in The Express. Emily Maitlis is ‘Interviewer’.

It’s quite a read, according to this Sunday Times journalist:

How they met

It appears that Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s erstwhile girlfriend, introduced the two (emphases mine):

Well I met through his girlfriend back in 1999 who…and I’d known her since she was at university in the UK and it would be, to some extent, a stretch to say that as it were we were close friends. I mean we were friends because of other people and I had a lot of opportunity to go to the United States but I didn’t have much time with him.

I suppose I saw him once or twice a year, perhaps maybe maximum of three times a year and quite often if I was in the United States and doing things and if he wasn’t there, he would say “well, why don’t you come and use my houses?” so I said “that’s very kind, thank you very much indeed”.

But it would be a considerable stretch to say that he was a very, very close friend. But he had the most extraordinary ability to bring extraordinary people together and that’s the bit that I remember as going to the dinner parties where you would meet academics, politicians, people from the United Nations, I mean it was a cosmopolitan group of what I would describe as US eminents.

Interviewer: Was that his appeal then?

Prince Andrew: Yeah.

Maitlis asked the prince if the two of them enjoyed partying:

because you were perceived by the public as being the party prince, was that something you shared?

Prince Andrew: Well, I think that’s also a bit of a stretch. I don‘t know why I’ve collected that title because I don’t…I never have really partied. I was single for quite a long time in the early 80s but then after I got married I was very happy and I’ve never really felt the need to go and party and certainly going to Jeffrey’s was not about partying, absolutely not.

This might help jog his memory:

And what about this?

Back to the interview.

Maitlis asked if he trusted Epstein:

Yes, I think I probably did but again, I mean I don’t go into a friendship looking for the wrong thing, if you understand what I mean. I’m an engaging person, I want to be able to engage, I want to find out, I want to learn and so you have to remember that I was transitioning out of the Navy at the time and in the transition I wanted to find out more about what was going on because in the Navy it’s a pretty isolated business because you’re out at sea the whole time and I was going to become the special representative for international trade and investment.

So I wanted to know more about what was going on in the international business world and so that was another reason for going there. And the opportunities that I had to go to Wall Street and other places to learn whilst I was there were absolutely vital.

Epstein’s visits to the UK

Emily Maitlis then asked about Epstein’s visits to the UK as his guest:

Interviewer: He was your guest as well, in 2000 Epstein was a guest at Windsor Castle and at Sandringham, he was brought right into the heart of the royal family at your invitation.

Prince Andrew: But certainly at my invitation, not at the royal family’s invitation but remember that it was his girlfriend that was the key element in this. He was the, as it were, plus one, to some extent in that aspect.

Interviewer: Am I right in thinking you threw a birthday party for Epstein’s girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell at Sandringham?

Prince Andrew: No, it was a shooting weekend.

Interviewer: A shooting weekend.

Prince Andrew: Just a straightforward, a straightforward shooting weekend.

Interviewer: But during these times that he was a guest at Windsor Castle, at Sandringham, the shooting weekend…

Prince Andrew: Yeah, yeah.

Interviewer: We now know that he was and had been procuring young girls for sex trafficking.

All above board in Epstein’s houses?

Prince Andrew then said that he never noticed anything abnormal about Epstein’s houses other than the number of people at all times of day.

He was also a patron of the Full Stop campaign for the UK’s NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) early after the Millennium, a position he held until 2009.

Oh, the irony.

Prince Andrew: We now know that, at the time there was no indication to me or anybody else that that was what he was doing and certainly when I saw him either in the United States…oh no when I saw him in the United States or when I was staying in his houses in the United States, there was no indication, absolutely no indication. And if there was, you have to remember that at the time I was Patron of the NSPCC’s Full Stop campaign so I was close up with what was going on in those time about getting rid of abuse to children so I knew what the things were to look for but I never saw them.

Interviewer: So you would have made that connection because you stayed with him, you were a visitor, a guest on many occasions at his homes and nothing struck you as suspicious

Prince Andrew: Nothing.

Interviewer: …during that whole time.

Prince Andrew: Nothing.

Could it be a matter of perception? In an appearance this week on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Lady Colin Campbell (second tweet) made a dubious distinction:

Moving along:

Interviewer: Just for the record, you’ve been on his private plane.

Prince Andrew: Yes.

Interviewer: You’ve been to stay on his private island.

Prince Andrew: Yes.

Interviewer: You’ve stayed at his home in Palm Beach.

Prince Andrew: Yes.

Interviewer: You visited Ghislaine Maxwell’s house in Belgravia in London.

Prince Andrew: Yes.

Princess Beatrice’s 18th birthday party — 2006

Maitlis asked Prince Andrew about inviting Epstein to Princess Beatrice’s 18th birthday party:

Interviewer: So in 2006 in May an arrest warrant was issued for Epstein for sexual assault of a minor.

Prince Andrew: Yes.

Interviewer: In July he was invited to Windsor Castle to your daughter, Princess Beatrice’s 18th birthday, why would you do that?

Prince Andrew: Because I was asking Ghislaine. But even so, at the time I don’t think I…certainly I wasn’t aware when the invitation was issued what was going on in the United States and I wasn’t aware until the media picked up on it because he never said anything about it.

Interviewer: He never discussed with you the fact that an arrest warrant had been issued?

Prince Andrew: No.

Interviewer: So he came to that party knowing police were investigating him.

Prince Andrew: Well I’m not quite sure, was it police? I don’t know, you see, this is the problem, I really don’t know.

Interviewer: It was the Palm Beach Police at the time.

Prince Andrew: But I mean I’m afraid, you see this is the problem is that an awful lot of this was going on in the United States and I wasn’t a party to it and I knew nothing about it.

Epstein’s 2008 conviction

The prince said that contact with Epstein was in abeyance for a few years:

Interviewer: In 2008 he was convicted of soliciting and procuring a minor for prostitution, he was jailed, this was your friend, how did you feel about it?

Prince Andrew: Well I ceased contact with him after I was aware that he was under investigation and that was later in 2006 and I wasn’t in touch with him again until 2010. So just it was one of those things that somebody’s going through that sort of thing well I’m terribly sorry I can’t be…see you.

The 2010 dinner party

To celebrate his freedom, Epstein threw a private dinner party in December 2010. Prince Andrew was a guest of honour:

Interviewer: He was released in July, within months by December of 2010 you went to stay with him at his New York mansion, why? Why were you staying with a convicted sex offender?

Prince Andrew: Right, I have always…ever since this has happened and since this has become, as it were, public knowledge that I was there, I’ve questioned myself as to why did I go and what was I doing and was it the right thing to do? Now, I went there with the sole purpose of saying to him that because he had been convicted, it was inappropriate for us to be seen together.

And I had a number of people counsel me in both directions, either to go and see him or not to go and see him and I took the judgement call that because this was serious and I felt that doing it over the telephone was the chicken’s way of doing it. I had to go and see him and talk to him.

And I went to see him and I was doing a number of other things in New York at the time and we had an opportunity to go for a walk in the park and that was the conversation coincidentally that was photographed which was when I said to him, I said “look, because of what has happened, I don’t think it is appropriate that we should remain in contact” and by mutual agreement during that walk in the park we decided that we would part company and I left, I think it was the next day and to this day I never had any contact with him from that day forward.

Interviewer: What did he say when you told him that you were breaking up the friendship?

Prince Andrew: He was what I would describe as understanding, he didn’t go into any great depth in the conversation about what I was…what he was doing, except to say that he’d accepted, whatever it was, a plea bargain, he’d served his time and he was carrying on with his life if you see what I mean and I said “yes but I’m afraid to say that that’s as maybe but with all the attendant scrutiny on me then I don’t think it is a wise thing to do”.

Interviewer: Who advised you then that it was a good idea to go and break up the friendship? Did that come from the palace, was Her Majesty, the Queen involved?

Prince Andrew: No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, that came from…so there were a number of people who…so some people from my staff, some people from friends and family I was talking to and I took the decision that it was I had to show leadership and I had to go and see him and I had to tell him “that’s it”.

Interviewer: That was December of 2010.

Prince Andrew: Yep. 

Interviewer: He threw a party to celebrate his release and you were invited as the guest of honour.

Prince Andrew: No, I didn’t go. Oh, in 2010, there certainly wasn’t a party to celebrate his release in December because it was a small dinner party, there were only 8 or 10 of us I think at the dinner. If there was a party then I’d know nothing about that.

Interviewer: You were invited to that dinner as a guest of honour.

Prince Andrew: Well I was there so there was a dinner, I don’t think it was quite as you might put it but yeah, okay I was there for…I was there at a dinner, yeah.

However, it was not as if the prince stayed in a hotel or with other friends and went to Epstein’s only to dine. No, he was a houseguest of his:

Interviewer: I’m just trying to work this out because you said you went to break up the relationship and yet you stayed at that New York mansion several days. I’m wondering how long?

Prince Andrew: But I was doing a number of other things while I was there.

Interviewer: But you were staying at the house

Prince Andrew: Yes.

Interviewer: …of a convicted sex offender.

Prince Andrew: It was a convenient place to stay. I mean I’ve gone through this in my mind so many times. At the end of the day, with a benefit of all the hindsight that one can have, it was definitely the wrong thing to do. But at the time I felt it was the honourable and right thing to do and I admit fully that my judgement was probably coloured by my tendency to be too honourable but that’s just the way it is.

Interviewer: Because during that time, those few days, witnesses say they saw many young girls coming and going at the time. There is video footage of Epstein accompanied by young girls and you were there staying in his house, catching up with friends.

Prince Andrew: I never…I mean if there were then I wasn’t a party to any of that. I never saw them. I mean you have to understand that his house, I described it more as almost as a railway station if you know what I mean in the sense that there were people coming in and out of that house all the time.

What they were doing and why they were there I had nothing to do with. So I’m afraid I can’t make any comment on that because I really don’t know.

Why he was friends with Epstein

Prince Andrew explained why he maintained his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein:

Now, still not and the reason being is that the people that I met and the opportunities that I was given to learn either by him or because of him were actually very useful. He himself not, as it were, as close as you might think, we weren’t that close. So therefore I mean yes I would go and stay in his house but that was because of his girlfriend, not because of him.

Also:

As far as Mr Epstein was concerned, it was the wrong decision to go and see him in 2010. As far as my association with him was concerned, it had some seriously beneficial outcomes in areas that have nothing and have nothing to do with what I would describe as what we’re talking about today.

On balance, could I have avoided ever meeting him? Probably not and that’s because of my friendship with Ghislaine, it was…it was…it was inevitable that we would have come across each other. Do I regret the fact that he has quite obviously conducted himself in a manner unbecoming? Yes.

There’s a lot more those interested can read on their own.

Update

This is what happened on Monday and Tuesday before the prince announced his retirement from public life for the foreseeable future.

It appears that the Queen did give the go-ahead for this interview. On Tuesday, November 19, The Express reported that, although she is standing by her son, his charities’ supporters are not:

THE Queen has thrown her support behind Prince Andrew. It comes despite worldwide criticism over his TV interview on the Jeffrey Epstein scandal and a backlash from supporters of his charity patronages.

Sources confirmed that the 93-year-old monarch granted her approval for the Duke of York to give an interview to BBC Newsnight and stands by him. She signalled her backing as Andrew made it clear last night that he “regrets” the whole scenario and not expressing sympathy for the paedophile’s victims. And it emerged yesterday that key sponsors and supporters of Andrew’s charities are reviewing their involvement with him.

Sky News reported on KPMG on Monday:

However, The Express article says that KPMG might have taken the decision prior to the fateful interview:

Royal sources stressed KPMG’s decision was taken before the furore over Andrew’s interview with Newsnight. But the eighth in line to the throne, 59, has been embroiled in controversy since the summer, when previously sealed evidence, including claims about him cavorting with young women in the pay of Epstein, was released.

Another partner of Pitch@Palace, pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, has indicated it is considering ending its work with the duke.

The article also said that the University of Huddersfield will keep the prince on as chancellor (patron), as the students only ‘discussed’ a petition for him to stand down.

Palace officials are concerned, because the Royal Family is supposed to stay out of the limelight during a general election campaign:

During campaigns, the Royal Family continue normal duties, but are usually urged to be careful to avoid doing anything that will attract controversy and distract attention from the politicians.

Labour supporters have said Andrew’s problems have disadvantaged their party particularly because it is behind in the polls and needs maximum media attention to have a chance of catching up.

The media have been asking politicians their views on the interview. Prime Minister Boris Johnson wisely refuses to be drawn in. Labour and Liberal Democrat candidates, when asked for their opinions, have been critical of the prince.

At the end of the article, Royal Family author Phil Dampier posted an editorial blaming the present situation on the lack of seasoned courtiers currently advising the Queen:

She has lost some experienced advisers in the past couple of years. It seems likely as Buckingham Palace has said she was made aware of it, that she allowed him to get on with it without worrying too much about the details. She has always indulged Andrew and at 93 and 98 she and Prince Philip don’t have the same grip on the family that they used to have

But in the past few years the Queen has appeared to exercise less authority over her family, not least when her private secretary Christopher Geidt was forced out in 2017, apparently because of opposition from other members of the family and their households.

The fallout from this interview is just another sign of the looser grip she is exercising now that we are in a period when the monarchy is gradually preparing itself for a handover to Prince Charles.

Another article in The Express says that when Prince Philip stepped away from public life a few years ago, the fabric of the Royal Family began to unravel:

The Royal Family is missing the involvement of Prince Philip, with royal commentators warning Prince Andrew’s calamitous BBC interview is evidence the Queen has “lost control” of Buckingham Palace. The Duke of Edinburgh, who at 98 no longer plays an active royal role, was widely considered to be “the disciplinarian in the family” and one commentator has said his departure from royal duties has led to a series of royal upsets.

This includes rifts between brothers William and Harry, Meghan Markle’s claims she is struggling with adjusting to royal life and now Prince Andrew’s “car crash interview”.

Veteran courtiers have suggested if Philip was still actively involved, there would have been “no way on this Earth” he would have allowed Andrew to be interviewed.

The Mirror’s Royal Editor Russel Myers has said in the past, the Duke of Edinburgh has warned against media interviews.

Currently, the duke is at Sandringham for health reasons, The Express says:

The Duke of Edinburgh has been staying during the past weeks at Wood Farm, a five-bedroom house on the Queen’s Sandringham estate, where he spends his days reading and “pottering around”, according to a royal insider.

They told The Sun: “A few weeks ago Philip had a bit of a wobble and hasn’t felt so energetic

“Until recently he has been very active — carriage riding, fishing at Balmoral and driving around royal estates — although he no longer drives on public roads following his crash in January …“

I wish the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh all the best. They are a very close couple, each other’s best friend.

However, the spotlight remains on their son. A November 19 report in The Express discusses David McClure, author of Royal Legacy, who wonders how Prince Andrew can fund his lavish lifestyle:

The Duke of York has two large properties including a £13 million chalet in Switzerland ski resort Verbier and the 30-room Royal Lodge in Windsor Park.

He travels extensively and while nowadays this is mostly for the work in the past he has enjoyed regular skiing trips, jaunts in St Tropez and golfing holidays.

McClure said:

There is a mystery as to what he lives on and where his money comes from.

“Andrew’s situation raises the wider issue of the lack of meaningful employment opportunities for middle-ranking royals.

Traditionally the armed services have been the port of call for princes like him.

But he left the navy at the age of 41 in 2001 and since then he has struggled to find a proper role in life.”

The Times reported Prince Andrew’s main income comes directly from Queen Elizabeth II  and is used to maintain his office at Buckingham Palace and pay for his private secretary.

This money comes from the income the Queen receives from her property portfolio The Duchy of Lancaster and amounts to around £249,000 a year.

This year the duchy’s profits amounted to £21.7 million.

Will we ever know? I wonder.

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