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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.

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!

Centuries ago in the east and the north of England, shortly after Epiphany, agricultural workers returned to the fields following a rest during the Christmas season.

Plough Monday was the first Monday after Epiphany. Although this tradition has its origins with the Northern Goths and Swedes, as the Church became rooted in England, it became a religious day with farmers bringing ploughs to the church to be blessed and donations made to keep the church’s plough light lit all year round, as a way of asking for God’s blessing on the land.

During the Reformation, the religious aspect was abolished by law. The day turned into a time of secular celebration with plough competitions and a good meal at the end of the day before a return to toil the next day in the cold outdoors.

You can read more about Plough Monday below. It is still celebrated in some towns, though often on a weekend now:

The English tradition of Plough Monday (2016)

Plough Monday — the Monday after Epiphany (2017)

January 7 was traditionally known as St Distaff’s Day, a facetious name for the day when women returned to spinning wool, flax and other fibres after Christmas holidays. A distaff is a dowel used in spinning. ‘Distaff’ is a word still used today to describe a wife: ‘distaff half’. It is also used in horse racing; a distaff race features all-female horses. You can read more about St Distaff’s Day in the post below:

St Distaff’s Day — Distaff Day: January 7

It was a day that featured a return to work, but not without some gentle fun and games involving ladies pouring water over men who attempted to burn their flax.

From these traditions, we can better understand the ancient tradition of the Twelve Days of Christmas, an annual time of rest for many.

The next instalment of Forbidden Bible Verses will be posted tomorrow.

This is my last post on British politics before the December 12 election.

I have already written about Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

Like the Britons in the video below, 17.4 million of us would like to finally see Brexit delivered so that we can move on to trade negotiations with the EU and the world at large. Only one person can lead Parliament to bring this to fruition — Prime Minister Boris Johnson:

Voters have confidence in his leadership thus far (130 days and counting):

Contrary to the misinformation the media have been ramming down our throats, many British voters would be perfectly happy with a no deal or a Boris Brexit:

Although Labour have been promising households in Britain everything except a free puppy, the harsh reality would mean more — and higher — taxes for nearly everyone, ‘the many, not the few’, to borrow their slogan:

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) calls Labour’s spending plans ‘colossal’! Venezuela, here we come:

Labour’s proposed higher corporation tax would not only stifle innovation but consumer prices would go up in order to compensate for those taxes:

However, under the Conservatives — even with Parliament’s prolonging Brexit uncertainty — Britain has record employment and buoyant wages:

Our currency recently rallied, too. The Boris effect?

The Leader of the House is entirely correct in his assessment of the Prime Minister’s support of free enterprise:

Those worried about the NHS should keep in mind that a healthy economy promotes a healthy population.

Since November 6, Conservatives have been campaigning across the country.

The Prime Minister has made several campaign stops every day to factories, schools and hospitals. In November, he visited his constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip in west London with his father Stanley, a television celebrity in his own right:

Last week, he made another stop in London: Grodzinski’s bakery in Golders Green. The video of Boris piping ‘Get Brexit Done’ on doughnuts is subtitled. This must be the friendliest and most heart-warming video of the campaign for any party:

Another Conservative of note is Jacob Rees-Mogg, most recently Leader of the House, and current incumbent candidate for North East Somerset:

His sister, Annunziata, is one of four Brexit Party MEPs who, last week, urged voters to back the Conservatives:

Rees-Mogg has been campaigning in North East Somerset since Parliament was dissolved in November. It is a delightful part of England, even when cooler temperatures and rain dominate the landscape:

There is always room for humour in a political campaign. For those unfamiliar with British English, ‘moggy’ is slang for ‘cat’:

This is my favourite photo, and it is hard to disagree with the reply:

Conclusion

Only a majority Conservative government can break the Brexit logjam by the time of our next deadline:

Once post-Brexit trade negotiations start in earnest during the transition period, MPs can then begin to focus on what matters to the British:

Are these sensible policies important to you?

While our other political parties, especially the Scottish National Party (SNP), want to break up the Union which has held strong since 1707, the Conservatives will continue to hold it together, because:

On Thursday, December 12, a Conservative vote makes sense:

I’m borrowing this GIF to say …

Back Boris.

Watford, England, a quick ride from London, was the setting for the 70th anniversary of NATO.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was the host and, despite a few squabbles, everything went well.

Watford residents were probably the most consterned, not to mention inconvenienced.

On November 13, Hertfordshire Police began warning about the residents’ inability to circulate fully between Monday and Wednesday this week. The BBC reported (emphases mine):

Police in Hertfordshire are suggesting people work from home to avoid disruption caused by a meeting of world leaders in Watford next month.

Heads of state will congregate at the Grove Hotel on Wednesday, 4 December as part of Nato’s 70th anniversary summit.

Several roads and footpaths will be shut and the Grand Union Canal will be closed to both boats and pedestrians.

The force said it aimed to keep the impact to an “absolute minimum”.

The meeting is part of the London anniversary summit which Nato said will be “an opportunity for leaders to address current and emerging security challenges”.

Hertfordshire Constabulary has been liaising with the Metropolitan Police and other agencies to take measures to “minimise the impact on the community”.

Closures will be in place for all, or some, of the time between 06:00 GMT on 2 December and 20:00 GMT on 4 December but there will be access for emergency and essential services.

I heard from someone who has friends there that Watford ‘looked like a war zone’ with concrete bollards at the end of certain streets. Thankfully, it’s all over now.

On Monday, December 2, the Watford Observer reported on the road closures in town and included photos of security at The Grove, where Bilderberg met a few years ago in June. The Grove was once home to the Earls of Clarendon. Today, it is a pricey hotel and conference centre with a golf course.

One Observer reader commented:

I hope Herts tax payers aren’t paying for the extra security. The Bilderberg meeting cost us half a million.

The skies were busy:

As Conservative Party leader, Boris is in the midst of an election campaign. Voting day is Thursday, December 12. Therefore, given President Donald Trump’s universal unpopularity here, journalists believed that Boris would minimise his appearances and private meetings with him.

President Trump had his own concerns, as Democrats continued impeachment hearings on December 4:

This week it is the turn of the House Judiciary Committee:

Returning to NATO, The Sun has a good summary of the participants in and schedule for this year’s summit.

Boris interrupted his attendance with a few election campaign appearances:

This is a great photograph from Wednesday, December 4:

Before the summit began, The Spectator encapsulated the contentious tone that French president Emmanuel Macron had established:

This week is seminal for Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron. Boris, in Watford, is hosting one of the most important Nato summits for years. Its significance is not because it marks the Alliance’s 70th anniversary, but because of President Macron’s ‘disruptive’ and trenchant criticism of the Atlantic Alliance as close to ‘brain dead’, which has touched a nerve. The French President went on to reiterate his remarks at an Elysée press conference, with a visibly uncomfortable Nato Secretary General, three weeks later. Macron attacked the ‘strident and unacceptable disconnection’ from world threats during the last two Nato summits as being ‘uniquely devoted’, in his sarcastic words, ‘to finding solutions to how to lighten the United States’ financial costs’. All this, says Macron, while major strategic questions such as relations with Russia, Turkey and ‘who is the enemy?’ remain unanswered.

The Trumps arrived early Monday morning at Stansted Airport in Essex, not far from London. The Daily Mail has several photos of the Trumps’ arrival.

Ambassador Robert ‘Woody’ Johnson hosted the couple at Winfield House in Regent’s Park, the US ambassador’s palatial residence. American heiress Barbara Hutton had the neo-Georgian mansion custom built in 1936. After the Second World War, she sold it to the US Government for one dollar.

This was the scene on Monday night as the Trumps returned to Winfield House after a reception at No. 10 Downing Street. Amazingly, an NHS lorry just beat the motorcade. The ongoing false accusations of Labour against Boris planning on ‘selling the NHS’ to the United States made this all the more ironic:

President Trump has been rightly exercised over the refusal of nearly all NATO nations to pay their share, leaving the US to largely foot the bill:

In January, NATO’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg agreed with Trump’s strategy:

Even James Mattis, who left the Trump administration as he and the president did not see eye to eye, admits that his former boss has improved NATO:

On Tuesday morning, the US president hit the ground running, beginning by co-hosting a breakfast at Winfield House with Jens Stoltenberg for principal NATO leaders and cabinet members:

He gave an extensive interview afterwards, covering 17 topics. Sky News has a good summary, some of which is excerpted below.

On the upcoming British election, he said:

On the NHS, he said:

I have nothing to do with it. Never even thought about it, honestly.

I don’t even know where that rumour started.

We have absolutely nothing to do with it, and we wouldn’t want to. If you handed it to us on a silver platter, we’d want nothing to do with it.

On Jeremy Corbyn:

I know nothing about the gentleman.

On France and, indirectly, Emmanuel Macron:

Nobody needs NATO more than France.

France is not doing well economically at all, they are struggling. It’s a tough statement to make when you have such difficulty in France.

You look at what happened with the Yellow Vests, they’ve had a rough year, you can’t go around making statements like that about NATO. It’s very disrespectful.

That’s why I think when France makes a statement like they do about NATO that’s a very dangerous statement for them to make.

On upcoming US and French taxes:

Well look, I’m not in love with those companies – Facebook, Google and all of them, Twitter – though I guess I do pretty well with Twitter on the other side – but I’m not necessarily in love with those companies. But they’re our companies, they’re American companies, I want to tax those companies.

They’re not going to be taxed by France. So France is going to put a tax on, it was totally out of the blue, they just had an idea, Emmanuel had an idea, let’s tax those companies, well they’re American companies. I’m not going to let people take advantage of American companies because if anyone’s going to take advantage of American companies it’s going to be us, it’s not going to be France.

And so we’re taxing, as you know, we’re taxing their wines, and everything else and we have a very, very big tax to put on them. Plus we have a tax going on on Airbus and that would be a good thing for Boeing but we’re only going to do that if it’s necessary.

But they’re American companies. I don’t want France taxing American companies. If they’re going to be taxed it’s going to be the United States that will tax them.

On North Korea and Kim Jong-Un:

Likes sending rockets up, doesn’t he? That’s why I call him rocket man.

We have a very good relationship and we’ll see what happens. It may work or not. But in the meantime, it’s been a long time. President Obama said it’s the number one problem and it would have been war. You’d be in a war right now if it weren’t for me.

If I weren’t president, you’d be in a war right now in Asia. And who knows where that leads? That brings in a lot of other countries.”

On Mr Kim, he added: ‘You know my relationship with Kim Jong Un is really good but that doesn’t mean he won’t abide by the agreement we signed. You have to understand, you have to go look at the first agreement that we signed. It said he will denuclearise. That’s what it said. I hope he lives up to the agreement but we’re going to find out.’

ZeroHedge had another remark from the US president on his French counterpart:

‘I do see France breaking off. I’m looking at him and I’m saying he [Macron] needs protection more than anybody and I see him breaking off, so I’m a little surprised at that,’ Trump said.

Returning to the NHS, here’s a video of Trump saying he’s not interested:

Labour supporters continue to circulate an old video saying he is. If the video you see does not look like the one immediately above, then it’s old — and obsolete.

Late Tuesday afternoon, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall welcomed the Trumps to Clarence House for tea.

They then went to Buckingham Palace, where the Queen hosted a reception for NATO leaders:

The Daily Mail has extensive photos of both the reception and tea at Clarence House.

I cannot help but feel sorry for Her Majesty being squashed by Jens and Boris. Why could they not have given her some breathing room?

During the reception, Justin from Canada made his views known about Trump. He later admitted that he was talking about his meeting with the US president, which ended up being 40 minutes late because of the extended press conference:

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, also in attendance, hoped to corner Trump to tell him not to engage in any trade negotiations regarding the NHS. In the event, Corbyn was on one side of the room and Trump on the other. They never met.

Meanwhile, several dozen radical protesters demonstrated outside:

Then it was on to No. 10, where Boris hosted a reception for NATO leaders. Some news reports said that Boris wasn’t there to greet them, but other news accounts said that he had been delayed by ten minutes in returning from Buckingham Palace.

In any event, since when does the Prime Minister personally open the door? It’s always a policeman or woman who handles that.

The Trumps looked ill at ease when they arrived, despite a choir singing Christmas carols in the background. Had they already found out about Justin from Canada’s hot mic moment at Buckingham Palace?

On Wednesday morning, Trump arrived at The Grove for the final day of the summit:

It is said that the president left early. He was there for the photo op. Perhaps he simply cancelled a second press conference. What more did he have to say?

The US president had his own hot mic moment that day:

In another NATO hot mic moment, President Donald Trump was recorded saying it was “funny” when he called Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “two-faced.”

Interestingly, Boris’s key adviser, Dominic Cummings, was spotted sitting on the sidelines that day:

No doubt the residents of Watford were happy to see the sun go down that day, heralding a return to normality for them:

The summit went well, as the Estonian and Dutch prime ministers respectively tweeted:

President Trump was happy, too:

Back in the UK, later that day, questions for Boris still persisted about the NHS:

Politics aside, our Prime Minister can be pleased with his role in hosting the 70th NATO summit, which took place without incident.

Friday, November 29, 2019, began as a normal day in the general election campaign.

Tom Harwood, who works with Guido Fawkes, ably outlines what the political parties were up to until the afternoon, when a terror attack took place on London Bridge, effectively halting the campaign for 24 hours:

Guido’s accompanying column received a lot of comments, including the following.

On Brexit, a reader quoted an MEP on the necessity of No Deal (emphases mine):

Ben Habib MEP: “There is perhaps only one way the Conservative Party could comply with its pledge to be out of Transition by the end of 2020 with a deal along the lines set out in its manifesto. That is if it is prepared to take the UK out of Transition without a deal. It remains as true today as it did in 2016 that, to get a good deal, the UK must be prepared to leave with no deal.”

Labour pledged more madness. Only a few days after they promised to plant 2 billion — yes, you read that correctly — trees in Britain, they came up with a massive housing pledge. Another reader discussed Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell’s plan:

John Mcd threw the kitchen sink in with his environmental pitch today not only Labour building more houses than their is bricks on the planet, every house will have solar panels and heat exchangers. No longer grasping, just saying anything because they just ignore the facts.

Another reader discussed what would happen if Labour’s — McDonnell’s — plans for corporations came to fruition:

McDonnell intends to steal 10% of a company’s share capital and give it away. Either he steals existing capital or a company creates more shares. Either way the value of the company remains the same but now everyone’s shares will be worth less either because there are more shares or the shares have been given to someone else. So, anyone paying into a Defined Contribution Pension Fund and there are millions doing just that, will suddenly find that their savings are worth a lot less than before the capital restructuring. Someone tell the voters.

Another comment examined the Liberal Democrats‘ Jo Swinson’s perorations on climate change:

‘Climate Change’ – we can’t “fight it by leaving the EU”. 🤔

What won’t we be able to do as an EU state in relation to climate change – that we otherwise can do as a member ?

Given the fact that China produces more C02 emissions that the EU Britain and the US combined – what is it that we are supposed to do ?

Has Swinson thought this through ? Or is it just a risible hollow slogan for yoghurt knitters in the middle classes ?

Someone pointed out what the 2017 terror attack — also on London Bridge — did to the Conservatives‘ chances days later in the June 8 election:

… the problem is that the Tories are allowing Labour and the others to constantly raise the NHS, climate, trust, WASPIs and everything else besides, in an effort to sideline the Brexit debate. And I’m worried that it’s working! Tories need to get the agenda back on message ASAP. Also, I presume that I don’t need to point out the disturbing similarity to the 2017 campaign in what we’ve witnessed unfold on London Bridge today, and that it signalled the beginning of the end for Theresa May’s majority as soon as Labour used those atrocities to introduce reduced police numbers into the debate. I’m nervous. Very, very nervous!

That concerns me, too. However, Boris Johnson is not Theresa May. He’s campaigning across the country every day.

Moving on to Twitter, someone pointed out that a fatal incident has occurred before each of the last three plebiscites in Britain:

Friday afternoon took a dark and bloody turn as events unfolded at London Bridge.

Cambridge University was holding a conference at Fishmongers’ Hall near London Bridge. The subject of the conference was prisoner rehabilitation.

Attending the conference on day release wearing an electronic tag was 28-year-old Usman Khan, who, as the Press Association (PA) reports:

was a convicted terrorist released half-way through a 16-year prison sentence for a plot to bomb the London Stock Exchange.

Last Friday:

Usman Khan killed a man and a woman in the knife rampage on Friday afternoon and injured three other people, who are being treated in hospital.

The 28-year-old, who was on licence and wearing an electronic monitoring tag, was attending a conference on prisoner rehabilitation organised by University of Cambridge-associated Learning Together at Fishmongers’ Hall and reportedly “threatened to blow up” the building.

Armed with two knives and wearing a fake suicide vest, Khan was tackled by members of the public before he was shot dead by police on London Bridge next to the Hall.

Video footage posted online shows Khan being taken to the ground as one man sprays him with a fire extinguisher and another, reportedly a Polish chef, lunges towards him with a narwhal tusk believed to have been taken from the wall inside the Hall.

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said he had been living in the Staffordshire area and that police were “not actively seeking anyone else” over the attack.

Why do police always say that? Often, in the weeks that follow, it turns out there was a plot involving more than one person, including some that had no prior police record but were aiders and abetters.

What about the attack that same day in the Netherlands? This is what happened in The Hague:

Returning to London Bridge, no doubt this is the first time many of us have heard of a narwhal tusk, but you can see below what they look like in nature on this species of whale, also known as the unicorn whale. The tusk protrudes from a canine tooth. The narwhal lives in Arctic waters.

A narwhal tusk was hanging in Fishmongers’ Hall. A quick-thinking man deployed it against the terrorist:

Here’s a dramatic video of events as they happened. The second tweet shows Fishmongers’ Hall. One of the pikes shown below was used in subduing the terrorist:

Here is a video of what happened on London Bridge when the police arrived. Fishmongers’ Hall is pictured in the second tweet:

Understandably, everyone would like to see the men who subdued the terrorist given an honour or reward of some sort. However, one of them was also a prisoner on day release, attending the Cambridge University conference. James Ford had committed a horrific murder in cold blood in 2003 and was given a life sentence in 2004. Hmm:

The Mirror reported:

James Ford, 42, was jailed for life in 2004 for the murder of 21-year-old Amanda Champion, who was found strangled with her throat cut in Ashford, Kent, in July 2003 …

Ford found himself embroiled on the London Bridge attack as he helped bring down the knife man while out on day release from his life sentence.

Ford is understood to be in the final days of his sentence at HMP Standford Hill, an open prison in Kent.

It’s believed Khan was tackled by ex-offenders inside Fishmongers’ Hall – who had all been invited to a conference on rehabilitation.

Source say Khan began “lashing out” in a downstairs room of the hall but was grabbed by the conference-goers and bundled out of the front door as he tried to go upstairs.

Those who tackled Khan on the street were not ex-offenders.

Ford’s victim’s aunt Angela Cox has told how she was contacted yesterday by Kent Police who informed her Ford had been involved in the terror attack as a member of the public, reports the Mail.

Angela, 65, said she was “angry” Ford was out on day release after the horrific murder of her niece – who had the mental age of a 15-year-old.

She said: “He is not a hero. He is a murderer out on day release, which us as a family didn’t know anything about. He murdered a disabled girl. He is not a hero, absolutely not.

They let him out without even telling us. Any of my family could have been in London and just bumped into him.”

Angela described how a police liaison officer had called her yesterday asking if she was aware of the London incident before revealing Ford had been captured on TV.

The still-heartbroken aunt said the officer told her “don’t worry” before saying Ford was at the scene and “being classed as a hero”.

Former factory worker Ford has never revealed his motive for killing Amanda.

At the time of his jailing, a judge told him: “What you did was an act of wickedness.

“You clearly have an interest in the macabre and also an obsession with death including murder by throat cutting.”

On to people who should be classed properly as heroes, we have the Polish kitchen porter employed at Fishmongers’ Hall who allegedly grabbed the narwhal tusk. By December 3, it transpired that Lukasz Koczocik was indeed one of the pursuers, but not the man brandishing the tusk. Lukasz was the man with the pike. The attacker stabbed him five times. Fortunately, the heroic kitchen worker was released from hospital on Saturday. He has been nominated for an official honour in Poland:

It seems the tusk got broken:

Not surprisingly, questions arose about the terrorist’s early release:

As with Labour (1997-2010), the Conservative government has had its part to play in law and order failures:

You can see from the following that Usman Khan did not act alone in 2010. Several other men were involved, some released since their 2012 conviction:

On that basis, I do wonder if police did the right thing in saying they are not looking for other suspects at this time with regard to Friday’s incident.

Again, what about the attack in the Netherlands that day? This RT article has one description of the suspect; Euronews has another. Dutch police said then there is no terrorist motive. On November 30, with a suspect in custody, they said it is ‘too early to speculate’ as they are investigating ‘several scenarios’.

Perhaps these statements are meant to keep the public calm while police investigate further.

Yet, we find time and time again that terrorism is the motive and that, especially in France, more than one person is involved somewhere along the line.

Sentencing and law enforcement soundbites should be reviewed.

Cambridge University was not left unscathed Friday afternoon. Sadly, one of their employees, Jack Merritt, was the first fatality. My condolences go to his family and friends:

The Guardian reported:

Merritt worked as the course coordinator for Learning Together, a programme run by the University of Cambridge’s institute of criminology which had been running a course at Fishmongers’ Hall next to London Bridge on Friday.

Two people were killed and three were injured when 28-year-old Usman Khan launched a knife attack. Khan was arrested in December 2010 and released on licence in December 2018, wearing an electronic tag.

David Merritt posted on Twitter on Saturday: “My son, Jack, who was killed in this attack, would not wish his death to be used as the pretext for more draconian sentences or for detaining people unnecessarily.”

His words came as Boris Johnson, said the system of automatic release from prison was flawed.

A second Cambridge graduate, Saskia Jones, 23, also died in the attack. My condolences to her family and friends at this difficult time.

This was the Prime Minister’s column for the Mail on Sunday:

The early release of dangerous prisoners — terrorists, murderers and the like — needs a thorough rational, not emotional, discussion.

Many of us have been wanting this for several years.

If not now, when?

How many more people, including those who advocate for prisoners, will have to die?

For a change, below are three stories one can file under ‘happy news’.

This little fellow from England has taken his first steps at the age of four. He has a rare form of cerebral palsy and recently underwent an operation to reduce the spasticity in his legs. The video is subtitled, so you can read more about him. The joy on his face is a sight to behold. God is good:

Speaking of walking, the little boy thrown from the third floor of the Mall of America on April 12 is once again fully ambulatory. I bet his and his family’s Thanksgiving was extra special this year. God is good:

On November 23, Fox News reported (emphases mine):

The 5-year-old boy who was thrown from a Mall of America third-floor balcony and survived is “walking perfectly” and could be off his medication soon.

The family of Landen Hoffman gave an update about the boy on a GoFundMe page, saying the open wound on his belly had “finally scabbed over and new skin is growing.”

“Mom has been doing everything she can to speed up the healing of his wound and working toward getting off some of his medications,” the post said.

Hoffman was hospitalized with two broken arms, a broken leg and fractures to his face and skull when Emmanuel Aranda, 24, tossed him about 40 feet during a random attack at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. on April 12.

He was forced to undergo 15 separate medical procedures and surgeries due to the injuries and “severe complications.” He returned home months later.

Now, Hoffman [is] said to be enjoying life and is going to kindergarten with his twin brother and sister.

“He gets out of the car every morning happy and blows kisses all the way in! He’s a strong, happy boy,” the post added. “When his mommy asks him if she can look at his wound or asks how he’s doing, he always responds with ‘Mom, I’m healed, you don’t need to ask me anymore.’ Landen loves life and Jesus!”

It continued: “He tells people all the time when they get hurt, don’t worry, I fell off a cliff, but Angels caught me and Jesus loves me, so I’m ok and you will be too!”

Bless his heart.

And, finally, did you know the adorable baby portraits on the Gerber baby food jars are of real infants? Ann Turner Cook, the model for the original portrait, turned 93 last week:

ABC News reported on an Instagram post celebrating the occasion:

“For over 90 years, it’s been our pleasure to welcome countless babies to our ever-growing Gerber family,” the caption said. “Our dedication to each and every generation of little ones has long been part of our heritage, and we’ll always take time to celebrate a true classic!”

The iconic charcoal sketch was first created by Cook’s neighbor, Dorothy Hope Smith, who specialized in children’s portraits and submitted the sketch to Gerber, according to the company.

The irresistible baby first appeared on Gerber products in 1928 and became the company’s official trademark in 1931.

Many happy returns, Ms Cook!

If there weren’t already a Magic Johnson, I would have given Boris that nickname.

Last week, Boris surged in a polling question that Survation fielded about the public’s preferred Prime Minister:

Jeremy Corbyn (red, Labour) and Jo Swinson (yellow, Lib Dems) are trailing miserably. Good!

About that result, Guido Fawkes said (emphasis in the original):

Boris has taken an even more commanding lead in Survation’s preferred Prime Minister polling. The PM is up six points on last month, with the Lib Dems crashing down to place Swinson behind Corbyn, who himself has fallen by two points.

This mirrors Deltapoll’s findings over the weekend that saw the Lib Dems tumble five points to just 11%. Ironically the Tories are worried that if Swinson’s party continues to plummet, the Remain vote won’t be split enough to win back key targets in metropolitan places like London…

Even better!

Here are two results from the weekend.

One model predicts a clear Conservative majority — provided, I would caution, that those who go out on Thursday, December 12 vote True Blue — Conservative:

Two other polls show the Conservatives sailing ahead. Again, nothing happens unless Conservative voters go and vote True Blue on December 12:

But, hold on, here’s a third, from Opinium. ‘Blair territory’ means a wipeout, as in 1997. Again, all depends on True Blue voters going out on December 12:

Going back to earlier in the month, on Tuesday, November 12, the Conservatives launched their first election video of the campaign. Given that this would have been scripted, Boris is a natural in front of the camera and makes this four-minute chat look spontaneous:

On Monday, November 18, a reliable commenter on Guido Fawkes had this to say about the Prime Minister (emphases mine):

One small problem with supranational empires such as the EU is that history tells us that they always, without exception, fail. The Roman Empire, Alexandra the Great, the Persian Empire, Genghis Khan, the Soviet Empire, Timur, the British Empire, the Third Reich, Napoleon, and so on. The reason they fail is because nationalism and patriotism are immensely powerful forces that cannot be overcome. No matter how much subjugation and assimilation is forced on people they will always fight against the imperialists.

A very good book about this effect is The Dream of Rome. It explains how even after hundreds of years of being Romans, with a united language, currency, government and legal system the people still fought and died to get their countries back. This book was written by Boris Johnson.

The very fact that the BBC hate Boris, portraying him as a bumbling idiot and doing everything they can to denigrate him is just brilliant for him. It proves that he is not an evil Globalist like they are.

Some people say that it is in the very nature of Boris that he is good at every job he is given, but it is only when he gets the top job that he excels. We saw this when he was a two term Mayor of London. He did the job brilliantly. The evidence for this is irrefutable, just look at the slow motion train wrecks of his predecessor, Ken Livingstone, and his successor, Sadiq Khan, who were both abject failures who failed to meet the challenges of the job. Those who were close to Boris during his tenure say that his especial brilliance was in putting teams together and getting them to work. Exactly what is needed from a leader in government.

Boris has amazing genes, both his parents are Oxford graduates who have achieved much with their lives. Boris too went to Oxford, winning a scholarship. He read Classics there, which is one of the most intellectually demanding courses and he was elected to be President of the Oxford Union. Boris speaks Latin, French and Italian fluently with good German and Spanish.

Then there are the books. Boris has eleven published books with a twelfth, on Shakespeare, due. His biography of Winston Churchill is especially incisive, readable and well thought of.

Boris is not how the Globalist press portray him. But then they are intellectual pygmies next to him, so he must give them a huge inferiority complex. He is the first true patriot we have had as Prime Minister since Margaret Thatcher. And he is almost certainly the best person in Britain for the job.

I fully agree.

Boris has genuine appeal and energy combined with self-effacement and humour. I met him once in 2001 when he was campaigning to become MP for Henley, a constituency in Oxfordshire that he represented very well indeed. Along with a friend of mine, I chatted with Boris for several minutes. He was humble, self-effacing and ineffably courteous, yet, resolute.

He has done much in his career, both as the editor of The Spectator — which has gone downhill since then — and as a politician.

He brought back a newish Brexit deal from Brussels. Everyone said it could not be done, but he did it. No one gives him credit for his time as Foreign Secretary under Theresa May. However, that post gave him an entry point for negotiating with the EU.

Let’s have another couple of Stefan Rousseau’s excellent photographs for the PA (Press Association) to lead us out in a positive mood:

Boris Johnson will seek to represent the country’s best interests and I hope that the voters of his current constituency, Uxbridge & South Ruislip in west London, re-elect him as their MP, so that he can continue his quest as Prime Minister to put the Great back into Britain.

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.

On Wednesday, November 20, 2019, in a surprise — but nonetheless welcome — development, Prince Andrew announced he would be standing down from public life for the foreseeable future:

As I wrote the other day, I could not stomach watching the BBC Newsnight interview with Prince Andrew, but my post from Tuesday has a link to it, and for those wondering why the public sentiment is so against him, here are several reasons.

Newsnight warmed us up for the big event the day before the broadcast:

No one responding to the tweet was impressed. The following reaction was unintentionally funny, however:

Subtitled clips

All of the Twitter clips below are subtitled, so there’s no need for sound. These are what I watched.

In some ways, it is more interesting reading the subtitles and watching Prince Andrew rather than listening.

Ultimately:

I must stop there.

More to follow tomorrow.

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