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As Platinum Jubilee celebrations were just about to start one year ago, it seemed apposite for me to continue to remember the Queen.

Yesterday’s post pointed out that she was the most portrayed person in all of history.

Although the Queen led a charmed life for all her 96 years, she had a sense of Royal duty from the time she was 10 years old when her uncle Edward VIII abdicated.

On September 8, 2022, Politico had an interesting obituary with specially commissioned portraits of the late monarch. Given that Politico is not at all associated with love of the monarchy, the portraits were sensitively done.

Excerpts follow from the article, emphases mine.

Regal silence

There is no question that the Queen’s demeanour helped her to make her 70 years as Head of State dignified and memorable. She was:

a revered figure who donned crowns, opened parliaments and asked people who they were and what they did at garden parties. It was she who stared out Mona Lisa-like from banknotes and who became head of state to 150 million people, from Papua New Guinea to Canada, and one of the most famous people of her time …

Lauded globally — she stood alongside the Dalai Lama and the pope as one of those rare definite articles who seemed to be above scrutiny. So much so that even die-hard republicans would temper their calls for an end to the monarchy by saying: “But the queen has done a fantastic job.”

She succeeded at that job, in no small part, by making a virtue out of silence. She stubbornly refused to be interviewed, examined or subjected to scrutiny. While younger royals broke the fourth wall of monarchy, the queen remained quiet and immutable.

Indeed, it was by keeping her official alter ego as vague as the unwritten British constitution, and her private persona hidden away altogether, that Elizabeth II became the most successful sovereign since Victoria, bringing relevance to a feudal institution that was 200 years past its sell-by date.

But because of that, in writing the story of her life, it is almost impossible to find out who she really was beneath the hats and robes and jewels.

The queen was an abstraction: a role, like any other — and it was the person behind her, Elizabeth Windsor, who expertly played the part

This is the life of Elizabeth Windsor.

Life at 145 Piccadilly

Politico tells us of Princess Elizabeth’s birth:

She was born by caesarean section on April 21, 1926, to her mother, also Elizabeth, the Duchess of York. As was then the custom, the Home Secretary Sir William Joynson-Hicks, was present — just in case she was swapped for someone who was not of royal birth. 

As Princess Elizabeth, she was third in line to the throne, with her uncle Edward the presumed heir apparent.  

Her parents, the Duke and Duchess of York, had no ordinary London residence:

Official biographers like to make much of her “ordinary childhood” and the very normal-sounding York family address at 145 Piccadilly in the heart of London. In truth, the address was no common or garden terraced home. It was a substantial palace, with 25 bedrooms, a ballroom, a library and an enormous garden.

Royal Central has more:

Following her birth on April 21 1926 at the home of her maternal grandparents at 17 Bruton St Mayfair, the baby Princess Elizabeth moved to the house that her parents, the Duke and Duchess of York, had taken at 145 Piccadilly W1. This would be the house in which she would spend the first years of her childhood, as well as White Lodge in Richmond Park. These were the residences where the young princess would live together with her parents and her younger sister Princess Margaret Rose, who was born four years later in 1930. In 1932, the Duke and Duchess of York began to use Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park as a private country residence, when Princess Elizabeth was aged six. During this period of her childhood, Princess Elizabeth also spent time at the country homes of her paternal grandparents, King George V and Queen Mary, and her maternal grandparents, the Earl and Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne.

The white terraced, stone-faced residence had a large garden and a semi-basement kitchen. Princess Elizabeth is said to have been taken out by her nanny from this house, for a stroll in the pram through nearby Mayfair to Hyde Park. An old British paramount newsreel recording from 1935 shows the Duke and Duchess of York at 145 Piccadilly, arriving and leaving the property. Among the photographic collection of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, is a photograph of Queen Elizabeth together with the corgi dog Jane taken in the grounds of 145 Piccadilly in around 1936, the fateful year which saw both the abdication of Edward VIII and the accession of her husband the Duke of York to the British throne as King George VI.

The site has been home to the InterContinental London Park Lane for nearly 50 years. The hotel’s history page tells us:

Historical accounts recall a white terraced building, indistinguishable from those on either side of it. There was a semi-basement kitchen, ‘like the giant’s kitchen in a pantomime with its immense shiny copper pots and great fire-range’, Lisa Sheridan.

An extensive garden at the back, shared with other houses, added an element of community. Elizabeth lived in a suite of rooms at the top of the house, consisting of a day nursery, a night nursery and a bathroom linked by a landing, with wide windows looking down on the park. It was not unusual for her nanny to put her in her pram and take a two-hour stroll through Mayfair into Hyde Park.

Other stories relating to Elizabeth’s childhood at 145 Piccadilly told of the Princess allegedly playing games by fetching a small toy, such as a teddy bear or a ball, and dropping it from the nursery landing down the stairwell onto visitors as they arrived at the house.

The best modern day representation of the late Queen’s childhood at 145 Piccadilly can be found in the multiple Oscar-winning film, The King’s Speech. Scenes of the young family trying their best to enjoy London life in the heart of Mayfair during the years of the Depression were actually filmed at 33 Portland Place, but the so-called ‘shabby chic’ interiors are said to be in keeping with the style of the house at that time

Years later:

The hotel was opened by His Grace the 8th Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley on 23rd September 1975.

Returning to Royal Central:

According to the website ‘Westend at War’, the building was destroyed by a high explosive bomb on 7 October 1940. The same website quotes the source Westminster in War (William Sansom, 1947) to explain that in 1940, the site at 145 Piccadilly was being used as a chief office for a “relief and comforts fund”. The permanent record that was made out by the ARP on this date describing the damage that the house had sustained, is today kept in the Westminster City Archives.

The former 145 Piccadilly is at No. 1 Hamilton Place, the site of which is occupied today by the upscale InterContinental London Park Lane Hotel. The hotel was constructed between 1968- 1975 under the direction of Sir Frederick Gibberd. Close to the five-starred London Hilton and the Four Seasons hotels, it overlooks Hyde Park Corner, together with the Wellington Arch and statue of the Duke of Wellington. Apsley House, also known as Number One, London is located on Hyde Park Corner and is the London home of the Dukes of Wellington. The InterContinental London Park Lane is proud of the royal connection with the location on which the hotel stands and has been welcoming guests ever since it opened.

Scene Therapy has photos of young Princess Elizabeth with her two first corgis as well of photos of 145 Piccadilly as it was when she lived there.

We discover that it was a modest residence by Royal standards of the day:

In 1926, Princess Elizabeth of York was born in her maternal grandparents’ Mayfair townhouse at 17 Bruton Street. A year later, the new family moved a few blocks away to Piccadilly; one of the most exclusive addresses in the capital. Piccadilly is a busy central London road that stretches from Piccadilly Circus to Hyde Park Corner, with famous establishments lining the route such as The Ritz, The Royal Academy and Fortnum & Mason. Throughout the 19th century and into the early 1900s, Piccadilly was also home to some of the most elite townhouses in the country, with residents including the Rothschilds, the Duke of Wellington, Lords and Vice-Admirals. The handsome homes that made up ‘Piccadilly Terrace’ featured spacious rooms with high ceilings and large windows set across 4-5 floors including servants quarters, all with views of Green Park.

For senior royals to reside in a townhouse, however grand, was considered rather unusual. At the time, however, Britain was suffering significant austerity thanks to The Great War and subsequent Great Depression, so King George V requested his family reign-in their spending and consider more ‘modest’ abodes. So The Yorks lived at 145 Piccadilly during the week and retired to The Royal Lodge on the Windsor Estate at weekends.

145 Piccadilly featured an abundance of panelling, mouldings and ornate plasterwork, with drawing room details gilded in gold and double doors encased in arched doorways. The interiors are packed with antique furnishings including a large 17th Belgian tapestry hung at the rear of the drawing room featuring a woodland scene woven by Marcus de Vos, and a ceramic and gilt-bronzed mantel clock by Balthazar à Paris, both now housed in the Royal Collection Trust. Other furniture and objects from 145 Piccadilly can now be seen in various royal residences across the UK, such as the portrait of a young Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother that stands at the rear of 145’s drawing room, which can now be seen hung in the library ante-room at Prince Charles’ Clarence House.

The houses that made up Piccadilly Terrace featured the full range of floors expected of a smart aristocratic residence including an attic floor, usually home to servants’ sleeping quarters, a chamber floor for principle bedrooms and nursery rooms (such as the Day Nursery and Night Nursery as seen included in the images below), a drawing room floor, which housed private rooms including a boudoir and spacious library, the ground floor, home to reception rooms, and a basement where staff rooms, kitchens, pantries and other utility rooms featured.

Though 145 Piccadilly was considered ‘modest’ by royal standards, the interiors proved to be more befitting of the London homes of other aristocrats such as the nearby Apsley House or Spencer House, which both still stand today. 145 and its adjacent homes on Piccadilly Terrace were damaged during WWII before eventually being torn down

Returning to Politico, we learn of the nannies:

Photos of the era depict Elizabeth and her younger sister Margaret being doted on by their mother and father, but in truth, they were brought up by an army of servants and rarely saw their parents. Childcare was left to two nannies: Clara Knight, a strict disciplinarian who instilled fear and good manners, and Margaret MacDonald.

Margaret ‘Bobo’ MacDonald

Incredibly, Margaret MacDonald remained by the Queen’s side for life:

MacDonald was the only person outside of the royal family who was allowed to call Elizabeth by her family nickname Lilibet, and she shared a bedroom with her charge until she was 11 years old. Lilibet’s first word, “Bobo,” was addressed to MacDonald — and the nickname stuck. 

Every morning, MacDonald brought Elizabeth a cup of tea, laid out her clothes and ran her daily bath. Effectively prohibited from marriage — to have done so would have cost her the job — MacDonald dedicated her life to the queen until her death in 1993

“In her later years Bobo held a unique position in Buckingham Palace, having her own suite, no duties, and enjoying a closer personal friendship with the queen than practically anyone else, including some of the queen’s closest relatives,” wrote Douglas Keay, author of “The Queen: A Revealing Look at the Private Life of Elizabeth II.” 

But we know nothing more. The loyal servant never gave an interview, never discussed her relationship with her mistress and died with her secrets intact. 

Marion ‘Crawfie’ Crawford

Marion Crawford was the opposite of Bobo MacDonald with regard to discretion.

Crawford was the princesses’ governess.

Most people will know her story, as she was one who fell from grace for disloyalty.

Politico summarises what happened:

Crawfie was the Yorks’ very own Mary Poppins, steering her charges through the change in their circumstances when their uncle abdicated and their father unexpectedly became king. If Bobo was a surrogate mother, Crawfie was an older sister, role model and friend. 

But by 1947, neither Elizabeth nor Margaret had need of a governess, and aged just 39, Crawfie was retired. 

Two years later she accepted an offer to write a book called “The Little Princesses,” which caused a sensation when it was published in 1950. 

Despite having approved the project, the queen mother declared that Crawfie had “gone off her head,” and the woman who had devoted the first part of her life to the monarchy was unceremoniously ghosted.  

The incident was all the more remarkable given the book was a wholly affectionate memoir and showed the royal family in a very good light. Her fate was probably sealed by one or two turns of phrase that hinted at the king’s bad temper during the war.  

Nonetheless, “to do a Crawfie” became royal slang for treachery. Deprived of her grace and favor, Crawford disappeared from official records and narratives in a manner that would have put Soviet propagandists to shame.  

The impact on Crawfie cannot be understated. She attempted suicide twice. Later in life, she moved close to the Balmoral estate in the hope that she might one day chance upon her old charge and that amends could be made. But the moment never came. When she eventually died in 1988, the royal family sent not so much as a wreath to the funeral. 

We don’t know how this affected Elizabeth. Nor do we know how much of a role she played in perpetuating Crawfie’s misery. But this brutal and callous dispatching of such a close confidante and loyal friend speaks volumes about the family that is sometimes referred to as “The Firm.”  

The lifeblood of the monarchy is self-preservation. Nobody is indispensable. Nobody is bigger than the machine. Throughout the queen’s reign, that ruthless self-preservation — so at odds with her image — would rear its head again and again.  

It seems as if Politico missed Tatler‘s 2020 article about Marion Crawford and her husband, which is much more nuanced. It comes complete with photos and its author, Wendy Holden, tells an amazing story:

… the original scandal of the Queen’s life – also chronicled in a book that lays bare royal secrets – doesn’t exist in the Windsor Cloud. For 70 years, it successfully ‘disappeared’. Few accounts of the time afford it more than a footnote. The protagonist’s name, though, remains a byword for betrayal.

The unimaginable bounder this suggests was none other than a young Scottish teacher. Marion Crawford was governess to Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, aged six and almost two when she arrived in 1932. She stayed for 17 years. ‘Crawfie’, as they fondly called her, was not only their teacher, but their constant confidante and companion.

Crawfie guided the girls through the drama of the abdication of their uncle, the upheaval of their parents’ accession and the trauma of the Second World War, when she took them to Windsor Castle’s dungeon bomb shelters as Heinkels roared above. Later, she was there when Elizabeth met Philip. Yet, at the end of her service, the royals cut her off. The reason? A harmless memoir, The Little Princesses.

I came across it by accident in a second-hand bookshop on a rainy day. It immediately became the inspiration for the royal-themed novel I’d always wanted to write. The Governess, my new book, fictionalises Marion Crawford’s time with the Royal Family. It shines a new light not only on the Queen’s little-known childhood, but on the lively young teacher who helped make her the monarch she is today …

The Duchess of York poached her sister’s servant:

It could have been so different. Crawfie never intended to teach royalty – rather, the other end of the social scale. Her vocation, she felt, was in the slums of Edinburgh. ‘I wanted desperately to help… but,’ as she puts it in The Little Princesses, ‘something else was coming my way.’ That would be the famously charming Queen Mother (then Duchess of York), whose sister Crawfie worked for during the holidays. Spotting the young teacher’s potential, she poached her, persuading Crawfie to come for a trial ‘to see if you like us and we like you’.

Even though Crawford had spent the day travelling from Scotland to Windsor, she was expected to start work on arrival:

Crawfie, with her progressive ideas, was certain she wouldn’t like them. It didn’t help that she arrived at Royal Lodge, Windsor Great Park, late at night. Since Lilibet (as they called Princess Elizabeth) had insisted on staying awake, an exhausted Crawfie, straight off the train, was obliged to stagger into the nursery. Here, a child was sitting up in bed, yanking on dressing gown cords tied to the bedposts. ‘I’m driving my horses round the park,’ she winningly explained.

It was love at first sight for them both. And so Crawfie stayed, but with caveats.

It was Crawford who showed them how the other half lived. She took the princesses on all manner of distinctly un-Royal visits:

She thought the Royal Family stuffy and wanted to bring normality and fun to her pupils’ sequestered lives. Defying court protocol, she took them on the Tube, shopping at Woolworths, swimming at public baths and even helped set up a Buckingham Palace Girl Guide group. This exposure to the ordinary has proved invaluable to the Queen.

Despite these daring things, everything went well.

Then, after Crawford’s retirement in 1947, as the princesses were old enough not to need a governess anymore, there was an intersection of the Queen (as the Duchess of York became), an American magazine, and Crawford’s husband with the governess stuck in the middle:

What became The Little Princesses seems originally to have been the Queen Mother’s idea. The then Queen Elizabeth thought it would benefit post-war relations if pieces about her eldest daughter appeared in the American press. A palace courtier was chosen to write articles and the now-retired Crawfie, who knew Princess Elizabeth better than anyone, was ordered to tell him all she knew. He, not she, would have the byline and be paid by the magazine, the Ladies’ Home Journal. But Crawfie’s husband, George Buthlay, felt his wife should write her own account and sent her to Queen Elizabeth to ask permission. It was flatly refused and Crawfie prepared to shelve the project. But Buthlay had other ideas – for Crawfie to write a memoir.

It was the beginning of the end, a very painful one for Crawford, who never recovered:

Though different versions of the story have been put forward, the definitive account seems to be this: together with the Ladies’ Home Journal’s unscrupulous editors, Buthlay told his wife that Her Majesty would see the manuscript – that nothing would be published without royal approval. All lies; the book came out regardless, initially as magazine articles. The Royal Family was furious, considering it an act of treachery, and poor Crawfie was cast into the outer darkness.

She fled to Aberdeen and bought a house right on the route that the Royal Family took annually to Balmoral. But her hope that they might one day stop and forgive her proved unfounded. She became depressed and lonely – it had been too late, on retirement, to have children of her own. Crawford left a poignant note on attempting to take her own life: ‘I can’t bear those I love to pass me by on the road.’

That the Windsors maintained their animus until Crawfie’s death in 1988 seems extraordinary, especially as breaches of royal privacy, many self-inflicted, have been numerous since. But at the funeral of the woman who had served them so devotedly, not a single royal flower was sent.

In my opinion, be it ever so humble on matters Royal, the Queen Mother was still very much alive and well when Crawford died. From what I understand, the Queen Mother, as jovial as she appeared in public, ran the family’s private affairs with a rule of iron. I think she would have put her foot down at giving Crawford any honour at all. The Royal Family used to be like Las Vegas. What went on behind closed doors stayed there.

What I find puzzling it that, if or since The Little Princesses was published in 1950 and the Queen Mother was so cross, how was it that Crawford and her husband ended up attending a garden party at Holyrood Palace (Edinburgh) in 1952? The Tatler article has a photo of them getting into a chauffeur-driven car to the event.

Nevertheless, it appeared that the Queen had a change of mind late in life:

The material released to mark the Queen’s 94th birthday in April included a few seconds of film in which Crawfie and the princesses are dancing the Lambeth Walk.

Perhaps the scandals besetting the monarchy in recent years have given the Queen a new perspective on an old hurt. Nearly nine decades after that first meeting in the night nursery, has Her Majesty finally forgiven Crawfie?

Prince Philip

Marion Crawford was there when the 13-year-old Princess Elizabeth met the man of her dreams.

Politico tells us:

In 1939, in the shadow of war, the 13-year-old princess met her Prince Charming during a visit to Dartmouth naval college.

Philip, then aged 19, was exotic Eurotrash. An exiled Greek prince who had grown up in Paris, he was estranged from his family. His three surviving sisters had married into the Nazi regime. His father was living the life of an aging playboy in Monte Carlo. His mother had been declared insane.

In Britain he found a home. In Elizabeth he found devotion.

She was smitten from the get-go:

In a letter to a cousin, she declared that she had met a “Viking God,” and for the rest of the war the two exchanged letters.

Like almost everything else in the queen’s private world, we know nothing of what they said to each other.

The Queen was less than impressed, so the princess enlisted help from elsewhere in the family:

The queen mother distrusted Philip and nicknamed him “the Hun,” but Elizabeth got her way, finding in Louis Mountbatten, Philip’s uncle, a Machiavellian ally. In 1947 the couple were engaged.

That year, the princess wrote a letter, describing her feelings for her fiancé:

In a rare gushing letter to the author Betty Shew written that same year, we get a tantalizing glimpse of Elizabeth’s feelings. Over four excitable pages. Elizabeth talks about nightclubs and dancing and how they were once pursued thrillingly by a photographer through the streets of London. It’s the letter of a woman who is deeply in love.

The wedding in November 1947 was modest for post-war Britain, but it was still lavish by any standards today:

Their wedding that November was a matter of national celebration. Billed as an “austerity wedding,” it was really nothing of the sort. The union was an excuse for nationwide festivities. Thousands of people descended on London for the event. There were 2,500 presents — including a shawl woven by Gandhi and a diamond and platinum Cartier necklace from the Nizam of Hyderabad.

The war had given the royals a new raison d’etre as a “national family,” and the marriage of the beautiful young princess to the handsome young prince seemed to encapsulate fresh beginnings and a new hope of a better world to come.

Early married life

Princess Elizabeth became a naval wife for a time, but not just any naval wife:

They had two children (Charles and Anne) in quick succession and between 1949 and 1951 lived in Malta, where Philip was serving as a naval officer on HMS Chequers.

Once again, official biographies portray this era as a period of “normality.” It’s not entirely true. They lived in a six-bedroom mansion, and in addition to Bobo, had an army of staff.

More approachability

During the Queen’s reign, the Royal Family began opening up in the 1960s, not least with a multi-episode documentary which I saw when growing up in the US. My parents and I were fascinated and amused in equal parts.

Politico says it was a disaster, but I wonder if the chap who wrote the article was even alive then. The Investiture of the Prince of Wales took place around the same time, which my mother and I got up early to watch. Both programmes helped to demystify the Royals.

At the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977, even though the media tried to play down the Royal Family and the Sex Pistols came out with ‘God Save the Queen’, her subjects broke out the bunting and organised street parties. The monarch sent her heartfelt thanks.

Diana and Fergie

What can one say about the wives of Charles and Andrew?

With regard to Diana, I have read in several places then and now that the Queen Mother had a hand in that marriage.

Politico says:

In 1981, the crowds turned out again, this time to watch Prince Charles marry Diana Spencer, and people turned out to wave again. From the fawning coverage, it looked like a fairy tale, but for the royal family, it was the beginning of a tragedy.

The couple had only met a dozen times and had been pushed together in near desperation, and the relationship quickly dissolved into a battle between Diana and The Firm.

The Duchess of York was no angel, but she and Prince Andrew are still together, despite their divorce.

Later jubilees

How wonderful it was to celebrate the Queen’s Golden (2002), Diamond (2012) and Platinum Jubilees (2022). Those of us alive at the time should consider ourselves blessed.

Politico points out that the Golden Jubilee was a departure from the norm. I was having dinner not far away on the night of the concert and could hear the music on the venue’s terrace. It was electric:

the event was turned instead into a “people’s party,” complete with Brian May playing the national anthem on Buckingham Palace’s roof.

the queen — having been the nation’s sweetheart and the nation’s mother — was reinvented as the nation’s grandmother

Even in her teatime years, the Queen continued to surprise us:

As she advanced into her 80s, the outward image of an unsmiling monarch seemed to loosen up a bit. There was a stunt with James Bond actor Daniel Craig at the opening of the 2012 Olympics, when she appeared to jump out of a helicopter, and she made a funny viral video with her grandson Harry in the run-up to the Invictus Games in 2016.

Her Christmas Day messages became softer in tone …

And who can forget her sketch with Paddington Bear last year at the Palace?

An enduring enigma

Politico concludes that we knew the Queen, yet we didn’t know her at all. That was by design:

At the end — the life of Elizabeth remains an enigma.

We know this much about her: She was in essence a countrywoman, of a certain type familiar among the British upper classes. Dry and stiff upper lipped. Raised in singularly cosseted surroundings from which she never strayed far. She adored horses and people who loved horses, and dogs and people who loved dogs.

Interestingly, one of the last films the Queen made, in April 2022, was with her horses at Sandringham. ITV showed the footage a year ago during the Platinum Jubilee weekend. The Mail had the story, complete with photos and a short video:

The monarch, 96, described one of the horses as an ‘extraordinary girl’ and is heard to say she wonders what goes through the creature’s head.

The clips, filmed at the Royal Stud in Sandringham in April, will be shown in a special feature as part of ITV‘s Saturday Platinum Jubilee coverage …

In the clips, the monarch, wearing a black coat and with a floral headscarf wrapped around her head, observed various horses and foals, alongside her trusted bloodstock and racing adviser John Warren …

Gently stroking the coat of one of the horses, the Queen is heard to say: ‘Well it must be three or four years when she came down into Windsor yard, but behaved as though she’d always been there.’

Admiring the horse, she added: ‘Extraordinary girl, aren’t you?’

Another clip showed the Queen asking a horse ‘would you like another one?’, before picking a carrot from a bowl and feeding it.

Later, observing two horses walking alongside each other in the yard, the Queen is heard to say: ‘I often wonder what goes through her head’ … 

Her Majesty’s fondness of horses began when she was just four after her grandfather, King George V, gave her a little Shetland pony.

By the age of six she had fallen in love with riding, becoming an accomplished equestrian in her teenage years and has continued to ride for pleasure throughout her life.

From her first appearance at the annual Trooping the Colour to 1986, the monarch would attend the ceremony on horseback.

She first attended the Royal Windsor Horse Show as a horse-mad teenager in 1943. Together with Princess Margaret, the 17-year-old showed off her equestrian prowess by winning the Pony & Dogcart class.

The Queen owns several thoroughbreds for racing after she initially inherited King George’s breeding and racing stock following his death in February 1952.

In 1974, the monarch’s interest in horses was the subject of a documentary title, The Queen’s Race Horses: a Private View, which she herself narrated.

Returning to Politico:

She knew a lot about the things she had inherited and not much about anything else. She drove — fast — about her estates in a beaten-up Land Rover and dedicated her life to fiercely protecting the promulgation of the family firm.

But it was almost as if she was absent from her own story — her legend as rigorously curated and spun as that of any autocrat. To provide her United Kingdom with the monarch she felt it needed, she sacrificed an ordinary life and the other things most of us take for granted. But then the curious nature of hereditary monarchy never offered her another path.

Britain will consider itself lucky to have had such a stalwart head of state. Elizabeth Windsor played the role of queen with unflinching conviction for more than 70 years. In performing the part so well, she has left a hole that might yet prove impossible to fill.


What can we learn from the Queen’s conduct?

Discretion, which, according to an old British saying, is the better part of valour.

Silence, in not saying more than one should.

Order, in everything: attire, appearance and daily life.

Those things coupled with a deep personal faith comprised an extraordinary person.

If we all took these aspects of the Queen’s life to heart and cultivated them, the world would be a much better place.


This week brought a special treat for my far better half and me.

We went to London for an event and had an early dinner beforehand at a place that The Times‘s Giles Coren reviewed in November 2022: Noodle & Snack, 145 Cleveland St, London W1T 6QH, in Fitzrovia, a minute’s walk from Great Portland Street Tube station. It’s open from noon to 9 p.m.

Coren wrote:

It’s an awakening of the soul. I’m obsessed

While I wouldn’t go that far, Noodle & Snack is probably the most authentic Chinese restaurant in London, if not in the UK. I’ve never had such good Chinese food since Lee Ho Fook in London’s Chinatown. It used to be my go-to and had lots of Chinese customers, but it closed years ago.

Some things have changed since Coren reviewed the restaurant.

First, they are no longer licensed, so it’s soft drinks or jasmine tea only. That was okay, because we had wine at the event we went to later. However, it could be a show-stopper for those who want to unwind at lunch or dinner.

Secondly, they took Coren’s comments on board and have translated what was in Mandarin only to English and Mandarin. Thank goodness. The menu on the wall has more offerings than the menu on the table, so check out both of them.

Thirdly, she has a print of Coren’s column about the restaurant on the wall next to the cash register.

A lovely lady named Sally waited on Coren, and I think she waited on us, too. Coren had asked her for recommendations, so we did, too.

She said something that was music to our ears:

I don’t want to give you too much to eat.

She suggested the sweet and sour pork, a helping of vegetables and an order of boiled dumplings.

She suggested the same to Coren:

“Have the sweet and sour pork,” she advised me. “Proper. For Chinese people. Speciality from my home city of Shenyang.”

… it was wide, tenderised fillets of pork, floured and deep-fried twice for crispness, in a sweet and sour sauce made from two kinds of vinegar, brown not orange, with big slices of sweet onion and soft, roasty-tasting garlic, and truly life-changing.

It stayed crispy until the end, too. When I lived in the US, I used to order crispy beef done the same way in a spicy orange and Szechuan pepper sauce — one of my abiding food memories, even though I had it several times. I had only found it at that one restaurant though, and thought of it like a lost friend I’d never encounter again. Fortunately, I have been reunited. Beef, pork — it doesn’t matter. It’s the flour dredging and frying that counts.

Then there were the dumplings. Coren described them:

Now, the dumplings were not your silken steamed dim sum, but heftier, thicker and very much boiled. Ten of them in a portion, a daunting prospect, but then… so soft, so warming, and the pork filling mild and quite sweet but made tangy with aromatic vinegar. Unbelievably delicious.

I agree with everything but the dipping sauce. Ours was pretty much straight soy, no aromatic vinegar. That didn’t matter either, because the sweet and sour pork came with plenty of sauce.

The biang biang (bang bang) noodles are a must. These are not the normal noodles from the Orient that one expects, but thick pappardelle on steroids. As Coren put it:

… the biang biang noodles … were wide and chewy and fresh and stuck together in places, just like your mum would have made if your mum was from northern China and really good at cooking.

They came with a sprinkling of mild chili flakes and spring onions. Sally mixed the noodles together for us and we helped ourselves. We put the sweet and sour pork on top and had dumplings on the side.

We asked for knives and forks, because unless one is adept with chopsticks, the food is too unwieldy, especially the noodles. Sally happily obliged.

My only criticism is that the plates are really small. They could do with normal sized plates, because the food is so ample and you want to enjoy it while it’s still hot.

The bill for two came to £39.60, including a 10% service charge. While they take MasterCard, Sally says they prefer cash, so, for that amount, I paid in folding and told her to keep the change.

Coren really liked Noodle & Snack:

And that weekend I dreamt of Noodle & Snack, night and day. Esther kept asking, “What is it?” and I’d go, “Oh nothing, nothing…”

And at noon on Monday I was back, fifth time in eight days, this time with my office mate Charlie, who knows China better than me and wanted to see it. Sally brought us a cold chicken “snack” on the house that was clean and cool and fiery with Sichuan pepper. And I got the sweet and sour pork again for Charlie, who laughed because it was so good. And also aubergines that were floured and fried twice and so squishy banana-like inside I wanted to cry, but don’t have a name for as it wasn’t written or spoken in English at any point. And the best mapo tofu of all time.

I noticed that, on the table menu, they have duck spring rolls and a squid dish for those with more adventurous tastes. On the wall menu, two different tripe preparations are available along with more pork and vegetarian dishes. This menu is indicative only.

As Coren raved about them, we’ll try the floured and fried aubergines next time.

It should be noted that getting downstairs to the loo was somewhat unsettling, and I’m used to London’s downstairs conveniences. There is a banister on only the left-hand side of the stairs. I’m not as agile as I used to be in dress shoes. That said, the loo was immaculate, and my mother always said that was the deciding factor in a restaurant. If they care about the loo, they’ll care about your food, too.

If you’re in the neighbourhood, Noodle & Snack is a fine place to eat. Giles Coren’s review has much more about the restaurant’s decor, complete with photos. You can see more photos along with a few customer reviews here.

Talk about value for money. You won’t leave hungry.

This week, a friend of mine and I shared a real treat, eating at Langan’s Brasserie, just across from Green Park station, on the Stratton Street side.

Langan’s, founded in 1976, closed during the pandemic, although it was not a victim of it. It had been taken into administration, as it had been failing since 2019. New owners quickly bought it and undertook an extensive refit.

Even if the 1970s celebrities of stage and screen might no longer visit because of death or old age, the brasserie continues with its classics and traditions.


Having finished a late afternoon wine tasting early, we arrived at the restaurant a good 45 minutes early, well before dinner service would normally start in many places.

However, that was no problem for the accommodating staff. The gentleman at the reception desk warmly welcomed us and took my coat.

Two groups were still finishing their late lunches, and he showed us to our table, also helpfully indicating the loo for the disabled just off to one side. My friend greatly appreciated the gesture.

Menus quickly followed. Our ageing waiter was either Spanish or Italian and of the old school: friendly, yet professional.

The atmosphere on the ground floor dining room is pleasant in its green and white decor. Particularly striking are the three large, green glass chandeliers adorning the ceiling. Dark green curtains separate the dining area from the rooms for private parties.

Each table has napery, complete with linen napkins. There is no stainless steel cutlery here, only silver. Even the sauce pots that accompany some of the dishes are silver.

The all-day menu has a special section to indicate Langan’s Classics: Bangers & Mash (£26), the Spinach Soufflé (£15) and the Fish Pie (£33).

The wide-ranging Raw Bar section has dishes that serve as starters or main courses. The main course in this category is the Plateau de Fruits de Mer for two (£87). Langan’s are big on Obsiblue prawns, which, although farmed in New Caledonia, are still considered a luxury treat. The prawns are blue in their natural state but, when cooked, are pink, just as every other prawn.

Most of the main courses come with potato and/or other garnish which means that there is no need to order a side of vegetables: money saved.

The grill section largely focuses on beef but also has a fish of the day on offer. Those dishes would require a side of potato or vegetables.

For starters, my friend ordered the Shellfish Cocktail (£19.50), which comes with Obsiblue prawns and a lobster claw. Not knowing how filling it would be, I opted for the aforementioned Spinach Soufflé, which takes 20 minutes to prepare.

The 20 minutes passed by quickly. The French sommelier took our order for Rully Blanc – Les Villeranges – Domaine Faiveley (2020, £76). He came back with the wine (complete list here), poured it and chatted with us for several minutes about French and Italian wines. My friend is very knowledgeable, and the two compared notes on their respective favourites.

After the sommelier left, we only had time to sip a bit of the Rully and sample some homemade sourdough before our starters appeared.

My friend’s classic Shellfish Cocktail did not disappoint. It was done in the classic British 1970s way with the slightly sweet Marie Rose sauce and shredded lettuce. He finished it with a spoon.

The Spinach Soufflé exceeded my already high expectations. It came with a small silver pot of hollandaise sauce with a touch of anchovy blended in for a smooth, almost herby flavour. The soufflé was perfect in its construction: a beautiful, flat rise and piping hot. I have never tasted anything like it: rich, unctuous and comforting. Despite its price, it is ample enough to serve as a main course, which I will remember for a return visit.

Our waiter came by to ask how everything was, which is not something normally done in British restaurants. We sent our compliments and finished eating.

We did not have long to wait for our main courses, either. Granted, it was only around 6:30 or so, but everything went like clockwork.

My friend had the Chicken Kyiv (£29), which came with a silky potato puree, Savoy cabbage relish, pancetta and peas. He said it tasted just the way the classic Kiev did back in the ’70s. The sauce was expertly encased in the middle and did not leak or get absorbed into the meat. His only wish was for more garlic in the butter sauce, but he is rather big on garlic.

I had the Golden Beer-Battered Fish & Chips which was a bargain at £24, accompanied by homemade tartare sauce and mushy peas, both in small silver pots. The waiter asked if I needed any additional sauce. Knowing my love of tartare sauce, I asked for extra. He duly returned with a small silver bowl of it. I’m not sure what they put into it. It was very light on cornichons and had no capers, but it did have horseradish and a strong vinegar, along with some dill and possibly tarragon. It was fabulous. My friend enjoyed dipping his bread into it.

The unidentified fish — probably hake — was perfectly fried, wonderfully moist on the inside and crispy on the outside until the very last bite. The portion of piping hot chips was massive, much more than I could eat: the soufflé effect.

Our sommelier was judicious in refilling our wine glasses throughout. We were still left with a glass apiece after we finished our main courses.

Then came time for dessert. Classics are there — Rum Baba (£12), Baked Vanilla Cheesecake (£12), Langan’s Mess (£12), Crème Brûlée (£11.50) and a British and French Cheese Platter (£16.50) — along with a more recent offering, Four Chocolates Fondant (£12.50). Homemade ice creams are also available — Bourbon Vanilla, Bolivian Dark Chocolate, Vietnamese Coffee, Strawberries & Cream — at £3.80 a scoop, accompanied with a choice of Greek yoghurt, tropical tutti frutti, Coconut Malibu or raspberry and yuzu sauce. Liquid Puddings — cocktails — are also available.

Wine suggestions come with each of the desserts. Feeling rather replete, I opted for a glass of Sauternes Cuvée Céline – Clos Le Comte 2015, 75ml ( £9), which was the perfect end to an outstanding meal.

My friend chose the Rum Baba, which was made the authentic way: a yeast cake, with plenty of holes to absorb the generous sousing of Plantation Stiggins’ 1824 Pineapple Rum. It came with a thin layer of pineapple compote on the bottom, which he said was surplus to requirements. I had a bite of the baba, and the rum sang through it. Definitely one to consider for a future visit.

The bill came to £236.

By the time we left, more people were coming in, among them a large private party which went through the green curtain. The noise level grew louder, therefore, book at a quieter time for more conversation.

On our way out, one of the waitresses was with a lady at reception. They suggested more dishes to try when we return: the aforementioned Langan’s Fish Pie as well as the Roasted South Coast Cod (£36), which comes with Obsiblue prawns, bouillabaisse and red pepper rouille. They also suggested the Crème Brûlée.

Everyone and everything was top notch. We were treated as future friends rather than complete strangers.

We shall be back!


Tripadvisor has a brief history of Langan’s, named after the original co-owner Peter Langan, who has since gone to his eternal rest (emphases mine):

November 2021 saw the hotly anticipated reopening of Langan’s Brasserie. With acclaimed duo, Graziano Arricale and James Hitchen at the helm, their mission is to bring all of the elegance and eccentricity of the original Brasserie – opened in 1976 as a joint venture between actor Michael Caine and the legendary restaurateur Peter Langan – back to the forefront of London culture. Reimagined for a new generation by Peter Mikic (Vogue once called the London-based interior designer a “master of metamorphosis”) each of the three floors will have its own distinct visual identity. Upon entering, guests are instantly be immersed in a sense of occasion …

You can see more photos on the restaurant’s Facebook page.

Although Langan’s interior might not look exactly the same, The Telegraph‘s restaurant critic, the incomparable William Sitwell, reminded us of its great past just before it reopened late in October 2021. His article comes complete with vintage photographs:

It was London’s most famous restaurant. Indeed, in the late 1970s, many regarded it as the capital’s only restaurant. At least, the only one worth going to, worth eating in and, above all, worth being seen in. For two decades from 1976, Langan’s Brasserie on Mayfair’s Stratton Street bestrode London’s social scene.

It was a haven for film stars, rock stars, aristocrats and the beautiful people of the day; and those who dined there were more than happy for everyone to know about it.

Now, 45 years after it was founded, and on the eve of its reopening with new owners, the man who obliged the stars’ desire to have their presence well and truly documented in newspaper gossip pages is reflecting on those heady days and – more specifically – nights.

In the kitchen of his London home in North Kensington, society photographer Richard Young – regarded as the original paparazzo – is almost melancholy at the memory. ‘Those days are truly gone,’ he tells me. Yet adorning the walls of his kitchen, hallway, staircase and on almost every space of wall, in fact, are many of those memories in stark black and white.

Framed photographs attest to Young’s role in the story of one of Britain’s great celebrity hotspots; shots of everyone from Elizabeth Taylor to Sean Connery, many of which were captured on the pavement outside Langan’s, and also, in delightfully unguarded moments, indoors.

‘Langan’s became the main port of call for any major star who was visiting the capital,’ says Young, now aged 74 and still plying his trade as a photographer of the famous. ‘In those days there were only two restaurants worth going to – Langan’s and San Lorenzo. But San Lorenzo wasn’t as profitable for me [because fewer stars dined there] – and the food wasn’t as good.’

The restaurant was the brainchild of actor Michael Caine and Irishman Peter Langan, a former chef. Caine had dined at Odin’s in Marylebone, where Langan was cooking, loved his seafood salads and crème brûlée, had become friendly with him and suggested they open a place together. Langan had bonhomie in spades; Caine could supply the guests.

I went to Odin’s in the 1990s with my better half. The food was excellent there, too.

Sitwell continues:

Caine’s idea had been to create an iconic restaurant, like his beloved La Coupole brasserie in Paris. ‘It was a shame there was nowhere in London like that,’ he said. Having dined often with Langan, he decided, in 1975, that they should just fill the vacuum themselves. ‘Peter, let’s create the most fabulous restaurant in London,’ he said one night. 

Langan found the location, where a restaurant had previously stood:

He focused on design and décor while Caine financed the project. The room had the comfort and sophistication of the smart drawing room of a grand London house, the walls adorned with artworks by the likes of David Hockney, Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon. The great and the good felt at home.

Soon after, they would hire the chef Richard Shepherd, a man with impeccable credentials and latterly of the city’s renowned Capital Hotel – together the three of them created a restaurant that had the magic touch; a combination of food, atmosphere and guests that other restaurateurs could only dream of.

Now, Richard Young has brought together a collection of all the photographs he took at the restaurant over the best part of two decades.

His book encapsulates an era of glamour that existed long before social media; a time when celebrities didn’t have to worry about fellow diners taking covert pictures of them with a smartphone (and so were able to really let their hair down) and when gossip lovers pored over the pages of Nigel Dempster’s Daily Mail column or William Hickey in The Express.

Young provided a steady daily supply of pictures of celebrities for the latter, having stalked Langan’s the night before.

‘Every morning I would bring in three or four rolls of film that I had taken on my Leica M4,’ he says. ‘They couldn’t believe how I’d got pictures of everyone from Francis Bacon to John Travolta. They loved it and I never told them quite how I did it.’

In fact, Young was on the inside, literally, of Langan’s. At the time a fledgling photographer, he was hired by David Bailey and Patrick Lichfield, founders of celebrity magazine Ritz, to cover the capital’s social scene, and he would join meetings held on an almost daily basis at Langan’s …

‘I went to Langan’s nearly every night. I’d sit at the bar and watch who was coming in. It was triple-A-list celebs and it was fantastic. I could take pictures of them at the front as they left and even sometimes at the tables, usually with their permission. Sometimes without…’

Caine recalls the sight of Young arriving on his precious motorbike. ‘He would turn up on his Harley-Davidson and hang outside, capturing all the big names,’ he writes in Young’s book. ‘Eventually, he became a part of the Langan’s family.

He would hang by the bar and then run outside to capture the likes of Jack Nicholson, Robert De Niro or Mick Jagger as they were leaving, and then come back in and finish his orange juice.’

Langan’s became Young’s second home:

‘From Princess Grace of Monaco to Frank Sinatra to Catherine Deneuve to Roger Moore, they all went there and it proved a very lucrative time for me,’ Young recalls. ‘To be honest, at the time I didn’t see the inside of my own home very much.’

The food was an essential part of the Langan’s experience:

With Shepherd in the kitchen, Langan’s wasn’t just a place to be seen – the food itself was a major draw. His dishes were mainly old-school French brasserie in style and, as a glance at an old menu reveals, there were a hell of a lot of them.

His handwritten bill of fare, featuring a drawing by David Hockney of the three proprietors – with Caine in the middle, besuited and holding a cigar – featured some 30 hors d’oeuvres, 20 plats du jour, six specialities du jour, 14 legumes and salades, 25 desserts, seven fromages and a concise list of wines and champagnes, all written in French on a single page.

There were snails, avocado with vinaigrette, Dover sole, roast duck, profiteroles and créme brûlée. It was a menu to appease the well-heeled and well-travelled and excite the palates of fashionable Londoners.

However, it became apparent that Langan had a personal problem:

From Caine’s perspective, Shepherd was there not only to run the kitchen efficiently but also, in Caine’s frequent absences, to keep a close eye on Langan. ‘The pressure was enormous,’ recalls Shepherd now, ‘juggling the kitchen, the staff, running the business – and Peter himself.’

For Langan needed to be kept under close observation; indeed, he frequently required a supporting arm as well, to stop him from toppling over. Peter Langan was in his mid-30s when Caine met him. From a rural background in County Clare, he had come to London in the 1960s and quickly established himself as both an effective restaurateur and bon viveur.

He became known as the life and soul of the party. Guests wanted to drink with him and, as his reputation as a hellraiser grew, they expected to see him worse for wear. As Young explains, in the early years he didn’t wish to disappoint.

‘But a lot of it was showbiz,’ he says. ‘He wasn’t drunk nearly as often as people thought. But they expected to see him on all fours, under the tables and biting ladies’ ankles – so that’s what he did.’


Often, Langan wouldn’t make it home at all and would be found asleep on the floor or just slumped in a chair at the back of the restaurant by the cleaning ladies in the morning. Fed up with his antics one night, Shepherd told the staff to put Langan’s chair and table outside on the pavement, to keep him out of trouble.

‘Sadly, Peter unravelled over the years,’ said Caine. In 1988, at the age of 47, he set fire to his house and a few days later died of his injuries. ‘He was a very sensitive soul,’ his widow Susan said, ‘and somewhat misunderstood.’

Back to the celebrities. Mick Jagger once celebrated his birthday at Langan’s:

Young famously captured Mick Jagger blowing the candles out at a table upstairs while celebrating his birthday in 1982.

‘I could hear people singing Happy Birthday in the Venetian Room upstairs one night,’ recalls Young. ‘A barman told me it was Jagger’s birthday. I’ve never run up a set of stairs faster. But I got the picture, bang, bang, bang and the photograph went everywhere. And I was surprised Mick didn’t tell me off.’

Prince Andrew showed up, too. At that time, he was a youthful veteran of the Falklands War.

Young continued photographing:

Night after night. He shot Dudley Moore taking over the piano; he flirted with Elton John, who obliged by flicking a V-sign at him; he saw Marie Helvin running down the street barefoot, clasping her high heels; he recorded Prince Andrew’s frequent dates in the restaurant; and he photographed quieter times as Caine, Shepherd and Langan sat upstairs, talking business.

By the 1990s, the London restaurant scene was changing:

… with a fleet of new British culinary stars emerging in the capital, such as Marco Pierre White, and other dining rooms attracting attention, like Sir Terence Conran’s Bibendum in South Kensington and Rowley Leigh’s Kensington Place in Notting Hill, Langan’s star was waning. Celebrities found new places to be seen at.

Young moved with the times:

Richard Young’s Harley-Davidson was more likely to be spotted a few hundred yards away, behind the Ritz, outside Le Caprice.

Sitwell says:

On my last visit to Langan’s for lunch, some five years ago, the food was still good, but the place was much quieter – with not a fashionista in sight.

Langan’s closed in 2019, a year before the pandemic. However, it was resurrected during lockdown with the refit by new owners Graziano Arricale and James Hitchen:

still as a French brasserie, but with swanky additions, such as a raw seafood bar and beef tartare prepared at the table.

It will be reimagined with a rather grander aesthetic, too, yet the new owners will be hoping to rekindle that original heady mix of A-list guests.

As Arricale, a former operations director for high-end hospitality boss Richard Caring, puts it, ‘We look forward to creating a real hub for the locals of Mayfair, along with those from the worlds of fashion, art, film and music, to help us bring Langan’s back to its rightful place at the centre of Mayfair.’

An Evening Standard article from October 2021, complete with photos, told us more about the new owners and reminisced about the old Langan’s:

Now it is to be reanimated by school friends and business partners, Graziano Arricale — formerly of Birley Clubs, who count celeb haunts Annabel’s and Harry’s Bar among their roster — and James Hitchen, who made his name as the CEO of one of Manchester’s most popular restaurant groups, East Coast Concepts.

This most storied of London restaurants, then, is in experienced hands. The pair have kept the bones of the old Langan’s — the grand brasserie-style food and showpiece dining room — but given it a facelift, expanding the offering. There will be a basement private dining room, a raw seafood bar, and an invitation-only upstairs bar, all of which has been overseen by interior designer Peter Mikic, with a profusion of Italian marble.

The question for the pair, though, is can they distil that same magic which saw Langan’s, which was co-founded by Michael Caine, become the restaurant of the Seventies and Eighties? The names were endless: Mick Jagger, Marlon Brando, Muhammad Ali. Joan Collins said it was “like a private club, where one could see many of one’s friends. I loved the food and the atmosphere, even if you did have to fight through the paparazzi on the front pavement”.

Peter Langan got on the wrong side of Princess Margaret, by then divorced:

He once invited himself to Princess Margaret’s table while she was dining with her young lover Roddy Llewellyn, flinging his jacket onto the back of her chair and then scrambling onto the table while mumbling incoherently. She never returned.

He also barred certain A-listers of the time:

He once barred Rudolf Nureyev “for being himself”. He failed to recognise Brando, saying: “The only thing I knew about him was that he was even fatter than me.” And with Orson Welles, he kept things even simpler: “I think you’re a stupid fat f***.”

One famous couple from the past who did appear at Langan’s reopening on October 28, 2021, were Rod Stewart and Penny Lancaster. The Mail‘s Richard Eden reported:

Rod Stewart along with his rock ’n’ roll friends were regulars at Langan’s Brasserie in Mayfair back in the day — so you can imagine how delighted I was to see the 76-year-old star sailing into an emotional reunion with a long-lost pal at the reopening on Thursday night.

He and his glamorous wife Penny Lancaster, 50, ran into their old friend Jo Wood — ex-wife of Rolling Stones’ Ronnie, Sir Rod’s bandmate in the 1970s rock group Faces.

I wish the new owners well.

Initially, critics panned the new Langan’s for overpriced food and snooty staff, but Arricale and Hitchen took the criticism on board and changed things.

On November 18, 2021, The Times‘s Marina O’Loughlin, an eminent food critic, slammed both the food and the staff — as well as the new dress code, a first for the establishment, requesting that men wear jackets. Her article has a great photo of half of the main floor dining room.

Three weeks later, the aforementioned William Sitwell poled up, writing an equally sharp critique for The Telegraph. His complaints mirrored O’Loughlin’s.

Fortunately, the owners held onto the new dress code and properly addressed the food, the prices and the snootiness. A number of the dishes mentioned in those reviews have been dropped, with prices for many others dramatically reduced.

Sitwell, incensed that he had been asked about his reservation by the doorman, wrote:

if you now arrive at this expensively refurbished gaff, as it works feverishly to reclaim past glories, and are greeted with a ‘Good evening’ from the chap at the door, you know who to thank.

Thank you, Mr Sitwell.

The doorman was courteous and helpful to another couple who wondered if they could get a table without a reservation. They duly did.

On that basis, Langan’s and its owners deserve to succeed. They’ve listened, and they’ve made necessary changes.

My friend and I had a memorable dinner, one that will go down in our personal annals of great food memories. You won’t be disappointed, either.

Those who missed my series on King Charles III’s coronation so far might be interested in reading parts 1 and 2.

Here is GB News’s video which captures the events of Saturday, May 6, 2023, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.:

This post discusses what happened after the coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey and star performances by people involved.

Getting fit like Penny Mordaunt

Among the Heralds of Arms was the Conservative Leader of the House, Penny Mordaunt MP, who is also Lord President of the Privy Council. In her position as Lord President of the Council, she carried the Sword of State, which is large and heavy.

Some years earlier, she had appeared in a reality television series, Splash!, hence the aquatic references in this tweet:

Here she is later on during the ceremony. Note how she positions her legs:

As I mentioned yesterday, her 51-minute holding of the sword was something to behold. A Guardian journalist tried holding a full water jug of similar weight and could only manage eight minutes.

The Telegraph tells us ‘How to get arms of steel like Penny Mordaunt’ (emphases mine):

The 350-year-old ceremonial blade weighs in at 3.5kg so this was no mean feat – “get her in the Olympics,” quipped TV presenter Dan Walker. With the eyes of the world upon her, it’s little wonder that Mordaunt, like an athlete training for the Games, had been preparing for this moment for some months.

“[I] will be carrying the Sword of State, which is the heaviest sword,” she told a podcast ahead of the Coronation. “It has to be carried at right angles to the body, hence the need to do press-ups – pointing upwards, out in front of you, for some time.”

50-year-old Mordaunt revealed that she had taken inspiration from her decade as Royal Navy reservist in training to become the first woman to carry out this important ceremonial role, noting that her experience in the armed forces made her used to “standing for long periods of time, not fainting”.

But the strict exercise regime which naval recruits are put through will surely also have provided a framework for Mordaunt’s press-up heavy preparations, ensuring her arms were at their strongest for the task.

As one serving naval officer tells me, “in training, we are introduced to an exercise called ‘four corners’ where we stand rank and file in a gym, then a PT [physical trainer) shouts orders at us to jump and face different corners of the room to carry out exercises like press-ups, star jumps and mountain climbers”. Extreme discipline, both mental and physical, is required to endure these sessions.

The officer stresses that this approach is less about focusing on one particular area and instead creating a full body workout; “as well as cardio, it’s about functional fitness, calisthenics and using your own body weight.”

An easy way to introduce something similar into your own routine if you don’t have a naval PT to bark orders at you would be to adopt the 5BX fitness regime, which was designed for the Canadian Air Force in the 1950s. Standing for ‘five basic exercises’, the 12-minute routine includes press-ups, sit-ups, back extensions, stretching and running on the spot. Both Prince Philip and King Charles have credited it for keeping them trim well beyond their youth.

Although Mordaunt’s tailored cape obscured most of her arms, the momentary glimpses we did get showed off enviably honed biceps.

“Many of us watched in awe at the King’s Coronation as Penny Mordaunt stood holding the sword for what seemed like an eternity,” says personal trainer Caroline Idiens, whose philosophy centres on strength training and the physical and mental wellbeing this can foster, especially in midlife

Mordaunt, sitting on the front bench for Prime Minister’s Questions today, received compliments from the Labour shadow front bench opposite. She smiled and mouthed, ‘Thank you’.

Many more compliments followed from all sides of the Commons on Thursday, May 11, when Mordaunt, as Leader of the House, led Business Questions.

What the King likely said in the coach

Many watching the day’s events wondered exactly what the King said when he and Camilla arrived five minutes early at the Abbey and were not allowed to leave it until the exact time. You can see the moment in the tweet below:

Even Majesty magazine’s editor-in-chief Ingrid Seward said the King ‘almost had a bit of a hissy fit’. She spoke with Nigel Farage on his Monday evening show:

That day a lip reader gave The Star his best guess on what the King said. GB News reported on that and what led to it:

King Charles appeared to be grumbling to his wife Camilla as he allegedly said “this is boring” while they waited to enter Westminster Abbey, a lip reading expert claims.

The King and Queen arrived at the Coronation ceremony ahead of schedule and were forced to wait outside in their diamond jubilee state coach.

The Prince and Princess of Wales along with their children Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis were unable to overtake the monarch so joined his procession through [to] the church.

Speaking outside Saint Margaret’s church next to the abbey, Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani, the bishop of Chelmsford [and one of the Lords Spiritual in the House of Lords], said that there were a couple of hiccups.

“There were one or two things that didn’t go strictly to plan,” she said. “I’m not going to embarrass anyone in particular.”

While waiting outside the church, King Charles appeared to tell Camilla: “We can never be on time.

“There’s always something… this is boring,” lip reading expert Jeremy Freeman told the Daily Star.

Now back to the après-coronation.

The procession back to the Palace

The King and Queen left the Abbey in the Gold State Coach.

This is a great video clip of the procession back to Buckingham Palace:

The Princess Royal

Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, was in the group of mounted military behind the Gold State Coach. She had the role of honorary Gold Stick in Waiting, meaning that she was her brother’s honorary bodyguard. Gold Stick’s responsibility is to protect the monarch.

The various roles of ‘stick’ and ‘rod’ date back to Henry VIII. For example, Black Rod, who was also in the coronation, is part of the House of Lords and is the one who summons MPs to the Lords for the State Openings of Parliament.

But I digress.

The Telegraph reported, ‘Princess Anne wins praise for being “best rider” on Coronation parade’:

The former Olympic rider followed the King and Queen, who were in the Gold State Coach, on horseback during the large military procession back to Buckingham Palace.

Clare Balding, who was commentating on this part of the Coronation for the BBC, said: “I think fair to say she’s the best rider on parade; she’s a former Olympian, a European Open champion as well, so she knows what she’s doing.

“She’s riding a horse called Faulkand, looking extremely comfortable en route.”

The Princess took part in the historic procession route back to the Palace in her official role as Gold Stick in Waiting and Colonel of the Blues and Royals

It is understood that the King gave his sister the important Gold Stick in Waiting role in the Coronation ceremony as a thank you for her loyalty and unwavering support.

This was the largest military procession since Winston Churchill’s state funeral in 1965.

Prince Harry

After the King and Queen left the Abbey, most of the Royals were waiting for cars.

Prince Harry conversed with the husbands of Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi and Jack Brooksbank, respectively. Harry sat next to Brooksbank during the ceremony and chatted together during parts of it. At one point, Harry must have said someone’s name because Brooksbank smiled and asked ‘Who?’ The two shared a chuckle.

The levity continued after the ceremony, but the princesses did not seem amused.

That afternoon, GB News reported:

Body language expert Darren Stanton suggested the moment showed the Yorks’ daughters being unsure about how to reassure the father-of-two ahead of the biggest royal event in a generation.

Stanton told GB News: “They were trying to include him but there was a bit of an awkwardness in terms of them thinking is that or is that not within protocol.

“It shows that they were trying to include him and make him not feel awkward because he did look awkward walking in without Meghan.

“However, I think generally he is more confident without her.”

He continued: “I think there was a little bit of hesitancy, as if they didn’t know what to do really.”

Stanton added: “They [Beatrice and Eugenie] are a lot more forgiving and less inclined to follow the protocols and things because they grew up with him.”

However, Prince Harry was seen chatting to both his cousins’ husbands Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi and Jack Brooksbank.

When asked about the Duke’s conversation with the pair, Stanton also said: “It’s almost like going to a wedding and not knowing anyone but you see someone you may know a little bit and you talk to them so you don’t feel as awkward.”

But Harry and his wife Meghan Markle are particularly close with both Eugenie and Jack.

Stanton said he did not see a long-term future for the Sussexes as a couple:

It was good of whomever directed them down the aisle to sandwich Harry in between the couples so that he looked less isolated:

David Starkey also noted Harry’s awkwardness:

On Monday, May 8, Princess Eugenie clarified the situation on social media:

GB News reported:

The 32-year-old, who is expecting her second child with husband Jack Brooksbank, took to Instagram to express her feelings about the special day.

Eugenie posted a selection of photos from the event, and to the delight of fans, included Prince Harry in the mix.

Writing to her 1.7 million social media followers, she said: “Yesterday meant so much to me, as I’m sure it did to so many watching.

“What a magical celebration for The King, The Queen, our country, and the Commonwealth.

“The day was such a reflection of dedication and service to our country” …

The Princess’s choice of pictures which she shared online yesterday, did not go unnoticed by fans.

One person wrote in the comments: “Thank you for showing Prince Harry in your photos. He’s been iced out for the most part, so it’s nice to see your support.”

Another said: “Thank you for your support to Prince Harry and his family.”

Returning to the Abbey, it took a while for Harry’s car to arrive.

On Monday, news outlets told us that the prince did not go directly to Heathrow to catch his commercial flight back to California.

The Telegraph reported, ‘Prince Harry went to Buckingham Palace after the Coronation but didn’t see his family’:

The Duke of Sussex visited Buckingham Palace during his brief trip to Britain for the Coronation, slipping in and out of the monarchy’s headquarters briefly without seeing the Royal family.

The Duke spent less than half an hour at the palace after the end of the Westminster Abbey service on Saturday, The Telegraph has learned.

From there he travelled straight to Heathrow Airport while his family were still occupied with public Coronation duties.

It is understood that the visit was for logistical reasons. It allowed him to take a moment out of the public gaze following the two-hour Abbey service.

He did not join the Royal family for official Coronation portraits and is not known to have seen or spoken to his relatives.

Dan Wootton’s GB News show had more. Someone said that the car from the Abbey took him only to the Palace, implying those had been the instructions given to the driver. The ‘logistics’ involved him getting another car to the airport. Whether the Palace supplied that or Harry made his own arrangements is unknown.

The Prince and Princess of Wales

The Wales came across as a regal couple, which will stand them in good stead in the years to come.

The Princess looked beautiful in her Royal Victorian Order mantle and regalia. She wore Princess Diana’s pearl earrings, by the way:

Neither she nor the Duchess of Edinburgh (Sophie Wessex) wore tiaras but rather fancy fascinators instead.

David Starkey remarked on GB News:

I didn’t quite understand but on the other hand, it was a tiny nod to the supposed informality and modernity.

“Although quite what is modern about a head dress made of silver bullion, I really do not know.

The Telegraph explains the Princess’s attire in ‘What the Princess of Wales’s Alexander McQueen Coronation gown is really trying to tell us’:

Like generations of royal women before her, including Elizabeth II, the Princess of Wales chose to incorporate rose, thistle, daffodil and shamrock motifs representing England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland respectively into the design of her gown. These were included by the Alexander McQueen atelier using silver bullion and thread work embroidery.

In a break with coronation custom, the Princess of Wales wore a headpiece instead of a tiara. Created by milliner Jess Collett in collaboration with Alexander McQueen, the Princess’s headpiece is made with silver bullion, crystal and silver thread work three-dimensional leaf embroidery. This simple, rather than bejewelled, choice of headwear alludes to the flower crowns worn by Queen Elizabeth’s maids of honour at her 1953 coronation

The Princess of Wales’s jewellery choices were a sentimental nod to the past and female figures whose influence is no doubt important to her. The dazzling George VI Festoon Necklace was made in 1950, commissioned by King George VI for his daughter the then Princess Elizabeth. Her pearl and diamond earrings belonged to Princess Diana who made the Princess of Wales title which Princess Catherine now holds into a globally recognised name.

The inclusion of daffodils, which represent the Welsh element of the Princess’s Coronation gown, is a design decision of which Sir Norman Hartnell, the creator of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation gown, would likely have been envious.

He wrote in his autobiography, Silver and Gold, of his wrangling with the Garter King of Arms after he was informed that he must use a leek rather than a daffodil to represent Wales on the late Queen’s coronation dress.

“‘A daffodil!’ exclaimed Garter. ‘On no account will I give you a daffodil. I will give you the correct emblem of Wales, which is the leek.’ The leek I agreed was a most admirable vegetable, full of historic significance and doubtless of health-giving properties, but scarcely noted for its beauty. Could he not possibly permit me to use the more graceful daffodil instead?, Hartnell recalled in the memoir. ‘No, Hartnell. You must have the leek,’ said Garter, adamant.”

On another historical note:

The last Princess of Wales to attend a coronation was in 1902, when the-then Princess Mary wore a pearl encrusted gown with braid detailing to the crowning of her father-in-law King Edward VII.

One hundred and twenty one years later, the Princess of Wales has set a new template with a dress which will be remembered as one of the most important of her lifetime.

Royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams had nothing but praise for the couple:

Prince Louis, age 4 — the same age as the King was when he saw his mother crowned in 1953 — only had to leave the Abbey once. Young Prince Charles left the ceremony after the Communion portion of the service. Louis was given a break then returned for the conclusion of the ceremony to sing the National Anthem, which he reportedly did with gusto.

This video has clips of the prince at the coronation ceremony and at the flypast, interspersed with other photos of him:

In the procession back to Buckingham Palace, the coach with the Wales family was the one immediately behind the King and Queen’s Gold State Coach. The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh (Wessex) and their children followed the Waleses in the next carriage.

The Wales children certainly enjoyed the opportunity to wave at the crowds:

Andrew Lloyd Webber

On the afternoon of Coronation Day, The Times posted ‘Andrew Lloyd Webber on the making of his coronation anthem’:

It was over dinner at Highgrove, the King’s Gloucestershire estate, just before Christmas that Charles asked Andrew Lloyd Webber a favour. Would he be interested in writing an anthem to be played at the coronation? The only stipulation was that it must be “joyful”.

Lloyd Webber, 75, leapt at the “incredible honour” and dropped everything so that he could sit at his piano and write.

The result is Make A Joyful Noise. The song is an adaptation of Psalm 98, which starts “Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvellous things”.

The peer, who is best known for writing more than 20 musicals including Cats and The Phantom of the Opera, is distributing the music and lyrics to churches across the country this weekend.

He hopes it will be sung by “people at any occasion where they feel they just want to sing”.

The track has also been recorded by boys from the Westminster Abbey Choir School and the abbey’s adult choristers, with proceeds to be donated to Age UK and the Royal British Legion at the King’s request.

Rain did not dampen spirits

It rained for a significant part of the day, but those outdoors remained resourceful and resolute.

A soldier in one of the marching bands had to empty his tuba of rainwater:

Later that day, The Telegraph had more in ‘”This is why we’re proud to be British” — rain-soaked crowds hail Coronation celebrations’:

Royalty. Regalia. Rain. It’s what Britain does best.

And so it was with good humour, stoicism, and a phalanx of sturdy umbrellas the London crowds flatly refused to let the weather dampen the celebratory mood as they witnessed the biggest set piece of its kind in 70 years …

Outside the heavens continued to open. After the first hour the quips about Charles’s “long rain over us” and cries of “turned out nice again” from the depths of ponchos and umbrellas ought to have been wearing a bit thin. But no.

“This is why we’re proud to be British,” said Janet Singh, 37, who was with her family on The Mall. “There is no other country on earth where you can see such a dignified display of tradition and pageantry.”

The cost to the taxpayer

The taxpayer pays for state occasions, which is why the Government oversaw and advised on the coronation.

This is how much Operation Golden Orb — the code name for Charles’s coronation — cost in terms a Briton can understand. What did it cost in comparison to the NHS?

To better understand, the NHS spends a whopping £2,000 every 0.4 seconds.

The cost of the entire coronation of His Majesty King Charles III would fund the NHS for 5 hours:

The Queen’s funeral was much less expensive. Its cost would have funded the NHS for just over 23 minutes:

Still, a coronation comes along only once in a lifetime these days. I am not sure whether I will live to see William crowned as his father’s successor.

Not the first ‘modern’ coronation

The Telegraph‘s Allison Pearson informed us that Charles III did not have the first modern coronation.

That distinction belonged to Edward VII in 1902. Interestingly, I did not hear any of the historians or Royal experts bring this up in their commentary:

In fact, monarchy has always used coronations to ensure its survival, with guest lists cannily reflecting the broader shifts in society. In 1902, amid the maharajahs and county councillors (newly included that year to bring in more plebs), were the occupants of what was called “the Loose Box”, in which sat Edward VII’s, ahem, “female friends”. At least King Charles spared us a harem. In keeping with a more democratic UK, he gave a generous allocation of tickets to the youth groups that he has so brilliantly supported and to normal folk who have got the kind of humble gong that means they have done something rather than been somebody …

In 2023:

the so-called innovations of the ceremony worked, better than anyone could ever have imagined. The Kyrie in Welsh sung by Bryn Terfel, Mount Snowdon in human form. The Ascension Gospel Choir, soul food personified. It was touching to have the Prime Minister, a Hindu, read the Lesson and even more so to observe his wife, Akshata Murty, joining in with Praise, My Soul, The King of Heaven. The gifts given to the King by leaders of other faiths felt like a generous addition to a Christian service, not a subtraction. This was not the narrow, divisive multiculturalism that causes so much harm and offence; here was Great Britain being greater for being proud of everything we share. Everything that makes us us.

Pearson also told us more about the anointing screen:

The moment when King Charles was anointed will long live in the memory. The King undressed to reveal a simple white shirt, then was hidden behind a screen with a Tree of Life embroidered on it with an inscription along the bottom: “All will be well and all manner of things shall be well.” The screen was very William Morris, very Charles Windsor: Hearts and Crafts.

The balcony appearance and flypast

There was only one glitch with the procession. Shortly before it turned into The Mall, a horse got spooked, reared up and backed into the crowd:

The Telegraph reported that no one in the crowd was injured, although a police constable was seen limping at the scene. Her fellow officers gave her assistance.

The Wales children took in the procession:

The procession continued along The Mall to huge cheers and Charles was seen waving to fans.

The Prince and Princess of Wales followed with William waving and Prince George was seen looking curiously at the thousands cheering.

Prince Louis had his face pressed close to the glass while Princess Charlotte looked calmly on.

The last stage of the procession was the journey down The Mall then around the Victoria Fountain in front of Buckingham Palace:

When the procession arrived at the Palace, the King went to the gardens to give a Royal salute to the troops on foot and on horseback who took part.

Understandably, it took some time for them to regroup and walk to the back of the Palace in an orderly fashion.

Meanwhile, fans of the Royal Family were no doubt pleased, as this gave them more time to surround the Victoria Fountain and get a better view of the upcoming balcony appearance:

At this point, no one knew if the flypast would take place. Earlier in the day, various types of British aircraft, some of them from the Second World War, took — or tried to take off — from several places around Scotland and England. They would then co-ordinate and fly over the Palace in formation.

At Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, the flypast was postponed until around 5 p.m. that day.

For her son’s coronation, it was decided that the flypast would go as planned, after 2:30 p.m., but only with helicopters and the incomparable Red Arrows.

This video shows the Royal Family’s balcony appearance, the flypast and the second appearance from the King and Queen to the enthusiastic crowd. Prince Louis clearly enjoyed himself:

This is a splendid photo of the Red Arrows over Big Ben and the Elizabeth Tower:

Here’s a video of the flypast in full:

On the balcony were the King and Queen, their pages, the Queen’s companions, along with the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh, their children Lady Louise Windsor and James, the Earl of Wessex. Princess Anne and her husband were also present as were the Duke of Kent, Princess Alexandra and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.

Sunday papers

Below are the Sunday papers’ front pages.

Even The Observer (The Guardian‘s Sunday edition) led with the coronation:

They showed more respect than The Star:

The Sunday Mirror had a superb photo:

The Sunday Express‘s photo shows the King’s crown off beautifully, as did the Sunday People‘s:

The Sun‘s was breathtaking:

Speaking of crowns, Saturday’s Sun showed a close up of his and hers:

The Sunday Telegraph‘s front page photo was the worst. What were they thinking?

This union appears to have been written in the stars for many years:

The Times had the same photo but to lesser effect.

And, finally, even in independently-minded Scotland, the King clearly has fans: ‘Charlie is my darling’. These two ladies travelled to London to see him:

And so ended a beautiful and memorable Coronation Day.

But what sort of monarch will King Charles be? Find out tomorrow.

End of series

Yesterday’s post was my first instalment about King Charles III’s coronation, which can be viewed in full at GB News.

This video begins at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 6, and continues through the flypast, ending around 2:30 p.m.:

Order of Service (cont’d)

Using The Telegraph‘s Order of Service, I left off just after the anointing of the King.

As we will see, he paid homage to his parents with certain aspects of the ceremony:

Before I proceed — and ignore the caption — here is a splendid picture of the King and Queen before being crowned:

The King’s Investiture and the Crowning

The next part involved King Charles being presented with various symbols of office.

In memory of the late Prince Philip, who was brought up in the Orthodox Church, the Byzantine Chant Ensemble sang to the King:

Give the king your judgements, O God, and your righteousness to the son of a king. Then shall he judge your people righteously and your poor with justice. Alleluia. 

May he defend the poor among the people, deliver the children of the needy and crush the oppressor. Alleluia. 

May he live as long as the sun and moon endure, from one generation to another. Alleluia. 

In his time shall righteousness flourish, and abundance of peace till the moon shall be no more. Alleluia. 

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and shall be for ever. Amen. 

O Lord, save the king and answer us when we call upon you. 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. Glory to you, our God, glory to you. 

As the Lord President of the Privy Council, Conservative MP Penny Mordaunt exchanged the heavy Sword of State for the Jewelled Sword of Offering, and placed it in the King’s right hand:

The Archbishop of Canterbury said (emphases mine):

HEAR our prayers, O Lord, we beseech thee, and so direct and support thy servant King Charles, that he may not bear the Sword in vain; but may use it as the minister of God to resist evil and defend the good, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

RECEIVE this kingly Sword: may it be to you and to all who witness these things, a sign and symbol not of judgement, but of justice; not of might, but of mercy.

The King rose, the sword was fastened around his girdle (belt), and he sat down while the Archbishop said:

WITH this sword do justice, stop the growth of iniquity, protect the holy Church of God and all people of goodwill, help and defend widows and orphans, restore the things that are gone to decay, maintain the things that are restored, punish and reform what is amiss, and confirm what is in good order: that doing these things you may be glorious in all virtue; and so faithfully serve our Lord Jesus Christ in this life, that you may reign for ever with him in the life which is to come. Amen.

The King stood. The sword was lifted towards the altar, where the Dean received it. The King returned to the ancient Coronation Chair, which has been in use for centuries. Penny Mordaunt ‘redeemed’ the sword with a blue velvet bag holding a gold coin. The sword was duly returned to her.

Note how Mordaunt stands legs apart in the video. She has to, because those swords are heavy.

Such is the state of our society today — we are fast approaching Idiocracy — that people now think she should be Prime Minister. Even The Guardian reported:

The images of a solemn-faced Mordaunt carrying the 3.6kg jewelled sword for 51 minutes, while dressed in a spectacular teal dress and cape, generated interest in everything from her training regime to the designer who made her outfit. It also prompted a sudden drop in the odds for her to become the next leader of her party.

Even her opponents expressed admiration, with Emily Thornberry, the shadow attorney general, tweeting: “Got to say it, Penny Mordaunt looks damn fine! The sword-bearer steals the show.”

The Guardian had another article about her physical prowess, with a reporter trying out carrying a full water jug — ‘the jug of state’ — by way of comparison:

When I struggled to lift the full jug out from under the tap, I realised this was going to be harder than I thought.

Mordaunt said she had been “doing some press-ups” and training with a weighted replica as preparation for carrying the sword …

Less than 30 seconds in, it became clear how wrong I was. My arm tremors were already rippling the surface of the jug, making it look like the cups in Jurassic Park when the T rex was incoming …

At 8 minutes and 42 seconds in, as the arm judders reached their peak, I succumbed to the inevitable and let go of my jug of state, soaking my feet in the process. The jug did not survive the experiment, making me grateful it was not a priceless artefact handmade for Charles II.

Mordaunt was given the role of lord president of the privy council as a demotion by Liz Truss after losing out in the leadership race, but in less than an hour of sword-wielding, she has used it to pull off a PR coup.

Enough weight lifting. Back to the coronation now.

Life peers presented the following items. Why the King did not choose hereditary peers for this, I do not understand.

Lord Kamall (Conservative) brought the Armills — two ancient gold bracelets. The King touched them and the Archbishop said:

RECEIVE the Bracelets of sincerity and wisdom, tokens of the Lord’s protection embracing you on every side.

Baroness Merron (Labour) brought the King the Robe Royal, in which he had to be invested in order to be crowned. The Telegraph‘s article on the coronation garments and says of this particular one, also known as Imperial Mantle or the Pallium Regale:

Made for the coronation of George IV in 1821, the robe royal’s design was based on a priestly robe.

The gold mantle, woven in coloured threads, features a pattern of foliage, crowns, fleurs-de-lis and eagles, with coloured roses, thistles and shamrock. The gold clasp is cast in the form of an eagle.

It is the oldest robe among these garments.

The King would already have been wearing the Colobium Sindonis, which is a white tunic for the anointing. It is white to symbolise purity before God.

Over that went the Supertunica made of gold silk and brocade, which is magnificent to behold. It is on display at the Tower of London:

The full-length, sleeved coat of gold silk was made for the coronation of King George V in 1911 and was worn by King George VI in May 1937 and the late Queen in 1953.

It is placed over the Colobium sindonis for the investiture.

Both garments are removed before the procession out of the Abbey.

The Supertunica is inspired by the vestments of the early Church and the Byzantine Empire and is adorned with the national symbols of the home nations.

The Supertunica is worn under the Imperial Mantle. Both garments are in the Royal Collection and are on public display at the Tower of London.

The belt that goes with the Supertunica is called the Girdle.

The Prince of Wales then presented the Stole Royal, which is a thin strip of gold and embroidered fabric that goes over the Supertunica.

Those garments were put on the King, Stole Royal then the Robe Royal.

The Archbishop said:

RECEIVE this Robe: may the Lord clothe you with the robe of righteousness, and with the garments of salvation.

The Anglican Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland and Metropolitan presented the Orb, which was banded with a cross on top, signifying Christ’s reign over the world. The Archbishop said:

RECEIVE this Orb, set under the Cross, and remember always that the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdom of our God, and of his Christ.

The King touched the Orb, then it was returned to the altar.

Lord Patel brought the Ring to the King, who touched it. Normally, the monarch would wear it at least for the duration of the ceremony.

The Arbishop said:

RECEIVE this Ring, symbol of kingly dignity and a sign of the covenant sworn this day, between God and King, King and people.

It seems Charles has felt self-conscious about the size of his fingers, which has led to speculation about his health:

According to research that GB News compiled, even the Royal Family noticed his fingers:

Prince William reportedly said he wished his “sausage fingers” father would stop writing so many letters so he could spend more time with his grandchildren.

Queen Elizabeth II also commented on her eldest son’s hands.

The late monarch supposedly wrote a letter to her music teacher after his birth in 1948.

It said: “They are rather large, but with fine long fingers quite unlike mine and certainly unlike his father’s.

“It will be interesting to see what they become.”

Howard Hodgson’s book The Man Who Will Be King claimed King Charles even said: “He [Prince William] really does look surprisingly appetising and has sausage fingers just like mine.”

The monarch also used the phrase himself when he was the Prince of Wales after a long haul flight to Australia in 2012

Temporary fluid retention, a sudden change in temperature, high blood pressure and arthritis could all explain his puffier hands.

It is not known what causes Charles’ “sausage fingers” but the symptom is also linked to the secondary disease of Dactylitis.

Dactylitis can be caused by a number of conditions and infections, including psoriatic arthritis.

Dactylitis is the medical term for severe swelling that affects your fingers or toes.

The word derives from the Greek word dactylos meaning finger.

It is an inflammatory disease. But I digress.

Lord Singh of Wimbledon brought the Glove, which the King put on his right hand.

The Archbishop said:

RECEIVE this Glove, that you may hold authority with gentleness and grace; trusting not in your own power but in the mercy of God.

Then came the two sceptres, the Sceptre with Cross and the Sceptre with Dove, presented by the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Archbishop of Wales.

The Archbishop placed one sceptre in the King’s right hand and the other in his left, saying:

RECEIVE the Royal Sceptre, the ensign of kingly power and justice; and the Rod of equity and mercy, a symbol of covenant and peace. May the Spirit of the Lord who anointed Jesus at his baptism, so anoint you this day, that you might exercise authority with wisdom, and direct your counsels with grace; that by your service and ministry to all your people, justice and mercy may be seen in all the earth.

Then came the literal crowning moment.

Everyone stood but the King remained seated so that the Archbishop could place the crown on his head. Before doing so, the Archbishop prayed:

KING of kings and Lord of lords, bless, we beseech thee, this Crown, and so sanctify thy servant Charles, upon whose head this day thou dost place it for a sign of royal majesty, that he may be crowned with thy gracious favour and filled with abundant grace and all princely virtues; through him who liveth and reigneth supreme over all things, one God, world without end. Amen.

The Archbishop placed the crown on the King’s head. It looked as if he were screwing it on. I felt sorry for both of them:

After doing so, he said:

God save The King.

The congregation responded likewise with the same proclamation.

While the Coronation Brass Ensemble played a fanfare, bells rang from the Abbey, the signal for the military gun salutes in Horseguards Parade and at the Tower of London. The signal was duly relayed to other parts of the United Kingdom as well as Gibraltar, Bermuda and ships at sea, where gun salutes also took place:

At this point, the other Christian clergy offered their individual blessings to the King. This was a new insertion, as non-Anglican and non-Presbyterian Christian clergy were not allowed to participate in previous coronations since the establishment of the Church of England.

The choir sang during thist ime.

The Enthroning and the Homage

In this part, the Archbishop and the Prince of Wales pledged their loyalty to the King.

Normally, the hereditary peers would have joined the Prince of Wales, but Charles chose to leave them out. It probably would have been awkward if he had included them, because the obvious question would have been why Princes Harry and Andrew did not pledge their liege to him.

It began with the Archbishop who initially stood to say:

STAND firm, and hold fast from henceforth this seat of royal dignity, which is yours by the authority of Almighty God. May that same God, whose throne endures for ever, establish your throne in righteousness, that it may stand fast for evermore.

He then knelt before the King:

I, Justin, Archbishop of Canterbury, will be faithful and true, and faith and truth I will bear unto you, our Sovereign Lord, Defender of the Faith; and unto your heirs and successors according to law. So help me God.

The Prince of Wales followed the Archbishop, kneeling:

I, William, Prince of Wales, pledge my loyalty to you, and faith and truth I will bear unto you, as your liege man of life and limb. So help me God.

That was a really moving part of the service, seeing father and son look into each other’s eyes afterwards:

Then the Archbishop, in yet another first, opened the oath up to audience participation, as it were:

I now invite those who wish to offer their support to do so, with a moment of private reflection, by joining in saying ‘God save King Charles’ at the end, or, for those with the words before them, to recite them in full.

Anyone present — or at home or wherever they were watching — could say:

I swear that I will pay true allegiance to Your Majesty, and to your heirs and successors according to law. So help me God.

That part was rather controversial. Some people thought it was a great move, while others thought it presumptuous:

Historian Dr David Starkey, commentating for GB News, was deeply unhappy:

The act itself was not met with a “roar”, according to royal historian Dr David Starkey, who says the muted reaction exposes a sign of poor judgment from the monarchy.

Speaking on GB News, Starkey told royal correspondent Cameron Walker that King Charles did not receive the adulation he would have wanted during the act …

“In England, ordinary people don’t do pledges of allegiance. The old aristocracy would have been totally happy, because that is what they did.

“It is the problem when you decide to put tradition in a waste paper basket”

Lambeth Palace confirmed it had been mutually agreed with Buckingham Palace that the introductory words would be changed.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, was to say: “I call upon all persons of goodwill in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and of the other realms and the territories to make their homage, in heart and voice, to their undoubted King, defender of all.”

All those who wished the pledge their allegiance were invited to reply: “I swear that I will pay true allegiance to your majesty, and to your heirs and successors according to law. So help me God.”

That said:

Starkey went on to praise the ceremony, describing it as an “absolutely traditional” occasion, and the late Queen Elizabeth II’s fingerprints were all over it.

“We had extraordinary references to the late Queen”, he said. “Her words framed everything. The notion of service and what she said about the function of the Church of England.

“She even framed the Coronation oath and its Protestantism.”

Another fanfare sounded and the Archbishop said:

God save The King.

The congregation responded:

God save King Charles. Long live King Charles. May The King live for ever.

That part concluded. It represented the unwritten contract between the King and his people.

The Coronation of the Queen

Although it was not broadcast on television, the Queen Consort was anointed in the open with the same holy oil used for the King.

This was another first.

On April 29, The Telegraph reported:

It is thought to be the first time a consort has been anointed in public view.

By contrast, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother was anointed under a canopy in 1937.

When the Archbishop anointed Camilla, he said:

Be your head anointed with holy oil.

ALMIGHTY God, the fountain of all goodness; hear our prayer this day for thy servant Camilla, whom in thy name, and with all devotion, we consecrate our Queen; make her strong in faith and love, defend her on every side, and guide her in truth and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

The Keeper of the Jewel House brought forth the Queen’s Ring. For whatever reason, Camilla touched only the velvet mount on which it was sitting.

The Archbishop said:

RECEIVE this Ring, a symbol of royal dignity and a sign of the covenant sworn this day.

The Crown was brought from the altar. The Archbishop placed it on her head, again having a bit of a time with the heavy crown, which was Queen Mary’s, George V’s wife. Camilla said something about adjusting it, so he did:

He said:

MAY thy servant Camilla, who wears this crown, be filled by thine abundant grace and with all princely virtues; reign in her heart, O King of love, that, being certain of thy protection, she may be crowned with thy gracious favour; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Afterwards, the new Queen adjusted her fringe underneath the crown which proved a bit trying.

She received the Sceptre and Rod from the former Bishop of London, the Right Revd Richard Chartres, and the Bishop of Dover, the Right Revd Rose Wilkin, formerly the Chaplain to the House of Commons:

The Archbishop said:

RECEIVE the Royal Sceptre. Receive the Rod of equity and mercy. May the Spirit guide you in wisdom and grace, that, by your service and ministry, justice and mercy may be seen in all the earth.

With that, the Queen was enthroned. In accordance with the King’s wishes, she is no longer officially known as the Queen Consort but the Queen:

A new piece of music played. It sounded dignified but had shades of a show tune here and there. It turns out that the King had commissioned Andrew Lloyd Webber, present in the congregation, to write a song for the coronation.

The lyrics are based on Psalm 98:

MAKE a joyful noise unto the Lord for he hath done marvellous things. And his holy arm hath gotten him the victory. He hath remembered his mercy and his truth toward the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. O make a joyful noise unto the Lord all the earth. Make a loud noise; rejoice and sing his praise. Let the sea roar, the world and they that dwell within. Let the floods clap their hands; let the hills be joyful together. Make a joyful noise unto the Lord all the earth. Rejoice and sing his praise. For he cometh to judge the earth. And with righteousness shall he judge the world and the people with equity. O make a joyful noise unto the Lord all the earth. Sing unto the Lord with the harp and the voice of a psalm. With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the Lord the King.

Holy Communion

During the Andrew Lloyd Webber melody, the King and Queen went to the vestry or another private room to divest themselves of their outer coronation garments and crowns then returned to the area near the altar.

Using the 1662 liturgy from the Book of Common Prayer, the Archbishop then consecrated bread and wine for the King and Queen. Holy Communion must be given to the monarch and his spouse during a coronation ceremony.

While they received Communion, the choir sang a new arrangement for the Agnus Dei. This was also specially commissioned for the coronation and was written by Tarik O’Regan, born in 1978.


After Communion came the final blessing, the benediction.

The congregation sang Praise my soul, the King of heaven:

PRAISE, my soul, the King of heaven; to his feet thy tribute bring. Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven, who like me his praise should sing? Praise him! Praise him! Praise the everlasting King.

Praise him for his grace and favour to our fathers in distress; praise him still the same for ever, slow to chide, and swift to bless. Praise him! Praise him! glorious in his faithfulness.

Father-like, he tends and spares us; well our feeble frame he knows; in his hands he gently bears us, rescues us from all our foes. Praise him! Praise him! widely as his mercy flows.

Angels, help us to adore him; ye behold him face to face; sun and moon, bow down before him; dwellers all in time and space. Praise him! Praise him! Praise with us the God of grace.

The King and Queen returned to whatever private rooms they were in to put on their ceremonial Robes of Estate, neither of which is new.

The Telegraph tells us:

In keeping with tradition, Charles and Camilla will each wear two different robes – a crimson Robe of State on arrival and a purple Robe of Estate at the end of the service.

The King will wear his grandfather George VI’s Robes of State and Estate from the 1937 Coronation, which are almost 90 years old and have been conserved and prepared for the occasion.

Embroiderers from the Royal School of Needlework have been working on the crimson velvet, with robemakers Ede & Ravenscroft working on the lining and gold lace.

The Queen will wear her late mother-in-law’s crimson Robe of State, which was made for her 1953 Coronation. The robe has been conserved with adjustments and has a train of 5.5m. The original brief was for a “hand-made velvet robe, trimmed with best-quality Canadian ermine and gold lace”.

The robe is also known as the Parliament Robe as it is worn for the State Opening of Parliament.

It took a long time for the King and Queen to re-emerge for their lengthy procession from the Abbey back to Buckingham Palace. As such, more music played.

Finally, a fanfare sounded and they appeared. Everyone sang the National Anthem. Penny Mordaunt was in front, carrying the sword. Prince George is the last page in the back on our left, on the King’s right hand side:

Procession of the King and Queen

A long recessional procession took place, which included members of the Royal Family who had been sitting in the pews.

When the King reached the entrance to the Abbey, he paused to receive greetings from the leaders of non-Christian faiths. They said in unison:

YOUR Majesty, as neighbours in faith, we acknowledge the value of public service. We unite with people of all faiths and beliefs in thanksgiving, and in service with you for the common good.

The King then paused for greetings from Governors-General of the Commonwealth.

It was 1 p.m.

The Abbey’s bells pealed beautifully and continued for at least another hour, possibly longer.

Ready to climb into the Gold State Coach, the King handed his sceptre to an aide and got ready for the procession back to Buckingham Palace. The aide carefully mounted the orb in the coach between him and Queen Camilla once they were seated.

The newly crowned couple were on their way to a new phase of their lives together:

More tomorrow soon on the après-coronation, including what happened outside the Abbey, the procession back to Buckingham Palace, the balcony appearance and the flypast.

Thankfully, I was wrong.

King Charles III’s coronation on Saturday, May 6, 2023, was much better than I had anticipated last Friday.

The state of the UK today

It is important to note the backdrop against which the coronation took place.

We have a Hindu Prime Minister (Rishi Sunak), a Muslim Mayor of London (Sadiq Khan), a Muslim First Minister of Scotland (Humza Yousaf), a Buddhist Home Secretary (Suella Braverman) and a Chancellor (Jeremy Hunt) with a Chinese wife.

This was not the Britain of June 4, 1953, the date of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation.

The coronation emblem

The coronation emblem recognised the plant symbols of the four nations: England, Wales, Scotland — which comprise Great Britain — and Northern Ireland:

Coronation video

Here is GB News’s video of the day’s events, from 10:00 a.m. to the flypast mid-afternoon:

Religious ceremony

Most Britons were not alive when the last coronation took place and might have been unaware how religious it is.

As historian Dr David Starkey explained on GB News on April 15, the ceremony is a Christian one:

It involves a covenant between God and the monarch, which is why the King and those before him, are anointed outside of public view.

The Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury presides over the service and, in accordance with tradition, the Presbyterian Moderator of the Church of Scotland presented the monarch with a new Bible. Charles received a gilt-edged edition of the King James Version bound in red leather.

In a first, after his anointing by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the King received blessings from other Christian prelates, as The Telegraph reported on April 30:

They will have their own ecumenical procession and then, after the King is crowned, there will be a series of blessings, bookended by the two Anglican primates, the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. Four others – the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Thyateira & Great Britain, Nikitas Loulias, plus the Moderator of the Free Churches and the General Secretary of Churches Together in England will between them utter about 90 words amid the thousands upon thousands uttered by Anglican clerics.

In a nod to other world faiths, the King received greetings from their leaders in Britain as he exited Westminster Abbey at the end of the ceremony:

Canon law of the Church of England, which prohibits other faiths saying prayers, has been adhered to.

Rishi Sunak read the Epistle very well, looking at the text only occasionally (emphases mine below):

The most notable involvement of a non-Christian is the Hindu Rishi Sunak, reading the Epistle, but he takes his place by reason of his office: it has become traditional for the Prime Minister to read a lesson at a Church-meets-state-meets-Crown occasion, as Liz Truss did at the late Queen’s funeral.

Here’s the video:

The Times said that the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Right Revd Justin Welby, chose the reading from St Paul to the Colossians for its emphasis on the rule of Christ and the joy we find in it:

Selected by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Epistle to the Colossians proclaims the loving rule of Christ over all people and all things and takes its name from the Christian community in Colossae (now a part of Turkey).

Colossae was one of the first churches to be established after the resurrection of Jesus. Sunak was asked to read to reflect modern customs of leaders of countries speaking at state events.

… “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness.”

The reading tied in well with the King’s specially composed prayer that preceded it:

God of compassion and mercy

whose Son was sent not to be served but to serve,

give grace that I may find in thy service perfect freedom and in that freedom knowledge of thy truth.

Grant that I may be a blessing to all thy children, of every faith and conviction, that together we may discover the ways of gentleness

and be led into the paths of peace.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord.


The theme of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s sermon focused on service, acknowleging the 400 charity workers who were watching on livestream in the Church of St Margaret next to Westminster Abbey.

I will return to the service itself later in the post.

Another rainy Coronation Day

The weather was only slightly warmer than it was when Queen Elizabeth II was crowned.

However, it was rainy on both days:

In fact, rain has been a feature of the last several coronations.

My late mother believed that rain meant good luck. It rained on my wedding day. Here I am over 30 years later, still married. The rain was a blessing. May it be so for Charles III as it was for his mother.

High security

Security was at its highest on Coronation Day.

Only days before, the House of Commons passed new laws enabling police with greater powers of arrest. To their credit, London’s Metropolitan Police used them in pre-empting possible violence.

On Tuesday evening, May 2, GB News broadcast some programmes in a small studio adjacent to Buckingham Palace. Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg’s programme was interrupted by a small controlled explosion that evening while he was talking with the former BBC Royal reporter Michael Cole:

Guido Fawkes explained (red emphasis his):

… the entire crew were forced to evacuate their perch outside Buckingham Palace while police used controlled explosives on suspicious objects – now thought to be shotgun cartridges – thrown over the Palace gates. The detonation can be heard live on-air as Mogg speaks. “I think that was probably a controlled explosion in the background…”

Rees-Mogg and Cole were remarkably composed throughout.

Dan Wootton, who had arrived at the channel’s Paddington studios early, took over from there.

The procession to Westminster Abbey

Charles and Camilla’s procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey was shorter than his mother’s was. The Government, who largely directed the coronation as the taxpayer footed the bill, decided that a shorter route would cost less money with regard to security:

The Duke of Norfolk as Earl Marshal planned the sequence of events, working with the military and clergy as required.

His ancestor, who presided over the late Queen’s coronation, did a flawless job. The Dukes of Norfolk, whilst Catholic, have planned Royal state events for generations.

Two glitches

However, there are some things even the current Duke could not control.

Charles and Camilla, riding in the Diamond Jubilee Coach — designed by Rolls Royce, incidentally — arrived at the Abbey five minutes early.

The King had one of his moments, visible in this video:

The carriage doors remained closed for several minutes.

We later discovered that the Prince and Princess of Wales and their two children — Prince George was already at the Abbey as a page — were running late. Somehow, they seamlessly appeared inside the Abbey. This is the magic of planning and part of the genius of the Dukes of Norfolk who have planned these events for generations.

That said, as the King and Queen Consort had arrived early, their carriage doors remained closed until the appointed moment.

Then Camilla’s attendants and pages had some difficulty holding up her robe and the train on her dress, something that did not happen at Queen Elizabeth’s coronation:

Guests’ arrival

The doors to Westminster Abbey opened early, as is customary for Royal occasions.

The Royal couple expected 2200 guests. The Duke of Norfolk would have assigned arrival times to each group. The first group had to arrive at 7:30 a.m. All guests were expected to stay seated as the other groups continued to arrive.

For the first time, the King invited Royal families from around the world. This did not happen previously because other monarchs considered the coronation to be a pact not only with God but also with the British people. Therefore, no outsiders.

Generally speaking, the guests arrive in order of station, with lesser folk arriving first and the greatest — the King and Queen — arriving last.

Jill Biden and her step-granddaughter Finnegan Biden arrived at 9:39. They were seated in a back row of pews. It looks as if Mrs Zelenskyy might be sitting to her left, but I’m not sure:

Prince Andrew got booed as his car was driven down The Mall to the Abbey:

Former Prime Ministers arrived next, around 10:20. John Major and Tony Blair are wearing their Order of the Garter chains and brooches:

Rishi Sunak and his wife followed them:

Royals from around the world arrived afterwards.

Prince Harry, Prince Andrew and Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, who arrived with their husbands, reached the Abbey around 10:45, just ahead of the King and Queen. If they had been on time, the Wales family would have arrived in between.

One of the husbands — Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi? — spoke to Harry and the two shared a short but pleasant conversation before Mapelli Mozzi joined his wife to walk down the aisle:

So, Harry was not completely ‘all alone’, as some media outlets reported, although he was as he walked to his seat. Admittedly, it was an awkward moment for him:

Princess Anne, who probably arrived after Harry, Andrew, Eugenie and Beatrice, wore the cloak of Scotland’s Order of the Thistle, which is a deep green velvet. She wore a tall red plume in her ceremonial hat and was seated in front of Harry, obliterating him from view. A coincidence or not? We might never know.

Music played from 7:30 a.m. until the end of the ceremony, so it ended some time after 1 p.m.:

Order of Service

The ceremony began at 11:00 a.m.

Excerpts from The Telegraph‘s Order of Service follow.


The music came from several ensembles:

The service is sung by the Choirs of Westminster Abbey and His Majesty’s Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace (Director of Music: Joseph McHardy), with choristers from Methodist College, Belfast (Director of Music: Ruth McCartney), and Truro Cathedral Choir (Director of Music until April 2023: Christopher Gray), and an octet from the Monteverdi Choir.

The music during the service is directed by Andrew Nethsingha, Organist and Master of the Choristers, Westminster Abbey.

The organ is played by Peter Holder, Sub-Organist, Westminster Abbey. 

The Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists are conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner CBE.

The Coronation Orchestra is conducted by Sir Antonio Pappano.

The State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry are led by Trumpet Major Julian Sandford.

The Fanfare Trumpeters of the Royal Air Force are conducted by Wing Commander Piers Morrell OBE MVO, Principal Director of Music, Royal Air Force.

The fanfares at The Recognition and The Homage were composed for this service by Dr Christopher Robinson CVO CBE.

The King’s Scholars of Westminster School are directed by Tim Garrard, Director of Music.

The Ascension Choir is directed by Abimbola Amoako-Gyampah.

The Byzantine Chant Ensemble is directed by Dr Alexander Lingas.

The Coronation Brass Ensemble is conducted by Paul Wynne Griffiths.

The Order of Service provides more detail with regard to what was played and by which group.

Procession of faith leaders and representatives and Commonwealth countries

Just before 11:00 a.m., the Abbey’s verger led the procession of faith leaders and representatives, beginning with the non-Christian faiths.

Christian leaders then followed, beginning with the group from Wales, followed by Scotland and Northern Ireland and ending with clergy from England.

They were followed by representatives from the 15 countries over which King Charles is sovereign, i.e. the realms. The Order of Service has the complete list.

The King’s Procession

At 11:00, a fanfare sounded, signalling the arrival of Charles and Camilla.

They were led down the aisle by Anglican clergy, followed by the various Pursuivants of Arms, then the Orders of Chivalry and Gallantry Award Holders.

After them came the Heralds of Arms, some of whom bore the items of regalia presented to the King later on.

The Queen Consort and her entourage followed.

The King and those attending him were the last in the procession.

Penny Mordaunt

Among the Heralds of Arms was the Conservative Leader of the House, Penny Mordaunt MP, who is also Lord President of the Privy Council. In her position as Lord President of the Council, she carried the Sword of State, which is large and heavy.

Some years earlier, she had appeared in a reality television series, Splash!, hence the aquatic references in this tweet:

Penny Mordaunt, a Royal Navy reservist, was certainly one of the stars of the show. Even Labour MPs tweeted their admiration for her handling of the sword.

The Telegraph has another photo of her carrying it and this report:

Leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt has emerged as the quiet star of the Coronation ceremony – one that nobody saw coming …

For the ceremony, Mordaunt was required to carry the 17th-Century Sword of State into the Abbey in the King’s Procession, and continue to hold it aloft for much of the service – specifically at right angles to her body. The sword, decorated with royal symbols including the lion and union and fleur de lis, is also used during the state opening of Parliament.

Given its 4ft length and 8lb weight, this is no mean feat, as evidenced by her shaking arms, when she handed the historic weapon to King Charles. She had prepared for the moment though: “It’s drawing on all of my military drill experience,” she told Politico, prior to the event. The preparation paid off: Mordaunt performed the ceremonial role with such aplomb that her name was trending on Twitter. Labour MP Emily Thornberry tweeted: “Got to say it, @PennyMordaunt looks damn fine! The sword bearer steals the show.”

Mordaunt was the first woman to carry out this high profile role in a Coronation ceremony

Her wardrobe represented a break from tradition too. Instead of the black and gold attire worn by the Marquess of Salisbury at the late Queen’s Coronation in 1953, she commissioned a new garment for the occasion that was rich with meaning.

It was an inspired decision. Mordaunt’s cape dress was by London-based label Safiyaa; a bespoke piece in a deep teal hue described as “Poseidon”, in honour of her Portsmouth constituency.

The look was completed by a bandeau-style hat by milliner Jane Taylor, who is a go-to for the Princess of Wales and the Duchess of Edinburgh [Prince Edward’s wife Sophie], and black ballet-style flat pumps, later switched to beige court shoes for her part in the ceremony.

The gold embroidery on Mordaunt’s cape and headpiece is by 250-year-old embroidery house Hand and Lock, which also embroiders the Royal cyphers. The fern design is a nod to the Privy Council uniform motif, adapted and “feminised” for the garment.

The look was modern and elegant, with just the right degree of traditional craftsmanship. Evidently, symbolic dressing is not a skill unique to the Royal family.

Mordaunt told Politico last week that she “felt it wasn’t right” to wear the same attire as Salisbury. Instead, she said that she wanted “to come up with something that is modern and will give a firm nod to the heritage” of the occasion.

Saturday’s well judged look follows her historic role in September, as the first woman to lead the accession council ceremony of the King at St James’s Palace.

The ceremony

When the processions were nearing their end and as the Queen Consort and King approached their chairs, the choir sang the now-traditional I Was Glad, which Hubert Parry composed for the Coronation of Edward VII in 1902. It is based on Psalm 122:1-3, 6-7:

I WAS glad when they said unto me: We will go into the house of the Lord. Our feet shall stand in thy gates, O Jerusalem. Jerusalem is builded as a city, that is at unity in itself. Vivat Regina Camilla! Vivat! Vivat Rex Carolus! Vivat! O pray for the peace of Jerusalem, They shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and plenteousness within thy palaces.

Having reached their places and still standing, Samuel Strachan, Child of His Majesty’s Chapel Royal, addressed The King:

YOUR Majesty, as children of the kingdom of God we welcome you in the name of the King of kings.

The King replied:

In his name and after his example I come not to be served but to serve.

The Archbishop of Canterbury then opened the service:

DEARLY beloved, we are gathered to offer worship and praise to Almighty God; to celebrate the life of our nations; to pray for Charles, our King; to recognise and to give thanks for his life of service to this Nation, the Realms, and the Commonwealth; and to witness with joy his anointing and crowning, his being set apart and consecrated for the service of his people. Let us dedicate ourselves alike, in body, mind, and spirit, to a renewed faith, a joyful hope, and a commitment to serve one another in love.

The Kyrie eleison came next, sung by Wales’s Sir Bryn Terfel CBE to an arrangement for the coronation written by Paul Mealor, born in 1975:

ARGLWYDD, trugarhâ, Crist, trugarhâ. Arglwydd, trugarhâ. Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

The Recognition followed, which involved the King standing to the four directions of the Abbey — north, south, east and west — with a presentation acclamation for each, to which the congregation responded, ‘God save King Charles’. Fanfares sounded throughout.

The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, The Right Reverend Dr Iain Greenshields, presented the King with the aforementioned Bible and said:

SIR, to keep you ever mindful of the law and the Gospel of God as the Rule for the whole life and government of Christian Princes, receive this Book, the most valuable thing that this world affords. Here is Wisdom; this is the royal Law; these are the lively Oracles of God.

The Archbishop of Canterbury asked whether the King was willing to take his oaths, read out one by one with an affirmative response.

The first two are as follows:

YOUR Majesty, the Church established by law, whose settlement you will swear to maintain, is committed to the true profession of the Gospel, and, in so doing, will seek to foster an environment in which people of all faiths and beliefs may live freely. The Coronation Oath has stood for centuries and is enshrined in law.

WILL you solemnly promise and swear to govern the Peoples of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, your other Realms and the Territories to any of them belonging or pertaining, according to their respective laws and customs?

This is the third:

WILL you to the utmost of your power maintain the Laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel? Will you to the utmost of your power maintain in the United Kingdom the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law? Will you maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government thereof, as by law established in England?

After affirming that he agreed to the oaths, the King placed his hand on the Bible, saying:

The things which I have here before promised, I will perform and keep. So help me God.

He kissed the Bible.

Then came the statutory Accession Declaration Oath, which the King took:

I CHARLES do solemnly and sincerely in the presence of God profess, testify, and declare that I am a faithful Protestant, and that I will, according to the true intent of the enactments which secure the Protestant succession to the Throne, uphold and maintain the said enactments to the best of my powers according to law.

He then signed copies of the oaths — no problems with the pen unlike at his Accession ceremony — and the choir sang William Byrd’s 16th composition to these words from the Book of Common Prayer:

PREVENT us, O Lord, in all our doings with thy most gracious favour, and further us with thy continual help; that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in thee, we may glorify thy holy name, and finally by thy mercy obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Afterwards, the King knelt and said:

GOD of compassion and mercy whose Son was sent not to be served but to serve, give grace that I may find in thy service perfect freedom and in that freedom knowledge of thy truth. Grant that I may be a blessing to all thy children, of every faith and belief, that together we may discover the ways of gentleness and be led into the paths of peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The choir sang the Gloria to another William Byrd arrangement, this one from the Mass for Four Voices.

Rishi Sunak read Colossians 1:9-17:

FOR this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

The Right Revd Sarah Mullally DBE, the Bishop of London and the Dean of His Majesty’s Chapels Royal read the Gospel, Luke 4:16-21:

JESUS came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, ‘this day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.’

A gospel choir, the Ascension Choir, sang an Alleluia based on Psalm 47:6-7a. The arrangement was composed for the coronation:

ALLELUIA, Alleluia! O sing praises, sing praises unto our God; O sing praises, sing praises unto our King. For God is the King of all the earth. Alleluia, alleluia!

The Anointing followed, with the choir singing in English, Welsh, Gaelic, and Irish.

A three-part Anointing Screen appeared in order for the King to be hidden from the public. Several Army officers in dress uniform from the Household Division held the three parts in place.

The King was divested of his Robe of State in order that he make the sacred covenant between God and himself. He sat in the ancient Coronation Chair, under which was the Stone of Scone (pron. ‘Scoon’), on loan from Scotland.

The choir sang Handel’s Zadok the Priest, originally composed for George II’s coronation in 1727. The work became very popular in a short space of time. Handel made it part of another opus of his as a result. It is based on 1 Kings 1:39-40:

ZADOK the priest, and Nathan the prophet anointed Solomon king; and all the people rejoiced, and said: God save the king. Long live the king. May the king live for ever. Hallelujah. Amen

Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Canterbury made the Sign of the Cross in holy oil from Jerusalem on the palms of the King’s hands:

Be your hands anointed with holy oil.

He did the same on the King’s breast and on the crown of his head, using similar wording.

He finished as follows:

And as Solomon was anointed king by Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet, so may you be anointed, blessed, and consecrated King over the peoples, whom the Lord your God has given you to rule and govern; in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

When the Anointing Screen was removed, the Archbishop prayed:

OUR Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who by his Father was anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows, by his holy anointing pour down upon your head and heart the blessing of the Holy Spirit, and prosper the works of your hands: that by the assistance of his heavenly grace you may govern and preserve the peoples committed to your charge in wealth, peace, and godliness; and after a long and glorious course of ruling a temporal kingdom wisely, justly, and religiously, you may at last be made partaker of an eternal kingdom; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The King rose to be vested in special coronation clothes — the Colobium Sindonis, Supertunica, and Girdlefor his investiture and crowning.

At this point, he was presented by separate participants with his symbols of office while the Byzantine Chant Ensemble sang. Their hymn was a nod to Prince Philip, who had been brought up in the Orthodox Church.

To be continued tomorrow.

April 23 is St George’s Day.

England is among the nations which have St George as their patron saint.

In London, a celebration takes place annually in Trafalgar Square. In 2022, the event attracted 20,000 people:

enjoying a flurry of everything brilliant about England and being English, all set in the iconic heart of the nation’s capital.

… with great music, food, markets, performers, and activities for the whole family …

Mayor Sadiq Khan is shown here on April 23, 2023, with London’s traditional working class Pearly Kings and Queens, who collect money for charity:

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak sent his best wishes for the day via Twitter. This is a rather odd tweet featuring a supine Larry the Cat, No. 10’s resident mouser:

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer should have double-checked what his staff sent out for St George’s Day, because what’s depicted clearly isn’t in England but rather Glasgow — in Scotland:

Let’s hope that anyone who saw Sir Keir’s video remembers it when they vote in local elections on Thursday, May 4:

Guido Fawkes says (emphases his):

In his video wishing “everyone in England a happy St. George’s Day” emphasising “I believe in our communities” Keir included picturesque gritty footage… of Glasgow.

… For the benefit of Labour’s communications team, Glasgow is not – in fact – in England. If he’s going to drape himself in the cross of St George to win votes, he could at least get it right.

On Saturday, April 22, the libertarian conservative Emma Webb stood in for the Revd Calvin Robinson on his GB News show, Calvin’s Common Sense Crusade.

Her opening monologue lamented that the English are the only people of the UK’s four nations who are not allowed to celebrate their patron saint, George:

At the end of the show (44:00 point in the subtitled video here), she interviewed historian and author Martin Whittock. He told us more about St George — who was, in fact, a Roman centurion, martyred in the fourth century for not making a sacrifice to a pagan god. His tomb was in the Roman province of Palestine, now in modern-day Israel, where it continues to attract pilgrimages.

England has celebrated St George since the ninth century.

This is a transcript of the show’s segment about the saint and how he became so prominent in England.

Martin Whittock says (emphases mine):

… the first record for him appears in about the fifth century, might be as early as the fourth century. And it tells a story of a Greek-speaking officer, Roman officer from the Greek part of the Roman Empire, who was in the imperial guard, the Praetorian Guard, who was martyred for his faith at this point. There’s no record of the dragon. That doesn’t appear until the 11th century.

Quite a few centuries later, when we have a document from Georgia. That’s an interesting connection, isn’t it? George, Georgia. There is a connection, by the way, and then talks about him slaying a dragon that was eating maidens in what we’d now call modern Libya.

But the original story is that he is a Roman officer, martyred for his faith, killed for his faith under one of the persecutions of the pagan Roman emperors. And that cult takes off. It’s very popular because it’s a dramatic story, but we don’t know very much about him at all. Beyond that, we’d like to know more, but we don’t.

Emma Webb says, in part:

What comes next, of course, is the fascinating history of what people do with the legend of Saint George or the reality of Saint George, for that matter …  

Whittock resumes the story:

In the Christian scriptures, dragons — and in the Jewish scriptures [about] dragons — serpents are associated with evil. So this idea of him slaying the dragon probably conveys the idea of him having victory over evil. And it first appears in a document that’s produced in Georgia, in the Caucasus in the 11th century.

But he really picks up and he really takes off after the Crusades because, although his military career is not a big thing of the original stories, he is a soldier. And at the time of the Crusades, a lot of fighting kings want to have a patron saint, somebody who is a soldier like themselves. And so, in that way, he goes on to have quite an after-story.

So, in 1222, under Henry III, we have the first royally sponsored promotion of St George, a royal saint. Before that, the English Royal Saint is St Edward. And, it’s interesting, when the King is crowned on May the 6th, it will be the Crown of St Edward that is put on his throne.

But Edward was not a warrior king. Crusaders wanted a warrior patron, you see. So, in 1222, we have this promotion of him [George]. It’s then picked up by Edward III, who’s another warrior king in England in the 14th century and by Henry V in the 15th century. And he’s promoted and promoted. And the idea of him being a soldier also fighting the dragon is very, very popular.

We know, for example, before the Reformation, there are what are called Saint George’s Ridings. On the 23rd of April, people come out dressed as the dragon. They see him kill the dragon. It’s all true. It’s so trememdously popular. And then at the Reformation, it takes an absolute nosedive. Because, basically, the new Protestants in England say, ‘Well, what’s the evidence for this St George? What do we actually really know about him?’

And, suddenly, the thin basis becomes his biggest Achilles heel.

So, it’s not the dragon that’s the problem for St George. It’s the fact that we don’t know enough about him. And in 1552, he’s taken away from the celebration of saints. It’s decided we don’t know enough about him. We’re not too sure about these saints, anyway. And, in the Reformation, his career collapses.

In the 17th century, it fights back a bit. Towards the end of the 19th century and into the 20th century, it’s onto a bit more of a roll. But he never has quite the PR push behind him that St Patrick and St David and St Andrew — who never went to Scotland — had behind him.   

Emma Webb concludes:

So, here we have the fascinating history of St George over the centuries: a few ups, a few downs — and certainly not quite the royally sponsored saint that he once was before the Reformation, when St George seems to have fallen by the wayside.

There are a number of online biographies of St George.

The worst has to be the BBC‘s, which goes so far as to posit:

that he was entirely based on an ancient pagan myth. No one really knows, though.


The next best comes from English Heritage:

… he was actually born – in the 3rd century AD – more than 2,000 miles away in Cappadocia (modern day Turkey).

He is thought to have died in Lydda (modern day Israel) in the Roman province of Palestine in AD 303. It is believed that his tomb was in Lod and was a centre of Christian pilgrimage

Like many saints, St George was described as a martyr after he died for his Christian faith.

It is believed that, during the persecutions of the Emperor Diocletian in the early 4th century, St George was executed for refusing to make a sacrifice in honour of the pagan gods.

However, the best comes from … London City Hall:

Edward I was a crusader and reigned from 1272-1307. He was fond of St George. His troops wore the St George’s cross to fight the Welsh. In 1300, he also raised the St George’s flag over Caerlaverock Castle in Scotland.

His grandson, Edward III reigned from 1327 to 1377. He heard stories from returning crusaders of St George’s bravery. By the 14th century, St George was seen as a special protector of the English. So when Edward founded England’s Knights of the Garter, there was only one choice for patron. Later in 1415, George was named official patron saint of England

Popular chap this George. He’s also patron saint of countries like Ethiopia, Georgia and Portugal, and cities such as Freiburg, Moscow and Beirut. George was seen as an especially powerful intercessor. That’s a person who uses prayer on behalf of others

While the dragon story is great and has universal appeal, this enduring tale probably isn’t true. In the Middle Ages dragons were used to represent the devil. So it’s more likely that St George chased away bad spirits

And it’s not the fact that they’re both ‘English’ folk heroes. The answer is that both died on 23 April, St George’s Day. This date is also believed to be Shakespeare’s birthday …

In 2010, for the first time since 1585, the City of London hosted a Pageant of St George. It saw St George paraded through the Square Mile on horseback. He was surrounded by the traditional figures of a king and his daughter, and a lamb led by a maiden in the parade

St George’s Day became a major feast and national holiday in England on a par with Christmas in the early 15th century. That tradition died out over time, but London’s annual Feast of St George in Trafalgar Square is packed with delicious food stalls, cooking demonstrations and live music – a great way to celebrate!

Wikipedia has more about George’s martrydom and its immediate aftermath on conversions:

George was executed by decapitation on 23 April 303. A witness of his suffering convinced Empress Alexandra of Rome to become a Christian as well, so she joined George in martyrdom. His body was buried in Lydda, where Christians soon came to honour him as a martyr.[18][19]

The Latin Passio Sancti Georgii (6th century) follows the general course of the Greek legend, but Diocletian here becomes Dacian, Emperor of the Persians. His martyrdom was greatly extended to more than twenty separate tortures over the course of seven years. Over the course of his martyrdom, 40,900 pagans were converted to Christianity, including the empress Alexandra. When George finally died, the wicked Dacian was carried away in a whirlwind of fire. In later Latin versions, the persecutor is the Roman emperor Decius, or a Roman judge named Dacian serving under Diocletian.[20]

The Wikipedia entry is long and fascinating, showing that St George was a real person, albeit without a dragon, and his influence even extends to the Muslim world.

May we have as much faith as St George when it comes to affirming it in the face of our enemies.

Matt Hancock looms large in The Telegraph‘s Lockdown Files series which ended earlier this month.

For more background, see parts 1 and 2.

Matt Hancock latest

The series continues after an update on latest news about the UK’s former Health and Social Care Secretary.

On Saturday, March 25, 2023, The Guardian reported that Hancock had been one of a handful of Conservative MPs caught in a prank set up by the left-wing activist group Led By Donkeys, ‘Top Tory MPs ask for £10,000 a day to work for fake Korean company’ (emphases mine):

The former chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, and former health secretary, Matt Hancock, agreed to work for £10,000 a day to further the interests of a fake South Korean firm after apparently being duped by the campaign group Led by Donkeys.

Kwarteng attended a preliminary meeting at his parliamentary office and agreed in principle to be paid the daily rate after saying he did not require a “king’s ransom”. When Hancock was asked his daily rate, he responded: “It’s 10,000 sterling”

The senior politicians have complied with all relevant rules and referred to their obligation to their constituents during preliminary meetings. The Led by Donkeys project, conducted with investigative reporter Antony Barnett, comes at a time when people face a cost of living crisis. The campaign group released a report on its investigation on Twitter on Saturday, with recorded undercover footage …

The purported firm that approached the politicians did not exist and had a rudimentary foreign website with fake testimonials. MPs have been warned by the Home Office to be on their guard against the “threat of foreign interference”, and the group’s investigation demonstrated the ease with which they seemed able to gain access to the MPs.

Led by Donkeys is understood to have approached 20 MPs from the Conservative party, Labour and Liberal Democrats after examining the outside earnings of MPs on the parliamentary register of interests. An email sent by the fake investment and consulting firm, Hanseong Consulting, said it wanted individuals for an international advisory board to “help our clients navigate the shifting political, regulatory and legislative frameworks” in the UK and Europe.

It said advisers would be required to attend six board meetings a year, with a “very attractive” remuneration package and “generous expenses” for international travel. Five MPs agreed to be interviewed on Zoom, with one who was clearly suspicious of the firm’s credentials terminating the call. The MPs were interviewed by a woman purporting to be a senior executive, with a backdrop of the skyline of Seoul, the South Korean capital, at her office window

In early March, Hancock agreed to an online meeting for the advisory role. The Telegraph had that week published his leaked cache of more than 100,000 WhatsApp messages, but he seemed relaxed for the meeting with the fake foreign firm. He said it had been “quite a busy week” but that March was the “start of hope”.

“We were wondering, do you have a daily rate at the moment?” he was asked by the interviewer, posing as a senior business executive. “I do, yes,” Hancock replied. “It’s 10,000 sterling.”

Hancock is an independent MP after he had the whip suspended for taking part in I’m a Celebrity, for which he was paid £320,000, with Rishi Sunak’s spokesperson saying at the time that “MPs should be working hard for their constituents”.

Hancock said in the meeting that he followed the “spirit and letter” of parliamentary rules, and would also require additional approval for the role because he had been a minister, but outside interests were permitted. He said he was mindful of the responsibility to serve his constituents …

Led by Donkeys was established in 2018 as a campaign in response to Brexit. Its high-profile projects and satirical stunts have since included a spoof episode of the BBC show Line of Duty with Boris Johnson being interrogated by the anti-corruption AC-12 unit and painting the colours of the Ukrainian flag outside the Russian embassy in London.

A spokesperson for Hancock said: “The accusation appears to be that Matt acted entirely properly and within the rules, which had just been unanimously adopted by parliament. It’s absurd to bring Mr Hancock into this story through the illegal publication of a private conversation. All the video shows is Matt acting completely properly.

Furthermore, Matt will be looking for a new job as he will not be standing again as an MP come the next general election.

Although I am not a defender of Hancock, former BBC presenter Jon Sopel is hardly in a position to take pot shots at him, considering that he, too, fancies filthy lucre, as Guido Fawkes revealed on Monday, March 27:

Days earlier, on March 18, The Mail‘s Richard Eden reported that Hancock’s girlfriend and her estranged husband sold their South London house to Gordon Ramsay for several million pounds:

Should she ever tire of turning her boyfriend, Matt Hancock, into a TV star, Gina Coladangelo has a lucrative alternative career as a property tycoon.

I can disclose that she and her estranged husband, Oliver Tress, managed to sell their marital home to fiery TV chef Gordon Ramsay and his wife, Tana, for a staggering £7.5 million.

It’s an astonishing price for the area of South London. Not only is it almost double the £3.8million that Gina and Tress paid in 2015, but it’s £2.5 million more than the top price paid previously for any property in their street.

Zoopla had estimated its value as between £3.8 million and £4.6 million …

The sale, which Land Registry documents confirm went through in January, is all the more impressive as it comes when British property prices are predicted to plunge by ten per cent.

The five-bedroom Edwardian house is in one of London’s most desirable areas. Ramsay, 56, and his wife, 48, bought it in their joint names from Gina and Tress, the founder of upmarket homeware and clothing chain Oliver Bonas.

Gina, 45, left Tress, 55, with whom she has three children, for former health secretary Hancock, 44, who competed in I’m a Celebrity . . . Get Me Out Of Here!.

Ramsay, who has an estimated fortune of £175 million, already owns a huge house, said to be worth £7 million, less than a mile away

Last year, he, Tana and their five children were reported to have temporarily moved out after work began on a super-basement

Tatler adds:

It is easy to see why Ramsay might need a new home. The chef announced at the start of the year that he and wife Tana are expecting their sixth child. On the Heart Breakfast show, the chef said that ‘there’s one more on the way’ to join their five children: Megan, 25, twins Jack and Holly, 23, Tilly, 21, and Oscar, three. Holly recently featured as one of the most eligible singles at Tatler’s Little Black Book party. According to Hello! magazine, the Ramsays are believed to have paid in cash for their new luxury pad; they also own a £6 million house in Cornwall and a mansion in Los Angeles. Gordon and Tana marked their 26th wedding anniversary very recently, having married in Chelsea in 1996.

On March 6, as The Lockdown Files were drawing to a close, The Telegraph reported, ‘Matt Hancock cancelled after indiscreet WhatsApps “upset” travel industry’:

A major international travel conference has axed Matt Hancock from its programme after The Telegraph revealed he had been highly critical of the travel sector during the pandemic.

The Institute of Travel and Tourism (ITT) confirmed that Mr Hancock will no longer be speaking at its annual conference in Doha, Qatar, saying that the messages uncovered by The Telegraph had caused upset to many in the travel industry.

Last week, as part of its Lockdown Files series, The Telegraph revealed that Mr Hancock and Simon Case, the country’s most senior civil servant, shared jokes about those being forced to stay in quarantine hotel rooms during the pandemic …

The former health secretary was also highly critical of the airline and airports industry, describing them as being “totally offside” and “unhelpful”, while Mr Case [top civil servant Simon Case] labelled them as “horribly self-serving” ...

In a statement to The Telegraph, Steven Freudman, chairman of the ITT, said that Mr Hancock had become a “major distraction”.

He added: “We have over 25 distinguished speakers and it would have been unfair on them for the focus to have been solely on Matt Hancock.”

The ITT annual conference is regarded as one of the sector’s key annual events, with thousands of travel professionals and high-profile speakers from across the globe attending.

The initial decision to invite Mr Hancock as a speaker at the conference was widely criticised by sector figures even before The Lockdown Files revelations were published.

Industry figures told The Independent that they wanted the ITT to reconsider its decision, accusing Mr Hancock’s policies of “destroying the sector” and resulting in thousands of travel jobs being lost …

Dr Freudman said: “The original invitation was issued in the hope that Matt Hancock would recognise the damage that he and his government caused the travel industry with its handling of the pandemic.

“We were also hoping that he might confirm that lessons had been learnt and that any future crises would be handled differently.

“However, his WhatsApp messages have upset many of us in the travel industry and his presence would clearly have been a major distraction.”

The Telegraph has contacted Mr Hancock for comment.

That day, Hancock’s lawyer appeared on GB News and was introduced as such. He responded vehemently that he did not want that detail mentioned. The presenter calmly read out the lawyer’s email to GB News stating that he permitted them to describe him as Hancock’s lawyer. The lawyer sheepishly responded that he forgot to type ‘not’. Comedy gold:

Isabel Oakeshott describes The Telegraph ‘bunker’

Hancock gave Oakeshott access to the 100,000 WhatsApp messages because she co-authored his book, Pandemic Diaries.

On Friday, March 24, she wrote an article for Tatler describing what working in seclusion with The Lockdown Files reporters was like at the beginning of 2023:

… The Daily Telegraph was the only newspaper that consistently challenged the lockdown agenda and had a track record of managing huge investigations in the public interest – famously exposing the MPs’ expenses claims in a scandal that rocked Westminster in 2009. They immediately agreed to put a full team of top journalists on the project: The Lockdown Files. 

In a secure bunker, well away from the main newsroom, I worked alongside their reporters, filleting the messages: a team of eight or so, full time, for eight weeks. To avoid hackers, our computers were not connected to the internet. We worked from hard drives stored overnight in a safe. Anything printed was swiftly shredded. Nobody else came into the bunker, which, as the weeks went by, became increasingly unhygienic. Discarded takeaway containers, half-eaten packets of Colin the Caterpillar sweets, mouldy mugs and other detritus were strewn over every grubby surface. Hunched over our computers in a room with no windows, we were like lab rats in some dubious experiment, wracked by colds, coughs and – oh, the irony – Covid. By the week of publication, our core team had swelled to some 25 writers and digital news experts. The Daily Telegraph’s newsroom was emptying out – leaving those who remained wondering where all their colleagues had gone. 

There was a curious voyeuristic pleasure in reading the banter between Government ministers and their aides – including some very flirty exchanges between two household names. Who was sending who the heart emojis and who was complimenting who on their sexy outfits? I’ll leave it to your imagination. Suffice to say, they wouldn’t be too happy if that news was in the public domain.

On Sunday, March 26, we got an answer about the heart emojis. Michael Gove sent them to Hancock:

Hancock responded, ‘You have been true throughout’.

Gove explained to Sophy Ridge on Sky News that he agreed, particularly on that day, with Hancock’s course of action. No surprise there. They’re cut from the same cloth.

Guido Fawkes has the interview:

Oakeshott’s article continues:

The WhatsApp from Matt Hancock came through at 1.20am: ‘You have made a big mistake,’ it said darkly – leaving me to imagine what punishment he had in mind. The following day, he released a furious statement, accusing me of ‘massive betrayal’. Fair enough – I had breached his trust and would face plenty of questions about that decision. But did anyone outside the media bubble seriously doubt it was for the public good? The torrent of grateful messages from ordinary people, often with harrowing personal stories about their own suffering during lockdown, was answer enough for me Dining in a mountain restaurant in the French Alps, my partner, Richard Tice [leader of the Reform Party], was surprised – and touched – to be passed a note by the waiter from a fellow diner who had recognised him. On the crumpled piece of paper were the words ‘please thank Isabel’

Lord Sumption on Hancock: ‘a fanatic’

On March 10, after The Lockdown Files came to an end, Lord Sumption, a former Supreme Court justice and guardian of civil liberties, wrote an editorial for The Telegraph: ‘Matt Hancock was never a policy maker — he was a fanatic’:

The 19th-century sage William Hazlitt once observed that those who love liberty love their fellow men, while those who love power love only themselves. Matt Hancock says that he has been betrayed by the leaking of his WhatsApp messages. But few people will have any sympathy for him. He glutted on power and too obviously loved himself.

Some things can be said in his favour. The Lockdown Files are not a complete record. No doubt there were also phone calls, Zoom meetings, civil service memos and the like, in which the thoughts of ministers and officials may have been more fully laid out …

Nevertheless, Hancock’s WhatsApp messages offer an ugly insight into the workings of government at a time when it aspired to micromanage every aspect of our lives. They reveal the chaos and incoherence at the heart of government, as decisions were made on the hoof. They expose the fallacy that ministers were better able to judge our vulnerabilities than we were ourselves. They throw a harsh light on those involved: their narcissism, their superficiality, their hypocrisies great and small. Above all, they show in embarrassing detail how completely power corrupts those who have it.

… Even the most ardent lockdown sceptics accept that in extreme cases drastic measures may be required. But Covid-19 was not an extreme case

No government, anywhere, had previously sought to deal with epidemic disease by closing down much of society. No society has ever improved public health by making itself poorer …

The fateful moment came when the government chose to go for coercion. This ruled out any distinction between the vulnerable and the invulnerable, because it would have been too difficult to police. It also meant that ministers began to manipulate public opinion, exaggerating the risks in order to justify their decision and scare people into compliance. So we had the theatrical announcement of the latest death toll at daily press conferences from Downing Street. Shocking posters appeared on our streets (“Look him in the eyes”, etc). Matt Hancock announced that “if you go out, people will die”.

The scare campaign created a perfect storm, for it made it more difficult to lift the lockdown

Hancock was the chief peddler of the idea that everyone was equally at risk from Covid-19. This proposition was patently untrue, but it was useful because it frightened people. “It’s not unhelpful having people think they could be next,” wrote his special adviser, who knew his master’s mind well. Other countries did not behave like this. In Sweden state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell was able to reassure his public that a lockdown was neither necessary nor helpful. Events have proved him right.

Matt Hancock insisted on schoolchildren wearing masks in class in spite of scientific advice that it made little difference, because it was necessary to keep up with Nicola Sturgeon. When Rishi Sunak had the temerity to suggest that once the vaccine rollout started the lockdown should be relaxed, Hancock resisted. “This is not a SAGE call,” he said, “it’s a political call.”

Once ministers had started on this course, there was no turning back. It is hard to admit that you have inflicted untold damage on a whole society by mistake. Hancock resisted shortening the 14-day quarantine period in spite of scientific advice that five days was enough, because he did not want to admit that the original policy had been wrong. Relevant evidence was simply shut out. His response to the success of Sweden’s policies was not to learn from it but to dismiss it as the “f—ing Swedish argument”. Having no grounds for rejecting the Swedish argument, he had to ask his advisers to find him some. “Supply three or four bullet [points] of why Sweden is wrong,” he barked.

The adrenalin of power is corrosive. It was largely responsible for the sheer nastiness of the Government’s response to criticism. Hancock lashed out at the least signs of resistance or dissent. He wanted internal critics sacked or moved. He suggested the cancellation of a learning disability hub in the constituency of an MP who intended to vote against the tier system. Ministers “got heavy” with the police to make them tougher on the public …

I’ll get to the learning disability hub in a moment. Shameful, just shameful.

Lord Sumption’s editorial continues:

There is no sign that Hancock either thought or cared about the wider consequences of his measures. He seems to have believed that there was no limit to the amount of human misery and economic destruction that was worth enduring in order to keep the Covid numbers down. Rishi Sunak is on record as saying that any discussion of the wider problems was ruled out in advance, and this is fully borne out by the WhatsApp messages. Any hint from Sunak or business secretary Alok Sharma that the cure might be worse than the disease provoked an explosion of bile but no actual answers.

Hancock fought tooth and nail to close schools and keep them closed. Deprived of many months of education, cooped up indoors and terrified by government warnings that they would kill their grandparents by hugging them, children suffered a sharp rise in mental illness and self-harm although they were themselves at no risk from Covid-19. Cancer patients were left undiagnosed and untreated. Old people, deprived of stimulation, succumbed to dementia in large numbers. Small businesses were destroyed which had taken a lifetime to build up. A joyless puritanism infected government policy. No travel. No wedding parties or funeral wakes. No hugs. Anyone who spoke up for a measure of decency or moderation in this surreal world was promptly slapped down as a “w—er”.

Real policy-making is never black and white like this. It is always a matter of judgment, of weighing up pros and cons. In that sense, Matt Hancock was never a policy-maker. He was a fanatic.

Why did hitherto decent people behave like this? In Hancock’s case, at least part of the answer is vanity. The crisis was good for his profile. He saw himself as the man of action, the Churchill of public health, the saviour of his people, earning the plaudits of a grateful nation. As early as January 2020, he was sharing a message from a sycophantic “wise friend” assuring him that a “well-handled crisis of this scale could propel you into the next league”. He fussed over his tweets. He pushed his way in front of every press camera. He tried to divert the credit for the vaccines from Kate Bingham to himself. “I think I look great” is one of his more memorable messages.

Sumption says that Boris Johnson, his Cabinet and his advisers could not have restrained Hancock. Boris had no strategy, and the others were lacklustre:

Apart from Sunak and Gove, his Cabinet was probably the most mediocre band of British ministers for nearly a century. Collectively, they proved unable to look at the whole problem in the round. Their eyes were never on the ball. They were not even on the field. These are the lessons of this sorry business.

Blocking disability hub

Hancock did not tolerate Conservative MPs voting against his health policies during the pandemic.

On Tuesday, March 7, The Telegraph led with a story about James Daly MP from Bury North:

‘Matt Hancock’s plan to block funding for disabled children if MP opposed lockdown’ tells us:

Matt Hancock discussed a plan to block funding for a new centre for disabled children and adults as a way of pressuring a rebel Tory MP to back new lockdown restrictions, The Lockdown Files show.

WhatsApp messages between Mr Hancock, the then health secretary, and his political aide show they discussed taking a plan for a learning disability hub in Bury, Greater Manchester, “off the table” if James Daly, the Bury North MP, sided against the Government in a key vote.

It came ahead of the vote on Dec 1, 2020 on the introduction of a toughened new local tiers system of restrictions for England.

The Telegraph has also obtained a WhatsApp message with an attached list of 95 Conservative MPs planning to vote against the tier system and detailing their concerns about it. 

The article has that list.

On November 20, 2020, Allan Nixon, one of Hancock’s Spads (special advisers) WhatsApped his boss:

… Thoughts on me suggesting to Chief’s spads that they give us a list of the 2019 intakes thinking of rebelling. Eg James wants his Learning Disability Hub in Bury – whips call him up and say Health team want to work with him to deliver this but that’ll be off the table if he rebels

These guys’ re-election hinges on us in a lot of instances, and we know what they want. We should seriously consider using it IMO

Hancock replied:

yes, 100%

James Daly only found out about this through The Lockdown Files:

Mr Daly – whose constituency is the most marginal in the UK mainland with a majority of just 105 – told The Telegraph he was “appalled” and “disgusted” that the disability hub, for which he had been campaigning, had been discussed as a way of coercing him into voting with the Government.

He said he had never been contacted by the Whips’ Office and no threat to block the scheme had been made.

The conversation between Nixon and Hancock continued on December 1, 2020:

On the morning of the vote, Mr Hancock messaged his adviser to say: “James Daly is with us”, but Mr Nixon responded with the caveat: “If extra hospitality support is forthcoming.”

Later that day, Mr Nixon also forwarded his boss a new list of MPs who were undecided on the vote. In the event, Mr Daly voted against the Government, according to the parliamentary record.

In total, 55 Conservative MPs opposed the tiers system, forcing Mr Johnson to rely on Labour abstaining to get the measures through. It was, at the time, the biggest rebellion of the Johnson administration.

After revealing that he had not been contacted by the Whips’ Office, Mr Daly said: “It sounds like the whips didn’t bother.”

The Bury North MP said he was surprised that the hub, which would allow specialists to coordinate activity under one roof, was even being threatened because “it never got dangled in the first place”.

He added: They were never proposing to give it to me. I still don’t have it. Even though I have repeatedly campaigned for it, Hancock never showed the slightest bit of interest in supporting it. I had a number of conversations with Hancock at that time, but I can definitively say the hub was never mentioned.

“I think it is appalling. The fact that they would only give a much needed support for disabled people if I voted for this was absolutely disgusting.”

Mr Daly had discussed the need for the centre with Mr Hancock in January 2020. In a post on his website about “how we improve health outcomes for all Bury North residents”, he published a photograph of himself with the then health secretary. The hub, he said, would benefit “the most vulnerable in our community”.

That afternoon, The Telegraph published ‘Rishi Sunak rebukes Matt Hancock over plot to block disability funding’:

Downing Street has rebuked Matt Hancock after it emerged that he had discussed a plan to block funding for a new disabled centre to pressure a Tory MP to back lockdown restrictions …

Asked whether this was not the way Rishi Sunak would like his ministers to operate, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Of course. There are rules and guidelines which apply.

“I can’t speak for the actions of a former government. I think you heard from the Prime Minister, who said it’s important that the inquiry looks at all the issues in a complete way rather than relying on piecemeal bits of information.

“You will know that funding decisions are taken in line with strict guidelines to ensure value for money set out in the spending framework, and ministers’ departments are held accountable for their decisions.”

Allison Pearson: Hancock ‘should be arrested’

After The Telegraph published No. 10’s rebuke to Hancock, one of the paper’s columnists, Allison Pearson, weighed in with ‘Matt Hancock should be arrested for wilful misconduct in public office’:

… Dismayingly, if not entirely unpredictably, it was the very restrictions Matt Hancock and his lockdown zealots told us were necessary to save the health service which have very nearly finished it off. “The NHS has collapsed anyway as a direct result of the lockdowns and the vast backlog they caused,” says my source. Ironies don’t come much more bitter than that …

Just when you think he has sunk as low as is humanly possible, he ponders using children with special educational needs as leverage (“yes 100%,” enthused Hancock). By unhappy coincidence, I have just had an email from Rob, a father with an autistic son. This is what Rob wrote: “Lockdown sent him from a happy 14-year-old into a complete psychological breakdown. The fear of why everyone was wearing masks, the breaking of routine (so important for SEN children) and closing of schools. He was utterly terrified. The knock-on-effect for our family has been devastating. Thanks to anti-psych meds he’s slowly getting there, but from the second lockdown onwards it’s destroyed the fabric of our family to say nothing of our life savings being lost (self-employed). To read the WhatsApps in The Telegraph makes me so angry. Having the heartbreak of a disabled child made worse by self-aggrandising fools is almost too much to take. Administering psychiatric medicines to your child tends to focus the mind as to where the blame lies and it isn’t with Isabel Oakeshott.”

Well, there’s another Hancock Triumph. A 14-year-old boy who successfully had the pants frightened off him. (Hope you feel proud of yourself, Matt.) Are Members of Parliament seriously not going to debate what we suspected, but now know for sure, was done quite deliberately to Rob’s son and thousands of other vulnerable children, some of them no longer with us because they were scared into taking their own lives? …

As for Matt Hancock, he has lost the Whip and, unfortunately, can no longer be disciplined by the Conservative party. The slithy tove can – and mustbe dragged before a Select Committee. Personally, I would like to see him in jail for the vast hurt he has caused.

Are there grounds for a prosecution of the former minister for misconduct in a public office? Did Matt Hancock “wilfully misconduct himself to such a degree as to amount to an abuse of the public’s trust in the office holder without reasonable excuse or justification”? …

Now, that’s what I call an Urgent Question.

Also of interest is ‘Dominic Cummings takes “nightmare” swipe at Rishi Sunak and Matt Hancock’.

I hope to wrap up the rest of my review of The Lockdown Files tomorrow.

Readers who missed them might wish to read Parts 1 and 2 in this series on Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, who announced her resignation as SNP leader on Wednesday, February 15, 2023.

She will remain First Minister until the SNP membership elect a new leader. Afterwards, she will remain an MSP for Govanhill in Glasgow, which you can view in the first 11 minutes of this video:

The saga about her last few years in office continues.


Scotland held an indepence referendum in September 2014. Alex Salmond was First Minister at the time. A slim majority of Scots voted to remain part of the UK.

At the time, the SNP said that it would be a ‘once in a lifetime’ referendum. However, since then, it quickly became apparent that the Party hoped to increase the momentum for Yes in the years that followed.

Neither Salmond nor Sturgeon, who succeeded him in 2014 post-referendum, ever put forward a detailed, phased plan of how independence would actually work.

A Reddit thread from May 9, 2021 illustrates that independence would raise complicated issues and future arrangements. Three contributors’ comments follow:

1/ … the plan is to use the pound for several years which, I’m not sure is a great plan.

2/ Weird question but what qualifies as an asset? Sometimes, some independent supporters like to say that if we have a clean break, we’d have no assets but we’d also have no debts but aren’t some assets inevitable like the Scottish Parliament building, public infrastructure and all the Crown Territories etc?

3/ There will absolutely not be a clean break. HMRC will almost certainly have to collect tax on our behalf for a number of years.

I also expect us to remain part of the UK single market and customs Union immediately after independence, until something is sorted out with regards to the EU.

The first day of independence will be all about making everything exactly the same as the day before, not one thing should change, that doesn’t absolutely have to. Then there should be a gradual parting of the ways over several years, where it is beneficial to do so.

Four months later, on September 9 that year, The Express reported that Sturgeon was keen on another referendum with a ‘detailed prospectus’ beforehand, even though polling showed that Scots weren’t that interested:

The First Minister used her Programme for Government statement on Tuesday to re-pledge her desire to have a second vote on leaving the UK by the end of 2023. Ms Sturgeon argued “at this juncture in history, it is essential that we consider the kind of country we want to be, and how best to secure it”.

Putting independence at the heart of her government, she ordered work to once again begin of a “detailed prospectus” outlining the case for going it alone.

But a Survation poll found only 38 percent of voters believe there should be another referendum within two years.

In another damning blow to the SNP’s independence dreams, the survey also found support for remaining in the UK stood at 57 percent, with 43 percent backing independence.

The findings are in stark contrast to last December when support for quitting the UK was supported by a record high of 58 percent of Scots.

Just over a year ago, on February 10, 2022, The Spectator pointed out the difficulty with State pensions in the event of independence (emphases mine):

In an interview last night with ITV’s Representing Borders programme, the First Minister said that, while she accepts ‘on an ongoing basis it will be for the Scottish government to fund Scottish pensions’ … she believes that ‘historic assets and liabilities’ will be a ‘matter for negotiation.’ Unfortunately, there are no historic assets and liabilities in the pensions system; the state pension is not some great historic pot but rather paid from current taxation.

Sturgeon claims such a negotiation would take account of ‘the historical position in terms of National Insurance contributions, paid by Scots.’ But the truth is that there is no collective National Insurance ‘fund’: it’s effectively a convenient government myth to raise taxes by the back door. There is no legal claim on an NI fund, with no-one paying in and nothing to pay into. Is Sturgeon trying to deliberately conflate pensions with other assets and liabilities to try to trick the electorate? Or is she herself unaware about how the state pension system actually operates?

Here is a clip from the programme:

The Bow Group think tank crunched numbers for Scotland a few weeks later. On February 28, 2022, The Scottish Daily Express reported that the results were dire:

Scotland would be poorer than countries like Romania and the Czech Republic if the nation separated from the UK, a leading political expert has warned.

Ben-Harris Quinney, chairman of the Bow Group think tank, says Scotland’s economy would take a massive hit.

In the event of separation from the UK, Scotland would need to take on its share of the UK’s national debt while other assets and liabilities would need to be divided.

Speaking to the, Mr Quinney said: “The costs of Scotland having its own currency, splitting assets, and having a trade border with the UK is impossible to predict with any specific accuracy because the variables are too great.

“It is likely however that the costs of these shifts to the Scottish economy will be very high.

Scotland, separated from the UK, is a relatively poor country based on its economic performance.

“Twenty per cent of Scottish citizens are considered to be living in poverty, and its total national economy of £150 billion is worth less than a quarter of London’s economy.

“As an individual nation it would likely be poorer than countries like Romania or the Czech Republic.”

In 2020, Romania was only the 18th richest European country with its economy valued at £182billion, contracting by just 3.9 percent and recovering strongly at 6.5 percent in the first half of 2021.

Mr Quinney also warned Scotland could be left footing a bill worth hundreds of billions of pounds if it decides to become an independent country, as it would have to take on a large chunk of the UK high national debt.

While the UK is set to pay the EU nearly £40billion over a number of years as part of a Brexit divorce settlement, Scotland could be left footing a much higher bill.

Mr Harris-Quinney further warned: “Scotland has a significant share of UK national debt, and there are several major UK assets in Scottish territory like North Sea oil and gas, military bases, and Crown territory.

“At a minimum there would have to be a negotiation on ownership of property and payments in either direction to unbind these areas.

“Scotland would likely want to keep tariff free trade with the UK, and a liberal border arrangement with the UK.

“It would rely heavily on imported goods, the majority of which coming from the UK initially, and perhaps for the foreseeable future.”

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, 2022.

On March 18, a poll found that 59% wanted independence talks halted because of the situation in Ukraine. Boris Johnson was the first world leader to step up to the plate in that regard:

On June 28, Sturgeon announced the next referendum date would be October 19, 2023. Deputy SNP leader John Swinney is walking with her at Holyrood:

The Scots were not interested. This time, rather than Ukraine, they said that the parlous state of the NHS and the police service were a national priority.

On June 30, The Times reported:

Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of neglecting Scotland’s NHS and police force with her push for independence as new polls showed voters do not want another referendum on her timetable.

Surveys by YouGov and Savanta ComRes both found that more than half of people asked were against another constitutional ballot taking place on October 19, 2023 …

The Savanta ComRes poll for The Scotsman found that 53 per cent of people did not believe a referendum should take place next October, while 40 per cent said it should and the remainder were undecided.

It also found that 44 per cent of those questioned supported independence, while 46 per cent were opposed, both down one point from a survey last month. Ten per cent were undecided, which was up three percentage points.

The YouGov research, for the Scotland In Union, the anti-independence group, found that 55 per cent of people did not think a referendum should be held before the end of 2023, with 34 per cent in favour and 11 per cent unsure.

The same survey found that voters ranked it fifth in their list of priorities, with 20 per cent of people putting in the top three issues they believed the Scottish government should prioritise over the next two years.

This put a referendum behind the NHS (59 per cent), the economy (57 per cent), education (23 per cent) and climate change and the environment (21 per cent).

On July 20, Sturgeon’s new prospectus for independence appeared online. Unfortunately, its cover showed an English wind farm. Admittedly, it was soon changed to a Scottish one, but, considering how the SNP despise the English, the irony was not lost on those of us south of the border:

The Conservative Party leadership contest was in full swing in July and August. Liz Truss called Nicola Sturgeon ‘attention-seeking’, and, as such, best left ignored.

GB News’s Dan Wootton asked The Telegraph‘s Scottish Editor Alan Cochrane if Truss’s remark would damage independence hopes. He said that the SNP was already in enough trouble already:

On Tuesday, August 9, The Express reported that Scotland’s Advocate General, a Law Officer of the Crown who advises on Scots law:

submitted the ‘s argument that constitutional matters are reserved for Westminster and a cannot be held without the consent of Westminster.

It comes after the claimed last month that its plans for IndyRef2 fall within the scope of its powers as the ballot would be “advisory” and have no legal effect on the union. A full hearing on the case is set to be heard by the Supreme Court in October.

UK law officers have argued that the constitution is reserved to Westminster.

Last month, the Scottish government published its case, stating the referendum is “advisory” and would have no legal effect on the union.

A spokeswoman for the UK government said: “People across Scotland want both their governments to be working together on the issues that matter to them and their families, not talking about another independence referendum.

“We have today submitted our written case to the Supreme Court, in accordance with its timetable …”

The hearing is set to take place on October 11 and 12 in London.

In the submission last month, the Scottish government said any referendum would not be “self-executing”, meaning it would be advisory and only used as a way to discover the views of the Scottish people.

On Thursday, August 25, GB News reported that Sturgeon appeared at an Edinburgh Fringe venue to talk and tell the audience that an independent Scotland would remain at the heart of the British Isles:

Nicola Sturgeon has told an audience in Edinburgh that still considers herself to be British, despite the long-running campaign for Scottish independence …

Speaking at ‘In Conversation with Nicola Sturgeon’ at the Fringe, she said: “So, this might surprise people, but do you know I consider myself British as well as Scottish.

“British is an identity that comes from being part of the British Isles.

“We’ll still be part of the British Isles. An independent Scotland would still be part of the British–Irish Council that I go to right now as First Minister.

“Identity is a complex thing. Many people live in Scotland, are as Scottish as I am, but will have a very proud Pakistani or Indian or African identity.”

Speaking at a hustings in Perth on Tuesday, Ms Truss told Tory members she would “not allow” another vote on independence if she was elected as prime minister on September 5.

But former chancellor Rishi Sunak – Ms Truss’s opponent in the leadership race – was less steadfast in his rejection of another vote, saying he accepted the union was “by consent” but saying he did not think “now or any time in the near future” was the time to consider another vote.

On Wednesday, November 23, The Guardian reported that the UK’s Supreme Court blocked a new Scottish independence referendum:

The Scottish parliament cannot hold a second independence referendum without Westminster approval, the UK supreme court has ruled, in a unanimous judgment likely to anger Scottish nationalists who say the country’s future is for Scottish voters to decide.

The first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said immediately after the ruling: “Scottish democracy will not be denied.”

She said: “Today’s ruling blocks one route to Scotland’s voice being heard on independence – but in a democracy our voice cannot and will not be silenced.”

Sturgeon said she respected the ruling, but accused Westminster of showing “contempt” for Scotland’s democratic will.

“This ruling confirms that the notion of the UK as a voluntary partnership of nations, if it ever was a reality, is no longer a reality,” she told a news conference.

Sturgeon said her government would look to use the next general election as a “de facto referendum” on separating from the rest of the UK after more than 300 years.

Insisting that the SNP “is not abandoning the referendum route, Westminster is blocking it”, she said: “We must and we will find another democratic, lawful and constitutional means by which the Scottish people can express their will. In my view, that can only be an election.”

What an unending bore-a-thon.

Scottish ’embassies’

Did you know that Scotland has notional embassies in Canada, China, America, France, Ireland, Germany, Belgium and Denmark?

On August 27, 2022, The Times told us:

Offices include a £2.5 million base in Brussels, the heart of the European Union, which employs about 20 people.

Scottish government officials said hubs increase visibility for Scotland and create new economic and trading opportunities. However, the Scottish Conservatives have accused the first minister of being “caught asleep at the country’s wheel while rubbish is piling up on [our] streets”.

A Scottish government spokesman said: “The first minister is visiting Denmark for a series of trade, investment and policy engagements, including meeting representatives of the Danish government”

However, that visit did not go quite as planned.

Sturgeon planned to meet the new Danish prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, who arranged a meeting for her with Denmark’s foreign minister Jeppe Kofod, instead. Good for Ms Frederiksen.

The Times said:

The pair “discussed how Scotland and Denmark can work together on issues such as the cost of living crisis, energy and the climate emergency,” according to the Scottish government.

Sturgeon has been criticised for travelling to open the “Nordic Office” — which is based inside the UK embassy — with waste piling up on Scotland’s streets and workers across the public sector threatening to strike

Oh, dear. She got the early breakfast slot with Kofod:

Sturgeon met Kofod around 7am before hosting a roundtable with State of Green, a group pushing for a transition towards renewables, business and energy leaders to discuss “how Scotland and the Nordic region can work together to accelerate decarbonisation and share expertise”.

That said, afterwards, there was time for Sturgeon to go fully international:

She then visited a Unicef supply warehouse in Copenhagen this afternoon to see how it is supporting children impacted by the war in Ukraine before opening the office with an official reception.

Watch for a global post for her sometime in the future.

Meanwhile, it should be noted that:

Foreign affairs are reserved powers with the UK government, but the Scottish government spends about £6 million a year on a network of overseas offices.

Thank goodness Nicola Sturgeon will no longer be First Minister. It is understood that the leadership contest will be brief.

Scotland should have a new leader by this time in March 2023, if not before.

End of series

Gosh, what a lot of news to cover in one post.

Admittedly, a few of these items are a bit old but fit in thematically.

Theresa May U-turns on support for Scottish gender reform legislation

I wrote yesterday about former Prime Minister Theresa May’s support for Scotland’s Gender Recognition Reform bill on Tuesday, December 27.

Within 24 hours she had made a U-turn, thankfully, although she did it through a spokeswoman.

On Wednesday, December 28, The Times reported (emphases mine):

In the wake of the interview the BBC issued a press release which stated: “On the subject of Scotland’s proposed gender recognition laws, Ms May said she was disappointed the Westminster government wasn’t supporting them.”

Yesterday, however, a spokeswoman for the Maidenhead MP insisted that was not the case.

“As prime minister, Theresa launched a consultation looking at gender recognition laws with the aim of providing a more sensitive approach to transgender people, but she does not agree with Nicola Sturgeon’s legislation and is particularly concerned about the consequences it could have for children in Scotland and across the UK,” she said.

We can but hope that the Secretary of State for Scotland does not send the legislation for Royal Assent:

Immediately after MSPs voted in favour of the legislation Alister Jack, the Scottish secretary, threatened to invoke section 35 of the Scotland Act, which allows him to prevent the legislation from receiving royal assent.

Although gender recognition is devolved to Holyrood, the Equality Act — with which the new law will interact — is reserved to Westminster.

As nearly two-thirds of Scottish voters — even SNP supporters — think this legislation is a terrible idea, Westminster can show the ‘Union dividend’ in being ‘better off together’.

Gas futures coming down

On Thursday, December 29, The Guardian had encouraging news about the price of natural gas futures in Europe:

European gas prices have dropped back to levels seen before the Ukraine war began in February, as fears of a gas crisis this winter ease.

The month-ahead European gas future contract dropped as low as €76.78 per megawatt hour yesterday — its lowest level in 10 months, data from Refinitiv shows.

As this chart shows, gas prices have fallen back from their surge in March, and again in the summer as European countries scrambled to fill their gas storage tanks.

Prices have dropped thanks to warmer-than-normal temperatures this winter, which have limited demand for gas, after the European Union successfully filled reserves to a peak of almost 96% in November.

Consumption reduction targets have also helped to limit demand, with the EU aiming to cut its gas consumption by 15%.

Earlier this week, 83.2% of EU gas storage was filled, data from industry body Gas Infrastructure Europe shows, still above the target of 80% set for the start of November.

Traders are confident that inventories will end winter at a very comfortable level with a very low risk of falling to critically low levels, says John Kemp, energy market analyst at Reuters.

UK gas prices have also dropped back from their highs earlier this year. The day-ahead gas price closed at 155p per therm yesterday, compared with 200p/therm at the start of 2022, and over 500p/therm in August.

The UK versus the EU

All year long in Parliament we’ve heard that the UK is ‘broken’ and that we should have stayed in the EU.

Polls have been published showing that Brexit voters have buyer’s remorse. Well, they shouldn’t have. We are much better off outside an unelected European Commission. Furthermore, EU countries are not doing substantially better than Blighty.


This week, I received the latest copy of Marianne, the French newsweekly. Part of its cover story headline, referring to the state of their nation, reads:


meaning, ‘out of order’, ‘not working’.

On Wednesday this week, The Spectator had an excellent article about our neighbour: ‘All is not well in Macron’s France’:

In 2021, both World Bank and United Nations GDP (nominal) rankings have the UK at 5th and France 7th. International Monetary Fund estimates for 2022 show India overtaking the UK to claim the 5th spot for world GDP, but with France still 7th.

One may question the reliability of GDP as a comparator, but a host of other measures regularly show France worse off than the UK. Debt to GDP ratios show France at some 115 per cent, the UK 99.6 per cent. Meanwhile the Bank for International Settlements gives France’s total public and private debt (non-financial) at 351 per cent; the UK at 271 per cent.

One can rightly point to France’s present day lower inflation at 7.1 per cent (EU harmonised) compared to the UK’s 10.7 per cent. But as French debt statistics above show, president Emmanuel Macron began forcing down domestic inflation by subsidising prices during his 2022 presidential election campaign. French unemployment at 7.4 per cent compares unfavourably with the UK’s 3.4 per cent. Meanwhile France is the highest taxed OECD and EU state, leaving little margin for manoeuvre. Her balance of payments figures are as gloomy as the UK’s, together with her flat economic growth.

While Britain’s position is not rosy, France’s is certainly no better. That is why recent predictions in a certain European press, not least in France, taken up by British elites, that the UK was descending into terminal decline has lost all proportion. If the French press enjoy a touch of schadenfreude at the expense of the old enemy, and French politicians are glad to distract from their own problems, the willingness of much of the British middle class to swallow the same view can only be explained by ingrained cultural habit aggravated by post-Brexit resentment. Today, with Macron utterly wedded to the EU project, France for British elites is ipso facto superior to Britain. Yet France’s moral state is parlous.

Since the 2022 presidential and legislative elections Macron’s centrist party has no overall majority. France is stalemated and drifting towards ever more radical politics. Macron’s prime minister Élisabeth Borne, unable to command a majority in the National Assembly, struggles to get her business other than by the constitutional sleight of hand of article 49,3, which guillotines parliamentary debate. With the chamber split four ways the question remains as to whether Macron will eventually dissolve parliament. Opinion polls suggest this would be a gift to Marine Le Pen’s party, already the single largest opposition party with 89 seats. France might then come to replicate the present radical right Italian government.

Socially and culturally French society is far from healthy. Other than worsening violence and lawlessness in the banlieues – conveniently out of sight of English elites’ visits to France – the French model of assimilation and laïcité is being tested to destruction. Official Justice Ministry statistics for July 2021 show 24.6 per cent of the prison population as foreign (double the proportion in Britain).  The French Interior Minister publicly stated this summer that, although foreigners make up 7.4 per cent of the French population, they account for 19 per cent of all delinquency nationally, and that 48 per cent of arrested delinquents in Paris are foreigners, 55 per cent in Marseille, 39 per cent in Lyon.

… The general picture is of a France far from at ease with itself. The prospect of a member of France’s ethnic minorities leading the country with no fuss in the near future, as has just happened in Britain, seems impossible.

And remember the cries of ‘Brexit is bad’ when the Paris stock exchange overtook London’s in November?

I don’t recall any mea culpas from the metropolitan elite once we resumed normal service ten days later:

Guido Fawkes posted (emphases his):

The London stock market has re-overtaken Paris’s after falling behind for 10 days, with a lead of $63 billion. A 2.5% rally in the value of the pound led to the improvement, and morale booster, compared to a modest 0.7% improvement for the Euro …

Hat-tip: Bloomberg


While Remainers in Britain’s metropolitan elite moan about food inflation, our friends in Germany have experienced similar price hikes.

On October 14, September figures for the UK showed that our grocery price inflation hit an all-time high of 13.9%.

Yet, JustFood reported that Germany’s grocery price inflation also reached historic highs:

Inflation levels in Germany reached their highest levels in three decades in September with food prices rising 18.7% year on year, figures show.

In a continued squeeze on consumer pockets, inflation reached 10% – its highest level since the country’s reunification in 1990, the federal statistical office said.

Consumers faced the sharpest rises in edible fats and oils, which were up by 49%. Dairy products and eggs increased by 29.1%, meat and meat products 19.5% and bread and cereals 18.5%.

Month-on-month comparisons show consumers paid 1.8% more for food in September than in August, with vegetables 3.9% more expensive and dairy products up by 2.2%.

The consumer price index for food in Germany, measured against a 2015 baseline of 100, stood at 135.4 year-on-year in September, compared to 121.1 overall.

The federal statistical office said the cost of energy was leading inflation but food also played a major role, with both contributing to an overall 10% rise in prices.

Without food and energy rises in the equation, the country’s inflation rate is reduced by over half to 4.6%. The prices of all goods increased by 17.2% in September 2022 compared to 2021, but the prices of non-durable consumer goods, which include food and energy, increased by 23.3%.

We cannot blame German inflation on Brexit. As Conservative ministers rightly say at the despatch box, inflation is up all over Europe and the West.

UK to relax egg rules to line up with EU

Another thing we hear from Remainers, especially in the Houses of Parliament, is that British food regulations are weaker than the EU’s!

Nothing could be further from the truth! Our food standards have been higher than the EU’s for decades.

Anyone wanting up-to-date proof can read an article in Wednesday’s Guardian‘UK free-range egg rules could be relaxed in line with EU for avian flu outbreaks’:

Free-range egg rules in the UK could be relaxed in response to the European Union preparing to overhaul regulations after the biggest avian flu outbreak on record.

Ministers are understood to be considering a change to the rules that would mean eggs laid by hens kept in barns for months on end could be classed as free range.

Currently, eggs cannot be classed as free range if birds are indoors for more than 16 weeks. Farmers have that grace period in both the EU and UK, which means eggs can still be labelled as free-range if a government-issued housing order for birds is in place up to 16 weeks.

Subsequently, labels need to be added to packaging making it clear that those are now classified as barn eggs.

Whitehall sources told the Daily Telegraph that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is considering changing the regulations in order to keep farmers competitive with Europe

The European Commission put forward a proposal in September, which stated “where temporary restrictions have been imposed on the basis of EU legislation, eggs may be marketed as ‘free-range’ notwithstanding that restriction”.

The proposal, which is awaiting approval by the European parliament, means eggs could be classed as free range even if hens are forced to spend months indoors due to government rulings.

In September, egg producers in the UK said it was essential that the government now followed suit to avoid British suppliers being undercut by EU imports.

Climate change

Climate change sceptics will be on the right side of history in time.

Guido Fawkes’s readers posted about deforestation in this post.

One chap posted an article about the increasing need for balsa wood from Latin and South America for blades on wind farms. Apparently, indigenous communities have not been consulted:

The article continues, stating that some companies are switching from balsa to oil byproducts, such as PET and PVC, or to cellulose:

The man who posted the article pointed out:

BALSA is being replaced with PET and PVC (yep- crude oil) but are also experimenting with cellulose– which needs highly toxic chemicals to make.

Someone responded with this:

Synthetic PET usually uses food starch as a replacement for oil based derivatives. These divert food crops away from human and livestock consumption. They also encourage the use of GM crops and pesticides.

PVC production creates sodium chloride, which is a cause of acid rain.

The eco loons really didn’t think this through.


The eco l00ns NEVER think anything through.

And they hope we won’t notice.

It’s part of the reason why ‘climate science is settled’ and they refuse to debate.

You know how it goes.

Fracking badmining cobalt (even using young children) good.

You flying -bad- them flying- good.

On a similar note, an UnHerd article laments the loss of the hearth in ‘Firewood will save the West’. The author, Paul Kingsnorth, lives in Ireland and has his firewood delivered to his home:

The Irish government is currently campaigning against households which burn turf or wood, the former on the grounds of CO2 emissions, and the latter on the grounds of air quality. As ever, the campaign is driven from Dublin, and mostly takes Dublin sensibilities into account. Rural households in Ireland have been burning turf and wood forever, with little significant impact on “air quality” — or at least, no impact comparable to that which Ireland’s “Celtic Tiger” modernisation has had. Suddenly, though, the media is full of scientists armed with studies demonstrating how getting a fire going in your cottage in winter will lead to cancer and lung disease on a widespread scale.

That is nonsense. Until recently, Man had been surrounded by smoke for millennia.

Essentially, the Irish government, in line with other Western governments, wants to do away with fireplaces:

This new tilt against household fireplaces is not just an Irish phenomenon: it is suddenly popping up everywhere. Woodstoves are, curiously, becoming the number one air pollution villain. Never mind mass car use, accelerating air travel or industrial pollution. Never mind the emissions caused by the massive increase in Internet server farms, which within just a few years could be using up an astonishing 70% of this country’s electricity. These days, if you want to demonstrate your social responsibility, you should be all aboard with the abolition of the traditional fireplace and its replacement with “green” alternatives.

He explains that the home hearth has been not only traditional but also atavistic throughout mankind’s history. He cites the philosophical polymath John Michell (1933-2009):

The fireplace, whether our dessicated urban authorities know it or not, has a primal meaning, even in a world as divorced as ours from its roots and from the land.

In his short essay “Fireside Wisdom”, the uncategorisable John Michell suggested that the “displacement of the hearth or fireplace” from the home was one of the many reasons for the craziness of the modern world which his life had been spent playfully exploring. The fireplace at the centre of the home, he wrote, was both an ancient practicality and a device of “cosmological significance” across cultures and time: “Conversation is directed into the fire while dreams and images are drawn out of it.”

In the past, the act of sitting staring into the smoky fire with family or neighbours was the genesis of the folk tale and folk song which tied the culture together. Now we stare at digital fires hemmed into boxes manufactured by distant corporations who also tell us our stories. No song we can dream up around a real fireplace can compete with what these boxed fires can sell us. “Thus,” wrote Michell, “the traditional cosmology is no longer represented by its domestic symbols, and a new, secular, restless, uncentred world-view has taken its place.”

Focus, Michell explained, is “the Latin name for the central fireplace. The fire not only warms but, as a symbol, illuminates the corresponding images of a centre to each of our own beings and of a world-centre which is divine, eternal and unchanging.” Lose your fires, and you literally lose your focus as a culture. In this context, a government spokesman telling his population, as one minister here recently did, that they should “get over” their “nostalgic” attachment to the hearth fire and install ground source heat pumps instead is more than just a nod to efficiency. It is an assault on what remains of the home and its meaning. It is an attack on the cultural — even the divine — centre.

Paul Kingsnorth posits that each move away from self-sufficiency, e.g. using one’s own fireplace, puts us more under the control of government:

When you can no longer grow your own wood or cut your own turf to heat your own parlour, you are made that little bit more dependent on the matrix of government, technology and commerce that has sought to transmute self-sufficiency into bondage since the time of the Luddites. The justification for this attack on family and community sufficiency changes with the times — in 17th-century England, the enclosures were justified by the need for agricultural efficiency; today they are justified by the need for energy efficiency — but the attack is always of the same nature. Each blow struck against local self-sufficiency, pride and love of place weaves another thread into the pattern which has been developing for centuries, and which is almost complete now in most affluent countries

In my lifetime, in my part of the world, the notion and meaning of “home” has steadily crumbled under external pressure until it is little more than a word. The ideal (post)modern home is a dormitory, probably owned by a landlord or a bank, in which two or more people of varying ages and degrees of biological relationship sleep when they’re not out being employed by a corporation, or educated by the state in preparation for being employed by a corporation. The home’s needs are met through pushing buttons, swiping screens or buying-in everything from food to furniture; for who has time for anything else, or has been taught the skills to do otherwise?

He refers to a 1980 manuscript, ‘Family Work’, by the American essayist Wendell Berry:

Like so much of Berry’s work, it locates the centrepoint of human society in the home, and explains many of the failures of contemporary Western — specifically American — society as a neglect of that truth. The home, to Wendell Berry, is the place where the real stuff of life happens, or should: the coming-together of man and woman in partnership; the passing-down of skills and stories from elders; the raising and educating of children; the growing, cooking, storing and eating of food; the learning of practical skills, from construction to repair, tool-making to sewing; the conjuration of story and song around the fire

Even back in 1980, Berry recognised that the home had become an “ideal” rather than a practical reality — precisely because the reality had been placed out of reach for many. What killed the home? Three things, said Berry: cars, mass media and public education. The first meant that both work and leisure could, for the first time in history, happen a long way from home. The second — “TV and other media” — have played a role, since the mid-20th century, in luring us all into a fantasy world of freedom from obligation, and a limitless, fun consumer lifestyle. “If you have a TV,” writes Berry, “your children will be subjected almost from the cradle to an overwhelming insinuation that all worth experiencing is somewhere else and that all worth having must be bought.” Finally, the school system is designed “to keep children away from the home as much as possible. Parents want their children kept out of their hair.” Schools exist to train children to fit into individualistic, consumer societies; to internalise and normalise their ethics and goals, and to prepare for a life serving their needs.

I have to disagree with his disparagement of television, as my better half and I watch a lot of French programmes, food shows in particular. For us, it is a window into a culture we love very much. Were it not for television, we would have to visit France in person much more often. As it is, we can experience France from our sitting room and perfect our language skills while learning more about the world’s finest cuisine.

Berry’s solution is to make the home a welcoming, peaceful place for everyone living there:

… he suggested that we should “try to make our homes centres of attention and interest”; to make them as productive and nurturing as we can … you will see new possibilities begin to open up. You will see, in Berry’s words, that “no life and no place is destitute; all have possibilities of productivity and pleasure, rest and work, solitude and conviviality that belong particularly to themselves”, whether in the country, the city or the suburb. “All that is necessary,” he suggests, is “the time and the inner quietness to look for them.”

Television is a good thing

On the subject of television, a 104-year-old Australian woman told her grandson that it was probably the greatest development in her lifetime.

Lewis Isaacs wrote her story for The Guardian: ‘My 104-year-old Nan’s secret to a long life’:

A life as long as hers can be hard to comprehend. Asked what the biggest change to the world she’d seen across her life was, Nan replied that it was television. Life when she grew up rarely extended past her suburb. Television connected the living room to the world.

How true! Well said, Nan!

The article has family photographs, too.

So what is Coral Isaacs’s secret to longevity?

She says it comes down to genetics and finding the right partner. She was widowed more than 30 years ago and says the life she built with my Pop has supported her since. It helps to remember your pills, she adds, and to get up, shower and make your bed every day.

I suspect the truth about her endurance is something different though. Nan is determined to keep her eyes focused on the future. Even when the days are hard, she still looks forward.

I was hoping she would mention smoking a crafty cigarette or enjoying a daily digestif, but, sadly, no.

Churchill’s cigar goes on sale

For a smoking story, we had to go to an auction house.

On Thursday, December 29, The Times reported that one of Winston Churchill’s cigars is expected to fetch £3,000 at auction:

The former prime minister gave the Cuban cigar to an RAF doctor who helped him when he broke his leg in 1962.

The doctor’s grandson has put the rare cigar up for sale with Hansons Auctioneers, which said it would be an “impressive item” for any Churchill collector. Charles Hanson, the owner, said: “We occasionally see Churchill cigar stubs that people have picked up after he dropped them. But to gain a whole cigar in such pristine condition, given as a gift in unusual circumstances, is special.”

Churchill, who died in 1965 aged 90, was a lifelong smoker. While he was at boarding school, his mother learnt he had taken up smoking cigarettes and tried to bribe him to stop by promising him a pistol and a pony.

He switched to cigars after spending time in Cuba after his graduation from Sandhurst military academy, and friends, dealers and associates sent him regular deliveries of cigars from then on.

The circumstances are most Churchillian:

The auction house said the cigar under auction was given to an RAF squadron leader, Bertram AJ Barrow. Churchill fractured his femur while getting out of his bed at the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo, and was flown back to London on an RAF plane while in a waist-to-ankle plaster cast.

Barrow, the leader of the medical team, plucked up the courage to ask Churchill for one of his famous cigars.

For decades the treasured cigar was kept in a bedside drawer, but will now go under the hammer at on January 9 with an estimate of £2,000 to £3,000.

Barrow’s grandson, Thomas Barrow, 33, an employment law adviser from London, said: “Bertram asked for a cigar as a keepsake, and Churchill advised that he could have ‘one that he had been saving’ — which was Cuban and still in its glass case.”

What a story!


As my later grandmother-in-law, a lifelong Londoner, was fond of saying:

The old ways are the best.

I couldn’t agree more.

Let’s try to recapture them in 2023.

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