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In December 2022, I wrote about the UK’s 2021 census that revealed we haven’t had such a high number of non-Christians since the Dark Ages.

My post included this tweet:

Since then, the news in Britain seems to be worsening by the day.

Scotland has realised it has a behavioural problem in the classroom. The Times‘s ‘End of school punishments blamed for pupil disorder’ reveals that all hell is breaking loose (emphases mine):

Teachers and parents have become increasingly alarmed by a decline in classroom behaviour since the end of the pandemic — and a method imported from the justice system is being blamed.

Restorative practice, involving “constructive conversations” with unruly youngsters in an attempt to make them understand what they have done wrong, is taking the place of more traditional sanctions such as detentions or withdrawal from activities.

But members of the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA) have unanimously backed a motion that warns the approach is time-consuming and if mishandled can result in “severe damage to teachers’ classroom authority”.

Apparently, teachers are not properly trained in class discipline and even less in ‘restorative practice’. It is amazing that detentions are out of fashion. The article continues:

Seamus Searson, general secretary of the SSTA, said restorative practice seemed to be “flavour of the month” when it came to managing challenging behaviour in schools …

He warned pupils were taken out of class supposedly to have restorative conversations but would then be returned to lessons without the discussion genuinely taking place

“The youngsters in class, they see things black and white, it is either right or it is wrong. There is no half-way. They expect that if a child misbehaves something happens. If they think for one second that so-and-so can get away with that, [then they think] why can’t I do it?”

This is an issue upon which all political parties north of the border agree: something must be done.

These are a few of the things going on.

First, the school bully:

One parent recalled how her six-year-old boy had come home from school and told her: “You will not believe what they have done. The teachers have taken the nastiest, most horrible boy in the class and have put him in charge of looking after the new pupil who started today.”

The manoeuvre had somewhat backfired when the young delinquent began teaching his classmate how to hurl items at other kids.

Teachers thought that by shepherding the new boy, the bully would learn empathy, but the article said that no discussion about that took place.

Secondly, the reward for bad behaviour:

Other parents have described unruly children being rewarded with trips to a local café. A deputy head said one pupil with extreme problems “came into school with fast food”.

The senior teacher explained: “He had been taken out for the day. He went in and rubbed it in the face of every single child around him. It alienated him from other people in the school, it alienated the child from his peers. His teacher was saying: ‘What is going on?’”

I’m not sure what ‘it’ in the second sentence of the previous paragraph means. On first reading, I thought ‘it’ might mean the fast food from the local café. It would not surprise me.

Thirdly, the threat at home:

[A mother, Ms] Green describes her son being involved in a playground tussle started by another boy. They were called inside for a restorative conversation and her son was asked to understand why the boy was having a bad day. “No one asked why my son was upset,” she said.

Two days after the “restorative chat”, she says the aggressor appeared at her house and said to her son “when you are not in school I am going to jump you and kill you”.

The article says that restorative practices are being rolled out in other British nations, which is a pathetic development:

They have crossed to education from the justice system after projects found it could reduce the chance of reoffending if criminals were put in touch with their victims.

Violent incidents are rising in primary (!) schools:

Figures uncovered by the Scottish Liberal Democrats earlier this month show 10,852 incidents of violence were recorded in primary schools in 2021-22 compared with 10,772 in 2018-19. For the secondary sector they have increased from 2951 from 2728.

Good grief. That wouldn’t have happened in my day.

This is another thing that wouldn’t have happened when I was at school:

Refusal to work, mobile phone misuse, disrespect and wandering around are the most common issues reported. Three quarters said they had experienced verbal aggression.

We never thought of ‘wandering around’.

Not surprisingly, students often give the following excuse as the reason for misbehaving:

“because I can!”


“That child will not be short on telling people: ‘nothing happened to me, I have just been put in another room’.”

Furthermore, children will band together to confront a teacher:

Stuart Hunter, president of the SSTA, said he had seen restorative conversations carried out badly. In one situation, he said, two pupils raised a complaint about work they had been set. When the teacher was called into an office for the restorative discussion, she found the girls had friends with them for support. The implication, he says, was the teacher was in the wrong.

Nothing much happens to wrongdoers at all. I didn’t bookmark it, but I recently read that the UK is a criminal’s paradise because the police are so soft.

In fact, whether real or staged, misbehaviour is rewarded. Take the case of Bacari-Bronze O’Garro, 18 and father of one, better known as Mizzy. Within the matter of a month, the Londoner has even been on television being interviewed about his exploits, which, in some cases, were criminal:

In May 2022, O’Garro was given a community protection notice prohibiting him from trespassing on private property.[9] On 24 May 2023, he was fined £200 plus costs and surcharge (£365 in all) after admitting breaching that community protection order on 15 May and was issued with a two-year criminal behaviour order (CBO).[5][10] The next day, O’Garro was interviewed by journalist Piers Morgan on Piers Morgan Uncensored[11] who called him “an idiot” … Former politician and journalist Patrick O’Flynn praised O’Garro’s entrepreneurial spirit, noting his ability to grab the media spotlight and convert it into social media fans.[13]

Remind me not to cite any further articles by Patrick O’Flynn.

At least his TikTok and YouTube accounts, on which his exploits appeared, have been terminated. Social media companies go where police and the justice system fear to tread.

What has Mizzy learned? That criminal acts have propelled him to fame:

Our political class is no better. They would rather ruin the UK than make the necessary effort to restore it to its former greatness. Pictured below are two Labour MPs Sir Lindsay Hoyle (Speaker of the House) and Keir Starmer (Labour leader) with the Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak:

The Telegraph‘s Sherelle Jacobs tells us:

There is no delicate way of putting it: the British governing class has completely lost the plot. It would rather risk some kind of economic collapse or populist backlash than actually deal with any of the country’s problems. Bereft of values and captured by institutional pessimism, our politicians are incapable of decisive action. Numbed by groupthink, and poisoned by ever-expanding managerial surveillance and ministerial turf wars, the Civil Service has been rendered inoperable. The British governing machine is broken; we are heading for total systems failure

How did Britain end up like this? Blairite Third Way politics, devoid of principle beyond “capturing the centre ground”, has a lot to answer for. It is hard to imagine a Tory party with a confident philosophy on free markets contemplating price caps; nor a Labour Party committed to a high-wage economy proving so bashful about the country’s addiction to mass migration. Institutionalised back-covering, and a total breakdown in trust between ministers and officials, meanwhile, mean that any policy that is difficult or controversial is increasingly impossible to deliver.

A Ground Zero moment of implosion may now be unavoidable. At that point, we can only hope that at least one of the two major parties rediscovers its core beliefs, and regains the stomach to fight for them. Big messy wars will need to be fought – starting with a breakup of the Treasury, bringing an end to its reign of terror.

For now, though, things look pretty bleak. In complex systems theory, a system becomes pathological when it gets to the point where measures being taken to maintain equilibrium are actually destroying the system. A system is also classed as fatally neurotic when it deems the psychological cost of detaching from the status quo to be too great, even if failure to adapt threatens its own destruction. There is little doubt that the British ruling class strongly exhibits both of these symptoms. And things will get a lot worse before they get better.

Sherelle Jacobs is not wrong.

But — and it’s a big BUT — two glimmers of hope have emerged.

In September 2022, two months before Britain’s post-Christian census figures appeared, The Guardian published ‘”God gives me reason to hope”: why young Britons are turning to prayer’.

Six of the paper’s readers gave their reasons for praying in response to a survey which found:

More young people in the UK are turning to prayer compared with 20 years ago, with one in three 18- to 36-year-olds saying they had prayed within the past month.

… spirituality in its many forms are thought to be behind the increase.

Three of the responses are from Christians. Two of them follow.

A 32-year-old midwife says:

Since getting pregnant, I’ve come back to prayer. I was raised Christian and have come back to it from time to time. But this time things feel different. With the world crumbling, God has given me a reason to hope and see beyond the hopelessness of our current political and financial landscape. It’s quite a scary time to be bringing a baby into the world with all the uncertainty – the financial situation and working out what kind of world he’s going to be born into is quite scary. Prayer has really helped me to take myself out of those world problems and see things in a broader context.

An 18-year-old student explains:

I used to go to church with the Scouts when I was six or seven but it was never regular – I didn’t really understand what was happening when I was that young. I wasn’t brought up in a religious family and I didn’t have a relationship with faith until recently, when I started seeing videos by priests on TikTok. After I saw that and became interested, I could understand it a bit more. I wanted to connect with faith because I wasn’t happy with the way my life was going, and I wanted to be better to other people. Developing my spiritual health has made me feel happier. I pray because it’s a way I can speak to God and give him my worries or concerns. I’m not involved with a particular church – I’m just trying to find my place at the moment.

Even more surprising is that nearly one-third of Britons under the age of 40 believe in the afterlife and hell, compared with 18 per cent between the ages of 60 and 77.

On May 23, 2023, The Guardian reported on these findings from the World Values Study, conducted by King’s College London:

You may think the idea of hellfire belongs to an age when people’s lives were shaped by the threat of eternal damnation.

Wrong, it seems: generation Z and millennials in the UK are significantly more likely to believe in hell than baby boomers, according to a new study by the Policy Institute at King’s College London.

Younger people are also more likely to believe in life after death than older generations, despite being less religious generally.

The findings are part of the World Values Study, one of the largest academic social surveys in the world, which has been running for more than 40 years.

According to its data, just under half (49%) of Britons said they believed in God, down from 75% in 1981. Only five countries – Norway, South Korea, Japan, Sweden and China – are less likely to believe in God than the UK. The Philippines topped the league table [in religious belief], scoring 100%.

Good for the Philippines!

Here are the stats on heaven, hell and the afterlife:

Belief in heaven among the UK public has also fallen, from 57% in 1981 to 41% last year. But belief in hell and in life after death has remained largely consistent, at 26% and 46% respectively.

When broken down by age, 32% of those under the age of about 40 said they believed in hell, compared with 18% of those aged between 59 and 77. Belief in life after death was 51-53% for younger generations, compared with 35-39% for older people.

“Our cultural attachment to organised religion has continued to decline in the UK – but our belief that there is something beyond this life is holding strong, including among the youngest generations,” said Bobby Duffy, director of the Policy Institute.

“While the youngest generations continue to have lower attachment to formal religion, many of them have similar or even greater need to believe that there is ‘more than this’.”

The article has international graphs to explore, which are fascinating.

Also of interest is that Britons have a newly increased confidence in religious institutions:

Another unexpected finding is that confidence in religious institutions had rebounded. Between 1981 and 2018, Britons’ confidence in churches and religious organisations fell from 49% to 31%, but by 2022 had risen again to 42%.

A possible explanation is the provision by churches and other religious institutions of essential social services such as food banks, social hubs, warm spots and debt counselling as the cost of living crisis has escalated.

Duffy said religious belief in the UK was unlikely to disappear, but would keep eroding. “It looks like a slow but inevitable decline, unless organised religions can engage with that broader sense of wanting something else beyond this life,” he said.

One week after this article appeared, the rector of St Bartholomew’s in London, the Revd Marcus Walker, posted a series of adverts from the Episcopal Church in the United States, which seem to come from the 1980s. I don’t remember these at all. I would have, too, had I seen them, as I had become an Episcopalian during that decade.

These are really powerful, especially the one about Holy Communion:

As Jesus said (John 6:47-48):

47 Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life.

Everyone responding to Marcus Walker was surprised:

Someone from the Church of England should ask for permission to repurpose these. In Scotland, they could use the text as it is, because the denomination is known as The Episcopal Church there and it’s not doing well.

If not, something similar can be done throughout the UK.

Let’s go, clergy. What are we waiting for? Carpe diem!


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.

If there is anyone who indirectly deserves credit for attracting me to Britain, it is surely the society photographer Dafydd Jones.

One Sunday afternoon in the early 1980s, I was browsing the magazines at the international newsstand near where I lived and saw a copy of Tatler, a publication about which I read in my English Lit anthology in high school. Richard Steele founded it in 1709 as a high society gossip magazine. Columns went under the pseudonym byline of Isaac Bickerstaff, which is still in use today. The magazine ceased publication for some years before it was resurrected in 1901, a timely year as Edward VII was crowned in 1902, so there was a lot of society news to cover.

I thumbed through the society photos of young Britons at outrageous parties and had never seen anything like them. Having purchased a copy, Tatler became a monthly event for me, if only for the society pages. I had to be part of this party action. By the end of the decade, my prayers were answered and my dream came true.

When I moved to the UK, one of the first things I did once getting a permanent address was to subscribe to Tatler. Gradually, the society photos became less spontaneous and more staid. My focus turned to the articles, and it is still a pleasure to read 40 years later.

It was only in 2023 that I discovered the name of the photographer who captured that wonderful world of the 1980s: Dafydd Jones.

Langan Brasserie’s unofficial photographer Richard Young, whom I referenced yesterday in my piece about the restaurant, was of that world but not in it. So it was with Dafydd Jones, Oxford resident albeit not a university student.

On April 23, The Sunday Times Magazine gave us a sneak preview of Jones’s new book, England: The Last Hurrah, published by ACC Art Books (£30).

The article features some of his most outrageous classics. I would call readers’ attention to have a look, especially at the ones with the following captions:

Suspected under-the-table drinking at a ball at Grosvenor House, London, November 1982

The chocolate heir Cosmo Fry at a party for the Pirates of Penzance theatre production, London, May 1982 [with Annabel Harris, Tatler, May 2023, p. 39]

Champagne flowed, countless cigarettes were smoked, black ties and shoes came off in the early hours of the morning after.

I did go to a few parties like that in the early 1990s — nothing debauched. My far better half and I got back to our hotel in Cambridge no earlier than 3 a.m. on those occasions. Great fun they were, too, featuring amusing people with amusing stories to tell. We still meet up most years, but marriage, children and sometimes illness intervened. Things aren’t what they once were in our late 20s and early 30s.

The Sunday Times Magazine article says:

In 1981 Dafydd Jones’s pictures of decadence and debauchery at Oxford University won him second place in a photography competition run by this magazine. A job offer from Tina Brown — then the editor of Tatler magazine — soon followed, and Jones gained access to the riotous and rigidly exclusive social calendar of Britain’s upper crust.

Throughout the 1980s he attended debutantes’ dances and May balls, birthday parties and Eton picnics, capturing the “absurdities of upper-class English life”, as he writes in the introduction to a new book. Even at the time, Jones notes, the high-society revelry he witnessed felt out of date — like an “imaginary version of England which no longer really existed.”

Yet, it really existed — week after week, month after month, year after year — for one blissful decade. And Dafydd Jones was part of it all.

And so were Tatler readers, among them myself, living an ocean away, dreaming of parties galore.

At a rather auspicious time, in post-lockdown October 2020, the lowkey photographer wrote an article for Tatler, Oxford: The Last Hurrah Special Edition by photographer Dafydd Jones’, for his book about his amazing candid shots from then-University students, some of which the magazine featured. One of them is of Boris Johnson on a night out with Allegra Mostyn-Owen, the woman who would become his first wife.

Jones explained how he got his start as a society photographer (emphases mine):

After the drab seventies, things were changing in Oxford, and students – some with well-known establishment names – were dressing up for extravagant parties. In 1980, I was living there too. I had a degree in fine art and wanted to be a photographer – my chance came with a competition run by The Sunday Times Magazine. My assignment: to cover ‘The Return of the Bright Young Things’. I badgered my way into the parties and tried my best to simply capture what was actually happening. There was this wonderful youthful excitement thrumming through the colleges. I would feel high from the general euphoria, even without drinking much. When the pictures were published, the issue caused a small sensation, and soon invitations to photograph other Oxford parties came flooding in.

I loved Oxford: the light, the buildings, the early morning mist. (For May balls I would usually skip the all-night partying and arrive at dawn to catch the dreamy-eyed survivors.) I photographed the May Morning celebrations, tea parties, balls and Eights Week. But Oxford had a dark side, too. Tragically, two of the people in my images, Olivia Channon and Gottfried von Bismarck, died from drug overdoses. My shots caught the attention of Tina Brown, then editor of Tatler. She hired me as the Bystander photographer and I moved to London.

Jones had already published a book of his incomparable photographs:

Now, after the success of the first, I have had a second edition printed, and from the new edition, I am releasing a special collectors’ set of 60 copies. I normally make a few test strips of the most important area in the image. When I have it right I then make the final print. Often a few hours work in the darkroom will only result in one or two final prints. The book was made from an edit of the prints I made for the Bodleian Library.

The book is — or was — available from ACC Art Books for £100, including shipping. All funds received (excluding shipping) went to the Trussell Trust, a charity that supports a network of food banks in the UK to provide emergency food and support to people in crisis.

Oxford University has a few elite private ‘societies’, one of which is named after the alleged ‘favourite’ of England’s Edward II, Piers Gaveston, the 1st Earl of Cornwall. As the Piers Gaveston Society was founded in 1977, it appears the name could be for shock value only, as their events after 1990 appear to be rather staid. That said, whatever goes on there, stays there — much like in Las Vegas. Membership is still limited to ten undergraduates who have to sign non-disclosure agreements. No phones of any kind are allowed.

The Piers Gaveston Society rose to national prominence in 1983, probably thanks to Dafydd Jones, who wrote a brief explanation for Country & Town House in 2020, around the time his photographic memoir about Oxford University appeared. He explains the photograph that was published and appears in the article:

My career began with some pictures I did of the Piers Gaveston club in Oxford. I lived around the corner from where several members lived in Norreys Avenue. I covered informal meetings, dinners, drinks parties. This … was a Piers Gaveston Ball I photographed, held in London at the Park Lane Hotel. The dress code was ‘Garden of Earthly Delights’ after the painting by Hieronymus Bosch. It went on from about 10 pm until 3 am. Many men were dressed as women. The women were mostly scantily dressed. Many friends were there and I spent a lot of time chatting, but also there was a lot to photograph. Memorably, I used up 24 rolls of film – a record for me. I was an early fan of Hugh Grant. At the time he’d only appeared in an undergraduate film set in Oxford. Marina Killery was a hat maker and artist. Lulu was already married to Valentine Guinness, one of the founders of the club. Lord Neidpath is wearing a dress and on his other side is Catherine Guinness, who’d returned from a spell in New York where she was part of the Warhol circle.

The excitement of the decade can be corroborated by Petronella Wyatt who also penned a brief piece for the article. She was up at Oxford University for a brief spell before she got fed up. Her father was the late, famous Woodrow ‘Voice of Reason’ Wyatt, the most conservative Labour MP ever elected and, later, political columnist for the now-defunct News of the World. He was made a Knight in 1983 and a life peer in 1987, Baron Wyatt of Weeford, the place in Staffordshire where his family lived in the 17th century. Wyatt died in 1997 at the age of 79. Petronella was the issue of his fourth marriage to a Hungarian lady, Verushka Banszky von Ambroz (née Racz).

Petronella, following up in her father’s footsteps, was also a journalist, and, when she was at The Spectator, had a close friendship with the aforementioned Boris Johnson, the magazine’s editor, later Prime Minister.

Petronella told Country & Town House of her time at West Wycombe Park in the Home Counties, just outside London. Again, this was in the 1980s:

When I was 18 I was invited to a costume ball at West Wycombe Park by its wonderfully eccentric and charming owner, Sir Francis Dashwood. Like his 18th century ancestor, a founding member of the Hellfire Club, Francis was adept at the art of hedonism. The gathering was large but select: royals, politicians, grandees, writers and other luminaries. Oriental tents were erected on the grounds, overlooking lakes with temples on which ballerinas and singers performed. As the stars got brighter a gondola glided into the central lake. Its occupant was Pavarotti, who sang to us. Afterwards there was a great firework display accompanied by a full orchestra. I was drunk on beauty. I will never forget it as long as I live and I shall never see its like again.

What few people mention is that West Wycombe Park has a magnificent family chapel, featured in Tatler‘s April 2023 issue as being the best of its kind in the UK. Victoria Dashwood got married there recently to the heir of Tyrell’s crisps, James Chase. As with the Piers Gaveston Society, the Hellfire Club is probably not all it is cracked up to be.

But I digress.

Returning to Dafydd Jones, in brief autobiographical excerpts from a 2007 interview for the Centre for British Photography, he charted his rise from being a local Oxford photographer to one of high society.

In the beginning:

I went to art school. After leaving I managed to get a job at Butlins holiday camp as a ‘colour walkie’ photographer. When I finished the season it was impossible to get any sort of job – I’d saved up enough at Butlins to buy some camera equipment. Some art school friends were setting up a cheap shared studio space in Jericho in Oxford. I took a space planning on doing photographic black and white portraits. At the same time I was shortlisted for a photography competition for photojournalists the Sunday Times were running.– One of the subjects for a photo essay was – The Return of the Bright Young Things’- Living in Oxford already I was in the right place.

As I mentioned earlier, Britain was undergoing social change — a bright one for the time:

After I began this project I decided that I wasn’t sure if the ‘Bright Young Things’ actually existed but that there was definitely a change going on at Oxford. It was the first time I’d photographed parties. – I tried to take photographs that recorded the memorable moments and described what was happening. I tried doing a few colour pictures but black and white spoke much more strongly. Also my budget was low. I bought a bulk roll of black and white film. Developed and printed them in my darkroom. – I didn’t win the competition I was a runner-up. The judges described my pictures as being more ‘pointed than the winners.’ The magazine issue caused a small sensation at the time. – My work attracted the attention of Tina Brown who at the time was an up an coming editor on the Tatler.

I thought it was a fantastic opportunity to photograph these parties. I had access to what felt like a secret world. It was a subject that had been written about and dramatised but I don’t think any photographers had ever tackled before. There was a change going on. Someone described it as a ‘last hurrah’ of the upper classes.

It was only a ‘last hurrah’ in the sense that Jones was the first and last photographer of the upper classes’ kind. He was truly remarkable in capturing the moment. A photo speaks a thousand words. Jones’s were proof of that.

Jones worked under two of Tatler‘s most famous editors, Tina Brown, who went to edit The New Yorker, and Mark Boxer, who died before his time. Later on, Jones photographed for another of Tatler‘s editors, Jane Proctor. In between, he moved his wife and two children to New York so that he could work for Vanity Fair, when Graydon Carter edited the magazine:

I have been very lucky to work with editors, art directors and picture editors that have encouraged me and used the pictures well. Tina Brown, Mark Boxer, Graydon Carter, Jane Procter, etc.

He discussed Tina Brown, one of the toughest editors in the business:

The first time we met Tina Brown I was surprised at her bluntness. She would speak her mind. She was always on the lookout for new talent. – She gave the impression she’d drop you if she found someone whose work she preferred.

Brown catapulted Tatler to a new-found success outside the high society world. Readers were captivated, as they were with her successor Mark Boxer. The society pages were still known by their original name, Bystander, at the time:

When Mark Boxer became editor at the Tatler the magazine had a golden period. It was the best magazine I’ve worked for – with fashion by Joe Mckenna, Isabella Blow and Michael Roberts. – Spoofs by Craig Brown and brilliant writing and photography. But Mark tragically died. Emma Soames became editor but she had a difficult job following Mark. I wasn’t sure how much she ‘got’ my pictures. The party coverage could be cruel if the pictures were used in the wrong way. Then there was a recession on the horizon. Someone mentioned introducing colour photography to Bystander and having more flattering pictures of smiling faces. At that point I decided to go to New York ask Tina about an offer she’d made a few years earlier.

On May 3, 2023, Tina Brown wrote an article for The New Yorker about Jones, including more of his iconic photos:

Blizzard Ball. London, 1986.

Prince Charles and Queen Elizabeth II at a Guards Polo Club match. Windsor, 1985.

Margaret Thatcher arriving at the Winter Ball. Grosvenor House, London, 1984.

Feathers Ball. Hammersmith Palais, London, 1981.

Lady Diana Spencer at Sandown Park. Esher, 1981.

Feathers Ball. Hammersmith Palais, London, 1981.

David Kirke, Tim Hunt, Nicky Slade, and Lord Xan Rufus-Isaacs ride a dining table in the Dangerous Sports Club ski race. St. Moritz, Switzerland, 1983.

In ‘The Photographer Who Captured England’s Last Hurrah’, Brown tells us:

When I took over the editorship of Tatler (the old social flagship of the British upper classes that once had loitered on every coffee table of every stately home in England) in June, 1979, it had declined into a threadbare shiny sheet with staples through it trying to masquerade as an upmarket magazine …

Then again, it had been a weekly, not a glossy monthly.

At that time, Langan’s Brasserie photographer Richard Young was getting his restaurant photos published in RITZ magazine:

The Tatler photos were the polar opposite of what had begun to make a splash in RITZ, the raffish social newspaper of the late nineteen-seventies that was modelled on Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine. Edited by the late David Litchfield, a former filmmaker, RITZ offered a parallel social world of louche café society, specializing in “candids”

Let’s not forget television shows, either:

By the early eighties, the ruling class had its confidence back, but there was also—as the harshness of the Thatcher years played out—a nostalgia for the “Brideshead Revisited” era of aristocratic whimsy and frolicky romance. (The BBC TV adaptation of “Brideshead” ruled the airwaves in 1981.) The pages of Tatler needed to reflect all these crosscurrents, the emerging social edge, the high-low social mix, the secret excesses that still existed behind the closed doors of the great houses of England, and it needed to be chronicled with a cleverly irreverent point of view.

Brown says that Tatler‘s photos of aristocratic parties were staid, as the ageing photographers relied on invitations to various events. As such, spontaneity was lacking. Enter one Dafydd Jones, who was of a similar age to the Bright Young Things he was photographing for The Sunday Times contest:

The series by the runner-up, one Dafydd Jones, immediately caught my eye with its stark black-and-white definition and the sheer effervescent brio of its depiction of oblivious aristocratic bad behavior—photographic moments as memorable as Evelyn Waugh’s sentences.

In 1981, Lady Diana Spencer was increasingly sought before her marriage to the then-Prince of Wales. The future princess was often snapped walking alone. Tina Brown sent Dafydd Jones out to photograph Britain’s biggest media sensation until her death at the end of August 1997.

In a May 16, 2023 Country & Town House podcast interview with Oxford grads Ed Vaizey — former Conservative MP, now Lord Vaizey — and Charlotte Metcalf, who was a friend of the University’s Dangerous Sports Club, Jones explained how he was able to get the now-famous photo of Lady Diana at the Sandown Races in Esher, Surrey. The page also has a recent photo of Jones today.

Jones says that he felt dissuaded because he did not have a press pass to enter Sandown. A seasoned veteran told him that he needed only to buy a ticket to the day’s racing and he would be admitted, no questions asked. Jones always travelled lightly, with only his camera and its small case. As such, nothing gave him away. By contrast, press photographers stood outside Sandown’s gates with long lenses. Jones described them as getting a ‘bird’s eye view’, whereas he got a close up.

Amazingly, he was able to snap Diana walking alone against a backdrop of hundreds of spectators waiting for the race to begin. Tina Brown’s article says:

I assigned Dafydd to follow the then Lady Diana Spencer when she attended the race meet at Sandown Park in March, 1981. He shot her in black and white, eyes down, running the gantlet of hungry paparazzi whose lenses were all trained in her direction. We used it as a double-page spread beneath the headline “Di, Di, over Here Di, Di . . .” It became the classic, early image of a hunted future princess.

It was reprinted many times in the years that followed, including into a double-page spread.

The fulfillment of that assignment signed the deal for Jones and Tatler. Tina Brown fills us in on his origins and his demeanour:

I asked Dafydd to bring his portfolio into Tatler’s old headquarters on Bruton Street, and resolved there and then to make him our party photographer. He was a strikingly elfin presence, so young, so hesitant, so unassuming. His own humble origins, including attending a state-run school in Oxford and making extra money as a campus cleaner, were the perfect townie vantage point from which to view the privileged antics of the Oxford jeunesse dorée. Throughout the next eight years, his pictures became the defining images of the new Tatler, reflecting more pointedly than all our glossy competitors the inimitable look and feel of a strata of society at play. Because he was so understated, he was able to be invisible. Because he always knew what he was looking for, he was usually the last to leave, producing wonderful motifs of sleeping young beauties with their long, lissome legs sprawled on padded banquettes with their entwined dance partners, or lolling with a friend on a summer lawn at the end of the revelry. Unusually for an outsider who penetrates the inner circles, Dafydd was never co-opted by the world he covered.

Jones has a collection of photographs of sleeping beauties on his website. He took these between 1980 and 1987, noting his mixed emotions about them:

Sometimes the party just goes on too longAfter doing these pictures I worked in the U.S. and travelled around Europe photographing social events for several years. I didn’t ever see anyone falling asleep at a party anywhere else. Some perhaps are passed out rather than sleeping. There is something more peaceful about just sleeping at a party. These were the pictures I really liked. It takes confidence to go to sleep at a party but seen together the pictures give an impression of a society in decline

He referenced these in his podcast with Lord Vaizey and Charlotte Metcalf, again musing that they are perhaps a sign of a declining society. Then again, he and his family moved to the United States afterwards. Lord Vaizey said that Americans drink much less that Britons do, hence their ability to stay awake.

Metcalf says that she was friends with members of Oxford University’s Dangerous Sports Club and described their bungee jumping off the Severn Bridge, which links England and Wales. Even Jones found that a daunting tale, especially when Metcalf talked about the police arriving just when the participating members were suspended over the water, with no escape. She was in charge of the getaway car.

Speaking of the Dangerous Sports Club, a photo of which is in The New Yorker, Jones said he was deeply disappointed to see it ripped off for something else. He consulted his lawyer, who said there was nothing that could be done. There was no protection for his original intellectual property which had been recreated.

When photographing big events, Jones had to dress up in a dinner jacket and black tie. Upon returning home to his wife and two children, he reeked of cigarette smoke. He regularly took off his DJ and draped it over a chair in the back garden to air out for the next event. In his podcast with Vaizey and Metcalf, he says that it was one of his son’s enduring memories.

Also in the podcast, Jones says that he thought he was going to get punched out by a young Scottish party host who asked him why he hadn’t been photographed. Jones managed to smooth everything over, but it was a tense moment nonetheless.

Jones had more stories to tell, including another of his first assignments at the Aspinall nature reserve at Port Lympne in Kent. John Aspinall was throwing a 21st birthday part for his daughter Amanda. At the time, Tatler was not invited to cover those private parties. Jones went by himself and stood in the rain, photographing cars arriving and leaving several hours later. He told Vaizey and Metcalf that he liked the raindrops on the camera lens and on the cars. He hadn’t arrived by car himself, so he was stranded. Early in the morning after the party, a car stopped and the driver asked him if he needed a lift. The offer came from a member of the Cecil family, one of the oldest and best known in England. Jones duly accepted. From there, more party invitations followed.

In May 2023’s Tatler, Jones wrote about his experiences in ‘”Mind if I crash?” My 40 years as Tatler‘s party snapper’ (pp 36-38). His more recent photographs can be found in ‘Screen Time’, a collection of celebs looking into their mobile phones. Not a patch on the 1980s, but still relevant.

He says that he had help once he joined the magazine. To begin with, Tina Brown’s assistant spread the word (p. 36):

Gabé Doppelt tirelessly sent out requests, describing me as ‘almost invisible’. Initially, only one positive reply came back, for a 21st birthday near Bristol. My future father-in-law was a retired brigadier, so I asked him how I could photogaph a Sandhurst ball. ‘Write to the adjutant,’ he instructed, so we did. ‘Oh, yes, came back the reply, adding: ‘The Tatler last photographed one of our balls in 1966. We have some pictures up in the mess’

Among the smattering of young Etonians at Tatler there was an older figure: Peter Townend. He was well versed in the debutante season and lived for socialising. He asked mothers if I could photograph their parties, and some agreed. That’s how I got a picture of a debutante being pushed into a lily pond. Now there’s something almost revolutionary about it — out with the old.

The Season revolved around the Royal Family, who (p. 38):

would follow the same routine every year … The clubs and enclosures were designed to keep people out. To be admitted to the Royal Enclosure at Ascot, you needed two letters of recommendation from members who had themselves attended for at least five years.

After a while, he says:

It was a bizarre job … But readers were noticing the party pictures, and partygoers had the confidence to laugh at themselves … I was eventually given a company Mini.

Even though he still experiences a bit of conflict about his photographic subject matter, Jones says:

People might think I’d tire of the endless parties, but the social whirl is a circus — and that still excites me to this day.

His most recent collection of photographs, England: The Last Hurrah, is avalable from ACC Art Books for £30.

Dafydd Jones’s wife and two children have all pursued occupations in the visual arts.

In closing, I am delighted to finally find out who took all the marvellous photographs chronicling Britain’s high society in the 1980s.

For his innate art for capturing spontaneity, there is no better photographer than Dafydd Jones. We will never see his like again.

An exhibition of Dafydd’s photographs is now running at The Centre for British Photography on 49 Jermyn Street, London until the beginning of June.

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

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.

Will we see majesty, grandeur and mysterium tremendum on Saturday, May 6, 2023?

I have been doing my best to keep an open mind about Charles III’s coronation but have my doubts.

British royalists no doubt share my penchant for robes, gowns and all the ancient trappings of monarchy that have survived through the centuries. We would like to see a fairy tale coronation that reminds us of why we are pleased as punch to be British. When it comes to Royal ceremonies, we want to see drama, mystique and theatre.

Pomp and circumstance so last century

Unfortunately, we won’t be seeing a rerun of the Queen’s 1953 coronation in 2023.

Veteran journalist and Royal expert Robert Hardman explains in his article for The Spectator, ‘What will Charles III’s reign look like?’, that the Government — ministers and civil servants — have their hands all over the coronation ceremony. Therefore, we should not blame the King or the Duke of Norfolk, who is the Earl Marshal organising everything (emphases mine):

This is not a case of regal wokery. It simply reflects the fact that ministers and Whitehall are calling many of the shots, on the basis that they are footing the bill. So, for example, the ancient Court of Claims, the panel of peers and senior judges appointed to decide who should be permitted to perform certain roles at each coronation, has been replaced by a ‘coronation claims office’ made up of civil servants. It is they who have trimmed the ermine and shortened the processional route. In other words, don’t blame the Earl Marshal.

Of course, everything has received the nod from the King.

I am not alone in my disappointment about tomorrow’s ceremony.

Historian David Starkey spoke to Lynn Barber, writing for The Spectator, and told her that he blames the King, rather than the Government:

He fears that the forthcoming coronation will be blighted by Charles’s enthusiasm for ‘what he calls modernisation’. ‘It is the most extraordinary pot-pourri – the service seems to be a pastiche of the Book of Common Prayer and the liturgical equivalent of Poundbury.’ He also thinks it’s a mistake not to have the peers in their robes because there used to be a wonderful climactic moment when they all put their coronets on. ‘It was a magnificent piece of theatre. And that’s gone. We will now have this extraordinary miscellaneous collection of people, the sort traditionally referred to as the salt of the earth, in sloppy dress… Because what this coronation shows is that with the breakdown of the old rules, a huge amount of initiative has been handed back to the King. So he can get away with putting the MPs and peers in a box outside, and that’s not what a constitutional monarch should be about. I think that the disappearance of our old governing class and its replacement by a new one is actually a matter for regret.’

He added:

I would like to have a governing class that had the sense of public duty, of seriousness about the national destiny that was exemplified by, say, the Dukes of Norfolk, or Winston Churchill. Churchill said that we were better governed when those who governed us were chosen from about l,000 people, than when chosen from 70 million.

Lynn Barber, another veteran journalist herself and a critical one at that, says that Starkey covered the Queen’s funeral beautifully for GB News last September:

David Starkey’s commentary on the Queen’s funeral on GB News was generally agreed to be the best of all the TV coverage, and now he is covering the coronation, and has made a three-part documentary about it for GB News called The Crown. Of course he knows the history, going back to King Edgar’s coronation in 973 …

‘What I tried to do with the Queen’s funeral, and also the King’s accession, was to talk about it as a historian who is also interested in the present. Because I think the failure of the TV coverage was that there wasn’t another serious historian commenting at all. Where was [Simon] Schama? I didn’t even see Andrew Roberts. I think it’s a sign that the producers were not taking it seriously. Monarchy is nowadays regarded as simply a branch of show biz.’

I watched GB News’s funeral coverage for two weeks last September and it was excellent.

My suggestion to everyone reading this is to watch their live coverage tomorrow on YouTube or, for my fellow Britons, television.

Why 1953’s coronation worked so well

The Spectator‘s William Moore interviewed one of the late Queen’s maids of honour, Lady Rosemary Muir, and others involved in the coronation. His article, ‘Vials of ammonia, shaky scaffolding and sword fights: memories of Elizabeth II’s coronation’, is excellent:

It’s not just about the Government’s pedestrian attitude or the King’s quest for modernity, either.

It’s about upbringing and a can-do attitude, as Lady Rosemary Muir told William Moore:

Lady Rosemary, the daughter of John Spencer-Churchill, tenth Duke of Marlborough, was brought up in Blenheim Palace. The household was run with military precision by her ‘very strict mother’. Everyone knew their role. ‘You were never allowed to be late for one minute. If you were told to do something you concentrated on doing it and doing it properly,’ she says. ‘When people ask me about the coronation they always ask me, “Weren’t you nervous, weren’t you this, weren’t you that” – no! We just got on with it.Her grandmother, Consuelo [née Vanderbilt], had also just got on with it at the 1902 coronation, carrying the canopy over Queen Alexandra during her anointing.

Moore adds a parenthetical observation:

(At 93, her balance and posture make me, 60 years her junior, embarrassed by my slouching.)

Precisely. I would feel the same.

Lady Rosemary was not surprised to have been among the six young noblewomen chosen to take care of the Queen’s velvet train:

She told Moore:

At the 1953 coronation the chief role of the maids of honour was to carry the Queen’s 20ft velvet train and to remove and fold it before the anointing. The Dean of Westminster wrote afterwards that he was struck by how the maids of honour ‘moved with notable precision’. Their exact movements did not, Lady Rosemary recalls, require much practice: ‘You knew what to do, you didn’t have to be taught it’

Rehearsals in general were ‘all very light-hearted’, she says, partly because ‘everybody knew everybody else’. If any part had to be redone, the Duke of Norfolk, who oversaw all non-liturgical arrangements, would turn to the maids of honour, ‘wink at us and say “It’s not you, girls. I’ve got these old gentlemen to sort out.”’

… When the maids of honour lined up with the Queen in the annexe to enter the abbey they were all as calm ‘as if we were out for an afternoon stroll’. ‘We did what we were told to do and did it to the best of our ability,’ she says. ‘That was life in general and the coronation was no different.’

The young women received much publicity after the event. They were the Spice Girls of their era:

From then until the coronation day in June, the maids of honour were the subject of many excited articles. The press dubbed them ‘the Lucky Six… envied by every other woman in the land’.

Unfortunately, Lady Rosemary could not enjoy all the festivities at Buckingham Palace that day:

The day ended for Lord Eccles at Buckingham Palace. ‘The maids of honour were the focus of the party,’ he says. Lady Rosemary, sadly, couldn’t stick around. After a quick pit-stop at the palace (‘Prince Charles was rolling around with the Queen’s crown’) she rushed back to Blenheim because her mother was roasting an ox.

Queen Consort Camilla’s ex-husband shared his memories of the day as one of the Lord Chancellor’s pages. He agreed with Lady Rosemary about doing things to the best of one’s ability:

This sentiment is echoed by Brigadier Andrew Parker Bowles, who was a page for the Lord Chancellor at the coronation at the age of 13. ‘One just did as one was told,’ he says. Discipline, however, has its limits. In the final rehearsal, the pages were given their ceremonial – but very real – swords. The temptation was too much. ‘As you can imagine, a lot of 13-year-olds clustered together, everyone drew their swords and started jousting away. The Earl Marshal sent in the Gold Staff officers to sort us out. We were cuffed around the ears. Nowadays that would be called assault or something.’ He still has his page’s sword, which sits proudly alongside his army sword …

Brigadier Parker Bowles, who will attend this weekend’s coronation, says it’s ‘slightly unfortunate’ that the seating is limited to 2,000 – ‘the whole thing is very different nowadays’.

By all accounts, the Earl Marshal — the Duke of Norfolk — was flawless in his organisation. The Queen’s ceremony was also much longer than her son’s will be:

Viscount (John) Eccles was one of the young Gold Staff officers – essentially ushers who reported to the Earl Marshal. His father David was the Minister of Works in 1953 and so worked closely with the Duke of Norfolk on the coronation preparations.

Although the day itself ‘came and went without effort’, Lord Eccles says that from watching the Duke of Norfolk and his father he could see the ‘tremendous amount of thought that went into it’. Richard Dimbleby, the coronation’s BBC commentator, later remarked upon the effort it takes to make something appear effortless. The Duke of Norfolk was a ‘man who carried the entire burden of arrangements on his shoulders, who knew every detail, and personally worked on every timetable. I do not think he could have had more than a few hours’ rest at any time during the eight months preceding’.

The great novelty of the 1953 coronation, as well as a further complication, was the fact that it was televised live. Lord Eccles says his father was ‘very keen’ on making the broadcast a success, and worked with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Duke of Norfolk – both of whom were at first uncertain about filming a religious service – to ensure it was ‘proper’. He understood that the new technology was a chance to ‘show the world we could do something like that really well, with tremendous attention to detail’.

Westminster Abbey had tall bleachers installed for thousands of guests, among them peers of the realm. Health and Safety regulations prohibit that nowadays, but this is how the seating was tested for durability:

It is hard to imagine peers piled to the roof on rickety scaffolding in 2023. Seven decades ago, though, George Lawn was a 17-year-old Life Guards trumpeter and one of the 100 or so men from the Household Cavalry Mounted Squadron at Knightsbridge tasked with testing the seating arrangements on one evening in April. ‘We had to clamber up inside, on to all this scaffolding where all the lords and ladies were going to sit,’ he tells me. ‘There were hundreds of soldiers all standing there on the scaffold and this Welsh Guards sergeant major down below said “When I say ‘Jump!’ jump up and down.” So there we were, half the British army jumping up and down. It didn’t matter if we were all killed to see if this thing was strong enough for all these lords and ladies to sit on.’

The Queen was crowned on a wet and cold day in early June. Not everyone’s June 4 was a grand one:

Major Hugh Cantlie was an Ensign in 2nd Battalion, Scots Guards, at Chelsea. On coronation day he was bearing the Queen’s colour and was lining the Mall with his back to St James’s. ‘A police horse had come down the Mall and laid its breakfast right in front of me,’ he says. ‘Then there was the cry “Princess Margaret is coming down!” She was leaving the palace to go to the abbey. We had to do a royal salute, so I then dragged the Queen’s colour through the steaming mound. Then at the recover I got most of the horse manure over my face. So that was my lasting memory of the day.’

His luck didn’t improve. ‘When it was all over it was beginning to rain a bit, so we were ordered to put on capes. I turned round to where they were all rolled up behind us in the gutter and some small boy had been sick on mine.’ In the evening he changed out of uniform and joined the mob outside.

Brigadier Parker Bowles remembers the sumptuous lunch after the ceremony and how much it meant, considering that rationing was still in place and would not be lifted until 1954:

Parker Bowles … was taken with other pages after the ceremony to the House of Lords where they were treated to ‘an amazing spread of food one had never seen before’, including bananas, oranges and coronation chicken.

‘One hadn’t been to many public occasions,’ he explains. ‘There were no parties after the war. [The coronation] was a whole new experience. We had nothing to judge it against.’ On the day of the coronation, the news reached Britain that the first men had successfully climbed Mount Everest. ‘As young boys that really struck us much more than anything else. It was such a new world.’

As young adults, Parker Bowles and Prince Charles mixed in the same social circle, although they did not know each other. The future brigadier went on to date Princess Anne before beginning a relationship with Camilla Shand in the early 1970s that led to marriage, children, then divorce. That said, both are still close friends, and he will be attending his second coronation.

The Stone of Scone returns to Westminster Abbey

The Stone of Scone (pron. ‘Scoon’ in this context) — the Stone of Destiny — arrived in London from Edinburgh Castle late last week.

Wings over Scotland has a photo of its ceremonial removal from the Castle, which involved a procession that included Scotland’s First Minister, the SNP’s Humza Yousaf. Yousaf is the Keeper of the Great Seal Of Scotland:

As such, his acquiescence was required for the Stone Of Destiny to be removed from Edinburgh Castle and transported to London for the coronation of King Charles III next week. Yousaf dutifully complied, and hung about awkwardly as the ancient symbol of Scotland’s sovereignty was carted off under the watchful eyes of men in gaily-coloured costumes to be stuffed back under Proud Edward’s throne.

Once it arrived in London, it was the job of the Secretary of State for Scotland, Alister Jack, to guard the stone.

I wrote about the theft of the legendary stone that took place on Christmas Day 1950. It was hidden by independence-minded Scots in Scotland until 1952, when police returned it to Westminster Abbey. Prime Minister John Major officially had the stone returned to Scotland in 1996. The stone is said to have been Jacob’s pillow as he dreamt about the ladder to heaven (Genesis 28:10-19).

On April 29, The Telegraph reported that the Scottish Secretary was taking his responsibilities seriously:

Alister Jack, Scottish Secretary, is “standing guard” over the Stone of Destiny in London to make sure “nationalists don’t steal it again”, Tories have been told.

The UK minister addressed the Scottish Conservatives’ conference via video, with junior Scotland Office minister John Lamont appearing on stage to explain why his boss could not be there.

He told delegates at the conference that Mr Jack had been “unavoidably detained in London, standing guard over the Stone of Scone ahead of its central role in the King’s Coronation next week” …

The stone, which weighs 125kg, will be placed in the Coronation chair for the enthronement, before being returned to Scotland afterwards.

Mr Lamont said: “Alister is primarily making sure that nationalists don’t steal it again.

“But he is also making absolutely certain that the stone does come back to Scotland.”

Mr Jack, meanwhile, said he could not be in Glasgow for the Scottish Conservative conference because he had “an important job elsewhere helping to prepare for the coronation of His Majesty the King”.

In a video address he told the conference: “I hope you’ll agree that as excuses go, that one passes muster.”

Mr Jack went on to use his speech to attack the SNP, claiming Scotland’s ruling party “are not a serious party of government, they are simply a campaign organisation for independence”.

He said the SNP-Green administration at Holyrood “isn’t just misguided, it is totally incompetent”.

However, a number of Scots are unhappy that the Stone of Scone is back for the coronation.

Alex Salmond, former SNP MP and the current leader of the Alba Party, which is also pro-independence, voiced his displeasure.

This is a photo of the stone under guard at Edinburgh Castle ready for its departure:

The Spectator reported:

… witness Salmond’s bon mot on LBC a couple of days ago about the Stone of Scone (‘I know it’s just a lump of rock, but it’s our lump of rock’) which has a comforting directness that would never have come from either Sturgeon of Yousaf.

… Salmond is now it seems a new-style left-wing republican: as he said on TalkTV last week, ‘We’re in the 21st century, a democratic age, the monarchy is the pinnacle of a class system, and you’d want to sweep that away.’

… On Monday this week, following the less than dignified temporary transfer of the Stone of Scone from the Crown Room at Edinburgh Castle to Westminster Abbey for the coronation, he dismissed Humza Yousaf as a ‘pet poodle’ for physically allowing it to leave and said that had he been in power he would have ordered Police Scotland forcibly to prevent the operation.

This was a one-off outburst, but it was clearly considered and it should worry us intensely. Police Scotland, constitutionally independent like any police force, takes operational orders from no one in government – not even the King can order it about. For Alex Salmond to suggest that a mere First Minister could or should have used that body to create a ‘stand-off’ preventing the Crown exercising the legal rights it has over the Stone of Scone is supremely irresponsible. Not only would this have put the police under political direction: it would also have risked possible violence and would have been hard to reconcile with its officers’ oaths to ‘faithfully discharge the duties of the office of constable’ …

To his credit, Humza Yousaf has played this episode absolutely right. He has rightly called out this suggestion from Salmond as improper. And, staunch republican though he is, he will attend the coronation. For this at least the Scots have some reason to be grateful to him. Meanwhile they need to realise that, whatever the answer may be to the independence riddle, Alex Salmond and the Alba party have no decent claim to be part of it.

The coronation is a religious ceremony

Above all, the coronation is a religious ceremony, at least in the United Kingdom.

It is a covenant between God and the monarch, which is why it is hidden from public view. Previous monarchs had a canopy, held by four nobles. King Charles is likely to have a standalone screen hiding him from view:

Afterwards, an unspoken contract is created between the monarch and the people, whom he serves.

The former Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, wrote about the anointing ceremony for The Spectator, ‘The religious roots of the coronation’:

The Israelites asked for a king so that they could be ‘like all the nations’. Anointed monarchs have a long history but today the rites surrounding the British monarch are unique in Europe.

In the unwritten British constitution, while much of the ancient theatre has been preserved since the coronation of King Edgar the Peaceful in 973, the symbolism has changed. During the 19th century, effective power passed to ministers whose position depended on electoral success. As power was transferred elsewhere, however, the symbolic significance of the monarchy increased. Victoria’s reign was crucial in this respect and, often much against her personal tastes, she became a symbolic focus of loyalty surrounded by increasingly elaborate ceremonial events …

In the coronation of King Edgar, the central act was his anointing, and this will be the case on Saturday. Once again, as in 1953, this particular aspect of the ceremony will be shrouded to reflect its central significance and to set free the imagination. Behind the screen, in a very personal act of commitment, the King accepts his calling from God and receives the grace and power to fulfil his responsibilities

Anointing is a symbol of a profound spiritual truth. Much of contemporary life is centred on ‘choosing’, but beyond individual choice there is the realm of ‘calling’ in which a person accepts a servant role for the common good. Those who have followed this way, consciously or unconsciously, are on the way of Jesus Christ, who found life in all its fullness by losing himself and going beyond himself in loving service.

The continuation of a rite which has proved adaptable in very different cultural and political circumstances over 1,000 years serves to affirm some vital principles. We are part of a story and a land which we share with generations past and future. Contrary to the assumption that we should be free to devise and enact whatever the will of a majority of citizens at any particular time might desire, the moral legitimacy of government is derived from faithfulness to given principles of justice distilled from the experience of centuries. Coronations help to define eras, and to promote reflection on the character of the tapestry which we are weaving in partnership with those who have gone before.

The partnership evoked by coronations also involves generations to come. Our generation is not the sole possessor of our land and history. We are responsible for an inheritance on which we have a full repairing lease and a duty to pass it on intact.

The anointing requires the ancient coronation spoon, which was almost melted down during Cromwell’s Interregnum:

The Spectator tells us its history in ‘How the coronation spoon was saved’:

This particular spoon, undeniably, is a very special one: doubtless the world’s most important spoon, and certainly one of the most beautiful examples of that humble genus: silver-gilt, finely engraved with acanthus scrolls, decorated with pearls, and with its bowl strangely divided into two. It dates from the 12th century, and may have been used ever since Richard the Lionheart. It is the oldest piece of the coronation regalia.

After the Civil War the new republic melted everything down. The spoon alone was saved by a Mr Kinnersley, who bought it for 16 shillings – £3,000 today – and presented it to the restored Charles II. It holds the oil that anoints each sovereign (hence the divided bowl, for the archbishop’s two fingers), re-enacting the Biblical anointing of King Solomon by Zadok the Priest, in the ancient belief that monarchs were sacred and ruled in God’s name. France’s kings, indeed, enjoyed chrism brought down from heaven itself by a dove in the year 496 and used, wars and revolutions notwithstanding, until King Charles X in 1825. For King Charles III, the oil comes from olives in the Holy Land, consecrated by the Patriarch of Jerusalem and its Anglican archbishop.

The article says that not every monarch was enamoured of the anointing ceremony or the spoon.


Whichever we choose to believe, it renews what Edmund Burke saw as a perpetual contract between the dead, the living and the yet unborn

The coronation ceremony, with all its mysteries and oddities, dates back before the Norman Conquest, and it is something that we can all – however diverse our backgrounds – choose to accept and celebrate as above and beyond our present discontents. If we wish our nation to be more than ‘UK plc’ or a chaos of resentful factions, we should welcome the thought that at its heart is something ancient, unique, even sacred. Not to be deified, but to be respected and cherished.

That seems as good a place as any to end this post.

I hope this will be informative to those planning on watching the coronation on Saturday. Please do tune in to GB News for excellent commentary on the history behind the ceremony.

Yesterday’s post explained why we shall never again see the type of coronation that Queen Elizabeth II had on June 2, 1953.

A September 11, 2022 article from The Times, ‘No time to repeat three-hour coronation that bored the boy prince in 1953’ has more, including photos.

An excerpt follows, emphases mine:

The government funds a coronation while the costs of a royal wedding are met by the family, with the taxpayer meeting any security costs.

It took 14 months to prepare for the Queen’s coronation, under the chairmanship of the Duke of Edinburgh, and it cost £1.57 million (£31 million in modern money). Almost 40,000 troops and reservists took part in the parade, 168 jet fighters in the flypast. More than 8,000 guests packed Westminster Abbey in conditions that would not be tolerated under today’s health and safety rules.

An estimated 3 million spectators lined the streets of London for the procession, with the return path from the abbey to Buckingham Palace extended over five miles. In the evening, crowds shouted “We want the Queen”. The royal party responded by making five appearances on the balcony at Buckingham Palace, the last at 11.30pm.

The symbolism of the ceremony’s high pomp and sacramental mystery would surely be lost on most of a contemporary audience, lacking a deep knowledge of the Bible and of the intricacies of a long-gone, hierarchical society.

It was a daring decision to allow the television cameras in, or, as The Times put it: “For the first time in perhaps a thousand years, the Sovereign was crowned in the sight of many thousands of the humblest of her subjects. By penetrating at last, even vicariously, into the solemn mysteriousness of the Abbey scene, multitudes who had hoped merely to see for themselves the splendour and the pomp found themselves comprehending for the first time the true nature of the occasion.”

Even so, the cameras were not allowed to record the anointing and the blessing: daylight could not be allowed to spoil the deepest magic.

As the male consort of the sovereign, Prince Philip played a walk-on part, sitting between the Duke of Gloucester and the Duke of Kent and required to perform homage to her.

As I said yesterday, there was a boom in the purchase of television sets, which most homes did not have. Generous families shared their coronation viewing with neighbours, particularly children.

Afterwards, as the Queen had lunch, so did her subjects. Below is a photo of a Coronation Day street party and a 1977 Silver Jubilee photo of a ten-year-old girl from Liverpool:

There are other interesting facts about Coronation Day 1953 that are worth remembering.

The Queen’s placid nature

The Queen’s maids of honour recalled how calm she was.

After her death, The Times posted a retrospective, ‘Calm princess launched her coronation with two simple words: “Ready, girls?”‘.

Excerpts follow:

the six maids of honour waited before the nave of Westminster Abbey. Inside, the abbey was crowded almost to the rafters, with heads of state, white-haired dignitaries, politicians, senior clerics and aristocratic families from around the world.

At the head of the maids of honour stood Elizabeth, robed in ermine. She was staring ahead, her face calm but unsmiling. She seemed to be thinking only of dignity and duty. “But then she turned to us maids of honour,” Lady Glenconner recalled in 2013, “and said, ‘Ready, girls?’ It was the first time we had heard her speak that day.”

Before and throughout the long service, the Queen never hinted that she might be feeling anxious or tentative. “She didn’t say anything. She wore a very calm expression. She was concentrating so hard,” said Glenconner. “Everyone present knew that they were living through a moment of history: this was the most important public ceremony of the century so far.

“We were putting on a real show to celebrate winning the war. I didn’t think once about what it might have cost. You must remember that on VE Day [in 1945], everyone was still in uniform.”

The maids of honour were all daughters of dukes, marquesses and earls. Each was unmarried, aged between 17 and 23 and had been chosen for her beauty as much as her lineage. “We looked right,” said Glenconner, who, as the daughter of the 5th Earl of Leicester, was known then as Lady Anne Coke. Her family seat, Holkham Hall, was only a few miles from Sandringham, and she said the Cokes and Windsors “used to go to each other’s birthday parties”.

The maids of honour were tasked with carrying Elizabeth’s heavy ermine train as she walked before them. This gave them an almost unparalleled close-up of the young monarch — especially when the television cameras were switched off. Behind the maids were the ladies-in-waiting, Glenconner’s mother among them. “We were the only mother and daughter participating in the service,” she recalled with pride.

In another article, which I covered yesterday, Glenconner said that it was probably her mother who rescued the Imperial State Crown from four-year-old Prince Charles when it nearly fell from his hands at Buckingham Palace after the coronation.

Lady Glenconner recalled more about the day and the rehearsals beforehand:

The Coronation Commission, chaired by Prince Philip, first met 14 months before the service. “We practised with the Duchess of Norfolk, who turned out to walk rather more slowly than the Queen,” Glenconner said. “The Queen came only to the final rehearsal.” The Duke of Norfolk directed proceedings: “He was a stern man, quite the sergeant-major. But then he had to be. I think he was rather proud of us girls.”

The maids rose at 4.30am on the day for make-up. News of Edmund Hillary’s ascent of Everest reached the party. Then, while they waited in their beautiful but uncomfortable Norman Hartnell dresses: “Suddenly this roar from the crowd came up. I saw the coach begin to turn the corner, and there it was. It was like something out of a fairy story.”

The maids watched the Duke of Edinburgh help the Queen down the tiny steps of the coach. “She was looking down — it would have been awful if she had slipped,” Glenconner said. But when she reached the ground, the Queen lifted her head: “She looked incredible. She had the most wonderful figure, with a tiny waist. She had the most beautiful complexion, and such bright eyes.”

Elizabeth was not thinking only of her own actions and bearing that day. Glenconner said: “I hadn’t slept all night and the dress was terribly tight. At one point, everything went black — I was about to faint.” The Queen noticed and motioned to one of the other maids to escort her from the abbey. But she rallied. “Luckily, Black Rod put his arm out to hold me up, and I soon felt better. When the service was over, the Archbishop of Canterbury gave me a nip of brandy, which I was very grateful for.

“The most moving part, and perhaps the most important for the Queen,” Glenconner said, “was when she was anointed with holy oil. That wasn’t televised because it was religious.”

The Marquess of Cholmondeley — a man who had “barely ever had to tie his own shoelaces” — was charged with fitting the Queen into a white linen dress for the occasion. “He struggled with its hooks and eyes,” Glenconner said, “and the Duke of Norfolk got quite cross at that.” But when he finally managed to fit the Queen in the dress, she pledged to serve the nation and Commonwealth.

Later, Glenconner said, “Prince Philip came up, knelt before her and kissed her on the cheek. That was terribly touching.”

Back at Buckingham Palace, after the flypast, the maids watched the Queen kick off her shoes, take off her crown and sit on a sofa

Lady Glenconner served as lady-in-waiting to Princess Margaret for 34 years:

She saw the Queen quite frequently, she said, although they discussed the coronation only once: “After my mother died, the Queen told me how sorry she was. I said that one of the nicest moments that my mother and I had shared had been the coronation. The Queen said, ‘Yes, I realise how nice that must have been for you. After all, my mother was watching too.’”

Poor Lady Glenconner. She had a miserable marriage to an absolute brute who humiliated her physically and psychologically, sometimes in public. However, it was not the done thing to get divorced. She has recounted her life in writing and in television appearances. Her husband died some years ago.

Floral arrangements

At the beginning of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee on Thursday, June 2, 2022, The Times explained the resurgence of the gladiolus:

Plants do go in and out of fashion. One that’s staged a rapid rise from the doldrums to popularity is the gladiolus … Might the celebrations for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee have something to do with this rise in popularity? The doyenne of florists Constance Spry — who designed the flowers for the Coronation and the luncheon that followed — included gladioli in the arrangements, with roses, delphiniums, sweet peas and carnations.

… The name gladiolus shares the same root as gladiator. Gladius means “sword” in Latin and the spear-like upward-thrusting flower spikes are the horticultural antithesis of a shrinking violet.

Coronation Chicken

One of the most popular sandwich fillings in England is Coronation Chicken: chicken mayo with a touch of curry powder, raisins and, if one is lucky, sliced almonds.

However, today’s Coronation Chicken is rather different to the original created for dignitaries at the Coronation lunch.

On March 30, 2023, The Telegraph told us the story of this dish in ‘How Le Cordon Bleu London created the iconic coronation chicken recipe’:

On June 2 1953, at two o’clock in the afternoon, 350 foreign dignitaries sat down to tuck into the Coronation luncheon after Queen Elizabeth II was crowned. They were served Poulet Reine Elizabeth: a dish that is now better known as coronation chicken.

In the 70 years since, it has gone from a luxury fit for dignitaries, to a lurid 1970s staple, to an enduringly popular supermarket sandwich filling and a regular fixture on bad buffets.

Where did it come from? One common origin theory is that coronation chicken was based on a recipe created for George V’s Silver Jubilee. Others mistakenly say it was made to be served to the Queen (it wasn’t).

Instead, Poulet Reine Elizabeth was created by Rosemary Hume and her students at Le Cordon Bleu cookery school in London specifically for the coronation banquet for visiting dignitaries. Constance Spry, the society florist in charge of organising the luncheon, also played a part, although she didn’t have quite as important a role as she is often given credit for.

“[Hume] came up with the dish and then two days later she said it had been inspired by a canapé in Mrs De Salis’ cookbook Savouries à la Mode, which I’ve looked at, and it bears very little resemblance,” says food historian Dr Annie Grey. “I think we can credit [Hume] for it pretty much all on her own.”

It was created with practicality in mind. The luncheon was served in the Great Hall of Westminster School, which had limited cooking facilities. The menu needed to be suitable for a “large number of guests of varying and unknown tastes”, in Spry’s words.

“They needed to come up with dishes that were real crowd-pleasers, quite impressive but not budget breaking, and things that they could prepare without a kitchen,” says Gray. They settled on a cold chicken dish in a creamy, mildly curried sauce that, on the day, was washed down with Krug champagne.

The other myth that tends to circulate is that coronation chicken was chosen as a budget-friendly option that home cooks could easily replicate: a recipe that struck the balance between “luxury and austerity” in postwar Britain.

Gray says that isn’t the case. “It’s hard to overplay how much of a blingy dish this would have been at the time… this is a nation that was still suffering from rationing,” she says. “Most people couldn’t afford to eat chicken; it was enormously expensive.”

Chicken was a treat and curry was unheard of so, initially, it wasn’t a dish that many people cooked at home. That started to change with the publication of the Constance Spry Cookery Book in 1956, which included the recipe for coronation chicken.

As home cooks emerged from an era of austerity, it rose in popularity. “It’s one of those dishes that seems to become popular outside Britain first, and then came back in,” explains Gray.” It wasn’t immediate, but certainly by the 1970s it was quite embedded in the psyche as a cold dish for mass catering” …

“Of course, it got rapidly bastardised,” says Gray. “It became nothing like the original dish, which is actually very nice.” Now it’s often “just cold cooked chicken with mayonnaise and curry powder… and sometimes pineapple or sultanas, which really isn’t what it was.”

The article has the recipe.

For the Platinum Jubilee, The Oldie‘s Elizabeth Luard also wrote up the original recipe, which I made at home for the occasion. I shall make it again for the King’s coronation on May 6, even though his dignitaries will be dining on … spinach and broad (fava) bean quiche. Errgh.

The Times featured coronation and jubilee recipes, including not only Coronation Chicken but also Spotted Dick and Black Forest Gateau right up to Roasted Aubergine with Saffron Yoghurt. Any of these would be good to serve on May 6.

The hit song

On October 22, 2022, The Telegraph‘s Eleanor Steafel recounted another Coronation story, ‘My great-grandfather wrote a hit song for the Queen’s coronation — here’s what I know about it’:

In accounts of the day, a song is often mentioned – a popular tune that could be heard coming from those pubs and parties.

It was just a ditty, a schmaltzy sort of ballad that was in the charts and had worked its way into people’s consciousness. It began: “In a golden coach, there’s a heart of gold, driving through old London town. With the sweetest Queen the world’s ever seen, wearing her golden crown…”

People of a certain generation may remember In a Golden Coach, made famous by Dickie Valentine and, later, Billy Cotton and his Band, who both had Top 10 hits with it. I have always known it as part of my family folklore.

To me, it’s the sweet old song that was written for the coronation by my great-grandfather, Jack Henry.

… Every time a jubilee came around, my mum, Penny, or one of my great aunts would remind us of the sheet music buried in a box somewhere. “Don’t you remember, Grandpa Jack wrote that song for the Queen’s coronation?” At family dinners, whenever talk turned to stories of Grandpa Jack (of which there seem to be many – the man was what one might fondly refer to as “a character”), someone would get the song up on YouTube or dig out the old record, put it on and we’d sway to the strains of Dickie Valentine.

But family stories are flimsy things; they slip through the hands of each generation, changing with every retelling. It always seemed odd that this man who was a police inspector and ran a pub with my great-grandmother in Hampstead, could also have written a hit song for the late Queen’s coronation.

Stranger still is a discrepancy we have never been able to explain in the credits for the song. A quick Google names John Henry (his christened name) as the writer of the music and lyrics, but the sheet music we have, beautifully illustrated with the Gold State Coach pulled by white horses, states: “words and music by Ronald Jamieson” – thought, but never confirmed, to be his nom de plume …

The Performing Right Society has six different records of In a Golden Coach, all of them with different songwriters credited, apparently with no telling which came first. John Henry is credited on one iteration, Ronald Jamieson, his possible nom de plume, on another. Two are credited to an entirely different set of names, and a further two are attributed to Jack Henry, with a co-credit for a man called Harry Leon.

Leon was a pianist with whom Grandpa Jack is also said to have written the song Hopalong Cassidy a year after the coronation …

It still seems an unlikely career move for a man who had been a Scotland Yard detective, though I’m told his patch was at one time the West End. Showbusiness may well have suited him – an obituary in the Daily Mail refers to him as the “Evening Dress Detective”. Family legend has it that he held the record for the highest number of murders solved in a single year, which later formed the basis for a series of detective novels he wrote. There’s also some talk of “secret war work” after he left the police – he served as a gunner-observer in the Royal Navy Air Force in the First World War, and in the Second World War is said to have helped airmen escape from Lisbon under the cover of being a diplomatic courier.

His obit, from 1956, reads: “He died after a heart attack in his public house in Hampstead last night. He was 62”

The Mass Observation Project reported that on June 2 1953, people were singing In a Golden Coach in pubs. A story in the Daily Mirror says the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh were serenaded with it by a choir of East End boys as they went through Poplar on their first drive in public after the Coronation. And it appears to still have something of a life today. There are renditions on YouTube recorded just this summer for the Platinum Jubilee. Even Lulu filmed a version on TikTok; she remembers singing it sitting on her father’s shoulders at a street party: “The first reaction I got from an audience.”

The Stone of Scone

Scotland’s Stone of Scone is also known as the Stone of Destiny.

Until 1996, when the Conservative Prime Minister John Major had it returned north of the border, it had been in Westminster Abbey for centuries — apart from a period between 1950 and 1952.

The Times has the story in their October 5, 2022 obituary of the man who masterminded its theft, Ian Hamilton:

In 1296, the Stone of Destiny was looted from Scone Abbey, near Perth, by English forces led by Edward I. It was taken to Westminster Abbey and fitted inside the wooden throne upon which most subsequent English and British monarchs have been crowned. Despite promises that it would be returned, including in the 1328 Treaty of Northampton, the stone lay undisturbed for six and a half centuries until four Scottish students, led by Ian Hamilton, decided to bring it back.

At about 6am on Christmas Day 1950, Hamilton and his friends Alan Stuart, Kay Matheson and Gavin Vernon used a crowbar to break into the abbey. They retrieved the stone from inside the coronation chair, only for it to crash to the floor and break in two. While loading the chunks into their borrowed Ford Anglia, they were approached by a policeman who allowed them to carry on after Hamilton and Matheson fell into an embrace, pretending to be lovers.

A police manhunt took place, but Scottish police were less interested, no doubt empathising with the thieves. English police patrolled the southern side of the border. However, Hamilton had travelled east to Kent to bury the two pieces of the stone. Afterwards, he headed home to Scotland:

“I’ve lost my watch — in Westminster Abbey,” was his opening line. “Was it you?” exclaimed his mother in delight. He later called into a central London police station to ask if the watch had been retrieved, but was given short shrift.

Hamilton then contacted the owner of Scone Palace, the Earl of Mansfield. The earl did not wish to get involved and politely declined, assuring Hamilton he would not get in touch with the police.

Early in 1951, Hamilton and his two friends returned to Kent to retrieve the stone pieces, which weighed 152kg (336lb). They drove back to Scotland without incident:

As they crossed the border, “we pulled back the coat that covered the stone, and each poured out a little of the wine of the country on to it, signifying its return to the Celtic people”. He arranged for it to be repaired by a Glasgow builder called Bertie Gray but, fearing a change in public opinion, then had it wrapped in a saltire and left in the ruins of Arbroath Abbey, where the 1320 declaration had been signed asking the Pope to recognise Scottish independence.

Although the obituary omits it, the police received a message in April 1951 and found the stone, which was eventually returned to Westminster Abbey.

Wikipedia’s account differs to the obituary’s. Wikipedia states that the Glaswegian builder Bertie Gray did indeed mend the stone:

Gray placed a brass rod, containing a piece of paper, inside the Stone. What was written on the paper remains unknown.[6]

In April 1951, the police received a message and the Stone was found on the site of the High Altar at Arbroath Abbey where, in 1320, the assertion of Scottish nationhood was made in the Declaration of Arbroath.[2] The Stone was returned to Westminster Abbey in February 1952.[6]

February 1952 was the month when Princess Elizabeth acceded to the throne.

Wikipedia says that Hamilton, his two friends and a third accomplice were interviewed:

All four of the group were interviewed and all but Ian Hamilton later confessed to their involvement.[2] The authorities decided not to prosecute as the potential for the event to become politicised was far too great.[2]

At the time, the Conservative Party was at its peak of popularity in Scotland. The Scots later supported the Labour Party until the Scottish National Party (SNP) eclipsed them in 2007, with a narrow control of the newish Scottish Parliament under Alex Salmond’s leadership. Nicola Sturgeon went on to succeed Salmond in 2014 and resigned as First Minister on February 15, 2023.

This is what happened to the Stone of Scone more recently:

In 1996 John Major, the prime minister, said the stone was to be returned to Scotland on St Andrew’s Day, though it would still be used in London for coronations. Hamilton was unimpressed, declaring it a “cheap election trick”. Today the stone is in Edinburgh Castle and, after being moved to Westminster Abbey for the coronation of Charles III next year, it will head to a museum in Perth.

Returning to Ian Hamilton, what motivated him? The Times obituary states that his mother, Martha (née Robertson), brought him up with Scottish folklore. Hamilton’s father, John, was an experienced tailor who made suits that were sewn to last. His side of the family had criminal elements:

He was from a long line of agitators: a criminal ancestor demanded to be hanged on a silk rope rather than a hemp one, while the military career of his grandmother’s great-uncle Tom almost came to an end when he called publicly for his commanding officer to be prosecuted for cowardice.

Nonetheless, they were practising Presbyterians and took Ian to church with them on Sundays. When he became attracted to girls, he rebelled, and stopped attending.

The Hamiltons had created perhaps the first middle-class rebel. Although we see many Isobels and Tarquins gluing themselves to highways today, Ian Hamilton was also among those who had no contact with the working class:

He was educated at the John Neilson Institute, a fee-paying school in Paisley that “kept me from meeting poorer children”.

Even in his youth, he rejected the notion of monarchy:

During a wartime visit by George VI he was instructed to join fellow pupils cheering along the route but instead “got on my bike and went home”. His absence was noticed and he was hauled up before the entire school.

He became interested in Scottish independence during that time:

Wanting to fly, he tried to join the RAF in 1943 but was too young. He finally signed up in 1945, serving as a flight mechanic and justifying his presence by explaining that “England is my favourite foreign country”. He read law at the University of Glasgow at a time of growing dissatisfaction, with two million Scots signing the Scottish Covenant petition demanding home rule.

As a lawyer, he refused to pledge his loyalty to the Queen:

A year after publishing No Stone Unturned (1952), one of several books about the Stone of Destiny incident, he was admitted to the bar. However, he refused to swear allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II, insisting that she was merely Queen Elizabeth and the use of the regnal number was in breach of the 1707 Act of Union because Elizabeth I had been queen of England and not Scotland.

He was not the only one who thought that. A number of red pillar boxes (mailboxes) with EIIR on them were vandalised in Scotland. Some were set on fire.

The Queen’s regnal number became the subject of a court case in Scotland involving Hamilton:

A court case in which he was joined by John MacCormick, rector of the University of Glasgow, ruled against them, saying the monarch’s title was the sole prerogative of the sovereign. Winston Churchill weighed in, suggesting the sovereign should use whichever of the Scottish or English number was higher, though when Hamilton took silk in 1980 [to become a QC, Queen’s Counsel] he simply swore allegiance to Queen Elizabeth.

In his private life, Ian Hamilton liked the ladies:

After a “misspent youth” that included “a holiday in Holland as the guest of a glorious woman, the first of many with whom I have been endlessly in love”, he met Sheila Fenwick, a domestic science teacher from Sunderland. They married in 1954 and had three children: Jamie, who works in the royal parks in Edinburgh; Maggie, who predeceased him; and Aileen, who is retired. The marriage was dissolved because “paradoxically, but not perhaps surprisingly, Sheila got fed up with my antics”.

In 1973, while on a canoeing trip across Scotland, he capsized on the Falls of Lora, near Oban. Swimming ashore, he was met by Jeanette Stewart, whose family were hoteliers in Argyll. They married the following year and she also survives him with their son, Stewart, who works in the film industry.

Hamilton’s story has been told in his books and in two films. What a heist.

Tomorrow’s post concludes with Coronation Day memories from two of the Queen’s maids of honour.

The Telegraph stopped publishing their Lockdown Files series earlier this month.

However, I still have quite a few bookmarks to get through from the series.

Simon Case: ‘Mr Killjoy’

On March 10, I left off with the top civil servant, Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, rumoured to be considering his career options, more about which below:

Guido Fawkes points out that Case strangely never got a fine (fixed penalty notice) for No. 10 get-togethers during lockdown, even though a Prime Minister (Boris) and a Chancellor (Rishi) did:

On March 7, 2023, The Telegraph reported that, in 2020, Case called himself ‘Mr Killjoy’ (emphases mine below):

Britain’s most senior civil servant said he was “Mr Killjoy” in meetings with “bouncing Boris J” because the former prime minister was too optimistic about the economy during the Covid pandemic.

Simon Case, hired by Mr Johnson from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s office to work on the pandemic, was later promoted to Cabinet Secretary and remains in post serving Rishi Sunak.

WhatsApp messages leaked to The Telegraph and published in The Lockdown Files investigation show him complaining about Mr Johnson in June 2020.

In a morning conversation with Matt Hancock, then the health secretary, Mr Case said a strategy meeting later that day would be “even more all over the shop than usual”

The Telegraph has screenshots of Case’s WhatsApp exchanges with Hancock. Case wrote:

We got stuck with PM enthusing about how there were great opportunities ahead for the UK economy …

He ended the message with a forehead slap emoji.

Hancock responded:

He’s right. There are. Did you mention there are also some challenges?

Case replied:

Yes — I am becoming Mr Killjoy in meetings with Bouncing Boris J

The article then discusses Case in the present. The Lockdown Files have not done him any favours:

he has served three prime ministers during his time in office, having occupied the role in September 2020 under Mr Johnson and throughout Liz Truss’s tenure in Downing Street.

In recent days, he is understood to have been privately criticised by senior civil servants, including the permanent secretaries of a number of government departments.

“The general feeling among perm secs is that his leadership has been relatively weak. Lots of perm secs will tell you that attacks on the Civil Service have increased in the last few years,” a senior Whitehall source told The Telegraph.

“His instinct is more to tuck away and get things done through other routes and back channels rather than stick his head above the parapet. All of that feeds into that criticism of Simon where some have described him as being a bit spineless.”

Sources close to Mr Case suggested he was considering resigning and expected him to pursue a new career in academia.

“I think that when he joined the Civil Service in 2006, it was that or academia,” said one friend. “I think that the academic world is something he makes no bones about, that he’s always admired. It wouldn’t surprise me if he did embrace an academic career once he retires.”

Another source said Mr Case would be unlikely to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor and take a peerage, adding: “I just don’t see the Lords as something he’d be interested in. I think an academic route would be a much more attractive option.”

Mr Case’s allies in Government were fighting back on Tuesday, insisting he had no intention of resigning and was pushing ahead with plans. The Cabinet Secretary is scheduled to be in York this Friday, meeting civil servants, and in Glasgow next week, with a speech engagement at a Civil Service conference due in July.

A senior Cabinet Office source told The Telegraph: “He is not about to resign this week, next week, or any time soon. He is cracking on with the job.”

It is understood Mr Case had conversations with some of Mr Sunak’s senior advisers in the wake of the revelations in The Lockdown Files and was assured over his position.

On that subject, another Telegraph article appeared that day, ‘Rishi Sunak refuses to say Simon Case should stay in post after WhatsApp backlash’:

Rishi Sunak has refused three times to say he has confidence that Simon Case will remain the Cabinet Secretary until the next election, amid a growing backlash to his pandemic-era WhatsApp messages.

The Prime Minister was on Tuesday night asked to comment on speculation that Britain’s most senior civil servant was preparing to stand down, but initially said only that he “continues to support the government’s agenda,” including on small boat crossings.

It came as Labour sources said Sir Keir Starmer would sack Mr Case if he w[ere] to win the next election and The Telegraph revealed new WhatsApp messages in which he criticised “bouncing Boris” Johnson for being too optimistic about the economy during the pandemic.

The 44-year-old mandarin has been accused of “naivety” after a tranche of messages obtained by this newspaper showed he mocked people forced to quarantine in hotels during the pandemic and described Mr Sunak as “bonkers” …

Asked for a third time about the controversy in a press conference on Tuesday, Mr Sunak said he looked forward to working with Mr Case “for a very long time to come” but declined to say whether he thought he would still be in post by the next election.

Cabinet Secretaries typically remain in post in the period before and after a general election to oversee the transition between administrations, leading to speculation in Whitehall that this is a “natural moment for him to do it” …

A spokesman for Sir Keir denied that he had already decided to sack Mr Case if Labour wins the next election.

In a briefing with reporters and press conference on Tuesday Mr Sunak was asked three times whether he believed Mr Case would remain in post and refused to address the issue directly, claiming he had “hadn’t actually seen any of the messages”.

Cabinet Office sources pointed to the end of his third answer, where he praised Mr Case’s record in government, adding: “I’m very grateful to him for that and I look forward to working with him for a very long time to come, quite frankly.”

The lockdown sex ban

The Lockdown Files also told us how the ban on sex was arrived at during the first lockdown in the Spring of 2020:

Professor Sir Chris Whitty [Chief Medical Officer (CMO) at the time] warned against imposing the lockdown “sex ban” because the public was not “likely to listen” to an order not to see their partners, The Telegraph can disclose.

England’s Chief Medical Officer said the Government should use a “bit of realism” and stop short of an outright ban, instead encouraging couples not living together to avoid contact “if they can”, leaked WhatsApp messages show.

Sir Chris’s warning came on March 24 2020 – the day after Boris Johnson, then the prime minister, gave the first order that the public should “stay at home” and avoid contact with people living in other households.

For couples living separately, it became an effective sex ban because the public was not allowed to meet up in houses that were not their own …

James Slack, then Mr Johnson’s official spokesman, asked Sir Chris and Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, whether couples could see each other and warned that the Government could be entering “choppy waters” by separating them.

“Sorry for this, but the biggest Q of the day for our finest political journalists is: can I see my boyfriend or girlfriend if we don’t live in the same household?” he asked a group WhatsApp conversation containing the two men, Downing Street officials, Mr Johnson and Matt Hancock, the then health secretary.

Sir Patrick replied that the “aim is to break contacts between households so the strict answer is that they shouldn’t meet or should bunker down in the same house. But Chris can give the official CMO love advice”.

But Sir Chris said the rules should be relaxed to encourage public compliance.

“I think a bit of realism will be needed,” he said.

“If it’s a regular partner I don’t think people are likely to listen to advice not to see them for 3 weeks or maybe more.

“We could say; if they can avoid seeing one another they should, and if either of them has an older or vulnerable person in the house they must.”

But in a press conference later that day, Dr Jenny Harries, Sir Chris’s deputy, and Mr Hancock said couples should either decide to move in together or remain apart for the duration of lockdown.

“If the two halves of a couple are currently in separate households, ideally they should stay in separate households,” said Dr Harries.

“The alternative might be that, for quite a significant period going forwards, they should test the strength of their relationship and decide whether one wishes to be permanently resident in another household.”

Mr Hancock added: “There you go. Make your choice and stick with it.”

The most high-profile breach of the guidance on couples living separately was by Prof Neil Ferguson, a scientist on the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage).

He resigned from his post after The Telegraph revealed he had invited his married lover to his home on at least two occasions.

He was reinstated several months later.

The article continues:

The guidance for non-cohabiting couples remained in place for two months, until June 1, when it was strengthened with legislation that meant that anyone breaching them could be prosecuted.

The legal rules banned gatherings of two or more people from different households indoors, although couples were free to meet outside.

The rule became known colloquially as the Government’s “sex ban”

The ban was lifted for some couples in England on June 13, 11 weeks after it was first imposed, when the Government introduced “support bubbles” to alleviate loneliness and isolation.

The new rules allowed people living alone to “bubble” with another household and stay overnight.

How lockdown became a reality

Never mind the sex ban, ‘The messages that reveal how Britain was plunged into lockdown’ is much more intriguing.

In January 2020, Boris was Prime Minister with an 80-seat majority, and we were in our transition year of fully leaving the EU with remaining negotiations underway. For conservative Britons, the world looked bright.

However, a few weeks before, on December 30, China issued a public health alert after a cluster of patients in Wuhan province had respiratory problems.

Here in the UK:

… ministers and officials were discussing the possibility of the outbreak spreading to Europe and possibly the UK.

As the weeks passed, there was mounting frustration over Downing Street’s reluctance to engage. Number 10 was buoyed by the UK’s recent departure from the EU and did not want Boris Johnson, the then prime minister, making gloomy proclamations about diseases.

On January 23, exactly two months before Boris announced lockdown:

Gina Coladangelo, Mr Hancock’s aide and now his partner … was part of a group chat involving the then health secretary and his special advisers …

She WhatsApped a link to a Daily Mail story about passengers arriving at Heathrow receiving advice to ring the NHS 111 number if they got ill. She asked:

I am assuming PHE [Public Health England] have this already under control…??

Emma Dean, a Spad (special adviser) in the Department of Health replied:


That day, a civil servant messaged Hancock’s media Spad Jamie Njoku-Goodwin:

Should I be worried? About this virus

Njoku-Goodwin quipped:

You might want to cancel you [sic] romantic holiday to Wuhan…

On February 8, Coladangelo sent a link to a Sky News story about a Briton being among five people in France with coronavirus. The following day she sent another link about a Briton infected in Mallorca.

Lord Bethell, the then-minister representing the Department of Health and Social Care in the House of Lords, joked:

Mallorca! Damn, there goes the fallback plan.

By the end of the month, Hancock was busy talking with the devolved nations — Wales, Scotland and Northern — about an ‘action plan’.

On February 29, Dominic Cummings tweeted a link to a Mail story about an Israeli vaccine which, according to the paper, was ‘just WEEKS away’. The Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance replied, in part, that it would take:

many months at the very and most optimistic best.

Chris Whitty replied, in part:

For a disease with a low (for the sake of argument 1%) mortality a vaccine has to be very safe so the safety studies can’t be shortcut. So important for the long run.

So they already knew the mortality rate was low. Interesting.

Six minutes later, Vallance replied again:

existing drugs best things to try for this outbreak. Accelerate vaccine testing where we have good candidates for future, and prepare for manufacturing capacity for longer term.

Existing drugs were never allowed. I would like to see the detail behind that.

On March 1, Boris’s adviser James Slack put forward the press briefing format, which he ran by Dominic Cummings.

That evening, Cummings proposed a Singapore-style response to the virus, because:

My impression is media do not expect china [sic] style response nor do they think it possible …

The following day, James Slack asked for advice on whether people should stop shaking hands, as the subject had come up on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that morning.

Cummings, ever in the zeitgeist, responded:

I’ve stopped!

By March 5:

There were also highly sensitive discussions about what to do if the NHS ran out of staff and beds. If push came to shove, could unqualified volunteers help in intensive care units? Could families be shown how to care for their own sick and dying?

Day by day, the disaster moved closer to home. Terrifying scenes in Italy, where hospitals were overwhelmed by gasping Covid victims and distraught doctors were having to turn away the dying patients were fuelling a sense of impending doom in the UK.

Rumours swirled that Parliament might be forced to close for up to five months. A nervous public was beginning to stay away from restaurants, pubs and theatres – the start of a disastrous hiatus for the hospitality industry.

Warning that insurance would rapidly become a problem, Mr Cummings told Mr Hancock that businesses were “starting to scream” about cancellations. The Department of Health hastily registered Covid as a “notifiable disease”, making it easier for companies to claim compensation.

On March 6:

As people began to panic buy, the Government started talking to supermarkets about how to maintain supplies. Officials wondered whether the Government was being seen to do enough.

On March 7, the Government began thinking about a possible ventilator shortage.

On March 8, Hancock messaged Slack about France:

FYI France has just banned gatherings of over 1000 and said no kissing or handshakes. I imagine we will get some questions over why that’s different to our approach

Slack replied:

I think we’re heading towards general pressure over why our measures are relatively light touch compared to other countries. Also why we aren’t isolating/screening people coming back from Italy. We’ll need to explain very calmly that we’re doing what actually works.

Oh, if they had only left it there, but they didn’t.

On March 9, discussions took place about prioritising life-saving healthcare.

On March 10, the Cheltenham Festival (horse racing) opened and would last through March 13:

The first split was over mass gatherings. In England, Sage continued to advise against cancelling big sporting events. On March 10-13, the Cheltenham Festival went ahead. The Scottish government took a different view. As the pandemic progressed, an increasingly vocal Nicola Sturgeon was a persistent source of anxiety for Number 10

Slack sent out a message. Note that the media appear in it:

For the first time, it feels as if we’re under sustained pressure today over why we aren’t doing more. A split with Scotland would be particularly difficult.

We are also in a bad place on Italy. To the media mind, we’re asking UK nationals to self isolate and saying no one should travel to Italy, but Italians arriving in the U.K. are free to ignore our advice, hop on the Tube and visit tourist hotspots.

On March 11, the then-Digital Culture Media Sports Secretary Nadine Dorries was the first MP to get Covid:

Amid speculation over who else she might have infected, Downing Street was being asked whether Mr Johnson was at risk.

Hancock replied, in part:

PM was not in close contact with Nadine. You have to be within 2m of someone to pass it on, which he tells me he was not. CMO content with this

James Slack asked for an answer on the policy about Italy. Hancock responded:

Because of the level of risk in Italy


Patrick Vallance sent a message, the first part of which reads:

Not correct that the test does not work on people with no symptoms. It does and that’s why we contact trace.


Hancock responded to Vallance’s message, in part:

Patrick what you’ve said is not right.

The clinical advice I’ve had is that the test is NOT reliable on people without symptoms.

I thought so, even at the time.

He ended with this:

Can the scientists please clear this up urgently

The article continues:

Inside Downing Street and the Department of Health, senior figures were fixated by growing calls from the media for more action. Anxious to retain control of the narrative, they fretted that Mr Johnson was being too cautious about imposing restrictions, and discussed how best to change his mind …

Cummings sent a long message reflecting his frustration. At that point, the Government advised frequent and lengthy handwashing. Cummings wanted social distancing measures, citing the new CDC policy in the United States and imagining what the British media and/or the public would say:


Slack replied, excerpted:

Agree with all of this. We’re at a tipping point in the media cycle … The Times and The Telegraph leader columns today point to the growing disquiet

On March 14, the Cheltenham Festival was over. It was blamed for an uptick in cases. Meanwhile:

All over the world, politicians wrestled with the moral and practical implications of letting the virus run its course, allowing populations to build up “herd immunity”.

It was a source of much heated debate in government, but “letting it rip” was never UK Government policy. Mr Hancock was furious when Sir Patrick publicly suggested otherwise

The article has screenshots of the many WhatsApp conversations that took place about testing, the media and schools.

On the evening of Monday, March 16:

Mr Johnson addressed the nation and warned that, without drastic action, the virus would spiral out of control.

The next day:

The elderly and vulnerable were told to stay at home for 12 weeks. Schools would remain open – but not for long. Ministers rushed through legislation giving the Government unprecedented new power to take control of essential services and restrict individual freedoms. Some hospitals were already beginning to struggle because of staff absence …

On March 19:

As the nation headed inexorably towards its first-ever national lockdown, some voices, notably those in the Treasury including Liam Booth-Smith, the then chancellor Rishi Sunak’s special adviser, were trying to present the alternative argument

Booth-Smith asked, quite rightly:

… so how much additional benefit does ‘locking down’ actually get you?

Cummings, a lockdown zealot — even though he would violate the policy himself by driving his wife and young child to County Durham — replied:

All stop using lockdown it’s confusing

We’re trying to stop all non essential social contact. The problem is defining non essential

By Friday, March 20, Rishi’s optimistic budget of March 11 had died a death:

Mr Sunak, who had already announced billions of pounds worth of Covid loans and grants, unveiled his furlough scheme, under which the Government undertook to pay 80 per cent of workers’ salaries. 

All pubs and hospitality were ordered to close from midnight that night. Then came the problems with personal protective equipment …

On the evening of Monday, March 23, at 8:00 p.m.:

the UK went into full lockdown with Mr Johnson’s order to “stay at home”. It was the first of three national lockdowns [in England, anyway], the last of which would only be lifted more than 12 months after the first had begun.

WhatsApp auto-delete now active

In the wake of The Lockdown Files, The Telegraph reported that some in government were changing their WhatsApp settings: ‘Ministers activating auto-delete on their WhatsApp messages’:

Cabinet ministers are using technology that automatically deletes WhatsApp messages, raising fears they are circumventing the Government’s transparency rules.

Some frontbench figures have switched on a function offered by the social media service that effectively means messages self-destruct after a short time period, such as a day.

It calls into question whether ministers are fully following guidance that electronic messages about government policy should be stored for possible Freedom of Information requests.

Some political advisers have even switched on the technology in the wake of The Lockdown Files, which revealed some of the 100,000 WhatsApp messages involving Matt Hancock.

Opposition MPs called for the practice to be stopped on Tuesday, questioning why government ministers would choose to automatically delete some messages

Such discussions are theoretically covered by the Government’s existing transparency rules but they rely on ministers deciding which messages are relevant and storing them.

The Cabinet Office has guidance on the use of private emails which also applies to “other forms of communications and records which deal with departmental business”, such as WhatsApp messages.

The guidance reads: “The responsibility for deciding whether emails should be retained rests with the originator and recipient.

“In general terms, a record need only be retained if it is needed for substantive discussions or decisions in the course of conducting official business.”

How many ministers are using the automatic deletion tool on WhatsApp and for how many interactions is unclear.

Similarly it is not known how often ministers pass on WhatsApp messages about detailed policy discussions to the civil service to be stored.

However, the fact that some ministers are using the automatic deletion mechanism has prompted some MPs to raise concerns that not enough information is being stored …

A Cabinet Office spokesman said: “In the modern age, ministers will use a variety of communication channels for discussions so appropriate arrangements are in place for the management of electronic communications.”

Who else is among those who have set WhatsApp to auto-delete? None other than Simon Case, as The New Statesman reported on March 17. Their scoop comes from Boris’s sister Rachel Johnson:

Props to Rachel Johnson, the journalist and sister of the former prime minister, Boris. She provided great value for money for attendees of the Society of Editors’ Media Freedom Conference in London on Wednesday, 15 March.

Chairing a panel discussion on the press, politics and police, Johnson provided her audience of journalists with something of a scoop on Simon Case, the Cabinet Secretary, who has come under pressure over leaked WhatsApp messages that have come to light in the Telegraph’s Lockdown Files. (One message showed Case saying it was “hilarious” that holidaymakers were being “locked up” in quarantine hotels.)

“I had to be in contact with Simon Case about something a month or so ago,” said Johnson. “And when I was WhatsApping him, my WhatsApps disappeared because he’s now set his phone so that all his WhatsApps disappear immediately.” She added: “I think they disappear within hours, even. You know, so there’s no record of all the things he’s said to me.”

(Without wishing to overcomplicate this story, the Chatterer would note as well that, in January, Johnson said Case had questions to answer in the row over whether the BBC chairman Richard Sharp played a role in a loan-guarantee arrangement between Boris Johnson and the former PM’s distant cousin Sam Blyth.)

Who’d a thunk it?

More on The Lockdown Files tomorrow.

Just as they did with their exposé of the parliamentary expenses scandal in 2009, The Telegraph‘s journalists have excelled themselves with their exploration of the Government’s handling of coronavirus in The Lockdown Files.

Don’t miss my first and second entries, which include reaction from sources elsewhere.

The Telegraph‘s focus on Friday, March 3, was on policing and quarantining holidaymakers.

Boris’s sister speaks

Rachel Johnson, Boris’s sister, wrote about how she and their father were tracked down during the pandemic in ‘As police pursued my father during Covid lockdown, my lonely mother endured care home prison’:

She talks about her brother’s handling of the pandemic and her own views (emphases mine):

I opposed lockdowns on a cellular level. Still do. I have to accept that ultimately schools were closed, the entire population pretty much incarcerated in their own homes, with our sick, vulnerable, frail and elderly people rotting in solitary for months and months on end, and it was all signed off by him.

And I admit that I’ve been cheered to see that the Hancock cache of WhatsApps – which The Telegraph, via Isabel Oakeshott, has done such a majestic public service in revealing – shows him in his truer colours when it came to all the generally pointless non-pharmaceutical interventions we had to put up with for far too long.

He was much more of a sceptic than a zealot, they show, often bounced into U-turns or Covid-sanitary fascism by being presented with selective fatality graphs and other data dashboards in order that he did what either Hancock or Cummings – gibbering control freaks, both – wanted.

She describes a visit from the police and being spied on by a national newspaper, ending with her mother’s loneliness in isolation:

The plight of those in care homes fills me with the most unquenchable rage, even to this day. Many still have visiting restrictions and a Covid mentality. My widowed mother ended up in one, and even from June 2021 residents were isolated in their rooms for 10 days minimum if anyone in the home had tested positive.

Before June, though, my mother lived on her own with a carer. When I called her or Zoomed her, she would whisper: “I’m lonely.” It broke my heart.

I continued to see her, even though she was not in my ludicrous “bubble” as she had a carer. I took her Christmas dinner in 2020. It was against the rules and the laws or whatever. In my view, that was immaterial.

Every Covid restriction broke the laws of nature, and nothing and nobody – and I mean nobody – was going to tell me not to see my mother on her last Christmas on Earth.

The price of freedom is eternal vigilance, and I completely support Isabel Oakeshott’s bravery in showing us how the sausage of doom was made.

It must never, ever, happen again.

Boris’s and Rachel’s mother died in 2021.

Most of us in the UK remember the news story from November 2020 about the woman who attempted to take her mother out of a care home only to find that the police swarmed around them in a car park. Her daughter, Leandra Ashton, who filmed the incident, talked about what a painful moment that was for her mother and grandmother. Police arrested her mother and took her grandmother back to the care home. Dr Renee Hoenderkamp, a GP, is the other lady in the interview with GB News’s Patrick Christys:

Dr Hoenderkamp shares her experience when she spoke to doctors who did not want to listen to her:

It should be noted that over the course of the pandemic, Dr Hoenderkamp changed her mind about coronavirus measures, e.g. masks. The first tweet is part of a long thread:

How Boris’s libertarian instinct disappeared

On Thursday, March 2, we discovered how Boris changed his common sense attitude towards the pandemic in ‘Lee Cain and James Slack – the media advisers who helped shape the decisions that changed our lives’:

WhatsApp messages sent between Boris Johnson and his ministers show the extent to which media advisers were able to influence policy during the coronavirus pandemic.

In June 2020, for example, the then prime minister considered ending some lockdown restrictions early – but dropped the idea after “Slackie and Lee” said it was “too far ahead of public opinion”.

He was referring to James Slack and Lee Cain, his two most important media advisers at the time. Here we take a closer look at the two former journalists who had the prime minister’s ear.

The article says that Lee Cain was remarkably powerful in No. 10 in 2020:

Mr Cain’s influence within Number 10 was such that when the Prime Minister was in hospital with Covid in April 2020, colleagues said – only half-jokingly – that Mr Cain was left “running the country”.

His official role was as the then prime minister’s director of communications. However, WhatsApp exchanges have shown that Mr Cain’s remit went beyond advising on communications and involved helping to decide the policies themselves

When Chris Heaton-Harris, then the rail minister, suggested to Mr Johnson in May 2020 that the border with France could be reopened, Mr Cain intervened.

He wrote: “Quarantine surely an essential part of any exit strategy – and opening up a flank to an entire continent would seem to leave a substantial hole. Public will think (rightly) we are potty. Overwhelming support for tougher action at our borders!!

It was Cain who suggested kowtowing to Nicola Sturgeon on masks. He planted doubt in Boris’s mind, saying that she might be right:

In Aug 2020, when Mr Johnson asked ministers and officials for their views on whether face masks were necessary in schools, Mr Cain told him: “Considering Scotland has just confirmed it will [impose them] I find it hard to believe we will hold the line. At a minimum I would give yourself flex and not commit to ruling it out

“Also why do we want to have the fight on not having masks in certain school settings?”

His pivotal role in government raised eyebrows among some former colleagues who had not seen him as a high-flyer in his previous jobs.

Sturgeon’s mask policy — later Boris’s — came up Thursday night on GB News with Patrick Christys, Neil Oliver and Prof. David Paton lamenting how much damage it did to children:

The article says that Cain had previously worked for The Sun and The Mirror before going into public relations. He began working on the Vote Leave (Brexit) campaign in 2016, which brought him into contact with Dominic Cummings. Interestingly, he had previously applied to be part of the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign but lost out. He claimed he was primarily interested in a political career.

After the successful Brexit referendum result, Cain worked for Andrea Leadsom MP then for Boris when he was Foreign Secretary. Even after Boris resigned that post in the summer of 2018, Cain remained loyal, working for Boris without remuneration. He was confident great things were in store for him.

Ultimately, he ran afoul of Mrs Johnson and set up his own PR firm:

He left Downing Street, together with Mr Cummings, in Nov 2020 after losing what was widely regarded as a power struggle with Mr Johnson’s wife, Carrie. He later set up his own corporate communications firm.

James ‘Slackie’ Slack was the third member of the trio who advised Boris on policy:

Along with Mr Cain and Mr Cummings, he was never far from the prime minister’s side and his input helped to shape key decisions dictating people’s freedoms.

Like the prime minister himself, Mr Slack had no background in science, behavioural psychology or even public relations – but Mr Johnson would rarely make a move without first consulting “Slackey”, “Caino” and “Dom”.

It was he who updated the waiting world on Mr Johnson’s condition as he fought for his life in intensive care.

Along with Mr Cain, he helped to shape lockdown policy by expressing concern that lifting restrictions too soon would be too far ahead of public opinion.

In a similar vein, he told ministers and advisers on March 8 2020 that the newly-imposed first national lockdown was out of kilter with public opinion.

He wrote that: “I think we’re heading towards general pressure over why our measures are relatively light touch compared to other countries. Also why we aren’t isolating/screening people coming back from Italy. We’ll need to explain very calmly that we’re doing what actually works.”

The Telegraph has screenshots of various WhatsApp messages discussing coronavirus measures.

Slack entered the Downing Street orbit in 2016 when he was the political editor of the Daily Mail. Theresa May had just become Prime Minister and hired him in February 2017 to be her official spokesman in order to improve her public image.

After May’s departure, Boris retained Slack:

regarding him as a safe, trustworthy pair of hands. Mrs May rewarded him for his loyal service to her with a CBE in her resignation honours list.

Slack got on well with reporters, which was another plus, then:

He briefly succeeded Mr Cain as No 10 director of communications – a political role, rather than a Civil Service posting – at the start of 2021.

His time in Downing Street ended soon afterwards:

Mr Slack’s Downing Street career came to an unexpectedly shameful end, when The Telegraph revealed he held his leaving party in April 2021 on the eve of the late the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral.

Mr Slack, who had moved back into journalism as deputy editor of The Sun, issued a public apology for his behaviour.

Laughing at quarantined holidaymakers

Another pivotal personality in the pandemic was Simon Case, a career civil servant who worked for then-Prime Ministers David Cameron and Theresa May before taking a break to be Prince William’s Private Secretary between 2018 and 2020.

As I recall, Prince William highly recommended Case to Boris Johnson. In August 2020, Boris appointed Simon Case as Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Home Civil Service. Case continues in that post today under Rishi Sunak.

In the UK, civil servants have long been called ‘mandarins’, which explains this story, ‘Top mandarin mocked holidaymakers “locked up” in Covid quarantine hotel rooms’. It, too, has several screenshots of WhatsApp conversations.

The article begins:

Those unlucky enough to be caught up in Britain’s pandemic-era quarantine hotel policy likened it to being held prisoner.

Messages seen by The Telegraph show that ministers and officials shared the sentiment and joked about passengers being “locked up” in “shoe box” rooms.

In February 2021, Simon Case, the country’s most senior civil servant, was in WhatsApp contact with Matt Hancock, the then health secretary, as Britain began a forced quarantine for returning holidaymakers.

On February 16, 2021, Case asked Hancock how many people had been ‘locked up’ in hotels the day before. Hancock responded:

None. But 149 chose to enter the country and are now in Quarantine Hotels due to their own free will!

To which Case replied:


The Telegraph shared experiences from those quarantined:

Those on the receiving end of the quarantine policy described the misery of being held captive in tiny hotel rooms.

“It feels like I’m in Guantanamo Bay,” one woman who was forced to spend 10 days in a government-approved hotel told The Telegraph at the time. “I honestly believe this would destroy most people’s sanity.”

Another furious traveller said: “It’s total abuse. It has abused basically every single human right that we have.”

In January 2021, Matt Hancock had convinced Boris as well as Case and other senior officials that toughening up travel rules with £10,000 fines was the way to go:

Mr Hancock said it was “BRILLIANT” when he saw reports of people being stopped by police at airports, while Boris Johnson, the prime minister, said news of a traveller being fined £10,000 for breaking quarantine rules was “superb”.

The enforcement of the quarantine rules, including severe punishments for those who broke them, became a major priority for Mr Hancock in the next weeks …

The next month, Mr Hancock shared a story with Mr Johnson directly about two people who were fined £10,000 for failing to quarantine after returning to the UK from Dubai.

Officials had scrambled to put the quarantine policy together amid rising concern in the Government about positive cases slipping into Britain from “red list” countries.

Mr Hancock and Mr Case expressed concern that no single government department had control of the border, describing the situation as “mad” and something the prime minister needed to fix.

Later, doubt arose as to whether the quarantine policy actually worked:

The hotel quarantine policy itself has since been criticised in reports by two parliamentary committees, which said it wasted taxpayers’ money without restricting the spread of Covid.

In a report last April [2022], the transport select committee that “using case numbers as an indicator, there is no evidence that the requirement for travellers from certain countries to quarantine at a hotel, rather than at a location of their choice, has improved the UK’s coronavirus situation compared with other European countries”.

In a submission to the public accounts committee, the Cabinet Office said the Government was unable to determine how successful the quarantine policy had been because “it is difficult to isolate the effects of one of a number of interventions from the other ones”.

The committee concluded that the Government “does not know whether it achieved value for money from the £486 million that it spent implementing measures”.

One tour operator tweeted his disgust at Case’s and Hancock’s cavalier response to quarantined passengers, which affected his own business and others:

Hancock encouraged heavy-handed policing

We knew from the beginning that Matt Hancock wanted police to get tough with normal people trying to survive the pandemic in 2020, but another article has more detail, ‘”Get heavy with police” to enforce lockdown, Matt Hancock told ministers’.

Here, too, Simon Case had some involvement. On August 28, 2020, he WhatsApped Hancock:

Blimey! Who is actually delivering enforcement?

Hancock replied:

I think we are going to have to get heavy with the police

The article explains:

The leaked messages also show that the pair again returned to their fears that police were failing to crack down on alleged lockdown breaches.

However, the police were heavy-handed from the beginning of lockdown in March 2020, with each police force in England deciding how far to go with fines and arrests:

Heavy-handed policing was one of the most controversial issues of the pandemic and saw members of the public fined for going for a walk with a cup of coffee, leaving home “without a lawful reason” and taking part in vigils and protests.

Many of the 118,000 fines were challenged in court and overturned, and officers were later criticised for “Orwellian” tactics that included the use of drones, roadblocks and helicopters to catch rule-breakers.

Meanwhile, in Downing Street, things were very different late in December 2020:

The Telegraph can reveal that Mr Johnson took the decision to create a Tier 4 alert level, effectively cancelling Christmas for 16 million people, while a lockdown party was taking place in the same building.

Timestamps on messages from Mr Case and Mr Hancock, who attended the meeting remotely, show that the “Covid-O” meeting to decide the policy coincided with a Number 10 Christmas party on Dec 18, 2020.

Fines subsequently reviewed

I was very happy to read on Thursday that all the fines issued at the height of the pandemic have since been reviewed, with many rescinded.

‘How Covid turned Britain into a curtain-twitcher’s paradise’ tells us more:

Blameless citizens complained that a family get-together would merit a knock at the door from police, but that they showed no such interest if a burglary was reported.

By March 2022, police forces in England and Wales had issued 118,978 fixed penalty notices for breaches of Covid restrictions.

Fines were issued for uncovered mouths and noses in public places, for failing to self-isolate, for meeting too many friends at once, for having a picnic, for going home after entering the country, and much else besides.

Coronavirus regulations changed more than 60 times over the course of the pandemic, meaning many officers struggled to keep up with the latest iteration of the rules and fines were issued unlawfully.

At the time, senior police officers were understood to be concerned about what they were being asked to do. Having spent years building up trust with communities that were in some cases suspicious of the police, they privately expressed fears that long-term damage would be done to their ability to police by consent.

Early on in the pandemic, Derbyshire Police, which turned out to be one of the most draconian forces of the period, set the tone by pouring black dye into a Peak District beauty spot known as the Blue Lagoon to discourage people from going there for exercise.

The same force deployed drones to spy on people exercising away from their local area, and two women drinking coffee while on a walk together were fined £200 each after their hot drinks were deemed to be “a picnic”.

Their fines were later withdrawn and they received an apology – but the damage was done as far as public opinion was concerned.

A report by HM Inspector of Constabulary in 2021 accepted that there had been “a reduced service” in some areas of policing as “some forces increased the number of crimes they decided not to investigate because they were unlikely to be solved” and reduced in-person visits to registered sex offenders

The low point came in March 2021 during an open air vigil for Sarah Everard, the marketing executive who was abducted and murdered by an off-duty police officer, at which four people were arrested for breaching Covid regulations.

A High Court judge later found that police had breached the human rights of the organisers of the vigil, in particular the right to freedom of speech and assembly …

The House of Commons joint committee on human rights concluded that a “significant number” of fines had been wrongly issued, but that many people felt too intimidated to challenge them.

MPs were so concerned about the heavy-handed approach of some police forces, and the wildly differing interpretations of the rules across different forces, that the committee recommended a review of every fine issued.

It discovered that when people who had been issued with fixed penalty notices opted to take the matter to court, rather than simply paying the fine uncontested, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) found that around a quarter of the charges were incorrect.

Even more extraordinary was the CPS’s disclosure, in 2021, that every prosecution brought under the Coronavirus Act had been unlawful.

The Act was set up to allow the authorities to detain any “potentially infectious” person who refused to take a Covid test, and a CPS review found that all 270 charges under the legislation had been withdrawn when they got to court, or overturned after innocent people were convicted.

However, the fine mentality has affected policing long-term:

There is evidence that this push for ever-greater numbers of fines for petty offences has permanently affected the police’s mentality.

Chief Superintendent Simon Ovens, of the Metropolitan Police’s Roads and Transport Policing Command, told a meeting of the London Assembly last year that Transport for London was targeting one million speeding prosecutions in the capital each year, compared with the 130,000 issued from fixed speed cameras in 2018.

Rather than targeting road safety and fewer deaths and injuries on the roads, the police were targeting enforcement – a reversal of the Peelian principle that success should be measured in a lack of crime, not an increase in arrests.

Lockdown — and Covid fines — also adversely affected courts:

Already facing an inevitable backlog of cases because of the closure of public buildings, courts found themselves dealing with the extra caseload generated by Covid fines when they reopened after lockdown.

In November last year, Max Hill, the director of public prosecutions for England and Wales, disclosed that almost 75,000 defendants were awaiting trial, up from 70,200 in August 2020, meaning the post-Covid backlog of cases has increased rather than being gradually reduced.

The Government’s target is to reduce the waiting list to 53,000 cases by March 2025, which may seem unambitious – but even that target is in danger because of a squeeze on public spending, said Mr Hill …

Clare Waxman, the Victims’ Commissioner for London, said the courts system was “still in crisis” and the delays were having a “devastating” effect on victims.

Former police chief objects to Government policy

During parliamentary debates on lockdown policing, the topic of enforcement arose occasionally. MPs who spoke up said that the police were often confused about what and when to enforce something related to the pandemic. Furthermore, were these actually laws or mere guidance?

On Friday, March 3, The Telegraph published an article on this subject, ‘Former police chief rejects Matt Hancock’s Covid “marching orders” in leaked WhatsApp texts’:

After a meeting on Jan 10, 2021, shortly after another lockdown had begun, Mr Hancock wrote to Mr Case about a meeting in Downing Street with senior police officers on enforcement, with the message finishing by saying: “The plod got their marching orders.”

Reacting to the latest exposé on Friday morning, Sir Peter Fahy, the chief constable of Greater Manchester Police between 2008 and 2015, said: “Lots of people in the police service won’t be surprised at the tone of these remarks.

“They were faced with an unprecedented situation, this legislation was rushed out, it was confused, it had poor definitions in it, there was this constant confusion between what was legislation and what was guidance; often it seemed ministers themselves didn’t understand the impact of the legislation.”

Sir Peter suggested he would not have rolled over had he been called into Number 10 and told to get tough.

“No, the conversation would be ‘sorry the legislation is not clear enough, the definitions are not clear enough, we’re trying to do our best but you’ve not given us the powers to enforce the legislation’… I know those were the messages going back into Government as police were trying to do their best,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

But the former officer of 34 years said “police were stuck in the middle” as some members of the public wanted stronger enforcement while others “felt it was turning into a police state”.

Police forces were repeatedly criticised for being over-zealous during the Covid crisis, prompting Neil Basu, then the Met Police assistant commissioner, to warn in this newspaper at the time that “how we police this pandemic will be remembered for many years to come”.

Nigel Farage targeted

In ‘Can we lock up “pub hooligan” Nigel Farage, asked Hancock’s team’, we discover how they relented:

Matt Hancock’s team asked if they could “lock up” Nigel Farage after he tweeted a video of himself at a pub in Kent, WhatsApp messages have revealed.

On July 4, 2020, the leader of the Brexit Party shared a video of himself drinking his “first proper pint in 103 days” at The Queens Head pub in Downe Village.

A fortnight earlier, Mr Farage had been filmed attending a Donald Trump rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. At the time, anyone entering England from abroad was required to quarantine at home for 14 days or face a fine of at least £1,000.

Messages seen by The Telegraph have revealed that Mr Hancock asked his team to contact the Home Office to see whether they were “considering” pursuing Mr Farage for the apparent breach.

At 4.28pm that day, Mr Hancock messaged the “MH top team” WhatsApp group with a link to a Sky News report claiming Mr Farage had breached quarantine rules. “We need to discuss urgently”, he said.

The group chat, which included his special advisers and senior officials, quickly sprang into action.

Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, at this time one of Mr Hancock’s aides, replied: “Does he count as a pub hooligan? Can we lock him up?”

A senior civil servant also responded to ask whether he “needed anything” and suggested that this might be a matter for Priti Patel, then home secretary.

The police are operationally independent of the Home Office. Despite this, Mr Hancock instructed his team to contact Ms Patel’s private office

Three minutes later, Mr Njoku-Goodwin responded to say that he had “just spoken to HO [Home Office] spads”. He said: “Sounds like we need to get PHE to do one of their ‘spot checks’ and prove that he isn’t at home.”

Mr Hancock then requested that Mr Farage’s case was dealt with “like any other” and that any enforcement action was taken by the Home Office, not the Department of Health.

At the time, Mr Farage insisted he had not broken the rules because he had already completed the 14-day isolation period and tested negative, tweeting a photo of him in a pub with the caption: “Sorry to disappoint you. Cheers!”

But the former Ukip leader told The Telegraph on Thursday that he believes he was in fact in breach, saying: “If I was being honest with you, after the first set of lockdowns I wasn’t really prepared for some little pipsqueak like Matt Hancock to tell me how to live my life, quite frankly.

“That photo was taken when I came back from America, on the day the pubs opened. It was pretty nip and tuck … which means I probably was in breach. I’m probably a Covidiot.”

Mr Farage said he had three visits from the police during the pandemic. “The idea that headmaster Hancock was after me – I love it,” he said.

Farage opened his March 2 GB News show with the story:

Piers Morgan another Government obsession

According to Isabel Oakeshott, to whom Hancock turned over 100,000 WhatsApp messages in compiling his Pandemic Diaries, Piers Morgan was another Government obsession, which I find strange as he was pro-lockdown, pro-masks and pro-vaccines at the beginning. Apparently, he changed his mind partway through:

Contrarian Prof Carl Heneghan speaks

Oxford physician and researcher Prof Carl Heneghan, a Covid contrarian, has been one of my heroes throughout the pandemic.

He wrote an article for The Telegraph‘s Lockdown Files about his experience with Downing Street in late 2020, ‘I warned that second lockdown data was wrong — but I was ignored’:

It was a Saturday morning when I was asked if I could Zoom into Downing Street for 1 pm.

I was in the midst of a morning shift in urgent care – having just walked out of a care home with a seriously unwell patient, I was a little flustered, to put it mildly.

My role has never been to make the decisions, but to ensure that the decisions are based on the best available evidence. In this case, though, it was vital that decisions affecting the whole of society were made on accurate information.

I work with a great team, who forensically look at the data and notice details that most overlook. We met daily, and it had become clear that the slides leaked to the BBC on estimated Covid deaths and that would later be presented at the government press conference were out of date and the reported deaths were way too high.

I spent Saturday informing advisers that there needed to be a better understanding at the heart of the Government.

While several others on that call were also trying to aid the understanding of the data, the message was clear – the Government was about to lock down again, based on the wrong information.

I couldn’t help but think that the public won’t forgive you when they find out they are being fed a narrative of fear based on untruths.

But nothing changed. By Saturday night, the Downing Street press conference went ahead. “Unless we act, we could see deaths in this country running at several thousand a day,” said the PM. The second lockdown was announced that evening.

Heneghan contacted the health editor of The Telegraph who published an article shortly after the second lockdown was announced.

Heneghan also got in touch with Dr Raghib Ali, a new Covid Government adviser at the time:

He organised a second call with Downing Street late on Sunday.

The Lockdown Files reveal that the Prime Minister told his WhatsApp group that I’d said “the death modelling you have been shown is already very wrong, as it was out of date, having been drawn up three weeks previously.

However, it did not make a blind bit of difference:

By Nov 6,  Downing Street insisted the incorrect death toll data was “a mistake”. The error in the graphs made the numbers too high, but by then it was too late to change course. The second lockdown had already begun

How terrible when a government cannot admit the greater mistake of lockdown.

Hancock still aggrieved by The Lockdown Files

Matt Hancock says he still feels betrayed by his former book collaborator, Isabel Oakeshott.

Since The Lockdown Files have appeared, someone posted this 2022 tweet of his wherein he says that even when data bring challenges, the final outcome is always better with them than without:

That’s something he should keep in mind now, rather than licking his wounds.

On Thursday, Oakeshott told Hancock, via Julia Hartley-Brewer’s TalkTV show, that this story is much bigger than he. It’s about an entire nation’s suffering:

Hartley-Brewer tweeted about Hancock and betrayal. She received an apposite response:

On Thursday afternoon, Oakeshott issued a formal statement on the betrayal issue, which is well worth reading:

Much in our nation could well take decades, if ever, to recover from — in my words — Hancock’s disastrous and dictatorial policies.

However, GB News’s Patrick Christys said that ‘failings extended much further beyond Matt Hancock’:

On Thursday, author Lionel Shriver told Jacob Rees-Mogg how sorry she feels for the many children adversely affected by lockdown. It was World Book Day. As such, many schoolchildren dressed up as their favourite literary characters:

The left hand WhatsApp exchange below shows what a farce it was to lock down an entire nation. The mortality rates were quite low overall. When the elderly died, most of them were well into their 80s. People under 35 rarely died. As for Edwina Currie, she single-handedly tanked Britain’s egg market in the late 1980s with her salmonella scare:

No doubt, many of us could rail on and on about this. I have done over the past three years.

On the other hand, no words can express the betrayal we — and those in many other Western countries — experienced from elected representatives who are notionally our public servants.

More to follow next week.

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

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