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Freddy Gray

Battle royal: Harry and Meghan’s modern brand of revenge

Remember the Heads Together campaign? It was back in 2017. Prince William, his wife Kate and his brother Prince Harry, who’d recently begun dating a conspicuously woke actress called Meghan Markle, launched a charitable endeavour to raise awareness about mental health. The princes gave interviews in which they ‘opened up’ about their struggles. Such public

In defence of Meghan, the demonised duchess

The words pouring on Meghan’s head are written for a witch, because that is the natural progress of the story. The royal family are our national myth and sacrifice: our small flesh gods, without whom we would have to have a serious political system requiring serious engagement, instead of which we have this. Interlopers are

My fight to stop the Chinese censors sanitising Dante

My book on Dante Alighieri was due to come out in Chinese translation later this year, but first I had to consent to sizeable cuts. Even by the standards of other authoritarian states the Beijing censors struck me as overzealous. It seems odd that the medieval Italian poet could cause such unease among modern-day totalitarians.

How I’d write Covid: The Thriller

Like 98.3 per cent of humanity, I’ve spent the past 12 months reading dubiously precise statistics, staring listlessly into space for hours on end, and, most poignantly, wondering if I am an extra in a movie about a pandemic. This last intuition only worsened when I watched Contagion — the 2011 Kate Winslet/Gwyneth Paltrow pandemic

Confessions of a lifelong bitch

As I watched the Duchess of Sussex give her extended acceptance speech for Best Performance As A Victim — played as a cross between Bambi and Beth from Little Women — my overwhelming feeling was of disappointment. Readers may recall that I once wrote long and loopy love letters to her in this very magazine,

The dangers of televising lobby briefings

Like a tongue searching for an absent tooth, I keep wondering if I’m missing anything from my two decades as a lobby hack. Friends, of course, and perhaps the vast, grey field of sloping slate as seen from the Times’s parliamentary office. That empty and silent space, the roof of Westminster Hall, seemed austere and


Will the Tokyo Olympics go ahead?

Tokyo This week was the tenth anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake, the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in the country. It, along with the tsunami it triggered, claimed an estimated 19,000 lives. I was walking in the Shibuya district of Tokyo when the quake knocked me off my feet. I recall being first

Notes on...

Why egrets keep making headlines

There’s an unwritten rule in newspaper journalism that any story about egrets must have one of two headlines. Either ‘no egrets’ if numbers are dropping or ‘egrets, we’ve had a few’ if they are booming. At the moment, fortunately, it’s the latter. The little egret (egretta garzetta) can be seen as something of a trailblazer.