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The day I danced with the Duke of Edinburgh

I started working for the royal family in a temporary role at Balmoral Castle, Her Majesty the Queen’s residence in the Highlands, in 2006. I spotted an advert on my university careers website and thought it might be a good summer stop-gap job until I found something more permanent. I must have made a good

The truth about Russia’s hidden Covid deaths

The secret is out: the Russian government has been lying to its people. Officially, Russia’s coronavirus death toll for last year — as reported on state television and logged at the World Health Organisation — was an impressively low 86,498 for a population of 146 million. In his traditional December press conference Vladimir Putin proudly

Who can take on China in the tech arms race?

The government’s decision to water down new foreign investment rules designed to protect national security casts serious doubt about its resolve to keep China out of the most sensitive parts of the British economy. Raising the threshold above which an overseas stake must be examined from 15 per cent to 25 per cent will sharply

The deafening rise of ‘background’ music

One of my favourite things on British Muslim TV is Ask the Alim. An alim is a learned expert in the law. He’ll answer anything, live. The 2020 Best Bits highlights programme included a question about divorce. Can a man take back a woman he has divorced? Good question. It depends whether the divorce is

Britain is in danger of repeating its post-war mistakes

In search of wisdom about how an officious government reluctantly relaxes its grip after an emergency, I stumbled on a 1948 newsreel clip of Harold Wilson when he was president of the Board of Trade. It’s a glimpse of long-forgotten and brain-boggling complexity in the rationing system. ‘We have taken some clothing off the ration

Money to burn: shoppers, not the state, will lead our recovery

Compared with the United States, the UK has so far been relatively cautious about launching stimulus programmes to kick-start the economy. And yet perhaps it doesn’t need to. People are paying off their credit cards, putting some money into the stock market, buying new houses, as well as finally booking a restaurant and getting back

Notes on...

For Queen and country: the joy of Land Rovers

The Duke of Edinburgh’s coffin will be carried in a Land Rover. Not any old Land Rover, but a Defender 130 Gun Bus, designed by the Duke for his funeral and adapted by Foley Specialist Vehicles. By chance, years ago, when researching my book on Land Rovers, I visited Foley while they were adapting the