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The meaning of a marriage

‘A princely marriage is the brilliant edition of a universal fact, and, as such, it rivets mankind,’ wrote the great constitutional theorist Walter Bagehot. ‘A royal family sweetens politics by the seasonable addition of nice and pretty events. It introduces irrelevant facts into the business of government, but they are facts which speak to men’s

Royal Notebook

No one was more irritated than I was when the royal engagement was announced on 16 November. Not, I hasten to say, because I did not welcome the news, but selfishly, because I realised I would miss a rare lunch at the Historic Houses AGM — and many further lunches over subsequent weeks. Since then,

All theatrical bigots should be equal in the eyes of the law

What, to your mind, constitutes a ‘hate crime’? I’ve been wondering about this since reading the comments of Paul Marshall, of the Cumbria CID. What, to your mind, constitutes a ‘hate crime’? I’ve been wondering about this since reading the comments of Paul Marshall, of the Cumbria CID. Paul had been expressing his great satisfaction

How to play the big day

Through fashionable London the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton is causing confusion. Privately, the snoots of Islington and Notting Hill are no different from the rest of us. They think Kate looks cracking and RAF pilot William would make a fine son-in-law. Is there not always something irresistible, my dears, about a tall,

Harlem renaissance

A massive project to change the lives of America’s poorest children It’s raining in Harlem this morning — big fat American rain tipping out of the big gray sky, sluicing down the crumbling brownstones, over the awning of the Manna soul food and salad bar (‘we serve oxtail, collard green, candy yam, fried fish, chips

‘What is truth?’

It’s unwise to rely on the Gospels for an accurate description of that first Good Friday ‘And yet we call this Friday good.’ So what actually happened on the first Good Friday? The balance of probability is heavily against those who would dismiss the whole affair as a mere addition to the literature of mythology.


It’s high time the US ended its ‘see no evil’ approach to Mexico More dead bodies found in Mexico this week. As we all focus on Libya and Afghanistan, the cartels keep stepping up the violence just over the border — so perhaps the time has come for America to take a really objective look

The Spectator’s over-80 power list

It is hard to think of a time when the over-80s have held such sway over British public life. Shirley Williams has the government at her mercy as she decides what to do about its NHS reform bill. If many are unaware that P.D. James is woman, then even fewer will know (or care) how

Reason vs romanticism

The American South? You don’t know the half of it Stand by. I am going to explain the American South, a subject that makes the quantum theory seem like child’s play. The first thing you must understand is that there is no South — there are two. One is the Upper South of horses, tobacco

‘We’re all doomed!’

Scotland is staring into a £4.5 billion black hole ‘Their form of rule is democratic for the most part, and they are very fond of plundering…’ That description of the Scots by Cassius Dio, the Roman historian, in the early 3rd century testifies to the consistency of the Scottish character over 1,800 years. Today the