Prince charles

How Prince Charles’s €1m bagman infiltrated the British establishment

The Queen rarely – if ever – accepts invitations to dinner at private houses, no matter how grand. But in the summer of 2014 the oil and gas rich Gulf state of Qatar became the first ‘official partner’ of Royal Ascot and secured branding rights for the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II stakes. The Qataris also agreed to pay for the upkeep of the Castle of Mey which is owned by the royal family. And so breaking with tradition the Queen accepted a dinner invitation and joined the ruling family of Qatar and assorted guests. The Qataris had just spent an estimated £75 million on their London mansion at Dudley

Inside the clash between Boris and Charles

Boris Johnson is the kind of prime minister who believes that rules are there to be broken. This certainly seems to apply to his relations with the Crown. Conversation between the government and the monarchy is, by convention, kept strictly confidential. But when Prince Charles privately described the government’s Rwanda deportation policy as ‘appalling’ within political earshot, word leaked out suspiciously quickly – via Westminster channels. Johnson then chose to fuel the story at the Commonwealth summit in Kigali by telling broadcasters that Charles should keep ‘an open mind’. Given that the Prince was standing in for the Queen as head of the Commonwealth, it was remarkable to have the

Letters: How to face death

Be prepared Sir: The advice of Jeremy Clarke’s Aunty Margaret that he ‘must “get right with the Lord” as a matter of the gravest urgency’ in the light of his cancer diagnosis is spot on. I say that not just because I’m a vicar, but because I have sat at innumerable bedsides of people in the last days of their lives and have often found myself thinking: ‘You really should have prepared for this a long time ago.’ But by then they were too sick, too tired or too drugged up to think straight about spiritual matters and I have always felt that I would be intruding if I forced

‘It’s in my blood’: Why Prince Charles loves Transylvania

For the first time since the pandemic, Prince Charles has returned to Transylvania. When he visits the small village of Miclosoara, or, as the Hungarian locals who live here know it, Miklósvár, the weather is perfect. There’s a small breeze and a light rain has fallen, but the sun is now out. ‘Look at that!’ someone exclaims in surprise and points a finger in the air. It’s a rare sight: over the mossy rooftops, an angry jay is chasing off a stork. The storks returned weeks ago, and while some are still busy perfecting their nests most already have chicks to feed. Prince Charles looks around. The bird must be

Prince Charles is playing with fire

Charles is a prince on a perilous path. It’s a well-trodden one that is proving more problematic the closer he gets to having a crown placed on his head. He has opinions, who doesn’t. He wants to share them, like the rest of us. His decades long predicament is that he occupies a privileged position which should limit his ability to hold forth. His once private – and not denied – belief that the government’s plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda is ‘appalling’ is not the consensus view. A man teetering on the edge of inheriting a unifying role as Head of the Nation has entered a divisive debate

This isn’t the beginning of the Charles Regency

One of the cruellest and most accurate remarks made about Prince Charles is that he is less king-in-waiting and more the perennial prince, forever hanging about in his mother’s shadow and increasingly desperate to assume the throne. Yet he is now 73 years old, and will be the oldest monarch to ascend the throne since William IV, who became king aged 64 in 1830. This is a source of endless frustration to Charles. Newspaper briefings by well-placed courtiers have suggested he longs for greater involvement in the day-to-day running of ‘the Firm’, perhaps even culminating in an official Regency, given his mother’s declining health. If Charles wishes to be beloved,

The Prince Andrew conundrum

Prince Philip’s memorial service yesterday was an affecting occasion. The hymns, including Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer and Britten’s Te Deum In C were well chosen, and the Dean of Windsor’s well-judged sermon acknowledged both the Duke of Edinburgh’s sincere but never pious religious faith and his energetic, at times abrasive personality. The Dean suggested, rightly, that the Duke would never have wanted to be remembered as a plaster saint. After the low-key Covid-necessitated funeral service of last year, it was a public reminder that the royal family can still command both dignity and respect. So why, then, have today’s headlines been so dreadful? She was acting as a

A scrapbook of sketches: James Ivory’s memoir is slipshod and inconsequential

James Ivory and Ismail Merchant formed the most successful cinematic partnership since Michael Powell and Eric Pressburger. Between the founding of Merchant Ivory in 1961 and Merchant’s death 44 years later, the company produced 42 films, more than half of which were directed by Ivory himself. Although its range was wider than is often allowed, the company’s fame rests on its adaptation of late 19th- and early 20th-century novels, among them Henry James’s The Europeans, The Bostonians and The Golden Bowl, E.M. Forster’s Howards End, A Room with a View and Maurice, and Jean Rhys’s Quartet. Even their detractors — and there are many — acknowledge the wit, elegance and

Anthony Holden is nostalgic for journalism’s good old bad old days

After a career spanning 50 years, 40 books and about a million parties, Anthony Holden has written a memoir. Based on a True Story is bookended by touching accounts of his childhood and old age. Born in 1947, Holden grew up in Southport. His adored grandfather, Ivan Sharpe, played football for England, winning gold at the 1912 Olympics. In later life he was a sports writer, and would take the young Holden to the press box at Liverpool or Everton, tasking him with noting down the game’s statistics. Holden dates his journalistic ambitions to the early thrill of ‘seeing my numbers in print in the very next day’s edition of

The paradoxical integrity of our dodgy honours system

We are told that the Prince of Wales had no idea at the time that his underlings were offering to sell honours to random zillionaires. That’s lucky. Instead of being tarred by the sticky brush of corruption, then, he emerges from this minor scandal as a benign old nitwit, shovelled from one place to another by his suited aides, shaking hands and offering tea to this Russian biznizman, that Chinese philanthropist, that Saudi moneybags (‘Mahfouz bin Mahfouz, Sir. Very important chap. Great benefactor.’ ‘Yes, jolly good. Have you come far, Mr Mahfouz?’) I’m inclined to take the denial that he knew what was going on pretty much at face value. It’s

Is the life of Jimmy Savile a suitable subject for drama?

One day in 1975 the Israeli cabinet found themselves being lectured on the most intractable political problem of our age — how to bring peace to the Middle East — by a peculiar white-haired British entertainer wearing a pink suit with short sleeves. His name? Jimmy Savile. That’s how he told it anyway. Remarkably, witnesses back up the generality if not the specifics of the anecdote. Savile indeed visited the Holy Land in 1975. And he did talk to the Israeli president Ephraim Katzir, saying (so he claimed): ‘I’m very disappointed because you’ve all forgotten how to be Jewish and that’s why everyone is taking you to the cleaners.’ Jimmy

Most-read 2020: Warring Windsors – the real royal conflict

We’re closing 2020 by republishing our ten most-read articles of the year. Here’s No. 4: Camilla Tominey on the Prince of Wales Three years ago, Sir Christopher Geidt departed as the Queen’s private secretary. For years, he had done much to hold The Firm together, but his influence was resented by Prince Charles. The festering acrimony between Buckingham Palace and Clarence House came to a head in 2017 when Geidt, a Cambridge-educated former Scots Guard, convened a meeting of staff to announce Prince Philip’s retirement without first consulting Charles’s aides. Geidt ended up being forced out after a decade of unwavering service. Many in the family — including the Princess Royal

Did any of this actually happen? The Crown, season four, reviewed

‘We have to stop it now!’ says Princess Margaret (Helena Bonham Carter), smoking another cigarette, obviously. She’s talking about the impending royal wedding between her nephew Charles and a pretty but gauche young thing called Lady Diana Spencer. Spoiler alert: none of the family will listen. Yes, The Crown is back on Netflix for its fourth season, and naturally I skipped straight to the episode that will be of most interest to everyone: the royal engagement and its aftermath. Why is this subject so grimly, pruriently, enduringly fascinating? Because even though it really did happen and many of us remember it vividly, it yet has the fantastical implausibility of the

Has Spitting Image ever been funny?

Thank you, Spitting Image, for the nostalgia trip! Your new series on BritBox has rekindled with almost Proustian fidelity those feelings I used to get every single time I watched the show back in my lost 1980s youth: the bathos; the disappointment; the frustration; the despair; the perpetual astonishment that puppet caricatures full of such satirical promise should so unfailingly and relentlessly be let down by such a leaden, insight-free script. Yes, we all remember the puppets: Margaret Thatcher in her chalk-stripe business suit; Norman Tebbit in his leathers; the hacks represented by wolves. But can anyone recall a single line from any episode that made them laugh, ever? I

Prince Charles tests positive for coronavirus

In the clearest sign yet that the coronavirus does not care about status, wealth or class, Prince Charles announced today that he has tested positive for the disease. According to a statement released by Clarence House, the heir apparent felt ‘mild symptoms’ on Sunday night, but ‘otherwise remains in good health’. Charles was tested on Monday by NHS Aberdeenshire. He and Camilla (who tested negative for coronavirus) are now self-isolating separately in Scotland, while the Queen continues to self-isolate in Windsor castle. Charles’s last public event was a dinner in aid of the Australian bushfire relief, on 12 March at Mansion House. It has been reported that he last came

What Prince Harry can learn from Charles on dealing with Trump

Donald Trump said in his interview with Good Morning Britain this morning that he ‘totally listened’ to Prince Charles’s views on climate change. It’s quite a feat for the future king to curry favour with the president and bend his ear on the issues most dear to him. But to anyone watching Trump’s State Visit unfold over the last few days, it is not at all surprising. Amid a background of protests, Prince Charles has been nothing but cordial and hospitable towards Trump, rising above the political fray and, in doing so, seems to have won his trust. The contrast between Charles’s treatment of the president and the purported behaviour of his son Prince Harry

A romp through royal hits and misses

You might well expect a royal documentary on Channel 5 to be unashamedly gossipy. You might also expect it to go for the simultaneous possession and eating of cake — lamenting the endless scrutiny the poor Windsors are subject to, while adding a fair amount of its own. What you mightn’t expect, however, is for the presenter to be Jeremy Paxman. But in Paxman On The Queen’s Children all three things are true. Stranger still, the result is undeniably enjoyable, thanks largely to Paxo himself, who comes across rather as Robert De Niro did in films like Meet the Fockers: as a man who, after decades of the serious stuff,

The Spectator Podcast: Bluffers and Royals

We often complain that our politicians are all bluffers who know very little about a lot. But is the very structure of our political institutions at fault? And speaking of bluffers, Theresa May is so far successfully fudging her way through the Brexit negotiations, but can she survive after March 2019? And last, maybe all this politics has made you long for the good old days of monarchy. With Prince Charles’s art collection on exhibit, we talk about how it reflects Charles’s One Nation Toryism. PPE – that notorious Oxford degree that ostensibly teaches its students Philosophy, Politics, and Economics – and apparently, how to govern a country. Or at

High life | 28 March 2018

Gstaad At dinner the other night a friend wondered what came first, social climbing or name-dropping? It’s obviously a very silly question, and we all had a laugh about it. ‘As Achilles told me in his tent the other evening, Helen always fancied him and Menelaus didn’t like it a bit.’ Or, ‘I’m rather tired of listening to Claudius complaining that Agrippina doesn’t hold a candle to Messalina in the sack.’ We played that game for a while and then I dropped the name of Highgrove, and the first time the Queen was seen in public with Camilla. I began to describe the outdoor lunch and my guests started to

The clown prince

It has long been my belief that whereas the quality of gentiles drawn to Judaism is very high (Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, myself), the dregs are drawn to Islam. And leaving aside the dozy broads who gravitate to it for kinky reasons after watching one too many Turkish Delight ads (Vanessa Redgrave, Lauren Booth), there is something about this religion which attracts the very weakest of Western men. We think of those often half-witted types who learn to build a bomb online. Then there are the imam-huggers of the left who never met a wife-beating mad mullah they didn’t like. A lot of the reason left-wing men seem to have