Royal family

The three most radical words Jesus said

Some Jewish friends recently asked me: ‘What is Good Friday?’ At first, they said, they had thought it was so called because of the peace agreement signed in Northern Ireland in 1998. Then they had learnt that it was a Christian thing, but they weren’t sure what. They wanted to know why it was ‘Good’. This put me to the test. You cannot explain anything about Christianity without paradox. It was Good, I hazarded, because it was bad: Jesus had to die to rise. My friends were scrupulously polite, but I thought I detected increasing perplexity. Many films of Christ’s Passion have been made, but all from a more or

How the BBC scapegoated Martin Bashir

I have become rather obsessed with Martin Bashir and his downfall. Three years ago, I began researching for a play based around his infamous 1995 Panorama interview with Diana, Princess of Wales, which he secured by forging bank statements and reinforcing her belief that there was an Establishment conspiracy against her. When I started writing I thought I would soon understand him. But he still baffles me. When we corresponded recently via email, he suggested playing himself on stage or, failing that, what about Idris Elba? I couldn’t tell if he was joking.   I knew Bashir pretty well back in the day. We were fellow reporters at the BBC and

Modest fun: Red, White & Royal Blue reviewed

Red, White & Royal Blue is a rom-com based on the LGBT bestselling novel by Casey McQuiston. Nope, me neither, but the New York Times reviewed it as ‘a brilliant, wonderful book’ and on Amazon UK it has garnered nearly 44,000 reviews, with an average of 4.5 stars, so let’s not be hasty. The romance here is between ‘America’s First Son and the Prince of Wales’, says the blurb, which does sound juicy, and it’s not a YA (Young Adult) novel but an NA (New Adult) one, apparently, aimed at a slightly older audience. I did consider reading it so that I could say this isn’t as good as the

Portrait of the week: Coronation protests, new powers for pharmacists and Labour gains ground

Home The day after the coronation, 20,000 attended a concert in Windsor Castle, including the King and Queen. ‘As my grandmother said when she was crowned, coronations are a declaration of our hopes for the future,’ said the Prince of Wales in a speech to the crowd. ‘And I know she’s up there, fondly keeping an eye on us. She would be a proud mother.’ His brother, the Duke of Sussex, had witnessed the coronation from the third row, and left for his family in America immediately after. On television, 20.4 million had seen the King crowned. The Metropolitan Police arrested 64 people, 13 to ‘prevent a breach of the

Sorry Harry, I’m the real media intrusion victim

What an emotional wringer the royal family has put us through in the past two years, from the sadness of Prince Philip’s death to the joyful Platinum Jubilee, then Queen Elizabeth II’s own extraordinarily moving funeral, and now the coronation of her son. I’ve felt so privileged to have been at Buckingham Palace for the last three events, anchoring Fox News coverage in America. After we came off air on Saturday, I mused with my two US co-presenters about what may be the next major royal occasion: a wedding, a funeral, a silver jubilee (Charles would have to live as long as his grandmother for that to happen)? Or God

What happens when coronations go awry

Despite weeks of preparation and rehearsal, coronations don’t always go according to plan. Indeed, a botched coronation or one plagued by misfortune can be taken by the superstitious as a poor augury for coming reigns – sometimes justifiably. Case in point: the celebrations of Tsar Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna in Moscow’s Dormition Cathedral on 14 May 1896. While the hours-long ceremony for the last Tsar and Tsarina went off without a hitch, the following national holiday and public feast in Khodynka Field led to a stampede where at least 1,300 died and 1,300 more were left with serious injuries. The cause? A day later, the Russian government gazette issued the following anodyne

In praise of minor royals

On a scaffold hung with black cloth, on a freezing January day in 1649, the instinct for sumptuousness died in these islands. It was killed alongside Charles I, kingly excess and belief in divine right and, with intermittent exceptions, has never recovered. And so when, time and again since September, we’ve heard about our new King’s plans for downsizing the monarchy, the bulk of the population has calmly nodded its assent. Trim, slim, streamline, skimp. Time to dispense with peripheral royal family members! Farewell to the jostling chorus line of the Buckingham Palace balcony of yesteryear, all oversized hats, Ruritanian frippery and excitable small children! Away with the hangers-on! A

Lessons for Meghan from Fergie

Before the Sussexes – before the Grabdication was a twinkle in Meghan’s crocodile eye – there was Sarah, Duchess of York; greedy, grasping, grubby Fergie. Some see Diana as when the stiff upper lip of heritage royalty became the trembling lower lip of the new breed. But the Princess of Wales was a teenage virgin with a headful of dreams lured into a marriage in which she was a breeding machine with a man who was still in love with his ex; this would have made any woman with spirit react. No, Diana was a hard worker with an attractive dash of spite – that revenge dress, that three-in-this-marriage quip – which

Is this Britain’s most historic house?

Hyperbole in estate agents’ brochures isn’t unusual – but when it comes to a write-up for Great Tangley Manor, which has gone on the market for £8.95 million, overkill is almost impossible. Believed to be the UK’s oldest continuously inhabited property – its Saxon foundations date from 1016 – the Grade I-listed moated manor house, in the village of Wonersh in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, comes with an extraordinary roll call of associated famous names. From the spheres of royalty, art, literature, garden design and even America’s Gilded Age, all have played their part in shaping secluded Great Tangley into a country house with a compelling story.  The

In defence of Prince Harry’s necklace

The revelation that Prince Willy allegedly broke Prince Harold’s necklace in a fight shows how unshockable we’ve become when it comes to Harry and Meghan drama. Because my main question after this particular episode isn’t about press standards or dysfunction in the royal family – it’s ‘why was he wearing a necklace?’. When I was a child, my mother would impress upon my brother, sister and me the importance of not being seen to do or wear anything that could be regarded as ‘naff’. Tattoos and earrings or necklaces (on men) were all deemed especially naff. As a result, between the three of us we have 12 tattoos at the last count. I

My advice to Harry and William

Reading about the latest about the pathetic-sounding scuffle between Prince Harry and his older brother, I think I could tell the pair a thing or two about fraternal enmity. My older brother, another Harry, and I have not spoken to each other in more than 30 years. He was taller, blond and looked Germanic. I was shorter, brown-haired and looked Greek. He never made it at school, whereas I collected lots and lots of sporting trophies. My father named him an executive in his shipping companies, I was the odd man out. Harry had the largest house in the Hamptons and the poshest apartment in New York, whereas I sort of

The power of the royal Christmas message

Today, shortly before 3 p.m., there will be a collective heave as backsides – weighed down from turkey and roast potatoes – are prised from dining chairs and plonked on to sofas to tune into the King’s speech. So I very much hope. For the royal Christmas broadcast is important, and this year’s of course marks a new era. This afternoon our televisions will bring us not only the first Christmas message from the new King, but indeed the first from any King. For while the tradition of the Christmas message began in 1932 under King George V, the first Christmas broadcast to be televised was not until 1957, and

The King’s speech

How the royals do Cornwall

There was arguably no better advocate for holidaying in Britain than Queen Elizabeth II. Her Majesty loved to spend her summers in Scotland, having stayed at Balmoral each August since she was a girl. But could the next generation of royals favour the warmer climes of Cornwall over chilly Scotland? It certainly seems so. After Charles became King, William inherited the Duchy of Cornwall estate from his father. Not only is he now responsible for the Duchy’s extensive portfolio of Cornish property and farmland but he also inherits the 500-year-old Restormel Manor in the heart of Cornwall. Situated only a few miles from the house that inspired Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca, it

The empty eco-activism of renting clothes

From time to time my Instagram algorithm will taunt me with a dress. It is – unequivocally ­– the most beautiful dress I’ve ever seen. Satin, emerald green, halter-neck. The dress retails for about £200, and is always sold out in my size. The ad that Instagram teases me with is for a rental, which you can pick up for £73. This is the latest fad in so-called eco-activism. Rent a dress for an astonishing amount – usually a dress that’s sold out or difficult to track down – and you will save the world! Fighting back against the mortal sin that is fast-fashion. The trend is so popular now

Why househunters are heading to Royal Berkshire

When the Prince and Princess of Wales announced they were moving their family to the Royal County of Berkshire this summer, estate agents reported a ‘flurry’ of enquiries about properties around Windsor and the village of Bucklebury, 50 minutes west on the M4. The Middleton family had already been increasing their interests in and around Bucklebury, where they have lived since Kate was young. James Middleton and his French wife, Alizée, own a farmhouse there, and Pippa Middleton’s husband, James Matthews, has acquired Bucklebury Farm Park. Pippa and her husband also bought a £15 million mansion nearby this year. And where royals and their relatives lead, it seems others follow.

Yours for £3k a week, the townhouse with royal history woven into it

The 34 early Georgian houses that line Fournier Street, in the heart of Spitalfields, are a perfectly preserved microcosm of East London life through the centuries. Since it was built in the 1720s, the street – which runs between Brick Lane and Commercial Street, in E1 – has variously been home to the city’s wealthiest and poorest. With many of its first residents Huguenot weavers escaping religious persecution in France, the street is characterised by its series of highly glazed lofts, harnessing the light vital for the skilled textile work, with many of the houses subsequently bought by those in the silk trade. Arguably one of the finest houses on the

The Crown doesn’t need a disclaimer

The fifth series of Netflix’s The Crown will soon be upon us. Scripted, as ever, by Peter Morgan, the show will cover the travails of the royal family throughout the 1990s, spanning everything from the then Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s marital difficulties and eventual divorce to the rumours of Prince Philip conducting an affair with a much younger woman (his partner in carriage driving, we are told). Jonny Lee Miller, erstwhile Sick Boy from Trainspotting and Sherlock Holmes from Elementary, dons thick glasses and a grey wig to play former prime minister John Major, a decent man who never stood a chance. Later in the series, we are promised the first

Let’s give Meghan Markle the applause she deserves

The late actor Christopher Plummer once likened working with Julie Andrews on The Sound of Music to ‘being hit over the head with a big Valentine’s Day card’. Reading the latest bulletin from the Duchess of Sussex, the image returned unbidden; having to listen to the ceaseless stream of platitudes that this bad actress expels verbally into the world is like being hit over the head with an inspirational poster – LIVE, LAUGH, LOVE – until one loses the will to live, let alone laugh and love. But whereas we might once have loathed her, so shameless is the ageing starlet in pursuit of income – sorry, insight – that

Meghan Markle’s podcast is about the word ‘crazy.’ And it’s barking mad

‘Calling someone crazy or hysterical completely dismisses their experience,’ says Meghan Markle in her strangely throaty professional podcast voice. ‘It minimises what they’re feeling. And you know it doesn’t stop there. It keeps going to the point where anyone who has been labelled it enough times can be gaslit into thinking that they’re actually unwell. Or sometimes worse to the point where real issues of all kinds get ignored. Well that’s not happening today.’ Cue the intro music – ‘I am woman, I am fearless, I am sexy’ etc. – to the latest episode of Archetypes, the Duchess of Sussex’s Spotify series. ‘I feel pretty strongly about this word crazy,’