Royal family

Charles III will reign in an age where feeling trumps duty

Charles III’s first address to the nation as King began by speaking of sorrow – and went on to speak of love. He used ‘love’ or its cognates eight times in that short speech. He spoke of his ‘darling Mama’ and ‘dear late Papa’, of love for Harry and Meghan, love for his people and for tradition, and the loving support of his ‘darling wife’. He spoke, too, of grief and consolation. In setting out his stall as King – if that’s not too vulgar an expression for what he has been doing over the past few days – Charles III has done so in terms of feeling. He has

How The Spectator reported the Queen’s life

The reason the British people love the Queen, and are willing to die for her, is that they can understand what she is about, in a way that they cannot understand what the constitution, cabinet and parliament are about, or the Courts of Justice or the Bank of England, or any of the other abstractions which comprise our so-called system of government. Monarchy is credible, as Bagehot said, because it is personal. Seeing is believing. That is why all the old royal ceremonials are important: not because they are incomprehensible and mysterious, but because they are intelligible and familiar. All that talk about the magic of monarchy is very misleading.

Matthew Parris

Must Charles change?

When something starts to be said with such frequency that it fast becomes the conventional wisdom, one should pause, step back and give it a second thought. In almost every ‘Advice to King Charles’ column I’ve read, and in broadcast commentary too, the same piece of wisdom is being repeated: the new King must now distance himself from his own strong opinions on a range of subjects, and assume an air of neutrality on anything remotely controversial or ‘political’. He must forget, and we must forget, that he once had beliefs. ‘You can do it, Charles,’ we’ve been saying. ‘You can wipe your personal software of all that clutter, empty

Douglas Murray

A hereditary monarchy is good for politics

I suppose it was inevitable that with the death of HM the Queen certain floodgates would open. During her reign it often felt as though there were forces that she was single-handedly holding back. As Lionel Shriver has noted elsewhere, they have come in particularly malicious form from parts of the US. But there is one part of the republican critique of monarchy that has returned which is too little addressed, and which I have found myself countering in recent days. Not, I might add, from the sort of people who are simply hostile to our country and its past, but rather from people who wish us well but are

A lifelong friendship: the Elizabeth I knew

On 29 January 1947, the Queen and Princess Elizabeth came to St Mark’s in Mayfair to attend my marriage to Eric Penn. On the following day they set sail on HMS Vanguard for South Africa where King George VI and the Queen, accompanied by their two daughters, were to make a historic tour of the region at a pivotal moment not just in the history of the union of South Africa, but of the British Empire itself. Princess Elizabeth and I were both born in 1926 within three months of one another, but our paths did not cross until I became engaged to Eric. He was comptroller of the Lord

The Queen’s strength was that she did not change

Her task – did she ever quite realise it? – was to preside over a country in decline; and not merely to preside over it, but to be the nation’s anaesthetic, creating the illusion that the nightmare was not happening. When she was born, at 17 Bruton Street, by Caesarean section, on 21 April 1926, Britain commanded the mightiest, richest empire in the history of the world. By the time she died, Britain had ceased even to be what Gore Vidal once called it, an American aircraft-carrier. It was simply a muddle of a place, which had lost most of its manufacturing industrial wealth, all its political influence in the

Memories of Princess Elizabeth

I am completely and utterly devastated by the passing of our wonderful, inspirational Queen, as I’m sure are so many in our fair isles. It is the end of the brilliant Elizabethan era. I was so proud to have been part of her last Jubilee. After being driven along the circuitous pageant route around London, I finished up seated in the Royal Box, waving at Her Majesty in what would prove to be her last appearance on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, where she sparkled in emerald green. This brought back memories of May 1945, when we were all celebrating the end of the second world war. My father drove

Toby Young

What Charles shouldn’t do

One of the most regrettable trends of the past few decades is the creep of politics into every aspect of our public life. Institutions tasked with preserving our heritage, such as Tate Britain, Kew Gardens and the National Trust, are busy holding themselves to account for their historic links to slavery and colonialism, while the police, the civil service and the Church of England have embraced the mantra of equity, diversity and inclusion. The people in charge of these organisations – liberal, urban, highly educated – don’t think of these values as politically contentious, while those of us who don’t fall into those categories – probably the majority of the

Elizabeth II was our greatest diplomat

The grief is still raw and the news has barely sunk in. I feel quite heartbroken. But I know that many the world over feel the same. The death of Queen Elizabeth II has special resonance here in this country, in the Realms and in the Commonwealth. Yet there is barely a corner of the world that her smile did not touch. There is quote in The Great Gatsby I have always liked, and now it makes me think of her. For she ‘had one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced,

King Charles’s first address as monarch in full

I speak to you today with feelings of profound sorrow. Throughout her life, Her Majesty the Queen – my beloved mother – was an inspiration and example to me and to all my family, and we owe her the most heartfelt debt any family can owe to their mother; for her love, affection, guidance, understanding and example. Queen Elizabeth’s was a life well-lived, a promise with destiny kept, and she is mourned most deeply in her passing. That promise of lifelong service I renew to you all today. Alongside the personal grief that all my family are feeling, we also share with so many of you in the United Kingdom, in

Lessons for life from the Queen

Having taken the Queen’s remarkable longevity, good health and work ethic for granted right until the end, might her subjects now appreciate her approach to life? Because through her combination of sheer graft – she received Liz Truss to kiss hands two days before she died – and her attitudes towards health, leisure and emotional resilience, Queen Elizabeth II bestowed on us an invaluable guide to living well. The problem is that most of us haven’t spotted it. It begins with some obvious don’ts: don’t smoke – the Queen had that lesson first-hand from her father George VI (albeit her sister Margaret didn’t listen). Don’t drink too much: she was

I’ve finally been offended by a joke

I went to the O2 on Sunday night to see the comedians Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock. Chappelle, who survived an attempt to cancel him last year, didn’t disappoint, delivering some hilarious, politically incorrect jokes, and Rock was equally seditious, although his set went on for too long. But the rest of the evening was pretty painful. The effort it takes to get to this relic of the New Labour era is truly Herculean. Indeed, Rock made a joke about it, claiming he’d set off from his hotel on Wednesday morning and only just arrived. The Tube station is North Greenwich, one beyond Canary Wharf, and your only hope of

The rise of the ‘neo-Geo’ country pile

The Queen’s wedding gift to Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson in 1986 was a brand new 12-bedroom house in the Berkshire countryside. Sunninghill Park was an unfortunate mash-up of architectural styles, from its Tudor-ish chimneys to its vaguely Arts and Craftsy roofline and the monumental columns flanking its entrance. And how we laughed. It was the first time a royal had lived in a new build since Queen Victoria’s son Prince Albert moved into Bagshot Park in Surrey in 1879. The Duke and Duchess of York’s property was instantly nicknamed ‘SouthYork’ thanks to its resemblance to Southfork, the Ewing family ranch in Dallas. Back then, newly built period-style houses were

Drama queens: the return of Meghan and Harry

We’ve all spent months bracing ourselves for what our leaders assure us will be a dreadful winter. As the weather turns, we can look forward to ruinous energy bills, runaway inflation, collapsing health services, strikes, blackouts, more strikes, violent crime, and perhaps even – why not? – a nuclear war with Russia. As if that weren’t bad enough, Meghan and Harry are back, wafting over all the way from Montecito, California on billowy clouds of bonkers publicity, self-pity and self-help mumbo-jumbo. On Monday, as Britain announces a new prime minister, Meghan and Harry will attend a ‘One Young World’ summit for youth leaders in Manchester, where Meghan will deliver the

The monarchy will survive Diana’s death (1997)

Today marks 25 years since the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. Andrew Roberts wrote The Spectator’s cover story that week, republished below and available at our digitised archive. The story that ended so horribly in that functional concrete Parisian tunnel early on Sunday had begun with a television show in 1969, when the victim was seven years old. In contradiction of Walter Bagehot’s advice, daylight was let in on the magic of the monarchy. Before 1969, all had been deliberately obscure. Who now remembers Commander Colville? For over two decades, Commander Richard Colville DSC was press secretary, first to George VI and then to the present Queen. In Ben

Meghan’s Mandela moment

It seems that the last two years of interviews, podcasts and media briefings actually count as Meghan keeping shtum. Towards the end of a 6,500-word interview with the Cut, which covers the duchess’s views on the monarchy, the British press and racism, she says that she ‘never had to sign anything that restricts her from talking,’ adding ‘I can talk about my whole experience and make a choice not to’. At this point, Mr S doesn’t know whether this is an attempt at satire or if Meghan genuinely believes her ‘truth’.  The interview, titled ‘Meghan of Montecito’, comes less than a week after her Archetypes podcast with Serena Williams (in which listeners might have hoped

Neckerchiefs are a sartorial risk worth taking

Neckerchiefs are an oddity. Once the cowboys’ sweat-wiping tool, they are now a key accessory in the glamour – or camp and borderline tack – of a flight attendant’s uniform. My approach to them tends to sit somewhere in the middle. Neckerchiefs are useful, stylish, rebellious, but comforting – a rare choice for men’s fashionwear. A neckerchief can spice up a dull-coloured shirt without imprisoning your neck in a collar choked by its distant relative, the tie. But before becoming the fabric embodiment of smart-casual, the neckerchief was wholly utilitarian. Sailors began wearing them in the 16th century to combat the discomfort caused by dripping sweat rubbing against their stiff-collared shirts.

In defence of Fergie

My first reaction to anyone buying even a bog standard two-up-two-down terrace in London is a fake congratulations through gritted teeth. So when it was reported last week that the Duchess of York, ex-wife of disgraced Prince Andrew, had bought a £5 million mews house in Mayfair, I was surprised that I didn’t share the outrage of the general public. Sure, she does very little, spending her days lounging around in Royal Lodge, the Grade II-listed Windsor property she shares with her ex. But there’s a part of Sarah Ferguson that is totally relatable, and as she has tried – and often failed – to navigate the inner workings of the

A diplomatic sweetener: the power of marmalade

It took Paddington Bear to solve the age-old mystery of what the Queen keeps in her handbag. When Her Majesty pulled out a marmalade sandwich during the pair’s sketch at the Platinum Jubilee concert this summer, it did more than just tickle the audience. It also served to remind us of our national love affair with marmalade. Long before Paddington developed a taste for it, the preserve had been a stalwart of British popular culture, from Jane Austen (where Lady Middleton applies marmalade as balm for her daughter’s scratch) to Evelyn Waugh (where, in Brideshead Revisited, Charles Ryder eats ‘scrambled eggs and bitter marmalade with the zest which in youth