Royal family

The art of choosing sunglasses

Only Princess Diana could carry off Wimbledon white-rimmed aviators with such style. Pictured in the Royal Box at The Championships in 1986, The Princess of Wales brought an edge to her natural elegance in these striking shades. White sunglasses scream summer so are a great addition to a holiday wardrobe, pairing well with colourful fabrics.  If you find white too stark then opt for ivory as a softer alternative. Coloured shades You can’t go wrong with a classic Audrey Hepburn style black shade paired with monochrome outfits, but they can sometimes look too harsh with the softer colour palette and floaty frocks of summer. A tinted lens and tortoiseshell frame

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

‘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

The royal rabble vs the Queen

By and large, the Platinum Jubilee celebrations were a success. Barring the odd moment of inexplicable poor taste, it was a well-choreographed blend of pageantry, ceremony and fun, and the deservedly viral clip of Paddington taking tea with the Queen seemed to epitomise a spirit of generosity and togetherness. Yet Her Majesty might be forgiven, looking at the headlines since the Jubilee, for wishing that she could always be in the company of an amiable fictitious bear, rather than her unpredictable and wilful family. Given the self-indulgent shenanigans that her family seem intent on creating during the final years of her reign, the Queen might be forgiven for wanting to

The art of the State Banquet

The French epicure Jean-Anthelm Brillat-Savarin, writing in the early decades of the nineteenth century, remarked, ‘Read the historians, from Herodotus down to our own day, and you will see that there has never been a great event, not even excepting conspiracies, which was not conceived, worked out, and organized over a meal.’ And indeed it is true that State Banquets are amongst the most important opportunities for discussion and diplomacy. Her Majesty The Queen has over the past 70 years received well over 100 inward State Visits. She has undertaken over 260 official visits overseas including nearly 100 outward State Visits, making her the most travelled monarch in history. As

Are republicans becoming an endangered species?

How disappointing. Come Jubilee time and the Guardian can usually be relied upon to lead the way in publishing sour pieces moaning about ‘jingoism’, attacking the extravagance of a royal procession and trying to claim that the people who turn up to watch and join in with the celebrations are somehow outnumbered by people who would rather get rid of the royal family and live under a republic. At the time of the Queen’s Golden jubilee in 2002, Mary Riddell wrote of a ‘family that knows how to command a deference out of kilter with its popularity’, adding that ‘a third of the population wants a republic, a third couldn’t

The holiday spots beloved by royals

Royal tours in glorious destinations might look like fun but they are technically classed as work. So where do the Royal Family choose to go to get their fix of sunshine and rest? Balmoral and Sandringham have always been favoured by the Queen but there are also several overseas spots that have become firm royal favourites. Malta Between 1949 and 1951 Princess Elizabeth, as she was then, and Philip lived in Malta in a small town called Pieta very near the Maltese capital of Valletta. Their home was the Villa Guardamangia, an eighteenth-century ‘garden palace’ loaned to Philip by his uncle Lord Louis Mountbatten while Philip was stationed in Malta

I hope my son will inherit the Queen’s kindness

When I was asked by an old friend to write this diary, I did my usual thing of: ‘Yeah I’d love to do this and of course I can get it to you by your deadline…’ Then the deadline flew past. Now I feel like I am back at school desperately writing an essay, hoping to get it in on time. At least the subject is easier to write about than the Shakespeare we studied for English A-level. This year the country, the Commonwealth, our family and so many people are celebrating a magnificent woman. Her Majesty the Queen is an incomparable monarch who has reached a record-breaking milestone. She

The quiet radicalism of Elizabeth II

Long before domestic woes and an inferno at Windsor had prompted the Queen to describe 1992 as her ‘annus horribilis’, she had a very frank discussion with her prime minister, John Major. On this particular matter, she made it clear that she was not interested in ministerial advice. Her mind was made up. She had decided to pay income tax. For the best part of two years, through war in the Gulf and a recession, sections of the media had been painting a picture of a spoiled, profligate royal family carrying on without a care. Every long-range snap of a shooting party or of the Duchess of York on another

Royal drinks for raising a glass to Her Majesty

History suggests the Royal Family have always been enthusiastic drinkers. The most obvious example is Henry VIII, a monarch who proved to be excessive in everything he did, and spent an estimated £6m a year on booze. And in more recent centuries you’ll discover an ongoing Royal appreciation. Queen Victoria for example was an eminent imbiber of alcohol, her preferred poison being an unusual mix of whisky and red wine. Together. In the same glass. She was particularly partial to Vin Mariani, a drink made by Angelo Mariani by steeping cocoa leaves in French red wine for six months. Alleged to be the original recipe for Coca-Cola, each fluid ounce

Will anyone watch a Harry and Meghan Netflix docuseries?

Picture the convivial scene. You have been invited into the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s palatial £11 million mansion in Montecito, California as an honoured guest. Once you have removed your shoes, been frisked for weapons or recording devices and been offered a kombucha smoothie, you are ushered into the inner sanctum of the world’s most talked-about satellite branch of the royal family. What would you expect to find? A dartboard with Prince Charles’s face on it? Endless piles of obscure genealogical books that explain why Prince Harry is, in fact, the rightful heir to the throne? Or endless expensive, studiedly tasteful rooms that lack any heart and soul whatsoever?

Prince Charles and a living history lesson

When I was a lobby journalist, I never went to the State Opening of Parliament. I much regret it, because when I finally went this week, as a peer, there was no Queen. The printed programme on our seats described itself as ‘The ceremonial to be observed at the Opening of Parliament by Her Majesty The Queen’, but in fact the Prince of Wales stood, or rather, sat in, because of his mother’s ‘mobility issues’. He read well, sticking to her understanding that to give any expressiveness to the Queen’s Speech would be to verge on constitutional impropriety. Imagine how inappropriate it would have been, for example, if the phrase

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,

Harry and Meghan’s balcony ban is a mistake

Once again, a moment that should be a unifying and celebratory for the Windsors has attracted division and discord. It has been reported today that Harry and Meghan will not appear on the Buckingham Palace balcony for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations. All of this controversy for a fleeting appearance on what someone described on social media as ‘an outdoor patio on the second floor of an old building’. It’s the world’s most famous outdoor patio, utilised first by Queen Victoria in 1851 to mark the opening of the Great Exhibition. Since then, the Buckingham Palace balcony has been a focal point and climax of significant national celebrations and commemorations.

Why Meghan Markle’s Netflix show was cancelled

In their post-royal careers, Harry and Meghan have learned two lessons in quick succession: firstly, that membership of the royal family opens the door to media deals less well-connected celebrities could only dream about. Secondly, they have learned that even royal fame will not, ultimately, help one of the biggest media organisations in the world sell a product that the public finds unappealing. No doubt Meghan thinks mightily of the concept of Pearl, her proposed animated Netflix series in which a 12-year-old girl is inspired by great women in history. But it seems potential viewers are rather less enamoured. Netflix has cancelled the series before it was even made. Considering

How much of a litre of fuel is now tax?

Common knowledge Tensions in the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to Jamaica led some to speculate that the Commonwealth might not long survive the present Queen’s reign. Who came up with the idea of naming the successor organisation to the British Empire after a term first used by Oliver Cromwell? – Lord Rosebery is recorded as referring to a ‘Commonwealth of nations’ in 1884, a decade before he became prime minister. – The term was first used officially in the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900, which established a federation of British colonies. – The idea of a British Commonwealth first surfaced at the 1926 Imperial Conference.

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

Prince William is turning into his brother

For a tour that should have been an unmitigated success, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s visit to the Caribbean has ended up being surprisingly controversial, described as nothing less than ‘a PR disaster’. Even if some of the negative coverage feels confected, especially in light of the exploits of Prince Andrew and Prince Harry, it seems extraordinary that the supposed outrage could not have been anticipated. It has been an inauspicious curtain-raiser to the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June: from the unfortunate images of the Duke and Duchess shaking hands with Jamaican children through a chain-link fence to the protests that have greeted their progress from local republicans. There is a sense

Will Prince Andrew fuel a republican boom?

So that’s that then. After years of claims and counter-claims, Prince Andrew has settled with Virginia Giuffre for an eight-figure sum thought to be in the region of £12 million. This, for a woman he said he had never met. Hmm.  The humiliation for the disgraced royal isn’t over yet though: self-promoting Corbynista Rachel Maskell, the MP for York Central, has been quick today to demand his title as Duke of York be removed to avoid offence to the good people of God’s own county. And it seems that Labour backbenchers aren’t the only critics to whom Andrew is giving succour. For pressure group Republic, which campaigns for the abolition

Prince Andrew settles. What next?

In some ways, the news is a disappointment. Prince Andrew’s decision to settle the civil case filed against him by Virginia Giuffre has likely deprived the public of weeks of damaging revelations. After much lawyer-led bravado about how the Duke of York was going to fight the scandalous and defamatory claims against him, he has now decided not to. This can only be seen as a terminal blow to what little remains of his public reputation. The statement released by the lawyers suggests that Giuffre will be receiving an undisclosed financial settlement and that Prince Andrew will be making ‘a substantial donation to Ms Giuffre’s charity in support of victim’s