A tribute to Prince Philip, 1921-2021

Prince Philip played a pivotal, yet often underestimated, role in ensuring the survival of the modern British monarchy. His self-confidence and irreverence served as an invaluable foil for the young Queen Elizabeth, enabling her to overcome her natural shyness and giving her the confidence and stability to reign so calmly and irreproachably for such a long time. As Britain’s longest-serving consort, he outlasted 14 prime ministers and carried out a staggering 22,000 solo public engagements, joking shortly before his retirement from royal duties in 2017 that he was probably the world’s most experienced plaque-unveiler. When the mathematician Sir Michael Atiyah told the prince how sorry he was to hear he

The Queen has a secret weapon in the War of the Waleses

It was a big call, sending the royals out and about straight after the Oprah interview. We have to be seen to be believed, as Her Majesty is said to have once observed. It’s a philosophy more complicated than it appears and one which should have the Sussexes worried. As a strategy, it’s not risk-free. Within 24 hours of ITV’s broadcast of the Meghan and Harry interview, Charles went to a vaccination centre in North London. A couple of days later, William was at an East End school. It’s amazing how rarely these things go wrong. True: appearances aren’t widely trailed in advance, armed officers are at hand, and to

In defence of Charlie Hebdo’s ‘racist royals’ cover

Amid the ongoing fallout from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s explosive Oprah interview, Charlie Hebdo seems to have done the impossible: it has united Team Queen and Team Meghan in outrage against it. In response to Markle’s claims that she was pushed out of the royal family by racism, the fearless French satirical magazine published a front-page cartoon of the queen with her knee on Meghan’s neck. The cartoon is titled ‘Why Meghan quit the palace’, to which Markle answers in a speech bubble, ‘Because I couldn’t breathe any more’. It has united Team Queen and Team Meghan in outrage The depiction of the queen, complete with hairy legs and

Meghan, Harry and the rise of a new religion

The Meghan and Harry show is a window into our spiritual predicament — in Britain, America and beyond. Through breaking free from royal life, amid much unhappiness, they have acquired a powerful story of self-realisation. This is our culture’s new idea of the spiritual life. What exactly is this new idea? How does it relate to what came before? Is it replacing the old or is its appeal limited to certain sectors of society? The rise of the new spirituality has been gradual. We can neatly chart its rise with reference to Harry’s mother, Princess Diana. First we might pause to ask: why is the British royal family such an

Is Megxit the UK’s ‘George Floyd moment’?

Harry and Meghan are famously protective of their privacy and as a result hostile to those media outlets they don’t personally seek out. But of all the British broadcasters, ITV are regarded as having the best links with the estranged royal couple. News at Ten anchor Tom Bradby is known to be a friend of the Duke of Sussex and was responsible for bagging the 2019 interview in which Meghan Markle lamented that no one had asked if ‘she was ok.’ So it was with interest that Mr S read a blog published today by the channel’s highly regarded Royal Editor Chris Ship. In the article Ship focuses on possible upsides of

ITV was right to let Piers Morgan go

As a young, millennial female, it’s probably unusual for me to like Piers Morgan. But as a journalist, who began her career in the tabloid press, I have always admired and respected him. While I haven’t always shared his views, I’ve thought him, for the most part, fair and on point. When it comes to holding power to account he is tenacious and single-minded. He is like a dog with a bone until a politician answers his questions. Lesser broadcasters let cabinet ministers obfuscate with endless hot-air; Piers is relentless in his drive to pin them down. His TV interviews are also undeniably entertaining. This not only makes him a brilliant broadcaster


The NYT’s royal blunder

Trebles all round at the New York Times after another dose of anti-British bile. Mr S last week noted that the Gray Lady’s news reporting of Covid in the UK mixed misrepresentation with outdated figures. This week the newspaper has followed this up with the inevitable crowing comment piece to follow Harry and Meghan’s Oprah interview. Titled ‘Down with the British Monarchy’ it mocks the Queen as ‘some utterly random rich wastrel’ and claims her own ‘claim to legitimacy’ is being ‘the child of the child of the child of someone who was, centuries ago, the nation’s biggest gangster.’   Leaving aside the question of whether Sophia of Hanover qualifies for such a title and indeed

The troubling treatment of Piers Morgan

It is the duty of journalists and broadcasters to be sceptical, particularly to claims made by the rich and powerful. Before yesterday that wasn’t a controversial point. But the pushing out of Piers Morgan from Good Morning Britain, purely because he says he doesn’t believe a word that comes out of Meghan Markle’s mouth, suggests we are in a brave new world. When certain claims are made, even by the most privileged, it is apparently now our duty to swallow them or to shut up. In the wake of that explosive Oprah interview, in which the Sussexes said they were hounded out of the royal family by racism and Markle


Did Meghan Markle get Piers Morgan sacked?

PA Media are now reporting that the Duchess of Sussex did formally complain to ITV over Piers Morgan’s comments on GMB amid concerns that his comments may affect others attempting to deal with their mental health problems. The Good Morning Britain co-host quit last night, with a spokesman for ITV subsequently refusing to deny that the pregnant royal had submitted a complaint. His decision on Tuesday came after a difficult morning for Morgan who stormed off set after fellow presenter Alex Beresford accused him of ‘absolutely diabolical’ treatment of Meghan Markle (Morgan had said he did not believe the Duchess of Sussex’s claims in Monday’s interview).  In a statement, the broadcaster said: ‘Following discussions with ITV, Piers Morgan has decided

The Royal response to Harry and Meghan is too little, too late

They are 61 words that have taken more than 36 hours to hone. An ancient institution delaying action while a global audience of millions devoured Harry and Meghan’s two hours of television exposure, with Oprah as their host: ‘The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan. The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning. While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately. Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much-loved family members.’ Present, in Buckingham Palace’s response, is a reference to race – the most

Harry and Meghan have played a blinder

If bouquets and Bollinger were winging their way to Montecito last night they were well deserved. When Harry and Meghan met Oprah, the trio turned in the performance of their lives. From dramatic pauses, wiping away tears, hand-holding, Diana-reminiscent eye make-up, the English country garden-style backdrop interspersed with scenes from the chicken coop and shots of little Archie running along a Californian beach, to accusations and big reveals – everything was performed with absolute perfection. The build-up was justified. This did not disappoint. For Harry and Meghan, no doubt poring over press coverage, the success of their interview will be measured not in advertising revenue, or in viewing figures, but

Why Harry and Meghan’s revelations are so damaging

In one sense, Harry and Meghan’s exit from ‘The Firm’ doesn’t matter much. The pair are low enough down the pecking order that they are – or were, at least – relatively minor Royals. But nonetheless, their comments about the Royal Family may have fatally undermined this institution in the eyes of many young people. What could have been an easily dismissible, trivial soap opera – a family arguing, like most do ­– has made the rift between the Royals far worse. Within the space of a two-hour long Oprah interview we have seen the debate about Megxit entirely change. It is no longer a war of words over Royal roles that is the main

Meghan’s critics and defenders are both wrong

When it comes to Harry and Meghan, is it time for everyone to take a collective deep breath? With the build-up to the ‘tell-all’ Oprah interview and the recent disclosure of bullying allegations, it feels like hysteria around the couple is at fever pitch. In the war of the Waleses, is there room for a middle ground? The more vicious Meghan Markle’s critics are, the more her supporters portray her as an almost Christ-like figure. Her detractors then become irritated by the virtue-signalling, her defenders cite racism and sexism, and the vicious circle continues. Every action just seems to entrench each side’s position until there is no room for manoeuvre.

Meghan, Harry and the trouble with Oprah’s ‘truth’

Obviously, I can’t wait for the Meghan and Harry audience with Oprah Winfrey. Alas, it’s going to be broadcast at about one o’clock in the morning our time (I’m still thinking popcorn at the office around a flat screen). But meanwhile there are tasters from the programme to keep us happy. What got me going from the most recent excerpt wasn’t Meghan’s observations about ‘The Firm’, interesting as that was, but the question put to her by Oprah:  ‘How do you feel about the palace hearing you speak your truth today?’ Eh? ‘Your truth’? I think what she means is ‘putting forward your point of view’ or ‘offering your take

Megxit and the War of the Waleses

A 99-year-old prince is in hospital. His 94-year-old wife is displaying an almost childish delight as she continues to dip her toe in our Covid imposed virtual world and unveils a statue from the comfort of her drawing room. The pandemic is just the latest extraordinary experience shared by a monarch and her consort. Some have been particularly painful and lingering. They’re a couple who bear the scars inflicted when relationships disintegrate. However, the lessons of Charles and Diana haven’t yet been learnt by their family. The War of the Waleses 2.0 is following a familiar, unpleasant path. The War of the Waleses 2.0 is following a familiar, unpleasant path

Why Meghan and the monarchy were bound to clash

Was Harry and Meghan’s departure from royal life inevitable? At the heart of our monarchy is an ideal of serving the public good that is not the same as the currently dominant form of progressive idealism espoused by the likes of Meghan. It is not the same as it, and when it comes down to it, it is not compatible with it. The British monarchy’s ideal of the public good is fairly vague, fairly flexible. But it entails a basic respect for tradition. And it entails the ideal of self-sacrifice. To serve the good means accepting constraints, accepting that you might not get what you want. It means accepting the possibility

The monarchy failed Harry and Meghan

It will be a saddened Prince Harry who will digest the verdict of much of the British media on the denouement to Megxit. In the eyes of most of those who write about the Windsors, the Queen is above reproach and the couple who exiled themselves are once again found wanting. Their West coast inspired talk of service being ‘universal’ is the latest entry on a charge sheet of sins they’ve committed against a venerated institution. To Harry and Meghan’s critics – and they have plenty – the equation is simple. If millions of Netflix and Spotify dollars are pouring into your bank accounts, you can’t be opening fetes in

Harry and Meghan’s podcast of platitudes

Why is there not a single trans voice featured in Harry and Meghan’s first podcast? It’s a question that needs answering. The half-hour recording – the couple’s first since signing a $25 million deal with Spotify – sets out to explore the psychological impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on, as the Duchess herself puts it, ‘people from all walks of life’. Given this description, excluding the trans community from participating seems, at best, problematic – perhaps even sinister. Why leave trans people out in this most public of discourses? This editorial decision – a slap in the face for an already marginalised community – seems all the more surprising because

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

Confessions of a failed royal reporter

Half a lifetime ago, I was, briefly, an occasional royal reporter – and watching The Crown, season four has revived memories of that inglorious chapter.  It began with my one and only encounter with my favourite Crown character, Princess Margaret, on a sweltering July evening in 1997. I had arranged a trial night shift on the Evening Standard, starting at 5pm, which only allowed me ten minutes to get from my day job at the Old Bailey across London to their offices in Kensington, by bicycle, in 90-degree heat. I arrived breathless, only for the news editor to spin me straight back out, saying I had just five minutes before