The queen

It’s wrong to ban China from the lying-in-state

Unlike some Americans, China’s communists have no problem getting their heads around hereditary monarchy. Last week, President Xi sent his condolences to the United Kingdom. Now, he’s sending one of his most trusted deputies to pay respects at the Queen’s funeral. China has called off its wolf warriors, its diplomatic ideologues known for berating the West. Beijing is on best behaviour. Instead, the bellicose rhetoric is coming from a few British MPs, indignant that Chinese officials have been invited to the funeral. Vice-president Wang Qishan, the man tasked with representing China, is one of Xi’s most reliable lieutenants, having led the President’s flagship anti-corruption drive. But the two men go even further back,

My lunch with the Queen

None of this would have happened had I accepted my neighbour’s invitation to dine with a Swiss billionaire banker, or bb. (Sorry, Real life.) He’s an old friend, the bb, and untypically Swiss. He boozes, schnoofs, and chases women, or Afabs, as the absurd youth of today call them. Booze, alas, now goes to my head, and as the song says, it lingers like a haunting refrain for at least a couple of days. I had kick boxing early the next day so I chose to watch the 1949 classic, Sands of Iwo Jima, and snub the Swiss bb. The film was made in 1949 and stars the greatest of

How the Queen helped to fix Germany

The Brandenburg Gate has often reflected the state of the German nation. Throughout the centuries, Berlin’s iconic landmark has been a symbol of victory, defeat, unity, division and restoration. It has even reflected Germany’s energy crisis, no longer lit in order to save electricity. But on Friday night it shone brightly once more: in red, white and blue as Germany mourns the death of Queen Elizabeth II. This is much more than a gesture of condolence. ‘Expressing our sympathy and our mourning by lighting the symbol of our city and our country in the colours of the Union Jack to honour Queen Elizabeth II fully represents the sentiments of people

The Archbishop of Canterbury has risen to the occasion

Archbishop Justin Welby has done a good job of relating the Queen’s virtues to her Christian faith. This is no easy task. The writers of the New Testament would have been very surprised by the notion that a monarch could be an exemplary Christian. And any sensible Christian leader is mindful that monarchs should be praised with care, lest religion seem cravenly reverent of tradition and worldly grandeur. She was a model of practical virtue In her life, he said in his official statement, ‘we saw what it means to receive the gift of life we have been given by God and – through patient, humble, selfless service – share

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

Isabel Hardman

Parliament’s poignant tributes to the Queen

That so many people have wanted to say something about how the Queen touched their lives, whether or not they met her, shows quite how powerful her service was. The tributes this afternoon in the House of Commons were moving because they showed the breadth of that service, from the way she carried out her constitutional duties with the government to her personal impact on many members of the House. When parliament pays tribute to someone who has just died, the cloying phrase ‘it was the House at its best’ quickly emerges. This is self-regarding, because what today’s tributes showed was not the best bits of MPs but the best

Our country’s saddest day

This is our country’s saddest day. In the hearts of every one of us there is an ache at the passing of our Queen, a deep and personal sense of loss – far more intense, perhaps, than we expected. In these first grim moments since the news, I know that millions and millions of people have been pausing whatever they have been doing, to think about Queen Elizabeth, about the bright and shining light that has finally gone out. She seemed so timeless and so wonderful that I am afraid we had come to believe, like children, that she would just go on and on. Wave after wave of grief

My beloved mother

The death of my beloved mother Her Majesty The Queen, is a moment of the greatest sadness for me and all members of my family.  We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished Sovereign and a much-loved Mother. I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world.  During this period of mourning and change, my family and I will be comforted and sustained by our knowledge of the respect and deep affection in which The Queen was so widely held.

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

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

What is the most significant year of the Queen’s reign?

Andrew Roberts The most important moment came on 11 November 1975 when her governor-general in Australia, Sir John Kerr, dismissed the Labour government under Gough Whitlam, doing so in her name. Although the Queen knew nothing about it before it happened (indeed, she was asleep at the time), it reiterated the vital constitutional principle that there is a power above politicians, even elected ones as in Whitlam’s case. Whitlam had driven Australia to the brink of economic and social collapse, but Kerr saved the country using the Queen’s royal prerogative. His decision was enthusiastically endorsed by the Australian people at the subsequent general election, with a landslide victory for Malcolm

Tanya Gold

Where to take Jubilee tea: Fortnum & Mason reviewed

I went to a garden party at Buckingham Palace once. It is coloured in my memory like childhood. There are good Canalettos and fitted carpets inside because that is self-confidence. In the garden the Queen stood with diplomats, safe from confessions, tears and requests for football tickets. (People do this. They write to her for FA Cup Final tickets. They think she is a witch.) She looks like a benevolent sweet from afar, but I am fond of the Queen of my ideation since she replied to my son’s birthday greeting with a very civil letter which he lost. I am no monarchist – competition, I suppose, though the Jews

Charles Moore

Monarchy is the guarantor of democracy

Like many people who do not share his views, I have felt intermittent admiration for Peter Tatchell over the past 40 years. He has often been brave, and when I have met him, I found him open and friendly, as is often the way with cranks (e.g. Tony Benn). As the Platinum Jubilee approaches, however, I have gone off him. Last month, the Peter Tatchell Foundation (there’s posh) issued a press release headed: ‘Queen’s Platinum Jubilee invite declined by Peter Tatchell: Monarchy is not compatible with democracy. The Queen has snubbed the LGBT+ community for 70 years.’ He was turning down a role in the finale of Sunday’s Jubilee pageant

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

You can make anything up about the royal family and it will be printed as fact

There are quite a few things that Tina Brown doesn’t know: what ‘jejune’ means; when Louis XIV came to the throne; what the passive voice in prose is (not ‘recollections may vary’); what members of the aristocracy are called (Lady Romsey becomes Lady Penelope Romsey) or what members of the royal family are called (the ‘Dowager Duchess of Gloucestershire’ puts in an appearance).Another thing she doesn’t know (which she shares with other authors of works in this obscenely overstuffed genre) is what’s been going on between members of the royal family in the period between the death of Diana, Princess of Wales and the death of the Duke of Edinburgh

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

Breathe easy: how respiratory viruses evolve to become milder

The Queen has suffered ‘mild, cold-like symptoms’ from her Covid-19 infection, according to Buckingham Palace. The wording reminds us that, except in the very vulnerable, the common cold is always and everywhere a mild disease. There are 200 kinds of virus that cause colds and they hardly ever debilitate healthy people, let alone kill them. Yet we were recently told by the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) that ‘it is a common misconception that “viruses mutate to cause less severe disease”’. If that is the case, how did all common colds become mild — and why would Covid not do the same? As somebody with a

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