0721/UK politics: 2nd referendum?


Theresa May is greeted by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte upon her arrival in The Hague, Netherlands

Theresa May meets with Dutch PM Mark Rutte in The Hague

Theresa May and Mark Rutte

Theresa May and Mark Rutte

Theresa May will be told on her European tour to stop trying to appease her mutinous backbenches by throwing them the “red meat” of Brexit promises she can never deliver upon, EU diplomatic sources have told The Telegraph.

As Mrs May embarked on a whistle-stop tour of the EU, including the Netherlands, Germany and Brussels, diplomats expressed growing exasperation at Mrs May’s constant attempts to placate the impossible demands of clean-break Brexiteers with unrealistic promises. The message will be the same one Mrs May received from Europe over the weekend, when the Telegraph understands Mrs May was directly warned against feeding unreasonable expectations. “She was told ‘don’t keep feeding them red meat. We know how this ends. You get eaten up last,” said a senior EU diplomat. The uncompromising tone comes as Mrs May seeks a “legally binding assurance” that the UK will not be trapped indefinitely in the Irish backstop arrangement that puts the UK into a customs union with the EU to avoid the return of a hard border in Ireland. After Mrs May pulled today’s the ‘meaningful vote’ in the Commons, the race is now on to secure concessions from Europe that might convince opponents of the deal to change their minds, particularly on the question of the Irish backstop.

0720/Farmer Wants a Wife


The English TV program “Farmer Wants a Wife” has a very popular Dutch counter part: “Farmer seeks Wife”. With about >4.9 million viewers, the series break all records. Last week was the final: Which of the farmers are still together with the chosen partner?


Inhabitant of the Achterhoek (Achterhoek is a part of the province Gelderland, where also Nimwegen is) Maarten Bos of “Farmer seeks Wife” has to be disguised to visit his peasant wife Michelle.

The man who captured the heart of farmer Michelle lives in the Achterhoek. Maarten Bos wrote a letter to “Farmer seeks Wife”, fell in love and is now ‘the friend of’.

When Maarten Bos tunes his television on Sunday evening at NPO1 (Dutch TV channel 1), that would be for Studio Sport and not for “Farmer seeks Wife”. How different was that in recent months. The 28-year-old inhabitant of the Achterhoek not only devoured all episodes, he played one of the main roles. Maarten Bos, like 325 other letter writers, wanted to win mushroom breeder Michelle from Boekel (a village in the province North Brabant). What started as a difficult mission ended in a romance. Maarten Bos became the one who was allowed to sit on the bench next to Michelle during the “Farmer seeks Wife” episodes. With the curtains closed, that is, because the fact that they are a set, had to remain secret until last week.

,,I always had to go undercover from Aalten to Boekel “, says Maarten Bos. ,,I changed car and used disguises. Caps, sunglasses, that kind of thing. There was always a plan to enter together unseen. After the first episode on television, I received a lot of phone calls. Because they had seen it well? Did I join “Farmer seeks Wife”? The nice thing is that you already know how it has ended and that it has just begun for the viewers.”


 For a non-follower of “Farmer seeks Wife”, Michelle had to impress you very much …
,,My mother and sister wrote the first letter. You’re doing it, I thought. Then I was quickly called with the message that I really had to write a letter myself. When I looked back at the episode in which Michelle introduced, I had no doubts. I have gone for it. A few weeks later I heard that Michelle had, among other things, chosen my letter and was entitled to speed date. What would be happening to me, went through me for a moment. It is hard to realize that 4 million people watch you every week.”

Welcome to circus “Farmer seeks Wife”. A nice circus?
,,It sounds cliché, but you quickly do not notice anything about the cameras. Also because so much is filmed and ultimately only a small part is broadcasted. The first time, at the speed date, I was very nervous. It is strange to hear your own voice and see yourself in the screen. Later on I have sat in front of the television and thought: what have you done again? In the so-called guest week everyone took something for Michelle. One had chicken, the other came driving with an oldtimer. And I? I gave lavender! Then you are already 2-0 behind.”

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Michelle gives a healing to Maarten in a spare moment.

When did the real infatuation come?
“During the lodge week I found out that she was really someone I saw myself in the future. How she was working at the farm, I could really watch it all day. Her dealings with the staff, the fact that she really knew everything: I thought that was very attractive. You are unconsciously continuously analyzing whether love is mutual, but Michelle was very good at keeping all options open. I kept that uncertainty until the last moment of choice.”

Michelle talks to the show host about the 2 remaining men…

And then the cameras are suddenly gone and you can be together …
“Michelle asked me one last time: why are the shutters still closed? That had become so obvious that we did not even think about it anymore. It took some getting used to having to take no account of anything.”

What does your future look like?
“The move plans are there. I am going to Boekel and we are going to live there together. Yes, on short term. That will happen fairly quickly.”


0719/Anwar’s column

‘What does a resident of Aleppo have to look for on the Arnheim Korenmarkt?’

More than a week ago I surfaced in an article by the editorial staff of De Gelderlander about discrimination. I was refused at a pub at the Arnheim Korenmarkt because the porter on my identity card saw that I was born in Aleppo. People who responded to the article did not speak about the refusal based on my origin, or about the porter’s motives or about the owner’s reaction, which called me “an idiot” because I had filed a complaint.

I wanted to answer that I had received an invitation from someone who celebrated his birthday in that cafe. I had not been at the Korenmarkt for a year, I have a serious life and just wanted to go to a friend’s birthday. A little later I realized of course that I should not respond at all. The need to justify me remains. That I have to explain why I filed a report, why I was at the Korenmarkt and why I actually am here anyway. Sometimes it feels like my contribution in the Netherlands should only be positive. The reaction of the man also touched me because I am afraid that now there is the impression that I am walking around the Korenmarkt three times a week. While I chose the Netherlands because I have the freedom to say, think and do what I want. Only when I really dare say so: I am integrated!

I have not had to brush my shoes here yet.

Lego, who does not like that? The Dutch are not played with it. Building houses is just like playing with Lego. A house will be clicked together within two months. I am used to it that it takes a year for a building to stand. Layer by layer it is built up, there must be weeks to wait until the cement is well dry. They are solid, thick buildings in Syria. You will never hear an upstairs neighbor walk around, let alone a few tripping mice. Sounds good, from those sturdy houses. But it is also awkward. A renovation is almost impossible. A piece of cake in the Netherlands. If I drill a hole in the wall, I can already wave to the neighbors, so to speak. If there is a problem with the water supply in Syria, you will be in trouble for a long time. The street is closed for weeks and broken open, with heavy, large drills. Dust drops down all over the neighborhood, you can hardly see through the windows. Due to the thick layer of concrete in Aleppo, rainwater is difficult to drain. Sand comes from the desert, so soon there is mud everywhere. Brushing shoes is a daily activity in Syria, because people with decent shoes can see that they live in a luxury street or own a car. I cycled past a building in Arnheim that was demolished. There was a machine that sprayed with water. This ensured that the fabric did not roam around the whole neighborhood. Very nice Netherlands, and smart! Since I’ve been here, I have not had to brush my shoes.

Risks do not belong to life in the Netherlands.

I came to the Netherlands for safety. A good choice, because risks do not belong to life in the Netherlands. If a tile is loose in the street, a team sets off the street. Warning signs and lights show road users from far away: something is wrong here. People in protective suits and with helmets put everything right again. At my school, the HAN (Highschool Arnheim Nimwegen), they do not take safety light either. When I had to see a board last week, I first had to dress up as a clown. With large glasses, heavy shoes and a safety vest. Cutting can not be done independently, because I did not get a safety certificate. The Dutch language used in the exam was still too difficult for me. Logically, a Dutchman thinks. You can not work with devices without papers. With me in such a situation comes some Syrian impatience. I know how to deal with machines. I never throw away a defective device at home. I turn everything apart and puzzle until I know how to fix it. Saves money and it’s fun. At home I made my own workshop with a saw machine.

I do it at home, I think grumpy. I cycle home at the end of the afternoon and see, just like in the morning, construction workers build a gantry. Suddenly I see it differently. Yes, it is a hassle for the construction workers. Working all day on a safe working environment and not taking a step in the actual renovation. But that is actually beautiful. In the Netherlands, it’s all about people first, and then about the work.

0718/Ukraine vs Russia

Inside the the biggest schism in Orthodox Christianity in 350 years


Monks have been secluding themselves from the world for more than a millennium in the caves of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, where 120 mummified brothers lie in glass-covered coffins along the low, sloping corridors. Their solitude has been increasingly inter-rupted, however, since the top patriarch in Istanbul said in October he’d recognise a new Ukrainian church independent of Russia, sparking the biggest schism in Orthodox Christianity in 350 years. On December 15, Ukrainian religious leaders will hold a “unification assembly” to lay the groundwork for the new church and choose its leader. But the current Ukrainian Orthodox Church has remained loyal to the Moscow patriarchate even after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and backed separatists in an ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine. It controls the Kiev-Pechersk monastery complex, a Unesco world heritage site and the holiest place in Ukraine, as well as 12,000 of the country’s 18,000 churches. Late last month, employees of the culture ministry, which technically owns the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, suddenly came to take an inventory of the holy relics there. The next day, agents of the Ukrainian security service raided the Lavra as well as a residence belonging to the head abbot, charging him with the “incitement of religious hatred”. The pressure came after the justice ministry said it was cancelling the right for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate to use another famous monastery complex in Pochayiv. “Monks went to prison for resisting” Soviet crackdowns and would resist this one, abbot Joseph told The Sunday Telegraph as he shuffled through the Kiev-Pechersk caves cupping a candle in his hand. “The monks won’t leave as long as the army doesn’t come.” He called the creation of a new church a political ploy similar to Henry VIII’s break with Catholicism. The seat of power was in Kiev when Prince Vladimir converted from paganism in 988 and brought Orthodox Christianity to much of what is now Belarus, Ukraine and Russia.

Metropolitan Pavel, head abbot of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra monastery complex, speaks to press after security service officers searched a residence belonging to him

By the 17th century, however, Moscow was in control of Ukrainian lands, and the Constantinople patriarch, the “first among equals” in the Orthodox world, gave the Russian patriarch dominion over the church here. That was all reversed by the current Constantinople patriarch Bartholomew’s decision in October, which was lobbied by Ukraine’s pro-Western president Petro Poroshenko and was a blow to Russia’s influence over the former Soviet republic. In response, Vladimir Putin warned that “politicking in such a delicate sphere has always led to heavy consequences”. Declaring Bartholomew’s decision heretical, the Russian Orthodox Church broke off all ties with Constantinople. Besides a few rogue bishops, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate has refused to take part in the unification assembly. Patriarch Filaret, the leader of one of two splinter churches in Ukraine, accused this subordinate church of being an agent of the Kremlin. “Without an independent church there won’t be an independent Ukrainian state, and Moscow knows this well,” he told The Sunday Telegraph in. “It’s fighting to keep the Ukrainian church dependent on Moscow.” Many have suspected such ties following reports of Moscow patriarchate priests in eastern Ukraine blessing separatists’ guns or refusing to baptise government soldiers. Former top separatist commander Igor Girkin even claimed his personal guard was formed of monks from the nearby Svyatohirsk Lavra. But the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate has denied supporting separatism. The priest in charge of the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kramatorsk, a city that was once under separatist control, locked out a reporter who asked for commentary, blaming the media for exaggerating the church’s links to Moscow. “We are the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. It’s you journalists who have decided we are the Moscow patriarchate,” he told The Sunday Telegraph. “Why do you lie? Those who lie can get a fist to the face.” The Moscow patriarchate church’s spokesman Archbishop Kliment told The Sunday Telegraph that canonical law, not Kremlin interests, was why it rejects the creation of a new church here. He argued that president Poroshenko, who is in danger of losing re-election in March, was the one using Image result for ukraine populationchurch affairs to political ends. “For more than 300 years, Constantinople didn’t interfere. Now when there’s an election on and the president is using the church issue as a slogan, Constantinople has quickly given autocephaly and interfered in the religious life of our country,” he said. This messy religious dispute could play out for years both in Ukraine and abroad, where the churches of Poland, Serbia and Syria have backed Russia. Thirty-nine per cent of Ukraine’s 30 million Orthodox believers are for the new independent church and 29 per cent are against, while the rest are undecided, a recent poll found. Katya Tokar, a student who was visiting the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra on a recent weekday, said she made a point of praying both there and at St Michael’s monastery, which belongs to a Ukrainian splinter church. “Each church has its own view, each is (politically) dependent on someone. That’s bad but that’s the way it is,” she said. “The main thing is so that people keep coming here.” Several dozen individual churches already left the Moscow patriarchate since war broke out in eastern Ukraine. Whether more cross over may depend on the outcome of the unification assembly. Past attempts to merge the two Ukrainian splinter churches have failed due to squabbles over a new name, among other things. One Moscow patriarchate bishop sympathetic to the new church warned last week that few of his churches would switch allegiances if the outspoken Patriarch Filaret was chosen to lead it. Archbishop German, spokesman for the other Ukrainian splinter church headed by Metropolitan Makariy, said it had asked Constantinople to put forward a “neutral candidate,” perhaps an ethnic Ukrainian from an overseas diocese. “The voice of the people is the voice of God,” he told The Sunday Telegraph. “I’m confident that after creation of an independent Ukrainian church, people will demand their pastors join this Ukrainian church.”

0717/Snowflake generation

The permanently offended snowflake generation is ruining Christmas for the rest of us

We’re always being told that Christmas is a “stressful” time of year, which considering that the modern secular season is composed of little more than eating, drinking and looking at various sorts of screens, perhaps tells us how we really feel about the prospect of spending more than a few hours at a time with our nearest and dearest. But in recent years, it seems that Christmas has also become a minefield of public as well as private conflict. Just as people reminisce about The Sexy Years between the invention of the Pill and the intervention of AIDS, we tend to believe there was a brief sunlit upland of tolerance where life really did seem to be Liberty Hall. It was never really like that, though; no sooner had Mrs Mary Whitehouse retired from public life in 1988 than copies of The Satanic Verses were being burned in Bradford. In 1997 the Labour government introduced the Human Rights Act, furthering the idea that every minority group could shut down whatever offended them. Like many things – misogyny, cosying up to oppressive religions, anti-Semitism – censoriousness has moved from the Right- to the Left-wing, and interestingly from the old to the young.

The curmudgeonly old are easily understood; people are naturally nostalgic for a time when they didn’t ache in places they never knew they had and can easily mistake their own disintegration for that of the world. But the curmudgeonly young are more puzzling – and there are so many of them now, the most ubiquitous of the breed being those whose answer to everything they don’t like is “Ban it!”. Compared to the Perpetually Outraged who stalk our social media, Mary Whitehouse was Anaïs Nin. And there are qualities about Mrs Whitehouse which we can admire now we don’t see her as our metaphorical mum forever tutting: “You’re not going out dressed like that!”. She wasn’t thuggish like the No Platformers – no masks and mobs for her, she stood up and did it alone, which took guts. I doubt if we’ll look back on the Perpetually Outraged of today so fondly. For some reason, Christmas is a particularly triggering time for the anti-freedom league, with Santa seen as the ultimate invader of safe space, coming down the chimney shouting “Ho Ho Ho” in a distinctly slut-shaming manner.  Scrooge today wouldn’t mistreat his employees and humph “Humbug!”– he’d go around no-platforming opponents and yelling “triggered!”.

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Really, where will it end? Will they come next for snowmen (non-inclusive of trans-gendered) or for Merry Christmas Everybody (drunken Santa reference making light of real addiction issues)? Can we just have a few weeks off from fussing and fuming? May your days be merry and bright, may you steer clear of Silent Fright and may all your snowflakes cease to be uptight – if only till a New Year of being endlessly offended is ushered on.


Joke gifts and afternoon tea: how the Sussexes and Cambridges will spend their frost-free Christmas

How fitting that Prince Charles is to deliver a “reflection” on forgiveness and reconciliation at Westminster Abbey on Tuesday. The trivial matter of his offspring’s domestic disharmony will no doubt be far from the heir to the throne’s mind as he takes to the pulpit to deliver what promises to be a heartfelt speech on Christian persecution in the Middle East. But in this time of peace and goodwill, the so-called Fab Four would be wise to “reflect” on the central theme of the future king’s message. For if anyone understands the consequence of family friction it is Charles, whose difficult relationship with his parents, his brother Prince Andrew and indeed his ex-wife have been well documented. Not that a comparison to the so-called War of the Wales is merited in relation to recent reports concerning a froideur between the Duchess of Cambridge and the Duchess of Sussex. As the Telegraph reported last week, while a postnatal Kate was left in tears following a bridesmaids fitting with Princess Charlotte in the build-up to May’s royal wedding, reports of a “ghastly row” with Meghan last Christmas appear wide of the mark. Now the royals’ Christmas is already looking far less frosty than had been billed after palace sources confirmed that the Cambridges and the Sussexeswill spend Christmas together at Sandringham. The Telegraph can further reveal that the couples are both expected to stay at Anmer Hall, William and Kate’s Norfolk bolthole on the Queen’s Sandringham estate, suggesting that any feud is fast fizzling out. An insider said: Anmer Hall, Norfolk, Britain“Harry and Meghan really enjoyed staying at Anmer Hall last year, especially spending quality time with Prince George and Princess Charlotte and there’s no reason why they won’t want to do the same this year, especially as Meghan is going to be heavily pregnant. It’s the best of both worlds in that they can take part in all the festivities at the big house, while retreating into their own space when needed. There would be total astonishment if Harry and Meghan don’t stay with William and Kate.” Another source said: “No one is going to be kicking up a fuss about Christmas. Both couples know how important it is to HM and Prince Philip for the whole family to be together. Now they are in their 90s, the festivities tend to revolve around the Queen and the Duke spending as much time as possible with their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.” There is also a practical reason why the Sussexes may want to spend a second year running with Kate and William: space. Sandringham House is small by royal standards and its quarters are said to be “cramped”, with sources likening Christmas guests to being “packed in like sardines”. With more than 30 attendees this year thanks to many of the younger royals 05qe1starting their own families, some will be told they have to share bedrooms, move to cottages on the estate or even sleep in servants’ quarters. Much like the Victorian splendour of the house itself, the traditions of the royal Christmas have changed little since Sandringham first became the private home of Edward VII, then Prince of Wales, in 1862. First, guests are told what time they should arrive at Sandringham — most junior royals first, most senior last — with everyone expected to be changed into suitable outfits for afternoon tea in the White Drawing Room at 4pm. The Queen then invites her great grandchildren to add the final decorations to the Christmas tree as the royals enjoy home-baked scones and a cup of Earl Grey. This is the moment they also exchange presents — not on Christmas Day, which the Queen regards as a religious festival. Trestle tables are laid out in the nearby Red Drawing Room, with sections marked off with tape showing where each family member’s gifts should be placed — again, laid out in order of precedence.


Palace fears for Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s safety after BBC publicises ‘neo-Nazi propaganda’ calling for Harry to be shot

The BBC has been accused of compromising the safety of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex after it shared neo-Nazi propaganda calling for the death of “race traitors” on its website. An image, featuring the Duke and published uncensored in an online news story, has now been taken down from the BBC website after a direct complaint from the Royal Household.

Prince Harry and Prince William, who has recently campaigned for online safety, are both aware of the picture and understood to be very concerned about its content, with aides deeply worried about the security implications. The image, a poster in stark red and black, shows the Duke of Sussex with a gun pointed to his head, a swastika, and the words: “See ya later, race traitor”. It was published on the BBC News website as part of an investigation into a far-Right underground group called the Sonnenkrieg Division headlined “British Neo-Nazis suggest Prince Harry should be shot”. Three people were arrested over the incident, with properties in Bath, Leeds, London and Portsmouth being searched. On Friday, police confirmed an 18-year-old man from Portsmouth had been charged with five offences related to encouraging terrorism and three offences relating to dissemination of terrorist publications under the Terrorism Act. A 17-year-old boy from London has been charged with five offences related to encouraging terrorism, while a 21-year-old man from Bath, has been released on bail pending further enquiries.

dg3The image has now been shared widely around the world, being reproduced on websites and in several tabloid newspapers on Friday. It was taken down “several days” after it was put up by the BBC,  with a spokesman saying it had “served its purpose in highlighting the nature of the group”. A palace aide confirmed that the image was removed following complaints from the Royal Household amid “very real concerns about the security impact of the decision to publish”. There will now be “ongoing conversations to clarify what happened,” he said. Staff are now consulting with social media companies to find and remove the image in an attempt to stop it spreading further. “This is propaganda that was designed to spread online,” a source said, pointing out that other extremist material, such as that produced by Isil, would not be published on a mainstream news website. “That is what they [those who made it] wanted to happen, and it has now been more successful than they could ever have imagined.”

It comes less than a month after the Duke of Cambridge chose the BBC as a venue for a landmark speech about the unforeseen consequences of the internet, in which he was unusually critical of web giants for their lack of action over its dark side. He warned that internet platforms were being used “to organise violence”, to spread “misinformation and conspiracy to pollute the public sphere” and “normalise speech that is filled with bile and hate”. A spokesman for BBC News said: “This image was used in a report of a long-running BBC investigation into a group of British neo-nazis. “We used the image after careful editorial consideration, and added an online warning to audiences given the sensitivities around the story. “Since our online story is now several days old, we have removed the image as we feel it has served its purpose in highlighting the nature of the group.” It is not the first time the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have endured threats relating to race. In February of this year, it was reported that a package containing a white powder and “malicious communications” was sent to St James’s Palace, allegedly intended for Meghan Markle. No arrests have yet been made over the incident, with police treating the message as a “racist hate crime”.

0714/Anwar’s column

How much more beautiful is a bouquet with different flowers.

I come from the best country in the world. Syria. Writing, they did that in our country as first ever, just like making fire. We have so much oil, the rest of the world can only dream of that. And then our position in the world: so central that everyone has to go past or over us. What a happiness and a coincidence, that I just come from that very best country in the world. Until I came to the Netherlands, and here noticed that the Dutch also think that they come from the very best country in the world. And I saw with a distance that Syria might not be good at everything. Funny, that most people in the world learn from an early age that they ended up in a very special country. And you, as a child, are fortunate that you have just been born in that special culture. “Choose a woman with the same skin” is an expression in Syria. What we mean: look no further, but choose a Syrian woman. One with our skin. Many Dutch people also prefer someone ‘with the same skin’. In recent years I have learned how beautiful it is to look further. I did that myself, but I see Dutch people doing the same. When I make new Dutch friends, I hear afterwards: “I had such a different image of Muslims / refugees / Syrians.” The ideas we have about each other are quickly negative, while reality turns out to be much more beautiful. If we put a lot of the same flowers together in a vase, you get a bunch. But how much better it is when a florist puts all sorts of colors and types together. Then you do not have a bunch, but a beautiful bouquet.


The Netherlands and rules. Sometimes it seems they are alone to bother you.

My debit card does not work anymore. The magnetic strip is unreadable, said the pin device. It happened Saturday night, so I had a problem until Monday. I bought some food from my last cash euros. On Monday I went to ING to request a new pass. An employee showed me how I could do that via my phone. I had to enter my PIN code into my ING app and then could request a new card. ,,It takes four working days”, the woman said. “Then you will receive the card at home”. I asked if I could then withdraw 50 euros. ,,Can I see your ID for that?”, she said. I gave her my travel document. “No, this is not valid”, she said. ,,I need a passport, an identity card or your residence permit”. I have lost my residence permit. I have reported this to the police, it takes three months before I have a new one. “But ma’am, my travel document is of the same value”, I said. ,,It is an official document from the municipality of Arnhem. Moreover, you have just seen that I am really Anwar, because I have entered my PIN code and my bank account”. “It’s just the rules”, said the woman. ,,But what should I eat from?”, I asked. She said: ,, You can ask if you can transfer 50 euros to someone. Then withdraws the one for you”. ,,Oh yeah, I want that”, I said. “I’ll immediately transfer 50 euros to you.” The woman: “No, you have to ask your friends”. “But my friends are at Rabobank. Transferring takes one day”. The woman shook her head. ,,Unfortunately, I can not do anything for you.”

The Netherlands and rules. Sometimes it seems they are alone to bother you.

0713/Birthday gifts

Lady Mary Stewart-Wilson has sent to her Companion Luke by registered mail @ £ 9.05 (€ 10.20 !!!) a cashmere shawl. With his initials on it. Have a good look at the right bottom of the picture! This is a birthday present for 28 February 2019, three months to go… But the reason she has sent it now, is that she will pass the Panama Canal on that date.

But for her Ladyship her companion had chosen a set of Svarovski pens, to be used to write a diary on her upcoming cruises. The envelope was much heavier than the shawl, which can be seen by the 10 (TEN!!!) stamps of each € 0.84. The stamps are designed by myself, and I use a picture that Lady Mary took on our honeymoon cruise in 2016.


On the evening before the memorable day/date, the three sisters toasted on Mum’s health. From left to right: Sophy McIntosh – Stewart-Wilson, Alice Young – Stewart-Wilson and Belinda Stewart-Wilson.