Meghan at 37 – and why it’s a crucial age for Royal women

m2Among rock stars, there is something called the ‘27 Club’. Its members are the poor souls who, for various reasons, never make it to 28. They include Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse. Within the Royal family, there is also something of a 37 club – though, mercifully, for very different reasons. As the Duchess of Sussex, who turns 37 today, will be glad to learn, it’s the age at which female members of the Royal family are finally able to relax. The path of a Royal woman is not easy. Your late teens, 20s and even early 30s will be a maelstrom of insecurities and anxieties, made worse by unflattering pap shots and intrusions into your love life. But by the time you hit 37, you generally have your ducks in order and life is about to get a lot easier. Take Zara Tindall, who, aged 37, has just given birth to her second daughter, Lena. She recently told a newspaper she had had two miscarriages between the births of Lena and her first child, Mia, in 2014. Heart-breaking, and enough to make her beat a retreat from public life. Now she is back in the riding saddle, with a husband, two children and a home on the Gatcombe Estate. Sorted, as those maddening train station announcements like to say. The Duchess of Sussex has spoken of her keeneess to start a family, and 37 is an age at which Royal women often give birth. Queen Victoria was a month shy of 38 when she had Princess Beatrice, her ninth and final child, in 1857. As was our own Queen when she gave birth to her fourth and final child, Prince Edward, in 1964. It’s hard to deny there would be a neat symmetry for the Duchess of Cambridge – who was 36 when she gave birth to Prince Louis in April – if, like the Queen, she were to have a fourth aged 37. The Duchess of Sussex is 37 todayThere’s also something symbolic about the number 37 for Royal women. Victoria became Queen in 1837, only a month after turning 18, and went on to reign for 64 years. nother long-timer, The Queen Mother, was crowned in 1937 – also becoming the last Empress of India – and turned 37 a few months later. Incidentally, she shares a birthday with Meghan, and would have been 118-years-old today. Princess Anne, the most senior female Royal by blood after the Queen, was only awarded the substantive title of Princess Royal the year she turned 37. Why did the Queen wait so long to grant it? After all, it had been available since the death of the previous Princess Royal, Mary, Countess of Harewood, who died in 1966 (she was the eldest daughter of George V, younger sister of both Edward VIII and George VI, who married Henry Lascelles, Earl of Harewood). It is possible that the title didn’t pass to Anne sooner as Princess Margaret was, in theory, also entitled to it. But she has certainly earned it in the years since, becoming the hardest working Royal: last year she clocked up more days’ service than anyone, and she is on course to do the same again this year. So what is 37 likely to look like for Meghan?

Diana And Charles in Germany

For most Royal women, it is a period of domesticity. Princess Anne was not doing nearly as much work when she was 37. She was still married to Captain Mark Phillips and had two small children, though she did join the International Olympic Committee at that age. Princess Margaret was also in a period of relative calm at that age. It was 1967, she had two young children and her marriage to Lord Snowdon was going well – so well that she allowed him to take that notorious portrait of her, in which she appears to be naked. The Queen was pregnant with Prince Edward for most of her 38th year, though as fans of The Crown will recall, she wasn’t exactly able to enjoy her maternity leave: Harold Macmillan was gravely ill for much of 1963, which required her to appoint a new prime minister, Alec Douglas-Home, in October of that year. She was also 37 during the turbulent events of the Profumo affair and the JFK assassination. Indeed, 37 hasn’t always been a good year historically for Royal women. Queen Elizabeth I was 37 when she learned of the plot to kill her by a Florentine banker, Rodolfo Ridolfi, and replace her with the Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots. This led to the execution of Mary’s suitor, the Duke of Norfolk, and years later, that of Mary herself. In more recent times, though no less sensationally, Sarah, Duchess of York, was stripped of her HRH title in 1996, shortly before her 37th birthday. This was easily the most hurtful part of her divorce from Prince Andrew that year. Alone among Royal women, she probably doesn’t look back at 37 with much love. Which leads us to the most significant Royal we have yet to consider. For Diana, Princess of Wales, 37 was an age she would never know. It was two months after her 36th birthday when she died in that Paris car crash, nearly 21 years ago. Looking back, it’s almost incredible to consider how much she packed in to so short a life, and what a lasting effect she had – and yet, in 03harry-invictusmany ways, she remains the benchmark for Royal brides, up to whom we hold Meghan and Kate as comparisons. Prince Harry has said he thinks of his mother every day. “Depending on what I’m doing, I wonder what it would be like if she was here, and what she would say, and how she would be making everybody else laugh. Who knows what the situation would be, what the world would be like, if she were still around?” Today, as he and Meghan celebrate her turning 37, Diana will doubtless be more present than ever. The good news is that Harry is finally sorted, and that for Meghan, 37 could be a year of peace and joy that Diana never had.

0658/Rural Britain

Why would-be buyers should consider this almost-forgotten corner of rural Britain

The ruins of the Brograve Windmill on the Norfolk BroadsBuyers forced to seek affordable homes outside of the usual places could bring new life to an almost-forgotten corner of rural Britain. As prices in much of Norfolk and Cam-bridgeshire have risen, people looking for cheaper alternatives in East Anglia are discovering the Fens. Also known as the Fenlands, this is a 1,500-square-mile region of farmland, market towns and unspoilt wildlife habitats in the triangle between Peterborough, King’s Lynn and Ely. Cambridge is about an hour’s drive away, Norwich and Nottingham nearer two. Once only marshes, much of the Fens was drained in the 1800s and turned into agricultural land crossed by reed beds and waterways. Its big skies and wide, empty landscapes are bleak yet beautiful. A lack of investment and its remote location have kept property values below those of its better-known neighbours. Now buyers priced out of other areas are moving in. The market town of Ely, with its magnificent cathedral and river setting, is one of the gateways to the Fens. It’s ideally placed for road and rail access to Cambridge, which is 16 miles away, but has a more affordable residential market. “Property in Ely and local villages can be up to 50 per cent cheaper than A four-bedroom house in Wentworth is £600,000 with Cheffins,” says Richard Booth, director of local agency Cheffins. Cam-bridge is 20 minutes by rail and London just over an hour, but many people aren’t aware of this area.” Booth has seen an increase in buyers from both London and Cambridge looking for better value in Ely and the villages of Haddenham, Little Downham and Stretham. “You’ll find more for your money and a quieter way of life. Ely’s a nice town and is good for young families.” Property in and around Ely is predominantly a mix of Victorian terraces, priced from around £200,000, with 20th-century and new-build family homes for around £400,000. Large detached Victorian or Edwardian houses with decent gardens are popular and go for an average of £650,000. There’s a lack of smaller properties for first-time buyers but proposals to develop an area of the city, known as Ely North, will create 3,000 homes. It’s one of a number of sites the council wants to develop that will increase the population and, it’s hoped, will also bring investment and jobs. A new bypass, routing traffic around the south of the town, is under way but proposed improvements to local rail services with faster trains and a new station at Ely North are still under discussion. Twenty miles by road and 16 minutes up the train line is Downham Market. This picture-postcard town, with its gingerbread houses, is on the Great Ouse river and the edge of the Norfolk Fens. Five-bedroom Lots Bridge Farm is £650,000 with CheffinsIt suits people looking for space in terms of both property and landscapes. Charac-terful detached homes with three to five bedrooms start at around £350,000, with two-­bedroom terraces and bungalows from around £180,000. Downham Market is one of a number of Fenland towns that seem almost forgotten by the property boom. They offer attractive historic centres, access to some of the country’s best countryside and are now seeing new interest from homebuyers and developers. “We’re 45 minutes from the north Norfolk coast but 20 per cent cheaper, and have stunning landscapes. It’s a mystery to me why this area isn’t better known,” says Carole Lee, branch manager of agency William H Brown in Long Sutton, south Lincolnshire. Lee describes Long Sutton as “a pleasant market town” and says lower prices and a desire for a more rural lifestyle are the main drivers for the local housing market. Forty per cent of buyers are from outside the area and most are relocating for affordability. “You can find terraces for £110,000 Lots Bridge Farmand good three-bedroom homes with an acre or two of land from around £350,000,” says Lee. Wisbech, known as the “capital of the Fens”, came top last year in the Guild of Property Professionals’ best locations for first-time buyers. The ­report stated it was one of the few locations in the UK where good investments could still be found for around £100,000. A once-wealthy market town, Wisbech has problems linked to long-term deprivation. However, it shows potential: it overlooks the river Nene and has a castle, a busy inland port and a marina. The area is soon to get an injection of development funds, too. Plans include a new garden town with 11,000 homes and associated businesses and ­facilities. There are some stunning properties for sale in and around Wisbech, with large, four to six-bedroom detached houses available from £350,000 to £650,000. Two and three-bedroom homes can be bought for less than £200,000, with flats going for less than £100,000. To help drive growth, there are plans to reopen the rail line to Wisbech and connect it with March and Cambridge. The Fenland railway stations of Manea, March and Whittlesea are to be regenerated and local roads upgraded. An increasing population requires better infrastructure, and transport investment is sorely needed here. “This is not a very commutable area,” says Lee. “It suits people who are retired, can work from home or commute occasionally. But it’s a hidden gem with a lot to offer. There’s an old-fashioned courtesy, it’s like stepping back in time.”



Princess Eugenie follows in footsteps of Harry and Meghan with golden tickets and carriage ride for her Windsor wedding

e0Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank are to invite members of the public into Windsor Castle for their October wedding, as they follow in the footsteps of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. The couple, who will marry on Friday, October 12, are to use a blueprint of the last Royal wedding to shape their day, adopting the same key elements as the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Inviting 1,200 members of the public into the grounds of the castle to watch guests arriving, Princess Eugenie and Mr Brooksbank will also ask representatives from their favourite charities to catch a glimpse of the happy couple. Each ticketholder will be able to see the senior members of the Royal family walking into the church, as well as any celebrity guests. The newlyweds will also undertake a carriage ride through the town, slightly shorter than the route taken by Prince Harry and Ms Markle to take into account the different scale of the wedding.


Announcing details of the wedding, a spokesman for Buckingham Palace said the couple would be inviting members of the public to share their day. “The couple are delighted to announce an opportunity for 1,200 people from across the United Kingdom to be invited into the grounds of Windsor Castle to share the experience of their special day,” a spokesman said. “The attendees will view the arrival of the congregation and members of the Royal Family, listen to a live broadcast of the marriage service and watch as the bride and groom depart St George’s Chapel at the end of the ceremony.” Like the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, the couple will invite members of the Windsor community, residents of castle and some Royal Household staff to stand in the grounds, along with children from the local schools which Princess Eugenie attended. The newlyweds will undertake a carriage ride through Windsor High Street, but will not travel down the Long Walk, tactfully avoiding any visual comparison between the number of admirers who turn out to celebrate their day with the crowds on May 19.


The plans echo the successful elements of the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and also follow a pattern set by the wedding of the Earl and Countess of Wessex at St George’s Chapel in 1999. It was announced in January that Eugenie, the Queen’s granddaughter, and Mr Brooksbank had become engaged in Nicaragua during a private holiday. The 28-year-old princess began dating the 31-year-old brand ambassador of Casamigos Tequila about seven years ago after they met while skiing near the Swiss resort of Verbier. Eugenie, eighth in line to the throne, said she cried when Mr Brooksbank went down on one knee to ask for her hand in marriage, and she revealed the proposal was a “complete surprise” but the “perfect moment”.


Who is Jack Brooksbank, the wine merchant fiancé of Princess Eugenie?

j1He was working as a waiter in a cocktail bar when he met her. But it was no rags to riches story for Jack Brooksbank, whose engagement to Princess Eugenie was announced earlier this year. Educated at Stowe School in Buckingham, where boarding fees are currently almost £12,000 per term, Brooksbank, 31, is a descendant of the Brooksbank baronets and reportedly a distant cousin of Eugenie’s. (Her mother, the Duchess of York, is the great-great-granddaughter of Lady Julia Coke, who is the daughter of Jack’s great-great-grandfather, Thomas Coke.) Son of George Brooksbank, 68, a chartered accountant and company director, and his wife Nicola, 64, Jack has a younger brother called Thomas, 29 – a possible candidate for best man. Since 2001, the family address has been an apartment in a gated period conversion in Wandsworth, not far from Battersea Park. Brooksbank was introduced to Eugenie, the younger daughter of Prince Andrew, during a ski holiday in Verbier, Switzerland and the couple have been together for more than six years. Back then, Eugenie was studying English literature, history of art and politics at Newcastle University and Brooksbank is said to have been waiting tables and serving drinks at Devonshire Terrace, a bar and restaurant near Liverpool Street in London. Having left school in the mid-noughties, he 700057841PR024_Stars_Make_Ahad given university a miss, choosing instead to launch himself straight into a career in hospitality. He went on to work at Chelsea’s Admiral Codrington pub, from where he was poached by businessman and nightclub owner Piers Adam and employed by the Markham Inn nearby. “At the Markham Inn, I had to deal with lots of strange people, and everyone was demanding,” he once said of his experience there. “I also got to know the locals, which I loved.” These included Prince Harry and his close friend Guy Pelly who, according to Tatler, “pulled him into the Mahiki set”. He went on to manage the Mayfair nightclub, a favourite among royalty and celebrities, and also owned by Adam. Then, in August 2016, he set up his own company, Jack Brooksbank Limited, a wine wholesaler. He is described by those who know him as “kind and selfless” and a perfect match for Eugenie. Jacobi Anstruther-Gough-Calthorpe, a friend of the couple, tells the Telegraph: “Never have I known a couple with so much lust for life, who light up every room they enter with joy, laughter and unprecedented warmth. I’m sure you’ll hear this a lot but Jack possesses one of the most infectious laughs you’ll hear, and you will hear it!! “It has been a pleasure watching their relationship grow over the years, two people who enjoy each other’s company so much. They are two of the kindest, [most] selfless and sensitive people I know. In that they have met their match.” But Brooksbank hasn’t entirely avoided scandal. In 2013, a tabloid newspaper reported that explicit photographs of him touching the naked breasts of a stripper while blindfolded and covered in candle wax during his 21st birthday celebrations had been leaked online. The pictures were quickly removed from the internet after they had been discovered.

0655/Interest rate rise


Bank of England votes for first ‘real’ interest rate rise since financial crisis.

The Bank of England has voted for its first “real” interest rate rise since the financial crisis as it builds ammunition to tackle a economic downturn following Brexit. The Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted unanimously to hike rates to 0.75pc, their highest level in nine years. Sterling spiked following the decision but enthusiasm on currency markets quickly faded as governor Mark Carney warned that policy ahead of Brexit needed to “walk, not run”. The MPC said that recent data has confirmed that the economic slowdown in the first quarter of the year was “temporary”and that more hikes will be needed to bring inflation back to the Bank’s 2pc target. The central bank’s policymakers lifted rates last November but it was widely seen as a correction of its post-EU referendum rates cut. The hike provides savers some relief and pushes up borrowing costs but rates remain close to ultra-low levels. “The main argument for raising rates now is that it gives the Bank more room for manoeuvre when the next downturn hits,” argued Hargreaves Lansdown economist Ben Brettell. “If interest rates are 1pc or more by the time the economy sails into stormier seas, policymakers will at least be able to cut rates a couple of times before cranking up the printing presses for more QE.” Millions of homeowners with variable rate mortgages face higher payments, with many braced for increased charges of £260 a year. Following the Bank of England’s decision to raise the Bank Rate from 0.5pc to 0.75pc today, many customers with variable rate mortgages will see their interest rates increase by a corresponding amount. For those with mortgages tied directly to the Bank Rate, the interest rate will increase on 1 September for customers with most major lenders. However, HSBC confirmed it will apply higher rates from tomorrow.

0654/Rescue Mattijn from Laos jungle!


OUR SON MATTIJN (right on picture above) had an accident while kayaking in the jungle in Laos and has not been seen since. The rescue mission with a helicopter costs €70.000. Each moment counts and we are terrified that he is alone in the jungle. Please help him come back home. Even a small donation helps to bring him back! Bank account number: NL46RABO0331667835 on name of J. Lahuis BIC/SWIFT code: RABONL2U. If you can’t donate through gofundme, please transfer the money yourself to above bank account! We will make sure it get’s added to gofundme, although it might take us a while.

Please help us save Mattijn Lahuis, our beloved son, brother and boyfriend. His kayak capsized in the Lao jungle after a strong current made him crash into a tree in the water. The kayak got stuck underwater. Three other people who crashed managed to crawl to the shore. Mattijn has not been seen since. Since the accident, 30 July, local police officers and volunteers have been searching for Mattijn in the river and its surroundings, remote jungle villages. A rescue operation with a helicopter is his chance of survival. Without this we are fearing the worst. But we cannot pay for the entire operation ourselves. We need your help.

Mattijn went to Laos first in February and came back with two friends to share with them the beauty of the jungle. He believes choosing a professional guide and acting responsibly will let them stay safe. They go through the rainforest and bamboo fields, sleep in a wooden house in the jungle, have the time of their lives… Until the last day, when the dream turns into a nightmare. They paddle on the river, with the professional guide at the front. They turn a corner in the river, the current suddenly becomes much faster and they see a fallen tree in front of them. Two of four kayaks crash into the tree and capsize. Two friends of Mattijn and the guide manage to get on shore or hold on to the tree, but Mattijn is nowhere to be seen. They immediately look for him, and continue to do so in the next days, but to no avail. He might still be out there in the jungle, alone and probably injured, perhaps unable to call for help.

Local volunteers have been walking through the jungle, looking for any trace of Mattijn. Over ten kayaks have scoured the river up and down, looking for Mattijn. So far he has not been found. The jungle is very dense and the current was too rapid for divers. We can’t and we won’t put other people into danger while searching for Mattijn.

The Vientiane Rescue 1623 team of Laos are amazing people, doing everything in their power to help in emergency situations. Recently they helped Thai boys stuck in a cave and many many hundreds of people before that. They don’t charge anything for their help, however, we have to cover the costs of helicopter rental, including a pilot, which gets to €70.000 euros for three days of search. A helicopter is now Mattijn’s best chance to survive. It’s more efficient to search from above ground with equipment able to detect human body heat and objects under water, which are not supposed to be there. The current, local volunteers just do not have these same resources.

As it turns out, these costs can not be covered by Mattijn’s insurance policy. Now we are alone in coming up with the necessary funds. However, we are determined to put everything into place to find Mattijn.

If you want to verify this story, the Dutch embassy in Thailand and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken) can confirm the search. Please feel free to contact us with any questions you might have, we’re happy to reply and increase Mattijn’s chances in any possible way: Olga Niziolek (Mattijn’s girlfriend): o.niziolek@gmail.com, Monique Hoogeveen (Mattijn’s mother): monique@artduo.nl, Jan Lahuis (Mattijn’s father): lahuis.jan@gmail.com. Please help us save Mattijn and bring this nightmare to an end!

With your help we can do it!

0653/Shocking advertisement “beyond”

Transport organization Transport for London (TfL) bends an ad series of the English company Beyond, fearing that it would be too shocking. However, the advertising messages from the price comparison of funerals have already released a lot on social media. “We want to break the taboo to talk about death,” the company reports. In one of the advertising posters a young couple is laughing in the sea. The picture is a clear parody of the average advertisement for a last-minute girl. Instead of surfboards, however, the woman and man have the cover plate of a coffin fixed. ‘Low costs, no hassle, cremation’, the letter is blocking. And: ‘All inclusive, roasting temperatures, leaving everywhere.’ On another poster you can see how a young woman is in a store. She talks to a store employee. There are fashion dolls with beautiful dresses in the shop window. A friend is with us. Everything indicates that the young woman will soon get married and looking for a beautiful wedding dress. ‘For that perfect look on your big day’, according to the advertisement. But in the middle of the store is a pink coffin.

The advertising messages should initially appear in the London underground, but that did not happen. Public transport company TfL banned advertising for fear that it would “seriously and widespreadly offend.” TfL did this after consulting the organization that supports communication. “All advertisements must comply with our and national conditions that apply to advertising”, according to the transport organization. TfL’s partner started with Beyond – a company that compares funeral expenses – to adjust the poster series and remove the sharp edges, so that it could be shown in public transport.

‘Break through the taboo’
That happened, but Beyond still displays the ads in the city and posted the original posters on social media. In addition, the company devoted a blog post to the issue a little more than a week ago. The ad series is deliberately risky, explains Beyond. The company says the taboo around wanting to break through funerals with humor. “We get rid of the emperor’s clothes. We turn the volume knob to ten, hoping it will make it easier for everyone to go at least to five and say, “Here we can talk about death.”

‘Costs get out of hand’
The reactions to the posters on social media vary from ‘shocking’, ‘tasteless’ and ‘despicable’, to ‘brilliant’ and ‘fantastic’. “Our reluctance to talk about death is why funeral expenses get out of hand and why you pay too much to draw up a will or distribute assets,” said co-founder Ian Strang in a comment. According to the New York Times, an index for 2017 shows that cremations in England cost on average more than 3500 euros and funerals over 4500 euros. That is too much, says Strang. “We want to change this.” And that requires openness. He openly questions TfL’s decision. “TfL is not the referee in moral issues. They have ads about taking out loans, gambling … Is a little humor about death worse than such products?”


201807272054NL_Gwg219Three spectacular things on one evening…


This “Fleur de Lis” finally in bloom, after weeks of replacing, enriching the soil and waiting… waiting… waiting…










For tonight, 27th of July, a “Bloodmoon” was announced. The spectacle started at 10:30 pm with the red rays of the sunset on the earth reflecting on the moon.





When the spectacle was over, a full moon appeared bit by bit.

0650/Hottest day of year

UK weather: Heatwave to bring highs of 37C on hottest day of year – before lightning, flooding and hail

Gosport stormThe British heatwave could bring its most intense conditions yet with forecasted highs of 37C (98.6F) on Friday accompanied by severe thunderstorms. After some storms early on Friday, motorists are warned ahead of lightning, flash flooding and large hailstones that could hit eastern areas in the afternoon, with a sever weather warning in place for the afternoon until just before midnight. Temperatures are forecast to be in the mid-30s for much of east and south east England, reaching an estimated 37C in London on so-called Furnace Friday. That would make it the hottest July day ever – the previous record of 36.7C was set in Heathrow in 2015. And the mercury could rise higher still if there is a lot of sunshine, Met Office meteorologist Alex Deakin said. There is a chance the all-time UK record of 38.5C (101.3F) could be broken, with the hot weather set to continue into August. Meanwhile, cross-Channel rail passengers face difficult journeys after oQueues for the Eurotunnel in Folkestone, Kentperator Eurotunnel cancelled thousands of tickets as “extreme temperatures” caused major disruption to services. The firm took the “unprecedented decision” to stop passengers from travelling on Friday if they were due to return on the same day or Saturday in a bid to ease long queues. Passengers had faced delays of up to six-and-a-half hours on Thursday when air-conditioning units failed on trains. Mr Deakin said: “The reason there’s some uncertainty is because of the thunderstorms, how many we see and where they get going … torrential rain, the risk of local flooding, large hailstones potentially damaging, lots of flashes of lighting and rumbles of thunder. “Roads like the M11, M18, M1 and A1 won’t be very pleasant, a lot of spray and surface water around.” Thursday saw the hottest day of the year so far, with temperatures reaching a peak of 35.1C (95.1F) at Heathrow. A mix of toxic air, extreme highs, emissions from the continent and a lack of cloud cover caused a “high” air pollution alert to be issued for London. Meanwhile, authorities said the heatwave was causing “winter conditions” in parts of the NHS, while many nurses were said to be dizzy and exhausted. Fire brigades A young girl cools off with wateralso called for a ban on BBQs in parks and drivers were urged not to throw rubbish following a string of grassland fires in recent weeks. Going into Friday night, more showers will come into parts of Wales, south west England and northern Ireland in a sign of things to come for the weekend, Mr Deakin added. Most places will see temperatures closer to average for the time of year, around the high teens to low 20s, with the chance of showers and strong breezes, Mr Deakin said. Some areas will see a more than 10C drop between Friday and Saturday. He added: “Weather fronts are trying to come in from the Atlantic and eventually they will do so. And that has the impact of ousting the really hot and humid air .. it turns runs cooler for the weekend, fresher, more comfortable at night…”.