2018/01/20 – Meghan Markle: Prince Harry is a feminist too
With his famous sense of humour, a love of rugby, and 10 years in the Army under his belt, he has often been hailed as “one of the lads”. In 2018, and with a helping hand from his fiancée, Prince Harry has officially embraced a new label: feminist. Meghan Markle has proclaimed her thoroughly modern man a proud feminist, as the pair embarked on their first official visit to Wales. Undertaking a long walkabout to greet admirers who had waited hours in the cold for them, Ms Markle was complimented by Jessica Phillips, 23, for her outspoken views on equality. Ms Phillips said: “She was so lovely. I said it was really lovely to have a feminist in the Royal Family.” Gesturing to her fiancée, the former actress told her: “He’s a feminist too.” Last week, as the pair visited a community radio station in Brixton, Prince Harry told young DJs discussing gender equality: “As males we have to do our part or it’s not going to work.” On Thursday, in their third official engagement together, Prince Harry and Ms Markle stepped out hand-in-hand to meet the public in Cardiff, for their first joint trip to Wales. Arriving nearly an hour late, after a points failure on the railway line they traveled on, they apologised profusely to hundreds of members of the public who had waited in the freezing cold and endured brief hail to catch a glimpse of them. Accepting daffodils and admiring the costumes of schoolchildren dressed as evacuees for a Second World War project, they shook hands and posed for photographs all along the path to Cardiff Castle, with Ms Markle even drawing a heart for a small girl on request. Caught up in the enthusiasm, at one point she appeared to politely accept an invitation to host her hen do in the Welsh city, telling the eager admirers who suggested it: “I bet that would be a lot of fun.” Sisters Anne and Judy Daley, from Llandaff, Cardiff, had offered Ms Markle a tiara, sash and L-plates hopefully, before an amused Prince Harry intervened to shake his head. The couple were given a traditional carved wooden love spoon by two children, also named Harry and Megan, before attending a celebrating of Welsh culture inside the castle. There, ahead of their own nuptials on May 19, they tasted a wedding cake made out of local cheese, topped with a sign topped with a sign saying “Congratulations” in Welsh. By late afternoon, the couple had moved to Tremorfa, where they joined a host of excited children at Star Hub, a community leisure centre. After Ms Markle tried her hand at games, she and Prince Harry watched a dance performance, stopping to comfort one little girl who had been overwhelmed by the day. The proud Prince, with his customary distaste for formality, encouraged a group of dancing youngsters to mob his laughing bride-to-be, saying: “Let’s all give Meghan a group hug!” Prince Harry eventually set his fiancé free, telling them: “And…release. She’s mine.” The couple were particularly keen to see the work of StreetGames, which works to make sport accessible to all young people, regardless of their social circumstances, and the UsGirls project, set up to encourage women to take part in sport. Some of the young women from the project had been asked to peddle for several minutes on exercise bikes while waiting for their arrival. “And yet you are all still smiling,” Ms Markle noticed, introducing herself to each one of them by name. “How much better is it to come here each evening instead of sitting at home playing on the Play Station,” she added. Playing a spot of Jenga with Kevin Chiduau, 12, Ms Markle said: “I love this game. You need so much patience for it, it teaches you patience too.” After watching a group dance, the Prince and Ms Markle were left helpless with laughter as they were bombarded with questions. “Are you married yet?” one boy shouted, before a little girl informed them: “I’m going be dancing at your wedding.” “You’re going to be dancing at my wedding?” asked Prince Harry. “Promise?” “Oh my gosh, you guys are so sweet,” Meghan said, taking the chaos in her stride. As the couple departed, locals suggested they had won over the crowds despite their long wait. Linda Thompson, 66, from the town of Dinas Powys, just outside Cardiff disclosed: “I said to Harry ‘good choice of bride’and he said ‘would you prefer a Welsh lady?” and I said ‘no she’s beautiful’.” Ian Leyshon, 41 of Cardiff, said: “I think Harry and Meghan are great and Cardiff will love them – she can be our Princess of Wales.”
2018/01/18 – Harry and Meghan serenaded in Cardiff Castle
Prince Harry and his fiancee Meghan Markle arrived in Cardiff to celebrate the people, culture and heritage of Wales. The couple toured the historic castle and were treated to readings in Welsh, singing and dancing.
2018/01/17 – Meghan Markle receives first official Royal gift: an apron
Their relationship blossomed over home cooked meals, and Prince Harry popped the question over a roast chicken supper. What better way for Meghan Markle to be welcomed into the business of the Royal Family, then, than with her first official gift: an apron. Ms Markle has made her debut on the annual list of gifts received by members of the Royal Family, with an apron presented to the Duke of Cambridge to pass on by a member of the public. The Duke had been making a solo visit to Finland in November, while his brother and future sister-in-law celebrated their engagement in London. The gift list offers scant details on the present, noting just that it was from an “individual” and was received by the Duke “on behalf of HRH Prince Henry of Wales and Ms Meghan Markle”. It is the first time Ms Markle has been named on the audit, following an altogether more circumspect entry, in September, while Prince Harry was in Toronto for the Invictus Games. Then, as the couple were not engaged, Ms Markle spent the trip apart from the Prince in public, save for one appearance together at the tennis and a relaxed moment in a private box at the closing ceremony. Prince Harry’s list of gifts, however, records a set of his’n’hers accessories for the couple, presented by a wellwisher and including: “Two jackets, two leather holdall bags, two leather belt-bags, two leather zipped pouches, two leather passport holders, four leather wristbands, two ice hockey pucks, two baseball caps, two t-shirts and two sports polo shirts.” Ms Markle, who has previously spoken about her love of vegan leather, has not yet been spotted in public with any of the gifts. Among presents received by other members of the Royal Family were armfuls of items for Prince George and Princess Charlotte, including 59 presents from their week-long visit to Poland and Germany. Even the Duchess of Cambridge’s third baby, due in April, was not left out, with the family taking home three “soft toy baby’s sleep aids” in preparation for the newborn. The Duke of Edinburgh was given several gifts he may be able to make use of in retirement, from a travel backgammon set by luxury brand Smythson and some whisky from his Duke of Edinburgh Award team. A bugle, presented by The Rifles, was also accepted. The Queen received glittery baubles for her Christmas tree, a purple fleece dog bed for her corgis and and the Union Flag from Major Tim Peake’s spacesuit. She was also given an ostrich egg decorated with Maasai beadwork as a 91st birthday present from the Kenyan president, a decoration containing Enigma machine paper from GCHQ, and copies of love letters between Queen Victoria’s granddaughter Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenburg and King Alfonso XIII of Spain between 1905-6 from the Spanish Royal Family. In a long list of presents, Prince George and Princess Charlotte received 17 soft toys, two lollipops, three toy trains, a toy pram, three dresses, two pairs of socks and a dreamcatcher. Official gifts can be worn and used, but are not considered the personal property of the Royal recipient. The Royals do not pay tax on them, can eat any food they are given and pass perishable official gifts with a value less than £150 to charity or staff. Gifts cannot be sold or exchanged and eventually become part of the Royal Collection, which is held in trust by the Queen for her successors and the nation. The rules on official presents were tightened following the Peat inquiry in 2003 into the sale of royal gifts and the running of St James’s Palace.
Prince Harry – the Best Royal Hugger Ever
2018/01/13 – The royal wedding countdown begins: What are Meghan and Harry’s planning priorities?
It would be enough to give any couple conniptions: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have just four months left to plan the wedding of the year, where the pews will be peppered with as many Hollywood royals as European ones. Most brides organising an event of this size (though St George’s chapel, Windsor, has a capacity of ‘only’ 800, compared to the 1,900 guests who attended the Cambridges’ wedding in Westminster Abbey) would leave at least a year before the big day. But then, Ms Markle is not “most brides”, and the Royal Family have the best party planners in the world at their fingertips – state banquets being their bread and butter. And soon to be sixth-in-line to the throne (after the arrival of the third Cambridge baby) Prince Harry and his bride are under less pressure to bow to protocol than Prince William and Kate, for their ‘semi-state’ occasion. “This wedding follows the slightly low-key wedding of Prince Edward, also in St George’s Chapel,” says the royal biographer and expert Hugo Vickers. “Weddings at Windsor do not have the Mall procession or [Buckingham Palace] balcony appearance. It is more intimate.” Nevertheless, one can safely assume that there is still a lot to be done. If the last Royal wedding is anything to go by, some 300 million people will be watching worldwide on May 19. So, with 18 weeks to go until the most anticipated event of 2018, let the countdown begin…
Four months to go
By this point, most brides will have completed stage one of wedding planning – picking the venue, finalising the guest list, booking the caterer – and be onto their second dress fitting of several, while the wedding diet is in full swing. Sarah Haywood, wedding ‘producer’ to the high profile and high net-worth, explains stage two “is about contracting the key suppliers; the designers, the caterers, the entertainment.” Festoon lights, wild flowers and jam jars filled with candles – all hallmarks of a modern wedding – won’t cut it in the historic environs of St George’s Chapel, where 10 British monarchs are entombed, however much Meghan might claim to lust after a “whimsical, subtly romantic” affair. But the dress will, at least, have started to take shape. Speculation has centred around Israeli designer Inbal Dror, known for her racy gowns, since a spokeswoman revealed they had been asked to submit preliminary sketches. Luxury wedding dress designer Suzanne Neville certainly believes a British designer is far from a given. “The dress will have traditional elements,” she says, “Meghan will need to wear a sleeve of some kind in the chapel to fit Royal protocol, but she will put her own twist on it.” Where Meghan will let loose is the evening, likely opting for a gown that’s “a bit more slinky and sexy,” suggests Haywood. The Duchess of Cambridge changed from her Sarah Burton-designed McQueen wedding dress into an ivory satin number with a plunging neckline for the Buckingham Palace dinner hosted by Prince Charles. Meghan’s soon to be sister-in-law by marriage, Pippa Middleton, meanwhile, swapped her high-necked Giles Deacon gown for a figure-hugging Provonios frock before her adults-only evening reception, in May (and asked female guests to bring a second outfit, too).
Three months to go
“Stage three is about getting down to the detail,” says Haywood. “What is each part of the event going to look like, what is the invitation going to say, exactly what is everyone going to wear?” Traditionally, the Palace releases photos of the couple’s invitations as they are being prepared for postage. In February 2011, some 10 weeks before Prince William and Kate’s wedding, Royal watchers were given a glimpse of the cream and gold invitations, bearing the Queen’s insignia atop the inscription: “The Lord Chamberlain is commanded by The Queen to invite…” The real question is, who? Harry was put on the spot on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, after Christmas, when he was asked if his friend Barack Obama would be present. “We haven’t put the invites or the guest list together yet, so who knows,” he sidestepped, no doubt cognisant of the thin-skinned current President. But a Royal wedding should be above politics – the Obamas weren’t invited to William and Kate’s wedding, when they were in the White House, either. Besides European royalty, commonwealth and religious leaders, and the cast of Suits, the armed forces will undoubtedly play a large part in both the pageantry and the party. Top military personnel, as well as members of Prince William’s RAF squadron at Anglesey, were invited to the Cambridges’ wedding, so it’s a safe bet some of Harry’s desert squad will be on the dancefloor.
“By eight weeks out, everything should be completely planned,” says Haywood. It is thought that a Champagne reception will follow the traditional ceremony, before a break in the afternoon allows guests to watch the FA Cup final, then change for the evening reception at Windsor Castle. Meghan and Harry were said to have hoped to hold the reception at nearby Frogmore Hall, which has a rather more fashionable, 1920s feel, but Royal aides felt St George’s Hall more suitable. The 180-ft long room, traditionally used for state banquets, seats up to 162 people and was redesigned in a modern Gothic style – with walls lined with suits of armour – following the fire at the castle in 1992. Having chosen the menu – both Kate and Pippa went for high-end catering company Table Talk – most couples are now fine-tuning the evening’s entertainment. But while the Cambridges were serenaded by Ellie Goulding, and Buckingham Palace’s Throne Room was transformed into a nightclub for the 300 guests, Meghan is known to favour little known American singer-songwriters and a festival-type atmosphere. It seems unlikely the couple will take up the offer of DJ Jevanni Letford, who handed the royals his card on their visit to Reprezent FM studios in Brixton this week, but the grounds of Windsor Castle may yet be turned into a mini-Glastonbury for the night.
A month to go, and it’s time for the hen and stag dos. In 2011, Harry acted as de-facto best man (it is never an official title at royal nuptials) for his brother, arranging a relatively restrained stag, two weeks before the big day, at a private Norfolk country house for 20-odd close friends, including older guests, such as the late Hugh Van Cutsem, a great pal of Prince Charles’s. But William revealed this week that Harry has not yet asked him to return the favour. Perhaps he’ll opt for longtime wingman Guy Pelly, who co-owns Tonteria, a boutique nightclub in Sloane Square – arguably the perfect stag venue, with drinks served in skulls, and tequila shots delivered by toy trains to party goers reclining in hammocks. The Duchess of Cambridge had a quiet hen do, three weeks before her wedding, arranged by her sister, Pippa at a friend’s house. Meghan is rumoured to have selected close friend, Canadian stylist Jessica Mulroney as her maid of honour and two ‘dos’ may be on the cards – a Californian leg involving her mum, Doria, followed by a British ‘bachelorette’ closer to the actual wedding date, when her American friends will be in London.
The final fortnight
At this point, guests are usually anxious for a gift list. It is expected that the Royal couple will invite guests to make a charitable donation, instead. “The charity gift list is a big thing, it’s right on trend,” says Haywood. This is also the point at which Meghan and Harry may make their policy on photography known. Haywood anticipates the couple may choose to send a discreet message, via the Palace, requesting that guests refrain from posting pictures on social media. “At Pippa’s wedding, they managed to keep it quite watertight, and that’s about the kinds of people they’ve got around them,” she says. “It is possible to put blocks on phone signals and wifi, but that doesn’t stop people taking pictures and uploading them later.”
The last week
Time for the pre-moon? A growing trend which sees young couples ensure they are relaxed and tanned for the big day, by heading off for a few days in the sun. I hear Mustique is nice in spring…
2018/01/11 – Queen’s bra-fitter Rigby & Peller is stripped of royal title
The Queen’s lingerie supplier, Rigby & Peller, has been stripped of its royal warrant after the company’s former owner wrote a tell-all book about palace fittings. The upmarket lingerie firm held the warrant for 57 years, but lost its royal approval after June Kenton wrote a memoir about her work. The 82-year-old is known for transforming the brand into a world-leading retailer and her autobiography, Storm in D-Cup, goes into detail about fittings with the Queen, Princess Diana and Princess Margaret. Since the incident, Mrs Kenton explained that it was never her intention to upset anyone. She said: “It is very sad for me that they didn’t like it and I’m finding that very difficult to accept. It’s horrible and a real shock. “I never ever thought when I was writing the book that it would upset anyone. I’ve had the royal warrant for so long I never imagined that this would happen.” Mrs Kenton received a letter from the Lord Chamberlain last year stating that Rigby & Peller was to lose its royal warrant as a result of the autobiography. In the book Mrs Kenton wrote about fitting the Queen, explaining that she was half-dressed and that her corgis were often present. She also wrote about Princess Diana, saying she would accept posters showing models in lingerie and swimwear to give to princes William and Harry to display in their Eton studies. Mrs Kenton bought Rigby & Peller with her husband in 1982, paying £20,000, but sold her stake for £8million 29 years later to Van de Velde. She did however stay on the firm’s board and continued to fit the Queen’s bras at Buckingham Palace. “I have never discussed anything of a personal nature with any of my clients, and I never would. The book doesn’t contain anything naughty,” she said. “But it’s a fact I have done work for the Queen, there would be a gaping hole in my autobiography if I didn’t mention it. “I’m coming towards the end of my life, I’m 82, so it is what is it, there is nothing I can do.” Russell Tanguay, director of warrants at the Royal Warrant Holders Association, confirmed yesterday that the Knightsbridge-based retailer had lost its warrant. Mr Tanguay said companies are granted a window in which to remove the royal coat of arms, which is earned when a firm has supplied the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, or Prince Charles for five out of the last seven years. Rigby & Peller must now remove the royal coat of arms from any promotional material and shop signs. Mrs Kenton added that she had no regrets about writing the book, but had only wished to write down her life story as it was something she was extremely proud of. She added: “It is a personal tale and there is nothing in it which is upsetting, it’s a gentle book. “I can’t even begin to explain, I didn’t do it with the intention of upsetting anyone. I’m proud of my life and what I’ve achieved and I simply wanted to share that.”The luxury lingerie firm was founded in 1939 by Gita Peller and Bertha Rigby, before being sold to Mrs Kenton and her husband. Mrs Kenton’s first fitting for the Queen was at Buckingham Palace that same year. The supplier now has seven shops – including its website – and its flagship store is in Knightsbridge, West London. The cost of a brassiere from Rigby & Peller’s ranges in price from £50 to £200 and has a whole host of famous clients, including Kim Kardashian, Margaret Thatcher, Gwyneth Paltrow and Joan Collins. A spokesperson for Buckingham Palace said: “In respect of Royal Warrants, we never comment on individual companies.”
In a safe, dimly-lit space full of men – gathered in a tight circle to film a discussion for the mental health charity CALM – the Duke of Cambridge dropped a bombshell last night. Prince Harry, he said, has “not yet” asked him to fill the role of best man at his wedding to Meghan Markle in May. In 2011, you will remember fondly, Harry acted as de-facto best man (it is never an official title at royal nuptials) at his brother’s wedding to the Duchess of Cambridge, and the pair are notoriously close. News that there has been no decision yet, then, introduces the possibility that Harry is going rogue. Could it be that the fifth-in-line is entrusting somebody else to hire the stripper, find the handcuffs, order the Jägerbombs, embarrass him with an ill-judged speech and cop off with Meghan’s maid-of-honour? And if not Will, who? There are options, so let’s consider the current runners and riders.
One of Harry’s oldest friends, including the party years, the ruddy-cheeked Pelly is certain to be attending in May, but whether he’d be entrusted with the top job remains to be seen. Pelly owns the louche, hyper-expensive Sloane Square bar Tonteria. He’s capable of organising a stag-do, then, and that’s half the battle. Don’t rule him out.
Harry and Meghan have reportedly been warned against even inviting Barack Obama to the wedding, for fear of potentially upsetting Donald Trump. That edict might not sit well with the groom, however, given he and Obama have been kindling a strong bromance over the past two years. There have been interviews, sweet little videos, and invitations to one another’s houses. So, in what would be a troll move for all times, he could make him best man. Imagine the tweet storm. Imagine.
Surely the obvious choice if William chooses to attend the FA Cup final instead. Tom ‘Skippy’ Inskip and Harry have been friends since they were at Eton together, and were inseparable throughout the Prince’s ‘party years’. Like his kangaroo namesake, Skippy is always close to the action. He was there for the naked photos in Las Vegas. He was there in 2011, when Harry jumped into a Croatian swimming pool fully clothed, and he was there when Harry threw snowballs from a hotel balcony later that year. It was reported that Harry acted as best man for Inskip at the latter’s wedding to Lara Hughes-Young last year. Will he return the favour? Will he?
The inordinately wealthy son of Austro-Hungarian Princess Katalina Esterhazy de Galantha and the late Brigadier Tim Landon (who made his fortune helping a coup in Oman), Arthur Landon is another old friend of Harry’s, and another who was there on the infamous Vegas holiday. ‘I obviously think it is really despicable that someone would accept Prince Harry’s hospitality and then take these pictures,’ he said of the ensuing naked photo scandal. ‘I know it has put a real dampener on everybody who was on that holiday.’ Still, he’d have some good stories for the speech.
A friend of Prince Harry’s since they served together in the military, Blunt performed at the Invictus Games (he declared on Twitter that Harry texted to invite him) in 2016. Three years earlier, Harry took his ex-girlfriend, Cressida Bonas, to Blunt’s gig in Notting Hill. No wonder they didn’t work out.
Another pal from Eton, who also happens to be a firm family friend: his father, John, is the Queen’s racing manager and his godmother was Harry’s mother, Princess Diana. Warren’s mother is Lady Carolyn Warren, daughter of the late 7th Earl of Carnarvon. His father runs Highclere Stud in Berkshire, in the shadow of Highclere Castle, where Jake now works too. Bonus Harry clan tidbit: Warren’s sister, Susanna, is an ex-girlfriend of Guy Pelly.
Described as an “Ex London-Welsh rugby player now stockbroker” in his Twitter biography, Bidwell, 41, is another ‘Vegas Veteran’ with potentially Harry-themed scandals up his sleeve. Bidwell, who is also a keen charity fundraiser, is a former boyfriend of the singer Katherine Jenkins, and has regularly attended rugby matches with Harry. In 2013 he took on Fred Andrews, Sir Richard Branson’s shipbroker son-in-law, in a charity boxing match at Boodles. Bidwell lost.
One lucky member of the public
As two of the more down-to-earth members of the senior Royal Family,who said they’re keen to make the British public feel “part of the celebrations” on their wedding day, might Harry and Meghan create some kind of ballot system for a lucky ‘normal’ to stand at their side in St. George’s Chapel? For reasons related to security, class, tradition and sense, the chances are absolutely infinitesimal, but that’s not zero.
2018/01/09 – Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in Brixton
At first glance it may have seemed a world away from their normal Kensington Palace lives. But Prince Harry and Meghan Markle received the warmest of welcomes as they visited a Brixton community radio station, coming away with a host of new friends, an elaborate handshake, and no shortage of offers for their wedding DJ. The Prince and his fiance were left seeming overwhelmed by their reception, surrounded by screaming admirers as hundreds of Londoners turned out onto the cold streets to shout: “We love you.” At one point, the noise proved too much for even the experienced ears of Prince Harry, who exclaimed “it’s so loud” before encouraging Ms Markle to give fans another wave. The generosity of strangers in her new home was, Ms Markle told one member of the crowd, “incredibly kind”, as she disclosed she was, naturally, “so excited” for her forthcoming May wedding. The couple, who were making just their second public appearance together, were praised by DJs and young people at radio station Reprezent, who gave them a crash course in new music and a seven-staged fist-bump handshake. DJ YV Shells, 24, from Woolwich, who juggles his medical degree with his work at the station, proclaimed them “so cool, so down to earth”, while Remi Adermi, 24, said of her handshake lesson: “I just thought it was now or never. He’s a cool guy, a sweet guy. And he did it!” One DJ, Jevanni Letford, went one step further, showing his entrepreneurial spirit as he slipped Prince Harry a business card, offering to perform at the couple’s wedding. The Prince and Ms Markle spent 45 minutes at Reprezent, delaying their departure to undertake an impromptu walkabout outside.
Queen of the airwaves
They had arrived in Brixton, London, at 3pm, waving to visitors before stepping inside the social enterprise radio station for a private meeting with founder Shane Carey to learn about station’s success. It has so far trained more than 4,000 young people and nurtured talent including grime star Stormzy. Though they chose not to appear live on air, the Prince and Ms Markle were then taken into studios to meet the DJs and donned headphones to listen to a track: ‘Flirt’ by the artist Pote Read. Introduced to Gloria Beyi, 17, Ms Markle showed she had been listening carefully to information about the station, quizzing her on her future before declaring: “It’s amazing, it so cool.” She went on to praise the presenter, adding “I can see why your show is so popular. You’re so thoughtful and your approach is so engaging” before leaving bystanders in giggles with the promise: “I must tune in.” Prince Harry, who had thus far impressed young people at the radio station, faltered down slightly when asked by Jeremiah Asiamah whether he had heard of Giggs, a rapper. “He said ‘what, events?'” Mr Asiamah wrote on Twitter afterwards. “Fair enough.”
Gender equality close to Ms Markle’s heart
In the room next door, the couple meet with some of other young volunteers, DJs and those on the training programme, embarking on a discussion of an issue close to Ms Markle’s heart: gender equality. YV Shells said: “I couldn’t believe it when she spoke to me and said she had heard about my work on gender equality. “It was beautiful, if I am honest with you. I am firm believer in normal behaviour when it comes to women, not special, just normal, which means respecting people. “It spun me that she mentioned it.” Prince Harry told him: “As males we have to do our part or it’s not going to work.” At one point, station manager Adrian Newman told Prince Harry they had a question for him. The Prince, deferring to his fiance, pointed to Ms Markle and insisted: “She answers the questions.” “Yes, talking of gender equality!” Ms Markle agreed, smiling.
Meghan ‘couldn’t hide her excitement’
As the couple left the studio, they made a detour to waiting crowds of well-wishers to shake hands and thank them for attending. Meeting Grace White, ten, and her sister, Olive, seven, Ms Markle thanked them for their proffered flowers and answered a question on whether she was excited about her wedding with an animated: “Of course I am!” “She just couldn’t hide her excitement when Grace asked her,” the children’s mother Helen added. “She was glowing.” Calling children “sweetie” and asking for their names, Ms Markle made her way along a line of people accompanied by Prince Harry, telling one gentleman who promised to go to Windsor for their wedding: “That’s incredibly kind, thank you so much.” After accepting bouquets of flowers and pictures made for them by children, the Prince and Ms Markle departed hand-in-hand. The public appearance, their first of 2018, came as it emerged Ms Markle had closed down her social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. A palace source said: “Ms Markle is grateful to everyone who has followed her social media accounts over the years, however as she has not used these accounts for some time. “She has taken the decision to close them.” Speaking after the visit, one member of the crowd, foster carer Sharley Watson, 55, said: “It’s good to see Meghan in Brixton, a black community – it’s the first time we’ve had a royal visit here. “Hopefully she will want to help areas like this. I hope she liked it. I think she would like it even better at night – she could try out the nightlife.” Another woman in her 40s who wished to be known only as Tracey said: “I like her humanitarian work, I like that she had a career of her own – and I like her feminism.” “She is beautiful. Prince Harry is lucky to have her – and she is lucky to have him.” DJs at the radio station spent the morning excitedly discussing the visit, testing one another on their knowledge of all things royal and proclaiming themselves “gassed”.
The Reprezent training programme was established 10 years ago in response to the rise in knife crime, to help young people develop and socialise through radio. According to Shane Carey, CEO and Founder, it was Prince Harry and Ms Markle who approached him three days before Christmas, asking whether they could come and see the station for themselves after learning about its work with The Queen’s Young Leaders. “We didn’t invite them, they approached us just before Christmas,” said Mr Carey. “I was asked to give a major presentation the next day and have been working on this non-stop ever since. “The reason they are coming is because we are aligned very closely to their interests, we do a lot of work around mental health. The whole model of Reprezent is peer mentoring, and I know that is something that really interests Prince Harry. “This is brilliant for us. We have been slogging at it for 15 years and to actually have the spotlight shone on us in this way is remarkable.”
2018/01/09 – Queen remembers her ‘horrible’ Coronation coach journey: ‘Not very comfortable’.
In the memories of a generation who watched it, it was the stuff of fairytales: a bejewelled Queen invested with all the pomp and circumstance Britain can muster. Nearly 65 years after the young Queen charmed the Commonwealth with the first televised Coronation, she has disclosed the secret discomfort behind the glamorous facade, from a heavy crown with some “disadvantages” to a frankly “horrible” journey. The Queen, who reflects on her own Coronation and that of her father for the new BBC television programme, has given an unprecedented insight into the reality of her day, as she was crowned at Westminster Abbey on June 2, 1953. The programme is due to be broadcast by the BBC and in the US, with an American trailer released this weekend showing the Queen speaking candidly about the less-than picture perfect elements required to make the Coronation ceremony and procession a success. Filmed watching scenes of her 25-year-old self travelling in the Gold State Coach, she appears to confess the experience had in part been “horrible”, suggesting difficulties may have been down to a lack of suspension. “It’s only sprung on leather,” she said. “Not very comfortable.” Later in the trailer, as she discussed the Crown Jewels, she said smiling: “There are some disadvantages to the crowns, but otherwise, they’re quite important things.” Though the short clip does not specify what those disadvantages are, others have previously told of the heavy weight of crowns. The St Edward’s Crown, which the Queen has worn only once for her Coronation, weighs nearly 5lbs. In one scene, which sees the Queen watching footage of the young Prince Charles and Princess Anne playing with her robe, presenter Alastair Bruce remarks: “Such fun for the children.” The Queen replies drily: “Not what they’re meant to do.” The full programme is expected to share with viewers the Queen’s memories of the day which, as she puts it, was the “beginning of one’s life really, as a sovereign”. Presented by Bruce, an expert on the Coronation, it will see her discuss the Crown Jewels from her unique perspective, identifying an apparent favourite gem in the Black Prince’s Ruby, which adorns the Imperial State Crown. A spokesman for Buckingham Palace said: “In the programme, part of the Royal Collection season, the Queen reflects on various aspects of the Coronation ceremony and the significance of the Crown Jewels.” A Royal source said of the programme: “It’s a rare and often charming insight into Her Majesty’s personal recollections of the day. “We’ll let people watch the film as a whole in due course.” The trailer, released in America, shows more of the programme than a more cautious 30-second edit released by the BBC. In 2007, the corporation was compelled to apologise after a documentary trailer wrongly appeared to show the Queen storming out of a photography session with Annie Leibovitz, with footage of her walking into the room used out of sequence. The BBC version shows the smiling Queen saying: “I’ve seen one coronation, and been the recipient in the other, which is pretty remarkable. “It’s sort of, I suppose, the beginning of one’s life really, as a sovereign.” In both, the Queen appears pleased to be sharing her knowledge of the jewels and the two Coronations, in a rare television interview. The discomfort of the Gold State coach will be of particular interest to anyone who watched the Coronation, with a return route from Westminster Abbey designed so that the Queen and Duke could be seen by as many members of the public as possible, covering four-and-a-half miles and two hours. The Queen had left Buckingham Palace at 10.26am, with the Coronation service beginning at 11.15am and lasting almost three hours. In keeping with her pledge to put duty before self, the Queen has since used the same carriage on occasions including her Silver and Golden Jubilee processions. Commissioned in 1760 and first used by George III for the State Opening of Parliament, the coach has been used at every coronation from George IV onwards. The hour-long programme will be broadcast on BBC One on Sunday, January 14 at 8pm, and features eyewitness accounts from a maid of honour who nearly fainted in the Abbey, and a 12-year-old choirboy left to sing solo when his overwhelmed colleagues lost their voices.
2018/01/09 – Prince Harry expresses condolences to family of former Afghanistan comrade who dies after PTSD battle
Prince Harry has written a private letter of condolence to the family of a soldier he fought alongside in Afghanistan, after he is feared to have taken his own life, following a battle with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Warrant Officer Nathan Hunt, 39, was found dead at his home in Lincoln last week after telling colleagues he was struggling with depression. The father of one, who was decorated for his service in Helmand Province, had also reportedly complained about the care and treatment he had been receiving from the Ministry of Defence, after developing mental health problems following his service. WO Hunt served alongside Prince Harry in a desert reconnaissance unit, helping to identify roadside bombs in Helmand Province. Following his 2008 tour he received a Mention in Dispatches for his courage and professionalism. But it is understood he was later diagnosed with a stress related condition believed to have been caused by his frontline experiences. A former colleague told the Mail on Sunday that he had been unhappy about the treatment he had been receiving from the Army. The soldier said: “Nathan was a cracking bloke who saved a lot of lives in Afghanistan. He fought the demons in his head for years but it seems they won in the end. “He said recently at a get-together for veterans that the care he was receiving for his condition was useless and he was thinking of getting out of the Army.” A spokesman for Army said: “Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time. The circumstances of his death are currently being investigated and it would be inappropriate to comment further.” While the exact circumstances of his death on January 2 remained unclear, an inquest is expected to open later this month. A Buckingham Palace spokesman confirmed that Prince Harry had written a private letter of condolence to the family of WO Hunt. The Prince, who spent ten years in the Army, rising to the rank of Captain, undertook two tours of Afghanistan. Since leaving the military he has continued to work to support his fellow servicemen and has campaigned to improve the help given to those suffering from mental health issues. Last year he launched an initiative with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge aimed at giving the Armed Forces and their families better training to cope with mental health problems. Under the scheme members of the military will be encouraged to take their mental health as seriously as their physical fitness. He has spoken candidly about his own issues following the death of his mother and last year revealed in the Telegraph that he had sought counselling in his late twenties. Prince Harry, along with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, have been spearheading a campaign through the Heads Together charity, which is aimed at dispelling the stigma surrounding mental health. In 2016 the military mental health charity Combat Stress reported a surge in the number of referrals of veterans suffering from problems associated with depression and post traumatic stress disorder. WO Hunt’s death is the second tragedy to hit Prince Harry’s desert squad. In March 2013, Corporal James Dunsby, 31 died after collapsing during a Special Air Service selection march in the Brecon Beacons.
2018/01/07 – Not getting enough sleep? Rest like the royals with a bedroom each
I may get in trouble for this, but here goes: I tell you what is boring these days, and that is everyone being competitive about how tired they are. This is the sort of conversation I mean:
“I’m so tired.”
“Me too. I could sleep for 100 years.”
“I didn’t get to sleep until 3am last night.”
“I woke up at four and didn’t get back to sleep.”
“The kids came in at five and woke us up.”
“My dog scratched on the bedroom door at six so I had to let him out.”
You hear it everywhere – in the office, on the train, in the pub. It’s a sleep war as we all try to prove we’re the most exhausted person we know. There was the Black Death in the 14th century; the poor Victorians had scarlet fever; now, in the 21st century, we have tiredness. To try to combat this epidemic there are books on sleep, newspaper articles on sleep, sleep apps, sleep therapists, lavender drops for pillows, white noise machines and an array of alarming-looking anti-snoring gadgets on sale. But don’t worry, fellow zombies! We can do away with all those sleep devices because the solution has been discovered by Prince Charles, according to a little story I read the other day about his sleeping arrangements. His answer is to have three bedrooms, as he and Camilla reportedly do at Clarence House. One bedroom for him, one bedroom for Camilla, one bedroom they share. Three bedrooms. Doesn’t that just sound the ticket? If one of you fancies reading for a bit, you can do that in your own bedroom. If one of you wants to sit up watching Robot Wars, you can do that without an argument. If one of you ate too much curry for dinner and has just swallowed a Rennie, probably best off in your own bedroom for the night. You can regroup in your shared bedroom come the morning when it’s safe. It will almost certainly work if you’re single too. Tossing and turning in one bed? Just trot through to your second or third bedroom. Cool sheets and a different mattress. A change is as good as a rest and all that. The Royals and the rich can obviously have multiple bedrooms since they tend to live in quite big houses. I’ve just finished watching series two of The Crown (is there a more magnificent actress than Claire Foy?) and although the Queen and Prince Philip only have one bedroom each, it’s a civilised set-up because the two bedrooms are connected via a gargantuan dressing room. “Oh,” says a young Queen looking confused one morning in Philip’s room, “I’ve woken up in this bed.” If you’re into the gripping BBC drama McMafia you may have spotted a similar two-bedroom arrangement with the doddery old oligarch Dimitri and his wife Oksana. (I tend to take a keen interest in the sleeping arrangements of people on telly since I am MUCH MORE TIRED THAN YOU.) Don’t be dismayed if you only have one bedroom, though. Consider the following: have any of your children left home? If so, why not convert their rooms into your second and third bedroom? They probably won’t mind. Likewise if you have an unused attic or garage. And how much do you use the downstairs loo really? Could you fit a mattress in there? Or why not go the full Harry Potter and transform that space under the stairs for extra bedrooms? Cosy. There was just one small line in this bedroom story about Prince Charles and Camilla I worried about, which said that Camilla now has so many clothes she’s running out of space to store them. According to a “Royal pal”, there are racks of clothes in the communal areas of Clarence House and the situation has reached “crisis point”. I suppose if you do insist on turning all the rooms of your house into bedrooms, then space may become a problem. But I’m not here to solve your storage problems, sorry. I’m merely offering up an à la mode suggestion for sleeping properly.
2018/01/07 – How to live a budget-luxury lifestyle like Harry and Meghan
As predicted, Prince Harry and Meghan are already shaping up to be the most watched couple of 2018 and the ones who best reflect the current mood. Wasting no time in establishing their contemporary credentials they kicked the New Year with – what else? – a High Low mini-break. Sadly we don’t know exactly what they got up to, but we know they ‘partied like tycoons’ as the guests of Prince Albert of Monaco (there’s the high) but that they flew there with BA, in economy next to the toilets. This is the High Low lifestyle in action: budgeting on the one hand – even if you can afford not to – high spending on the other, and knowing when each is appropriate. High Low (or Budget-Luxe) is new to us civilians who have an internal computer specifically for rating when to go High if we can (Champagne on Christmas Day) and what’s automatically low (Easy Jet flights everywhere). High Low, in Normals world, is sleeping three to a bed to get five star skiing in Verbier. It’s buying the perfectly good Ikea kitchen but splashing out on a Roger Oates stair runner. It’s using £4 cleanser and moisturiser from Boots, and then getting your hair dyed by the best in the trade (Rebecca at Hari’s, since you ask). It’s also actively not wanting to stay in the five star 400 bed resort with the legendary golf course, deliberately avoiding the restaurant with the three star Michelin fine dining, and genuinely having no interest in Paris Hilton’s giant teardrop diamond engagement ring (did you see that thing?). What’s new about this is that those who traditionally went High, e.g. royalty, have cottoned on to the advantages of the High Low see-saw. The reason is partly belt tightening, but also recognising the appeal and quality of things that aren’t necessarily expensive, is now a crucial part of being switched on and privileged. Or to put it another way, if you only eat at A list restaurants no-one will take you seriously, and you’ll miss out on an awful lot. Take the Russian family in the BBC drama McMafia. While the sixty-something parents live in opulent splendour in a vast apartment, the heir apparent lives far more modestly in a compact Ikea-ified flat. The mother wears a white sable mink coat and diamonds, and complains that her son’s low maintenance girlfriend ‘dresses like a student’, whereas to our eyes she looks glossy and modern. Their expectations are way out of sync: the parents are High and proud of it, the kids are High Low, and no longer interested in their status symbols. They are the future. Which brings us back to Harry and Meghan the modern royal and his American fiancée. Granted they did have some rowing back to do after Meghan’s choice of dress for the official engagement photographs (price tag £56,000). And it’s true that on their BA flight the three back rows were kept empty, so it’s not like they were strap hanging with a mullered hen party on Ryanair. But still, this is a giant leap for royalty if you consider other members have probably never turned right on an aeroplane. It’s part of a new desire to keep things real – or a bit realer. This year, our idea of what constitutes an aspirational lifestyle will be closer to young royalty’s, and theirs to ours, than at any time in history. Now we all want to buy our sheets in the White Company sale. We all like to mix real jewellery and high street clothes (including Kate Middleton). We would all prefer to hunker down in the kitchen rather than the dining room, and discover the hidden cove with the charming locals only restaurant than roll up to Club 55 (though we don’t mind doing that too). Prince Harry, like most of his peers has a lot more Low tastes than the previous generation. He actually prefers roast chicken at home in front of the TV to getting gussied up for a silver service dinner, and not just because he relishes a break from the goldfish bowl. In all circles, there is a new appreciation that the good things in life don’t have to cost a lot. Meghan will get there too, once she’s got the dress and the trousseau.
2018/01/05 – Queen ‘very pleased’
The Queen’s granddaugh-ter Zara Tindall and husband Mike are expecting a child, a spokeswoman for the couple has said. The couple, who married in 2011, are already parents to three-year-old Mia Grace. In 2016, the Tindalls announced they were expecting their second child, before a spokeswoman confirmed they had lost the baby shortly before Christmas. This year, the young family spent the festive period in Australia, photographed on a working holiday with Mia while other members of the Royal Family were at Sandringham. A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: “The Queen and members of the royal family were very pleased to hear this news.” The baby is believed to be due in the summer, the Press Association reported. Mrs Tindall, an Olympic medal winner and former world eventing champion, will step back from her riding career until the baby has arrived. He or she will be the seventh great-grandchild for the Queen, who has four great-granddaughters and one great-grandson, with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge also expecting a baby in April. Last year, Mr Tindall spoke of how losing their second baby affected the couple, disclosing they had attended a scan to find out the gender before “the whole world [was] turned upside down”. “Obviously you’re gutted, you never want to go through it, you never want your wife to go through it,” he said. “I think, if I was honest, we were very lucky that we already had Mia, so you immediately go home from the hospital and there’s a three-year-old causing carnage and it immediately takes your mind off it. ““But it was an eye-opener for how many people go through it.”
2018/01/04 – ‘First day at nursery’
As Princess Charlotte prepares to start her first term at nursery, thoughts in the Royal household may well be turning to what to pack in her little bag to take with her. By happy coincidence, Buckingham Palace Shop believes it has just the answer: one of its children’s books, a Guardsman teddy bear, or a fetching fancy dress crown. The palace shop has contacted customers to promote its Back to School range, aimed at those going back to school after the Christmas holidays. In a promotion conveniently sent out on the day Princess Charlotte’s own nursery, Willcocks, began its Spring term dates, it reserves a section for a child’s “first day of nursery”. Marketing material for the Buckingham Palace shop suggests: “Tuck these charming gifts into backpacks, as you wave off the little ones to their first day at nursery.” The suggested items include colourful headwear described as a “fabulous dress up crown, gold and shining with red velvet and soft fake fur trim”, at a price of £8.95. Princess Charlotte’s peers could also take a Guardsman teddy bear, resplendent in his red jacket and faux bearskin hat, at £17.95. Less useful for the two-year-old Princess, who was photographed at her family’s home of Buckingham Palace for the Queen’s Christmas lunch just weeks ago, will be Michael Bond’s book Paddington At the Palace, which sees the bear visit the Changing of the Guard ceremony. The Princess is due to attend her first day at nursery this month, at the Willcocks nursery school situated close to her Kensington Palace home. Her older brother, Prince George, is expected to return to Thomas’ Battersea for his second term next week. The nursery range is matched by a back-to-school range of stationery inspired by Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and Holyrood Palace, including a crown-shaped book of sticky notes and a corgi pencil set. The gift shop is run by the Royal Collection Trust, with income going towards care of the Royal Collection, held in trust by the Queen for her successors and the nation. “Whether they’re a toddler starting nursery, a little one heading back to school, or a college student, we have luxury stationery essentials for everyone,” customers were told yesterday. “Fill their satchel with leather journals, colourful notebooks and other accessories inspired by the royal palaces, to set the benchmark for excellence.”
2018/01/02 – Economy flight to Nice for New Year celebrations
Prince Harry whisked his fiancee, Meghan Markle, to the French Riviera for a New Year break, it has been claimed. The pair are said to have taken a scheduled, British Airways flight to Nice. In a bid to avoid being spotted by other passengers, they boarded first and headed straight to the back of the plane, next to the rear toilets. They also took up three rows of economy seats, either side of the aisle, even though there were only themselves and three “edgy and nervous” bodyguards in their party, according to the Daily Mail. Prince Harry, 33, sat next to the window with a baseball cap pulled over his face, while Ms Markle, 36, sat next to him in a black beanie hat.
The pair are said to have been met by armed officers from the French border police and are being protected during their stay by members of France’s elite Service de la Protection, the police unit responsible for the protection of foreign dignitaries. One told the newspaper: “It would have been offered and would have been non-negotiable. “After what happened to his mother in this country and the issue of terrorism, it would be insisted on even for a private trip such as this.” The couple, who are due to wed in May, are said to have hired catering firm Table Talk for their big day, which was also used by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for their 2011 wedding and by Pippa Middleton when she married last year.
Kensington Palace declined to comment.