Buckingham Palace has a way of dealing with family feuds… and ‘emotional’ royals never fare well

The Royal family watch a military fly-past to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force

As Tolstoy famously opined: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” It’s a jolt to consider that the royal family are actually just like us – unhappy in their own way. We want to buy into the archetypal myth of the fairy tale: that the palaces, privilege and pomp lend themselves to living happily ever after. Tonight’s documentary, The Royal Family At War, debunks this myth: navigating the marriage break-up between Prince Charles and Diana,Princess of Wales in 1996; revisiting the abdication crisis of 1936, when Edward VIII renounced the throne to marry Wallis Simpson, and the current rumoured feud between the Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex.  Members of the royal family may marry for love – “whatever in love means”, as Prince Charles questioned in his engagement interview to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 – but history and tradition regularly conspire against them. Monarchy depends on continuity, conformity and the cult of the court. Familial conflict is not part of the regal code. The big business of The Firm requires that it operates as a diplomatic, rational machine. What is not tolerated, far less understood, is emotion. Those that heed the unspoken creed – duty over emotion – fare well. This week, unflappable Kate, who undertook her first public engagement with the Queen, fully cemented her position as a failsafe support to the monarch. Smiling and relaxed, her sunny self-assuredness must have been a balm to courtiers prickly over rumours of her rift with Meghan.

The news that Queen allegedly vetoed the Sussexes’ plan to set up a separate court and be “entirely independent” underlines the essence of a constitutional monarchy. This is an institutional structure to support the monarch, which doesn’t allow for that kind of rogue independence. The fact that William and Harry are splitting courts, as Meghan and Harry move from Kensington Palace to Frogmore Cottage next month,is unsettling enough with its potential for further rifts and rivalry.  History shows that the more colourful, excitable characters in the royal family who try to steer their own course tend not to reign triumphant. Consider the fates of Edward VIII, Princess Diana and Sarah, Duchess of York: all anathema to the British old school, stiff upper lip modus operandi. Which makes me anxious for Meghan and Harry.

The sixth-in-line to the throne is clearly more volatile and openly expressive than his elder brother, while Meghan has the double impediment of being not just emotional but an outsider. Worse, an American outsider who must quickly learn that the British way of coping can appear game-playing and manipulative; what is unsaid is often more significant than what is. Like her predecessor, American divorcée Wallis Simpson, of whom her friend, Nicky Haslam said: “To be an American was against her then, almost more than the divorce.” Fortunately, The Firm has modernised in part, and it seen as an advantage to our special relationship that Meghan has become a part of British royalty. Her gushingly demonstrative nature, however, penning positive affirmations on bananas and describing the feeling of her baby moving as the “embryonic kick of feminism,” must be raising eyebrows sky high in Court.  Hopefully, after the unfortunate loss of three palace aides, Meghan is now astute to the fact that it is the courtiers who hold real sway. The Men in Grey, as Diana called them, have successfully ensured the survival of the House of Windsor. As Queen Mary’s biographer, James Pope Hennessy, warned: “it is courtiers who make royalty frightened and frightening.” They maintain control by undermining power with gossip and setting up rivalry between courts. Clarence House took on Kensington Palace during Charles and Diana’s acrimonious divorce in 1996.

As early as in 1932, Edward’s equerry, John Aird, railed against the courtiers at York House who were briefing King George V against his son, lamenting “all the nasty gossip, which is very wrong of them and does no good.” At the time of the abdication, Wallis Simpson had realised that the courtiers wield tremendous influence, writing: “I became obsessed with the notion that a calculated and organised effort to discredit and destroy me had been set afoot.” She was right. The mantra for an effective monarchy may be duty over emotion but sadly, this is antithetical to harmonious family life. As Edward VIII said of his childhood, “Christmas at Sandringham was Dickens in a Cartier setting.” He considered his upbringing to be devoid of emotion; his mother, Queen Mary, could never understand nor forgive him for what she saw as the greatest dereliction of his duty when he abdicated. She wrote to her son in July 1938: “All my life I have put my Country before anything else, and I simply cannot change now.”

The Queen has followed suit and is a brilliant monarch, though fallible mother. Like the savvy Duchesses of Cornwall and Cambridge, she has never openly bleated about her position, nor given friends the green light to mutter to the media. Camilla, a true blue blood, has kept her feelings tightly and admirably to herself. From being a reviled figure at the time of the Wales’ divorce in 1996, who could have been crushed by the avalanche of opprobrium, she has become the nation’s favourite grandmother, proving herself to be the mainstay of Prince Charles’s happiness and an ideal consort.

Having written books about two controversial royal women, Princess Diana and Wallis Simpson, it is clear to me that emotion is the enemy of monarchical longevity. Drawing attention to fragility is viewed as nauseating weakness, while openly addressing conflict is simply bad manners. Diana became the victim of her emotional life. Ill-equipped to cope with her outbursts, such as confronting Camilla at a party at Annabel Goldsmith’s about her affair with Charles, the Palace found her irrational and difficult to deal with.  The same could be said of Edward VIII. After the abdication, his torment that his wife would not be received by his family, nor given the HRH title, caused him to further alienate himself. His obsessive and pushy tendencies regularly undid whatever miniscule steps had been made towards familial rapprochement. “If you gave the Duke of Windsor an inch, he took a mile,” said royal biographer Hugo Vickers. “He could be hugely whiney, especially to Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth.” If only the Duke of Windsor had been as patient and strategic as Camilla has been. I believe that eventually he could have returned to live in Britain with his Duchess, which he longed for. In terms of true grit of character, Wallis understood – and ironically had the requisite inner discipline to survive – court life. After the abdication, when she received trays of vicious hate mail each morning, she schooled herself to control her inner world. She developed an implacable façade to conceal the extent of her suffering. Unlike her husband, she predicted that the conflict with the royal family was unlikely to abate. During the Second World War, she wrote: “We had two wars to deal with – the big and still leisurely war – in which everybody was caught up, and the little cold war with the Palace, in which no quarter was given.” And never was.


Queen speaks of ‘greater confidence and optimism’ thanks to stable links with Commonwealth on 70th anniversary

The Queen has spoken of the “greater confidence and optimism” Britain can have thanks to its stable links with the Commonwealth, as she marks the 70th anniversary of the “family of nations”. In a message delivered ahead of Commonwealth Day on Monday, the Queen has given thanks for the ” networks of cooperation and mutual support to which we contribute, and on which we draw”. Saying the “enduring commitment” of the 53 countries is intangible, she added that nevertheless “its impact is very real”. In what is scheduled to be her last Commonwealth Day message before Brexit on March 29th, the Queen emphasised the element of “belonging” in a modern, connected organisation.

On Monday, she will be joined by members of her family including the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex for a Westminster Abbey service celebrating its 70th anniversary with music from Clean Bandit and tenor Alfie Boe, and a reflection by Lewis Pugh on ocean conservation. This year, the Queen’s message contains a plea to protect the planet, following her Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy tree project and a new focus on the ocean environment. “Com-monwealth Day has a special significance this year as we mark the 70th anniversary of the London Declaration, when nations of the Commonwealth agreed to move forward together as free and equal members,” the Queen said. “The vision and sense of connection that inspired the signatories has stood the test of time, and the Commonwealth continues to grow, adapting to address contemporary needs. “Today, many millions of people around the world are drawn together because of the collective values shared by the Commonwealth. “In April last year, I welcomed the leaders of our 53 nations to Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, and we all witnessed how the  Commonwealth vision offers hope, and inspires us to find ways of protecting our planet,  and our people. “We are able to look to the future with greater confidence and optimism as a result  of the links that we share, and thanks to the networks of cooperation and mutual support to which we contribute, and on which we draw. “With enduring commitment through times of great change, successive generations have demonstrated that whilst the goodwill for which the Commonwealth is renowned may be intangible, its impact is very real. “We experience this as people of all backgrounds continue to find new ways of expressing through action the value of belonging in a connected Commonwealth. “I hope and trust that many more will commit to doing so this Commonwealth Day.”

The Commonwealth Day service will be broadcast live on BBC One and across the BBC World Service. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who lived in Canada while filming her television show Suits, will spend part of the day with young people at Canada House making  maple taffy and watching dance performances. Later on Monday evening, the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall will be guests of the Commonwealth Secretary-General at a reception at Marlborough House.

The Duke of Sussex pips the Queen to take ‘Most Popular Royal’ crown, according to survey

Prince Harry at a dedication of the Colo-i-Suva forest to the Queen's Commonwealth Canopy in Suva

Prince Harry is the most popular royal, according to a new You Gov survey. The Duke of Sussex beats the Queen to first place, with 77 per cent of the public having a positive opinion about the father-to-be, ahead of 74 per cent for the monarch. Prince William is in third place with 73 per cent. The Duchess of Cambridge is the second most popular woman in the Royal Family, with 64 per cent, while the Duchess of Sussex came sixth with an approval rating of 55 per cent – a percentage point less than 97-year-old Prince Philip, in fifth. Kate proved more popular with both men and woman than Meghan, with 72 per cent of women and 55 per cent of men approving compared to 61 per cent and 50 per cent for the former American actress. Baby boomers prefer Princess Anne to both of the younger Duchesses, with 68 per cent of over 55s approving compared to 64 per cent for Kate and 51 per cent for Meghan. While William’s wife may be more popular than Harry’s, the The Duchess of Sussex and Queen Elizabeth II laugh during their first engagement together in June, where they attended a ceremony to open the new Mersey Gateway bridge.’ own popula-rity is not based on their rank in the royal pecking order with the Duke of Sussex proving more popular than his older brother. Eighty six per cent of women and 69 per cent of men approved of Harry, with just seven per cent of having a negative opinion of either Harry or William, compared to nine per cent who disapproved of the Queen and Kate, and 10 per cent who didn’t like Meghan. While Harry was the most popular royal among women, the Queen was the most popular among men, with 71 per cent approving. Both princes were much more popular than their father, Prince Charles, who marks his 70th birthday on Wednesday. Almost half of the nation (48 per cent) said they had a positive opinion of the heir to the throne, putting him in seventh place overall. A further 20 per cent have a negative view of him, while 30 per cent have a neutral view. Charles’s wife Camilla is far less popular than he is. Only 29 per cent of Brits have a favourable view of the Duchess of Cornwall, putting her 10th on the list of 15. The 36 per cent of people who say they dislike her is the joint-highest of any member of the royal family – putting her popularity on a par with her brother in law, Prince Andrew. Princess Anne came eighth on 47 per cent, followed by her daughter Zara Phillips on  43 per cent. The Countess of Wessex came 11th in the popularity poll on 28 per cent followed by her husband Prince Edward on 27 per cent. Sophie Wessex proved to be the least famous royal with only 74 per cent of the public having heard of her compared to 99 per cent who recognised Prince William – regarded as the “most famous” royal of all. Princess Beatrice proved slightly more popular than her younger sister Princess Eugenie on 25 per cent and 24 per cent respectively while the Duke of York came bottom of the league in 15th place with an approval rating of 22 per cent.


Queen speaks publicly on Brexit for first time during Dutch royal visit


The Queen has spoken publicly about Brexit for the first time, telling the King of the Netherlands that “as we look toward a new partnership with Europe” the values shared by the UK and Holland “are our greatest assets”. Speaking at a state banquet in honour of King Willem-Alexander and his wife Queen Maxima, the Queen added that as “innovators, traders and internationalists we look with confidence to the future”. The Queen, who remains impartial in political matters, chose to emphasise the qualities needed by the UK and one of its closet European neighbours going forward. The women of the two Royal Families, including Queen Maxima, the Duchess of Cambridge and the Duchess of Cornwall, put on a dazzling display of royal tiaras during the white-tie dinner. The Duchess of Cambridge wore the Royal Family Order, awarded to her by the Queen last year. It is understood to be made from glass rather than the traditional ivory, after the younger members of the Royal Family campaigned against the illegal wildlife trade.

King Willem-Alexander reiterated comments made before about regretting the UK’s decision to leave the EU, but he respected the decision of the British people. He went on to personally praise the Queen, highlighting her now famous appearance in the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony, describing her as the “most fearless Bond Girl ever” for her role alongside 007 played by Daniel Craig.

Queen Maxima brings regal glamour to the state banquet dinner at Buckingham Palace


King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands have wrapped up their UK state visit with a meeting in Downing Street hosted by British Prime Minister Theresa May and a formal farewell with Britain’s Queen Elizabeth. It was the first UK state visit by the Dutch monarchy in 36 years. The last state visit from the Netherlands was by Queen Beatrix and Prince Claus in November 1982, while Queen Elizabeth and her husband Philip paid a state visit to Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands in March 1958.

Prince Harry: I panic at the sight of my grandmother


Prince Harry has revealed he still “panics” when he bumps into the Queen walking along the corridors of Buckingham Palace, despite being her grandson. Speaking in a new documentary that explores behind-the-scenes moments of the Royal family, the Duke of Sussex recounts to visitors that he still gets nervous when he sees  the Queen coming. Addressing a group of hospitality professionals from the Caribbean, who are spending time at the palace as part of a new scheme headed up by the Queen, the newlywed Duke offers some words of encouragement. “You guys have spent way more time in Buckingham Palace than I ever have – and you’ve only been here two weeks,” he says. “Have you bumped into the Queen yet? If you suddenly bump into her in the corridor, don’t panic. I know you will. We all do!” The two part ITV series, Queen of the World, also gains exclusive access to a collection of private home films to show the Queen’s role as head of the Commonwealth. Claudine Jeffrey is one of the group visiting from Antigua to work in Buckingham Palace. Speaking in the documentary she says: “It’s a fun place to work. I say it’s an adventure every day because every day it is always something different. “You never find that you are doing the same thing so that’s really amazing because I love a challenge and I don’t like to be bored…to find myself in Buckingham Palace, it is beyond my wildest imaginations.”  Anthony Johnstone-Burt, Master of the Royal Household, added: “Our Caribbean scholars are eight fabulous young people. This very much was an attempt to reach out and see what more we can do to involve the Caribbean realms particularly in the royal household, so it’s very, very special.” During the show The Duchess of Sussex is reunited with her wedding gown and veil for the first time since her wedding day as Royal Collection specialists prepare the dress for a new exhibition. HRH The Princess Royal also reminisces on her first trip on the Royal Yacht Britannia with her brother Prince Charles, after six months apart from their parents during the great post-Coronation Commonwealth tour.

State Visit by The King and Queen of The Netherlands

Their Majesties The King and Queen of the Netherlands have accepted an invitation from The Queen to pay a State Visit to the United Kingdom from 23rd to 24th October 2018.

The King and Queen of the Netherlands will stay at Buckingham Palace.

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh paid a State Visit to Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands in March 1958. The Queen has hosted two previous State Visits from the Netherlands during her reign: in April 1972, Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard paid a State Visit to the United Kingdom; the last State Visit from the Netherlands was by Her Majesty Queen Beatrix and Prince Claus of the Netherlands in November 1982

Pearls of approval: the Duchess of Sussex’s new earrings were a gift from the Queen


The Duchess of Sussex and the Queen appeared to be getting along famously on the Duchess’ first royal engagement without her husband. They were pictured talking and laughing as they watched a ceremony to mark the opening of the new Mersey Gateway bridge in Cheshire. The Queen’s fondness for her grandson’s new wife was also evident in the pearl and diamond earrings the Duchess wore, which Buckingham Palace later revealed were a gift from the royal collection. The earrings had been incorrectly attributed to Birks, the Canadian jewellery brand that the Duchess has worn on numerous occasions. She wore Birks opal stud earrings when her engagement to Prince Harry was announced, and has been pictured in the brand’s delicate diamond-studded pieces several times. Her mother Doria Ragland also wore Birks to the royal wedding.

meghan markle the queen cheshire

But the pearl earrings the Duchess wore in Cheshire carry much greater significance. As the Duchess’ first gift from the Queen, they have been taken as a symbol of her acceptance into the royal family. Although it is not known when the Queen gave them to her, it is fitting that the Duchess chose to wear them for their first joint engagement. The understated earrings were a timeless choice of accessory and perfectly complemented the Duchess’ demure Givenchy dress. The Queen herself also wore a larger pair of meghan markle diana's ringpearl earrings, while the style is also a favourite of the Duchess of Cambridge, who often wears her classic pearl drops. The late Princess Diana was also famed for her love of pearls. This is not the first time the former actress has worn pieces from the royal collection. On her wedding day in May, she wore the Queen Mary diamond bandeau tiara, which she borrowed from the Queen. Made in 1932 to accommodate a diamond brooch that Queen Mary (the Queen’s grandmother) had been given as a wedding gift in 1893, the tiara was subsequently returned to the Queen’s collection. The Duchess did receive a permanent addition to her jewellery collection on her wedding day in the form of the large Asprey aquamarine cocktail ring that belonged to Princess Diana. Prince Harry gave it to his bride as a wedding gift, and she wore it as a “something blue” addition to her Stella McCartney gown as the couple made their way to their evening reception.

Duchess of Sussex brings out Queen’s inner-child: Body language expert analyses their first joint trip

The Duchess of Sussex showed her nerves on her first joint engagement with the Queen, but there was genuine warmth between the monarch and Meghan, a body language expert said. Judi James said the head of state and the former Suits star giggled together like teenagers at one point as they enjoyed their day out in Cheshire. The Queen and Duchess travelled to Cheshire on the Royal train, leaving Euston at 11pm on Wednesday and spending the night in a discreet siding en route before pulling into Runcorn station at 10.35am for the Duchess’ first trip to the north of England.  Greeted by the Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire, the Duchess lingered behind the Queen, appearing slightly nervous as she watched for instructions about where to go.  After a moment of confusion at their waiting car, as both politely waited for the other to get in, the Duchess asked her grandmother-in-law “what is your preference?” before being told: “You go first.”

The Queen is greeted at Runcorn station with the Duchess standing behind her

The Queen wore a green outfit by Stewart Parvin, choosing a colour some onlookers interpreted as a gesture of support on the anniversary of the Grenfell Tower disaster.  Their first engagement was a ceremony marking the opening of the new £1.86 billion Mersey Gateway bridge. It saw the pair deep in conversation, laughing and gesturing as they watched a seven-minute-long dance performance by children and enjoyed one another’s company.  Ms James said: “The Queen doesn’t indulge in worries and she didn’t spend a lot of time checking on Meghan, but instead let her get on with it. “But when she did glance at her, it was with a beaming smile and approval.” She added: The Duchess of Sussex leans in to seemingly share a joke with the Queen“The Queen was the happiest I’ve seen her in a long time. They looked like naughty teenagers giggling together at one point.” Next on their itinerary was Storyhouse, a cultural hub in the centre of town.   The Queen and Duchess led crowds in a minute’s silence to mark the first anniversary of the Grenfell Tower disaster, solemnly bowing their heads. They then watched more performances, learned about “digital buddies” who were teaching their elders to use technology more efficiently, and took to the streets to meet thousands of well-wishers.  Ms James described the monarch as having young body language for a woman of 92. “She looked positively girlish. When she smiles you can see the young princess coming out. She’s got a beautiful childlike smile and her little hands were formed into fists at one point. Perhaps Meghan did bring a little bit more of that out in her. “We saw displays which showed the pair genuinely having fun.” The Duchess of Sussex had her guard up in the morning, showing signs of anxiousness – not least when there as confusion over who was meant to get in the royal Bentley first. “Meghan was still being very careful. She sat with her legs crossed at the ankles and was clearly seeking approval,” said Ms James. The newlywed Duchess, who married the Duke of Sussex in a star-studded ceremony in Windsor last month, was nervous, repeatedly touching her hair. Ms James suggested: “Meghan did so many self-checking gestures of anxiety which is interesting in such a confident woman. “She walked up the aisle on her own without batting an eyelid.” The duchess’s outfit – a beige Givenchy dress with caped shoulders – may have not been the ideal choice, Ms James said. “I think her outfit did her no favours. The caped shoulders restricted her arms and she lost some of her more natural movements.” But the Duchess soon eased into the day, and was a natural with the crowds who had gathered to catch a glimpse of her and her grandmother-in-law. The rapport between the pair was obvious, with the Duchess leaning in and talking to the Queen, producing what appeared to be fits of laughter from the 92-year-old. Ms James said the Queen was similarly beaming with smiles when she carried out her first joint engagement with the Duchess of Cambridge. They wrapped up their tour with lunch as guests of Cheshire West and Chester Council.


Queen flies to Kensington Palace to visit Prince Louis for the first time

kensington-palaceThe Queen has met her latest great-grandchild, Prince Louis, for the first time on a visit to Kensington Palace. Her Majesty was flown into the grounds on Tuesday before being driven to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s home. The 92-year-old monarch arrived from Windsor Castle, where the Duke of Edinburgh is recuperating following a hip operation. She held a posy of flowers as she stepped out of her helicopter after the 40-minute flight. The Queen was then driven the short distance to Prince William and Kate’s apartment in a green Range Rover. Prince Louis, who is now nine days old, is her sixth great-grandchild and the third child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

The official birth register entry of Prince Louis Arthur Charles of Cambridge

Another milestone was passed when the Duke sat down at Kensington Palace on Tuesday morning and signed the certificate registering his son’s birth, witnessed by Westminster City Council registrar Patricia Gordon. The document gives the full name of the latest member of the royal family as His Royal Highness Prince Louis Arthur Charles of Cambridge. The birth certificate lists the date and place of Louis’s birth, and also gives the family address as Kensington Palace. It gives the full name of Louis’ father and mother, and under “occupation” they are listed  as prince and princess of the United Kingdom respectively. The Duke, who is taking a period off following the birth of his son, simply signs the document William.

Family tree


Elizabeth Alexandra Mary b. 21 Apr. 1916 m. 20 Nov. 1947 Philip Mountbatten.

issue (<c> = child, <gc> = grandchild, <ggc> = great-grandchild):


|<c> Charles b. 14 Nov. 1948 m. 21 Jul 1982 Diana Spencer. issue:

||||||<gc> William b. 21 Jun. 1982 m. 29 Apr 2011 Catherine Middleton.  issue:

|||||||||||||<ggc> George b. 22 Jul. 2013

|||||||||||||<ggc> Charlotte b. 02 May 2015

|||||||||||||<ggc> Louis b. 23 Apr. 2018

||||||<gc> Henry b. 15 Sep. 1984 [m. 19 May 2018 Meghan Markle]


|<c> Anne b. 15 Aug 1950


|<c> Andrew b. 19 Feb. 1960 m. 23 Jul. 1986 Sarah Ferguson. issue:

||||||<gc> Beatrice b. 08 Aug. 1988

||||||<gc> Eugenie b. 23 Mar. 1990


|<c> Edward b. 10 Mar. 1964 m. 19 Jun. 1999 Sophy Rhys-Jones. issue:

||||||<gc> Louise b. 08 Nov. 2003

||||||<gc> James b. 17 Dec. 2007

Prince Harry arrives at London Mara-thon after Queen starts it off.

Harry poses with the wheelchair winnersPrince Harry has been spotted at the London Marathon, where he will be cheering on the runners who are still going.

The Queen, pressed the starting button, sending a tide of more than 40,000 runners through the capital. She looked bright and cheerful in a coral pink outfit, and as usual matched her hat to her jacket.

The Prince met the volunteers who make the marathon happen, organising the runners and handing out water. He also shook hands with First Aiders from St John’s Ambulance, who are there in case participants face any medical issues. Prince The Queen officially started the marathonHarry will be handing out trophies to all the winners, and has already congratulated the wheelchair winners. Familiar faces were seen at the starting line, including the Telegraph’s Bryony Gordon, who is running in her underwear alongside Jada Sezer in order to raise money for mental health charity Heads Together. BBC Radio 2 DJ and former Top Gear host Chris Evans grinned as he posed for a picture before the marathon, as did television presenter Jenni Falconer.

Olympic gold medalist Mo Farah has been seen leading the pack, as he hopes to win this year. He has been training for the race in Ethiopa for the last few months. The 38th edition of the world-famous race may well be the hottest on record, with sweltering highs of 23C possible throughout Sunday. Runners have been advised to drop their goal-times and organisers have added more ice, water and run-through shower stations along the 26.2-mile course. Among this year’s runners are firefighters who tackled the Grenfell Tower blaze, a police officer stabbed in the London Bridge terror attack and members of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust. Sunday marks 25 years since the murder of the teenager, who was a keen runner. Meanwhile almost 100 runners will attempt Guinness World Records – dressed variously in suits of armour, as mythical creatures, and wearing stilts and ski boots. Hundreds of police officers will be on duty to keep around 800,000 spectators and runners safe.

Competitors will start from Blackheath, south east London, running a snaking route along both sides of the Thames, finishing on The Mall near Buckingham Palace.

Last year, the event raised £61.5 million for charity, a world record for an annual one-day fundraising event, making the total raised since 1981 around £890 million, organisers said. A record 386,050 people applied for this year’s race – almost a third more than last year and the highest number for any marathon in the world.


Assassination attempt on the Queen was covered up by New Zealand government, ex-police officer claims

A failed assassination attempt on the Queen during a royal tour of New Zealand in 1981 was covered up to “avoid jeopardising” future royal visits, a former police officer has claimed. Nearly four decades on from the incident, Tom Lewis, an ex-Dunedin detective sergeant, has alleged that a troubled teenager shot at the Queen and came yards from hitting her. In an interview with the New Zealand website, Stuff, Mr Lewis claimed that Christopher John Lewis, then 17, fired at the Queen as she alighted her motorcade to greet a crowd gathered at the Otago Museum Reserve. However, Mr Lewis claims that the attempt on the Queen’s life was quickly covered up by police and the New Zealand Government, which feared that the near-miss would scupper any chance of her returning to the country. He added that, as the distinctive crack rang out around the area, police attempted to disguise the seriousness of the threat, telling British journalists present that the noise was a council sign falling over.

Christopher John Lewis, who shot at the Queen during the 1981 royal tour of New Zealand

When later questioned, the story was altered to suggest that the noise had been the result of somebody letting off firecrackers nearby. A story published by The Daily Telegraph the following day appears to support Mr Lewis’s claims, noting that a sound “like a firecracker” had gone off, but that the Queen had not seemed to notice. In fact, the reality of what had transpired became a tightly-guarded secret, with the New Zealand Government allegedly ordering that the original police statement be destroyed. “You will never get a true file on that,” Mr Lewis continued. “It was reactivated, regurgitated, bits pulled off it, other false bits put on. “The fact an attempted assassination of the Queen had taken place in New Zealand… it was too politically hot to handle. A police report published that year appears to verify the claims, noting: “The discharge of a firearm during the visit of Her Majesty the Queen serves to remind us all of the potential risks to royalty, particularly during public walks.” He also claimed that Lewis’s original statement given to police on his arrest was destroyed, and that officers were told not to charge him under orders from “up top”. In a draft autobiography later published after Christopher John Lewis’s death, the would-be assassin wrote that he was frequently visited by high-ranking Government officials and sworn to silence.

The Queen smiles as she meets the New Zealand public in 1981

“If I was ever to mention the events surrounding my interview or the organisation, or that I was in the building, or that I was shooting from it – that they would make sure I ‘suffered a fate worse that death’”, he wrote. Lewis was, however, charged and taken to court – but his alleged assassination attempt on the Queen was downgraded to possession of a firearm in a public place. He was jailed for three years, spending his last in a psychiatric ward, where in 1983, then seemingly obsessed with wiping out the royal family, he was found to be planning to murder Prince Charles. Released in 1984, he was placed on a watchlist but continued to commit a series of burglaries. In 1995, police discovered that he was mapping out a route of the Queen’s return visit to New Zealand and intervened. Two years later, while awaiting trial for the murder of a young mother and the kidnapping of her child, he committed suicide.


















The Hague – Mauritshuis

The famous Royal Collection, managed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, contains highlights from the oeuvres of famous painters such as Gerard ter Borch, Gerrit Dou, Pieter de Hooch, Gabriel Metsu and Jan Steen.
For this exhibition are selected genre paintings by Dutch masters of the Golden Age. Here we see life itself: peasants fighting, flirting ladies and gentlemen, but also loving mothers or an ordinary shopkeeper.


Johannes Vermeer

The absolute highlight of the exhibition is Lady at the virginal with a gentleman ( “The Music Lesson”) by Johannes Vermeer. “The Music Lesson” is one of the rare pieces of Johannes Vermeer who have survived a total of 36 paintings. The painting from around 1660-1662 shows a lady and a gentleman in a virginal. Above this musical is a mirror that reflects the foot of Vermeer’s easel. Without doubt the music in this painting symbolizes love, which further emphasized by the Latin motto on the virginal. The painting was acquired in 1762 by King George III, but stood still book as a work of Frans van Mieris the Elder. Only became clear later that it was a work of Vermeer.


Jan Steen

Another highlight of the exhibition Woman in a Jan Steen bedroom from 1663. We see a woman who, judging by the marks above her calves, not buying her sock but pulled out, said she looks at the viewer. Here too there is an amorous context. Contemporaries were fond of this kind of performances. That physical pleasure is fleeting, Stone made clear by depicting the skull in the doorway, under a lute with a broken string.

The Royal Collection and Mauritshuis

The exhibition Dutch house: Vermeer and contemporaries from the British Royal Collection is the result of a collaboration between the Royal Collection and the Mauritshuis. Under the title Masters of the Everyday: Dutch Artists in the Age of Vermeer was shown earlier this exhibition at The Queen’s Gallery in Buckingham Palace, London, and The Queen’s Gallery at The Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh.


HRH Willem Alexander, Prince of Orange-Nassau, HM Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands. Location: Municipal Museum, Amsterdam “Night Watch”.






HM Queen Elizabeth II  of England, HM King Willem Alexander of the Netherlands, HM Queen Máxima of the Netherlands



Archibald Young

Archie with beard


Archibald Blair Cecil Young b. 1991; Blair after his grandfather Sir Blair Aubyn Stewart-Wilson, Cecil after his father Jonathan Cecil Ian Young, and 🙂 🙂 🙂 .


Pages, it turns out, were not simply pages. There were different types of page with different titles and different duties. There were Pages of the Backstairs, Pages of the Presence and Pages of Honour.

FullSizeRender1. Pages of Honour

Young aristocrats from some of the wealthiest and most influential families in the nation.

Appointed at around the age of eleven or twelve, these Pages often went on to take up positions in one of the Household regiments. Highly sought after, these posts paid well at £120. Pages of honour did not live in the royal palaces and had no official duties in the royal household. They were just required ARCHIE2for formal ceremonial occasions, when they would attend in full ceremonial livery. The next phase of my research will involve trying to establish exactly what they would have worn and if any of these garments survive. I’m off to visit the experts from the Royal Dress Collection at Hampton Court and Kensington Palace.


2. Pages of the Backstairs

Less well born and in the middling ranks of the royal household.

Six pages of the Backstairs were employed and worked in rotation. Historically, they would have waited outside the doors of the King’s Apartments but by the early eighteenth century they had moved within the Chamber. The Royal Bedchamber was a suite of the King’s private apartments where access was restricted to a select few. The most important duty of the Page of the Backstairs was to guard access to the Royal Body by policing access into the private apartments via the Back (private) stairs. Other duties of Pages of the Backstairs included serving the King’s private meals, attending to his royal needs, assisting with dressing and looking after the Bedchamber apartments. Roles within the bedchamber were strictly defined. For example in the reign of Queen Anne the Page of the Backstairs would fetch the basin and ewer for washing but it was the woman of the Bechamber would set it before the Queen. And whilst it was the the Page of the Backstairs who would reach for the glass and pass it to the  Woman of the Bedchamber, it was the high-born Lady-in-Waiting who would actually hand it to the Queen. We cannot be certain that by the time of the Regency that these rigid rules were still strictly adhered to but the royal household is marked by a longstanding tradition of continuity and it is unlikely that roles would have been radically different. The Pages of the Backstairs had bedrooms close to the King’s chamber so that they could be called on as necessary. On the floor plan illustrated a page’s bedroom can be identified close to the King’s Chamber in the north part of the building (on the left of the plan). There were at least two other page’s bedrooms close by. One Page of the Backstairs would be in waiting in the King’s Chambers and two would be in attendance upon the King during dinner. So although not high-born like the Pages of Honour their power lay in their ability to restrict or admit access to the monarch and in their potential influence on the monarch by their close contact with him. In 1817 they were paid £200 a year.

3. Pages of the Presence

Pages with the lowest status of the three types of page.

The main role of a Page of the Presence was to wait on the aristocratic Gentlemen or Lords in Waiting who were the King’s close companions and attendants. Pages of the Presence would also wait on the King’s visitors at meal times. They worked in more public areas and were not permitted access to the Bedchamber at all which meant they would have to liaise closely with the Pages of the Bedchamber is order to arrange for a visitor or member of the Royal Household to see the monarch in his private apartments. In 1821 first class pages earned between £230-£260, and the second class between £140-£170. They worked in strict rotations on a month-on, month-off basis. During their months off they would be paid 7 shillings (35p) a day for board and lodging. All Royal Pages of Honour have RED heels on their buckled court shoes. In Scotland they are known as THISTLE PAGES. The livery is in dark green, and they carry a wonderful tricorn hat which hangs from a hook on their belt. The best part of all for all the boys, is of course THE SWORD. There is only one thistle page at a time, who comes from a noble Scottish family. His job is to attend HM at the Thistle ceremony held in St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh. It is a huge responsibility for small boys of only 11 or 12 and depending on how small they stay, they can do the job until they are 13/14 yrs old. HM Queen Elisabeth II (the boss) does not like them to be taller than her!!! Archibald Blair Cecil (Archie for insiders) did three years and it got to the stage where it became a worry when he went to public school. After one opening of parliament however the Captain of the Rugby team bent down from a great height and said ‘well done Archie’! The white tights are abit of a problem.



Sir Blair

At the choir and socially I am engaged and -after the latest ships gossip, prior to the Captain’s dinner- married to her Ladyship Mary Stewart-Wilson, widow of Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Blair Stewart-Wilson. This is what Google tells about Blair:

Sir Blair Stewart-Wilson was Equerry to Her Majesty the Queen and Deputy Master of the Household in the Royal Household from 1976 to 1994. His role was to assist the Master of the Household, with particular responsibility for the Queen’s private engagements. A man who inspired great affection, he was also admired and trusted by the Royal Family for his soldierly qualities of efficiency and calmness under pressure: when a fire famously engulfed Windsor Castle in November 1992, Stewart-Wilson immediately got on the telephone to the then Master of the Household, Maj-Gen Sir Simon Cooper, to inform him that there was “a bit of a problem”. A career soldier with the Scots Guards for nearly 30 years, Stewart-Wilson had only recently arrived at the British embassy in Vienna as defence attaché when he received a telephone call from the Palace inviting him to apply for his role in the Royal Household. He soon settled into the arcane and demanding world of Court life: state visits, overseas tours, Commonwealth Conferences, State Openings of Parliament, investitures, Royal Ascot, garden parties and the many other activities which demand the Queen’s attention. Among his tasks was to help the Queen with her arrangements for house guests at the various royal residences throughout the year. He enjoyed his role, and privately described the Queen as “the most competent, fair and even-handed boss anyone could hope for, a person with humour and an enjoyable sense of fun, and someone who, at all times is very good company. All the above qualities are specially remarkable in a person lumbered with a status so high that it tends to affect the attitude and behaviour of everyone around about that person .”

He worked closely with the Master of the Household, whose department was divided into three branches: F (food), H (housekeeping) and G (general, dealing with everything from the china, glass and wine cellars to palace attendants and staff). He was also responsible for royal warrants and, during one period, for updating the telephone exchanges in all the royal residences. Stewart-Wilson always insisted that he was “lucky” — not least because of the circumstances surrounding his birth. He was nearly 50 when his mother informed him that, when she was pregnant with him, her gynaecologist had told her that, for medical reasons, she should not have this third baby and should have an abortion. The procedure was duly carried out, yet just under nine months later Blair Aubyn Stewart-Wilson was born on July 17 1929 .

His mother, Muriel (who had twins in her family), concluded that she had been bearing twins, and that only one had been removed. In 1934 Blair’s father, Aubyn, who had fought with the Black Watch in the Great War, died aged 45. Two years later Muriel married Major Greville Stevens, and shortly afterwards she inherited the Stewart family estate of Balnakeilly in Perthshire . Blair was sent to Eton, and in early 1948 arrived at Sandhurst. Commissioned into the 2nd Battalion the Scots Guards (2SG), he saw active service in Malaya in 1950-51, when his platoon killed six terrorists. After returning to Britain, he kept vigil at the catafalque of King George VI in 1952; and on Coronation Day he was detailed to command a half company of street liners in the Mall. “For the return trip to Buckingham Palace,” he recalled, “all the carriages were closed against the rain except the one carrying the substantial figure of Queen Salote of Tonga, whom we enjoyed seeing smiling and waving happily in the rain, while the little Malay Sultan accompanying Her Majesty sat hunched and unhappy, facing her.”

Stewart-Wilson served with BAOR, and in 1957 was appointed ADC to the next Governor-General of New Zealand, Viscount Cobham. In August that year he embarked on the six-week voyage to Wellington. On board were Cobham with his wife and their eight children; 17 domestic servants; two ADCs; one lady-in-waiting; and a governess and a nanny. In the hold were a Rolls-Royce and five other cars belonging to Lord Cobham, along with Stewart-Wilson’s Rover 90. In 1957 Stewart-Wilson was appointed equerry to the Duke of Gloucester, based at Wellington Barracks in London, and in 1962 he married his cousin, Mary Fox — “the best and most sensible thing I ever did”. There were further postings in Malaysia and Germany before, in 1970, he became GSO 1 Foreign Liaison Section (Army) at the MoD .

After retiring from the Royal Household in 1994, Stewart-Wilson served as an Extra Equerry. As the Queen’s Trustee on the Board of Royal Armouries from 1995 to 2004, on one occasion he spent a day in armour riding on horseback to see what the experience was like; he sent a photograph of himself thus equipped to the Queen, with the message: “With love from your knight in shining armour”. Later, when the Queen saw his grandson, Archie, one of her pages of honour, she told him: “I have a picture of your grandfather on my desk.”

Stewart-Wilson was appointed LVO in 1983, CVO in 1989 and KCVO in 1994. He was Lieutenant-Colonel Commanding the Atholl Highlanders from 2003. In the mid-1950s, he was a bobsleigh enthusiast . He also enjoyed fly fishing, shooting and stalking. Blair Stewart-Wilson is survived by his wife and three daughters.

NOTE: prior to uploading this article, her Ladyship Mary has read and approved the article. Quoting her: “It is all in the open on the internet and true”.