Over in America, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex strain every sinew to discredit the British monarchy. But why do they bother?
Back home, Prince Charles and Prince Andrew seem perfectly capable of doing that all by themselves, thank you very much. No outside help needed!
Charles has just been entangled in embarrassing cash-for-honours claims, while Andrew has bolted to Balmoral to hide under the Queen’s kilt while a posse of sheriffs from America hunt him down. ‘Come out with your hands up, Buster, we’ve got you surrounded.’
Mummy, Mummy, do something!
Prince Charles and Prince Andrew seem perfectly capable of discrediting the British monarchy all by themselves, thank you very much. No outside help needed!
Over in America, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex strain every sinew to discredit the British monarchy
Really, one needs a heart of granite not to titter till it hurts at the situation in which our beleaguered royals now find themselves. All that ermine and flummery, all that pomp and tradition and curtseying and scraping, while behind the castle walls things are starting to feel more like the Sopranos than the Windsors.
For a start, Prince Andrew has ‘no recollection of ever meeting’ Virginia Giuffre, who has served a lawsuit on him.
This week he drove 500 miles to Balmoral, some say to avoid being served the papers on the case — but surely they underestimate the charms of Aberdeenshire at this time of year. When the bogs are in full spurtle, the thistles richly bloom and the beautiful wee midge-beasties take to the wing in the gloaming hour.
No wonder he has scooted back there twice in recent weeks.
On Wednesday, Andrew had a picnic lunch date with HM in a fishing lodge deep in the Balmoral estate and oh, to have been a fly on the royal pork pie at that glorious summit.
Perhaps the prince was informing the Queen of his belief that he will soon be ‘brushing off’ the lawsuit on September 13 and returning to the royal front line next year. ‘Good luck with that, son,’ is almost certainly what she didn’t say.
Prince Andrew (left) arrives at Balmoral with his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson in the back of a Range Rover
Now we also learn that the Prince of Wales has ‘no knowledge of the alleged offer of honours or British citizenship on the basis of donation to his charities’. This comes after Saudi tycoon Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz was awarded an honorary CBE in 2016 after donating around £2 million to the prince’s charities.
To be honest, that’s just how I thought these things worked.
No doubt a great many people on honours lists deserve their gongs — but why else would a foreign-based billionaire like Mahfouz be given a CBE and God knows what else? For services to feminism in the Arabian Peninsula?
Prince Charles and Prince Andrew would be quite terrifying if they were more organised and a bit more villainous instead of being — as I suspect — just a pair of entitled, bungling brothers without a drop of common sense between them.
Phil and Grant Mitchell they are not; Ron and Reggie Kray can rest in peace, heinous reputations intact.
Prince Charles awards a CBE to Saudi tycoon Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz at Buckingham Palace in November 2016
If the royal princes have one thing in common — in addition to not being common, of course — it is perhaps a buckling of resolve, a weakness of spirit around the seriously rich and an embarrassing willingness to accept donations from wealthy donors to their pet charitable causes: in Charles’s case, his heritage schemes and Prince’s Trust causes.
In Andrew’s case, Fergie.
If you love the Queen — and I do — this is all a very bad business. Perhaps it looks worse than it actually is but these days, optics are everything.
I don’t think for a second that Charles is a wicked or immoral person, with every penny of the money being pumped into his charities — although the Jan jury is still out on Andrew.
However, the current allegations give too much ammunition to those who wish to bring down the monarchy. They load the grapeshot into the republican blunderbuss, they makes all of us question all of them. Under such attack, the monarchy might stagger on for a few more decades but what then?
As the tarnish blooms and deepens, one does not envy Prince William his destiny, nor Prince George after him: both kings-to-be fated to preside over an ever-dwindling realm.
In the end, those royals and royal spouses who fumbled and floundered, those who cashed in and yielded to temptation, will each have to accept a share of the blame. And we all know who they are.
Will the best Bond ever stop moaning?
Has any man ever suffered for his art quite as much as Daniel Craig? Playing James Bond might be regarded as the glittering prize in any actor’s career — but not his.
‘I was physically and mentally under siege,’ he complains, of his five films and 15 years as 007. ‘I locked myself in and closed the curtains,’ is how he describes coping with the fame that came with the role.
Action hero or drama queen? Daniel has always been difficult to place.
Has any man ever suffered for his art quite as much as Daniel Craig? Playing James Bond might be regarded as the glittering prize in any actor’s career — but not his
He is always whining about his luvvy’s lot — but he brought so much intensity and physicality to his portrayal of the iconic spy that much can be forgiven.
Patriotic, lip-smacking, motivating, high-living, pistol-packing, budgie-smuggling, cool-fizzin’, ever-moaning superspy?
Despite it all, he will always be my favourite James Bond.
Charlotte’s not one to blush at the cash
Back to the 1950s with cosmetics mogul Charlotte Tilbury, who says she has never let her husbands (she has had two) see her without her slap. She even wears make-up in bed.
‘Yes I do, darling, I have my bedroom eye. I take off my make-up, do my skincare, then I put on my Colour Theory eyeliner that lasts 16 hours and my mascara,’ she says. ‘George has never seen me without a bedroom eye. Never! I tell you, keep the magic alive.’
Oh, Charlotte. That is almost as tragic as the price of your products. Let’s be honest. For many women, ‘keeping the magic alive’ in their marriage means making their husbands disappear in a puff of smoke.
Back to the 1950s with cosmetics mogul Charlotte Tilbury, who says she has never let her husbands (she has had two) see her without her slap. She even wears make-up in bed
Who has time to be painting on a bedroom eye, whatever that is, at the end of the day?
However, one has to admire the folksy intensity of her relentless product-pushing.
Buy my make-up, you lazy slatterns! Charlotte would sell Nudegasm Face Palette blusher to a corpse if she thought there was sixpence in it.
Put Helen out of her misery
You know things are bad, really bad, I’m talking absolutely desperate, when Social Care Minister Helen Whately is sent out to speak for the Government on the morning media circuit of television and radio studios.
On Thursday morning she was minced by Nick Ferrari on LBC, who asked whether Gavin Williamson was racist or incompetent? ‘Um . . . err . . . I don’t know,’ she replied. Shortly afterwards, she was eaten alive by Kay Burley on Sky (‘I’m a Kent MP and I know that migrants are turning up on beaches not far from my constituents.’)
On BBC News she refused to answer the important question of whether care home staff who won’t get jabbed will be sacked.
And when money expert Martin Lewis asked how it was possible for people to fund £86,000 in care costs, she bumbled that ‘we are working through the detail of this reform’.
What is the point of Helen? It’s like sending a toddler on a trike to repel the Vikings. She always seems on the verge of tears, as if someone had just stolen her puppy, and her grasp of her brief seems faint.
At times I almost feel sorry for the hapless Social Care Minister, so clearly in need of some major care herself. Still, the reshuffle can’t come soon enough.
At last, I’ve taken a deep dive into Virgin River
One of my friends said you must watch Virgin River (Netflix) — but after one episode of the romantic schmaltzfest, I thought: has she lost her mind?
Now, of course, I love it, just like millions of women who are captivated by this story of love, loss and lumberjacks in the wilds of northern California.
Based on the novels by Robyn Carr, it features nurse/midwife Mel (Alexandra Breckenridge), who is making a fresh start in the back of beyond after assorted traumas in her big-city life.
One of my friends said you must watch Virgin River (Netflix) — but after one episode of the romantic schmaltzfest, I thought: has she lost her mind? Now, of course, I love it, just like millions of women who are captivated by this story of love, loss and lumberjacks in the wilds of northern California. Pictured: Mel Monroe (Alexandra Breckenridge) and Jack Sheridan (Martin Henderson)
I’m being deliberately vague (no spoilers) but Virgin River is for every one of us who dreams of driving a thousand miles to live in a log cabin by a lake where the only distraction is Jack Sheridan (Martin Henderson), the hunky local bar owner and all-round good guy.
Jack is also an ex-Marine, wounded inside and out but not so broken that he doesn’t know how to bring his girl an iced cupcake in the bath, grill her a steak and festoon her home with fairy lights.
‘I just want to make you happy,’ he growls, before being rugged and capable or pulling off his plaid shirt with pleasing regularity.
He can also put up a shelf or unblock a drain quicker than you can say Mr Muscle.
Thinking nice thoughts about Jack has probably got more women safely through the Time of Covid than the vaccine itself. ‘I won’t let anything happen to you,’ is the kind of thing he says, while sawing a fir tree in half. Virgin River is Fifty Shades Of Grey for the crochet and canasta set. Just bliss.
Last night Jeremy Clarkson held an emergency meeting in his village hall so that angry locals could come along and shout at him about planning applications to develop his Diddly Squat Farm estate.
Cheese and wine were served, alongside piping-hot complaints about the hundreds of visitors who clog up the country lanes on their way to visit Clarkson’s farm shop.
Absurd, perhaps. But isn’t it also the most fascinating example of celebrity culture in the country today? Now we know there are thousands of people out there who will drive across counties and queue for nearly three hours to buy a potato because it was grown in one of Jeremy Clarkson’s fields. Or a pot of his local honey or a pint of his local milk.
It reminds me of the woman in the Bible who touched the hem of Jesus’s cloak to cure her haemorrhage. It’s utter madness.
Although we all know that Jeremy is not the Messiah. He’s just a very naughty boy.
Last night Jeremy Clarkson held an emergency meeting in his village hall so that angry locals could come along and shout at him about planning applications to develop his Diddly Squat Farm estate