When was the last genuine royal tour of Nigeria?

Royal welcomes The Duke and Duchess of Sussex visited Nigeria last week. When was the last genuine royal tour of that country? – The late Queen made a 20-day visit in 1956, four years before Nigeria’s independence. She went for three days in 2003 when she opened the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting.– The then Prince Charles visited in 2018, when he joined a Peacebuilding and Interfaith Engagement, laid a wreath at the Commonwealth War Graves memorial in Abuja and attended a talk on poultry-rearing. Faith in politics A Liberal Democrat candidate in Sutton and Cheam has been deselected allegedly because of his Christian faith. How do religious groups tend

Why are the photo agencies punishing Kate?

Media scrutiny of the Princess of Wales and her personal photoshopping of her Mothering Sunday photograph has been intense. One important set of players has escaped attention, however: the picture agencies. It was they – AP, Getty Images, AFP, Reuters, Shutterstock and PA – who issued a ‘mandatory photo kill’ of the image. They doubted what PA called its ‘veracity’. I hope it is not unduly cynical to point out that these agencies hate the fact that HRH distributes her own pictures (without charge). Her homemade pics take the bread out of the agencies’ mouths. Suppose other world figures get the DIY habit: what will become of the professionals then?

Why we need an Elizabeth and Philip museum

Driving up Royal Deeside last weekend, I spotted a harvest under way on that magical Hobbit-esque green/gold/purple hillscape. It all came flooding back. One year on from the death of Elizabeth II, it’s the sight of the tractors lined up next to the A93 which remains among the most enduring images. It wasn’t just that they all had their shovels dipped in tribute, like the dockers’ cranes saluting the Havengore as it carried Churchill down the Thames in 1965. It was the fact that they were all spotless. At the busiest time of the year in this lush agricultural belt of Aberdeenshire, farmers had paused their harvesting, taken their machines

Prince Andrew will never learn his lesson

As the Princess of Wales draws plaudits for appearing at last night’s BAFTA awards in a subtly reused Alexander McQueen dress, and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex continue to keep the world guessing as to whether they will appear at the Coronation in less than three months, the younger members of the Royal Family are the ones who seem to have momentum behind them. Yet Prince Andrew is not to be outdone – even if the attention that he receives may not always be welcome. Not only was it recently announced that he would – flatteringly – be played by Rufus Sewell in a forthcoming dramatisation of his notorious

Is King Charles safe?

The news that his security experts are conducting an urgent review of the King’s safety during his expected traditional Christmas Day walkabout near his Norfolk home, Sandringham – where he will be accompanied by his wife – is sad but scarcely surprising. Already in his short reign there have been two disturbing incidents: eggs were thrown at Charles during royal visits to York and Lincoln. Fortunately, the perpetrators missed both times. But, given the tendency for copycat behaviour among the more moronic of the monarch’s subjects, the danger that an egg thrower may score a hit next time is obviously high. Compared to their European cousins and counterparts, and considering

Will Prince Andrew fuel a republican boom?

So that’s that then. After years of claims and counter-claims, Prince Andrew has settled with Virginia Giuffre for an eight-figure sum thought to be in the region of £12 million. This, for a woman he said he had never met. Hmm.  The humiliation for the disgraced royal isn’t over yet though: self-promoting Corbynista Rachel Maskell, the MP for York Central, has been quick today to demand his title as Duke of York be removed to avoid offence to the good people of God’s own county. And it seems that Labour backbenchers aren’t the only critics to whom Andrew is giving succour. For pressure group Republic, which campaigns for the abolition

Why do British galleries shun the humane, generous art of Ruskin Spear?

Where do you see paintings by Ruskin Spear (1911–90)? In the salerooms mostly, because his work in public collections is rarely on display. Until the National Portrait Gallery closed for redevelopment it was, however, possible to study Spear’s splendid portrait of ‘Citizen James’ (Sid James) peering from a black and white TV screen, and his oil sketch of Harold Wilson wreathed in pipe smoke, the epitome of political cunning. Both were strikingly more convincing than their companion array of anodyne commissioned images. Like his beloved Sickert, Spear painted commissioned portraits but also took to making enigmatic ‘unofficial’ portraits based on press photographs — or, in the case of Sid James,

Prince Andrew’s royal excommunication is complete

Prince Andrew has been well and truly cut adrift. By his only family. From birth, he was styled His Royal Highness. He will go to his grave unencumbered by it. The removal of the style HRH, at the age of 61, will hurt a son of the Queen who doesn’t wear his royal status lightly. He remains a prince and a duke, but the Falklands veteran has no military titles. The uniform of an admiral he’d asked a tailor to run up will now remain in a wardrobe. Unworn in public. His patronages are gone too. Henceforth, he’s Prince Andrew, Duke of York: the non-royal, royal This is what a

It’s Harry, not Meghan, who’s the real problem

Who or what drove Harry and Meghan to leave the royal bosom for the land of slebs on the other side of the Atlantic? That’s one of the central questions of a new two-part documentary, The Princes and the Press, that aired on the BBC last night. The obvious suspect is the dreaded British media — barging, intrusive, xenophobic — riddled with prejudice, we’re told, against a mixed-race American in the monarchy. But the jostling between royal households seems equally responsible. After the early days of Hazza and Megz, a clear jealousy from some of William and Kate’s people began to seep into the media. The younger brother and his

The paradoxical integrity of our dodgy honours system

We are told that the Prince of Wales had no idea at the time that his underlings were offering to sell honours to random zillionaires. That’s lucky. Instead of being tarred by the sticky brush of corruption, then, he emerges from this minor scandal as a benign old nitwit, shovelled from one place to another by his suited aides, shaking hands and offering tea to this Russian biznizman, that Chinese philanthropist, that Saudi moneybags (‘Mahfouz bin Mahfouz, Sir. Very important chap. Great benefactor.’ ‘Yes, jolly good. Have you come far, Mr Mahfouz?’) I’m inclined to take the denial that he knew what was going on pretty much at face value. It’s

‘What do you think the English will say?’ Pablo Larrain on his pop horror Diana film

It all looks ever so Sandringham. Formal evening garb, dining table the length of a cricket pitch, royalty nibbling in silence. As a tableau vivant it might be lit by Lichfield and styled by Hartnell. And yet something is awry. The beautiful princess feels stifled. She grabs at the tourniquet of pearls roped round her neck, whereupon it snaps. Huge gems plop into her gloopy green soup. Dauntlessly she dips a spoon in, feeds a pearl into her mouth and takes a pulverising bite. This royal Christmas is not normal for Norfolk. Spencer is the latest entertainment seeking to decrypt the myth of Diana, Princess of Wales. Its opening credits

Prince Andrew has no good options

It’s not a good look, aged 61, to be hiding behind your mother. The ninth in line to the throne joined the Queen at Balmoral, making it difficult for papers to be served in the Virginia Giuffre civil case. The Aberdeenshire estate may cover 50,000 acres, but it hasn’t provided refuge — a state of being that has eluded Andrew for the past six years. The Queen’s favourite son (and one of her blind spots) has a damaged reputation that continues to be pummelled remorselessly. It’s a process that has produced — on his part — one flawed strategy after another, from the disastrous Newsnight interview to trying to prove

Is Harry and Meghan’s Time profile a parody?

Of course the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are named in Time magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2021. And of course their listing, which makes the publication’s front cover, is accompanied by a lavish citation and photos of the pair put together by Hollywood A-list stylists. Did we really expect anything less? Time truly has it all. First there are the photos. The couple are groomed beyond the imagining of mere mortals, their clothes carefully co-ordinated. They are artistically positioned in order to comprise both a beautiful image and a political statement. Yes, indeed! These are no ordinary celebrity snaps. They are Harry and Meghan’s meaningful portraits. The cover shot

The failed royal response to Prince Andrew’s Epstein scandal

The royals are dab hands at navigating crises. They’ve had no choice but to develop the necessary skills. Their armoury of responses include hunkering down, ensuring the stiff upper lip doesn’t quiver and – when all else has failed – taking firm, corrective action. In the past, this rule book has served them well, as they’ve weathered, survived, and thrived during the many decades of the Queen’s reign. The Epstein crisis – inflicted on them by the actions of a Prince who was once referred to by a senior diplomat as ‘His Buffoon Highness’ – is not responding to the normal Windsor treatment. For more than a decade, Prince Andrew

Spare us Prince Harry’s ‘literary memoir’

However you look at it, ‘freedom day’ turned out to be a bit of a damp squib. So thank goodness for Prince Harry who managed to squeeze in some good news to cheer us all up. His formerly-royal highness is to publish his memoirs. It’ll be an ‘intimate and heartfelt’ account no less, written, he tells us, ‘not as the prince I was born but as the man I have become.’ I can’t be the only one barely able to contain my excitement. One tantalising question is what more Harry still has to reveal. Having spent a tempestuous couple of years desperately seeking privacy in between pouring his heart out

Prince William won’t save the Union

Can the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge save the Union? Officials at Buckingham Palace are reported to be drawing up plans for the Royal couple to spend more time north of the border. If so, it’s likely that Alex Salmond won’t be amused: the former first minister accused Prince William of ‘poor judgement’ for meeting Gordon Brown on a recent visit. Salmond, who is now the leader of the nationalist Alba party, also said it would be a ‘fatal error’ for the monarchy to allow the perception that they were taking sides in the debate He need not be concerned. Pictures of William in a kilt trying not to look bored as

Why can’t King’s College academics cope with a photo of Prince Philip?

Librarians aren’t known for causing trouble. But at our elite universities, in the grip of an increasingly unhinged culture of offence-taking, it doesn’t take much to cause trouble nowadays. This is the news that a library director at King’s College London has been forced to make a grovelling apology for emailing around a photo of Prince Philip. Hot on the heels of that student at Abertay being investigated for saying women have vaginas, this one is right up there with the most absurd campus stories to date. In a bulletin marking the Duke of Edinburgh’s death, Joleen Clarke, associate director of the university’s libraries, sent a photo of Philip and

The infuriating truth about Harry and Meghan’s activism

‘Why do you lot hate Harry and Meghan so much?’ It’s a question the formerly royal couple’s supporters often ask whenever the pair trend on Twitter, as a clip of the Sussexes’ latest pronouncement, or news of their latest corporate deal, goes viral. They think they already know the answer of course: it is sexism, racism or probably both. Meghan is a woman of colour who dares to speak out about equality and this infuriates gammons and ‘anti-woke’ commentators alike. But the answer is actually very simple, and has nothing to do with Meghan’s skin colour or sex. Harry and Meghan are profoundly annoying. They are virtue-signalling made flesh. They

Will the Vanuatu tribes now worship Prince Charles?

In the days after the Duke of Edinburgh’s death, there was much eagerness to hear from a particular group of royal watchers: the folk of a few tiny villages in the South Pacific where the late Prince was venerated as a mountain god. When a video message did eventually surface, rolled out among the broadcasters, the world saw a gathering of bearded faces sending solemn condolences. The depth of sentiment probably surprised a few viewers. After all, the ‘Prince Philip cult’ is often framed rather frivolously in our media. But the feelings among these people for the Duke are genuine. I’ve spent time in Vanuatu with the Yakel tribe who believe

The royal redemption of Prince Andrew

Seventeen months is clearly long enough, as far as Prince Andrew is concerned, to spend in the royal wilderness. While mourning the passing of his father, he’s made tentative steps to reclaim his position as one of the public faces of the House of Windsor. His private status, close to his mother, has never been under threat. His first act, on this path to redemption, was an audacious one. He gave a television interview. Emily Maitlis was nowhere in sight and it passed off without incident. Indeed, it generated positive headlines with his account of how the Queen had described the death of her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh as