I used to be a republican, but that was before Brexit. What does Britain have that the other countries of Europe will still want access to after we leave the EU? Banking will be safer away from ‘offshore London’. There are other places in the world besides Sellafield that can store spent nuclear fuel. The most expensive higher education in the world is unlikely to attract so many overseas students, its lure and decline mirroring that of Swiss finishing schools after their 1980s heyday.
Before she was a royal-in-waiting, Meghan Markle said on a television talk show that she might move to Canada rather than live in a country governed by a misogynist like Donald Trump. Prince Harry recently interviewed Barack Obama on the Today programme, giving the former president several opportunities to cast shade on his successor. The Sun quoted a senior UK government source saying that the royal couple want the Obamas at their wedding.
Long-lived monarchs need long memories, so they can remember what needs to be forgotten. John Aubrey recounts the disastrous gaffe by the 17th Earl of Oxford – famous as one of the people who didn't write Shakespeare's plays – while ‘making obeisance’ at court to Elizabeth I. After it, Aubrey says, the disgraced earl escaped by going on his travels, to return to the royal presence seven years later. ‘My Lord,’ Elizabeth greeted him, ‘I had forgott the Fart.’
Life as a royal correspondent has its longueurs. In fact, much of the time, there’s little but longueurs. At the palace tea-parties, everyone’s on their best, terrified of letting rip a Pimm’s burp or treading on a corgi. One yearns for a bit of bad behaviour – a drunken streaker, say, or a blue-blood f-bashing a dithering pap, or a party guest who’s swapped the usual frock coat and topper for a full Afrika Korps service uniform. One waits in vain, too, for her majesty to appear in SS rig to lead the canapé-rodents in a rendering of the Horst Wessel. Still, the Sun’s ‘Their Royal Heilnesses’ scoop falls not far short of this.
As the saying goes, horses for courses – and now, if the Princess Royal gets her way, those courses will include not just Aintree or Newmarket, but first and main, possibly served with horseradish sauce or horse chestnuts. Princess Anne, as she used to be known before she was upgraded to Princess Royal as one in the eye for Diana, declared last week that horse should be on the menu again, notwithstanding the brouhaha earlier this year over horse meat. Times are hard: food is dear. So the proles can't afford Tesco value sausage? Let them eat horse.
With the Duchess of Cambridge in hospital, the media have gone into couvade. I’d half thought of a gag about ‘crowning’, but blow me if the Centre for Retail Research in Newark hasn’t got there already, headlining a press release: ‘As the royal baby crowns...’ The next bit says that Britons are set to bazooka an extra £243 million once the baby’s born.
The National Portrait Gallery has just unveiled its portrait of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, formerly Kate Middleton. The picture follows loyally in the narcoleptic tradition of royal portraiture, where the sitter gives every impression of having taken a cocktail of Valium and Reader’s Digest.
One can only imagine what thoughts may have passed through the Queen’s mind at breakfast this morning as she digested the front page of the Sun along with her bread and dripping. Most days she no doubt passes it across the breakfast table to her husband for page 3 while she gets her teeth into the Racing Post, but one fancies that, if for only a moment, the royal gaze fell on snaps of her grandson plastered – geddit?! – all over the front of the Current Bun. Catching a royal at it, in flagrante, in a naked – and here comes a word only ever used in red-top-land – romp, in the sort of royal flush that falls to hacks but rarely. It aligns all the bananas in the fruit machine, a feat pulled off in once-in-a-lifetime headlines like Gordon Ramsay’s 'Naked Dwarf Porn Double Found Dead in a Badger Hole in Wales', or the Scottish football writers’ dream, 'Super Callie Go Ballistic, Celtic Are Atrocious'.