Prince Andrew Urged To Cooperate With US Over Epstein

In this file photo taken on November 03, 2019, Britain’s Prince Andrew, Duke of York leaves after speaking at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit in Bangkok, on the sidelines of the 35th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit.
Lillian SUWANRUMPHA / AFP

 

Prince Andrew was urged Thursday to speak to lawyers representing victims of paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, after the royal announced he was quitting public life because of the scandal.

Queen Elizabeth II’s second son, 59, has faced days of outrage since a television interview in which he defended his friendship with the disgraced US financier.

Andrew denies claims he had sex with a 17-year-old girl procured by Epstein, who was found dead in a New York prison in August while awaiting charges of trafficking minors.

As a growing number of organisations distanced themselves from the royal and his pet projects, he said he was cancelling public engagements because of the backlash.

He said he was “willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required”.

US lawyer Lisa Bloom, who represents five women allegedly assaulted by Epstein, told the BBC the royal should speak to everyone probing the allegations — including her.

“All of the staff who work for Prince Andrew should come and give information and evidence and the documents should be turned over — emails, texts, calendars, phone logs, travel logs — so we can get to the bottom of this,” she said.

She did not rule out approaching the prince directly to secure a sworn statement.

Later, lawyer Gloria Allred, who also represents alleged victims and is Bloom’s mother, urged Andrew to speak to investigators “without delay.”

“The best way for him to begin to repair his damaged reputation would be to sit for an interview as soon as possible,” she told reporters in New York.

‘Much Worse To Come’?

Andrew’s announcement, which he said was approved by his mother and in which he belatedly expressed sympathy for Epstein’s victims, dominated British media for a fifth day.

Several newspapers said the former Royal Navy officer’s reputation was in tatters and speculated about whether he could ever return to formal royal duties.

Tabloid daily The Sun called the statement “a desperate attempt to fix the appalling failures of his TV interview over the Epstein scandal”.

“But if Andrew thinks this will draw a line under it all, he is delusional. His woes, we fear are just beginning,” it added in an editorial.

The Daily Mail said the claims, which have long cast a shadow over his duties, including as a special government trade representative, could do “serious damage” to the royal family.

“As it unravels, there may be much worse to come,” it added.

Andrew’s decision to step down was taken after “crisis talks” between the monarch herself and her eldest son and heir, Prince Charles, several newspapers reported.

But as well as potentially having to be quizzed by US investigators, some cast doubt on some of Andrew’s claims.

They include that he had stayed at the residence of Britain’s consul-general to New York on one of the three occasions when he had allegedly had sex with his accuser.

Another is whether he actually met Epstein several years earlier than he claimed.

Torrid Year

The Epstein affair shows no sign of going away, as the BBC is expected to air more revelations from one of his victims in the coming days.

The scandal tops a torrid year for the royal family marked by strained relations with the media and an apparent lack of direction in terms of control of its public image.

In October, Andrew’s nephew Prince Harry was criticised for giving an interview in which he complained about media coverage of his wife, Meghan.

He then announced legal action against several tabloids for breach of privacy and phone-hacking, setting up a potentially explosive court confrontation.

The queen, now 93, described 1992 as her “annus horribilis” after heir to the throne Charles and Andrew separated from their respective wives, and her only daughter, Anne, got divorced.

Her favourite Windsor Castle residence was also partially destroyed by fire.

Commentators said the latest scandal could see a repeat, and that the withdrawal of a senior royal from public life had no precedent since king Edward VIII’s abdication in 1936.

Trump, Queen Elizabeth Lead Emotional Tributes To D-Day Heroes

 

US President Donald Trump and Queen Elizabeth II joined 300 veterans in paying tribute to their fallen comrades at a poignant ceremony on Wednesday marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

Mixing sombre recitals of soldiers’ last letters home with period song-and-dance numbers, the ceremony in Portsmouth drew more than a dozen world leaders including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

They took turns honouring those involved in the Allied cross-Channel invasion of the Normandy beaches, the largest amphibious assault in history, that left 4,400 Allied troops dead on the first day.

“I was 18 and I was hoping for some sort of great adventure, but yes, I knew something big was obviously happening,” former pilot Gregory Hayward, 93, told AFP.

“It brings back the memories and I’m grateful… to be able to survive long enough to be here on the 75th anniversary.”

With some in the audience shedding tears and a few of the surviving veterans, now all in their 90s, sitting upright in the front rows, Trump read excerpts from the prayer US president Franklin Roosevelt delivered by radio on D-Day.

“They will need Thy blessings for the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces but we shall return again and again,” Trump read, in one of the last acts of his three-day state visit to Britain.

Queen Elizabeth, 93, also paid tribute to the sacrifices made.

“It is with humility and pleasure, on behalf of the entire country — indeed the whole free world — that I say to you all: thank you,” she said.

Merkel said: “That I could participate today as German chancellor and that we jointly defend peace and liberty today is a gift from history we have to protect and to cherish.”

Portsmouth, on the southern English coast, was the main staging point for 156,000 US, British, Canadian and other Allied troops who sailed for northern France.

The Battle of Normandy on June 6, 1944 led to the liberation of Europe and helped bring about the end of World War II the following year.

– Fear of being afraid –
The hour-long ceremony included theatrical productions and news reel footage watched by presidents, prime ministers and representatives from across Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

British Prime Minister Theresa May read a letter written by Captain Norman Skinner to his wife Gladys on June 3, 1944, which was in his pocket when he landed in Normandy on D-Day. He was killed the following day.

“I am sure that anyone with imagination must dislike the thought of what’s coming,” his letter said.

“But my fears will be more of being afraid than of what can happen to me.”

At a ceremony in Caen, French leader Macron paid tribute to 70 French resistance fighters executed in prison by the Germans on June 6, 1944.

“Under the pressure from the Allied armies who landed on our shores, the Germans wanted to remove their enemies, the Resistance prisoners held in the cells of this prison,” former inmate Bernard Duval said at the ceremony.

In the evening, around 250 veterans set off to retrace their journey across the Channel, sailing out of Portsmouth bound for Normandy on board the chartered cruise ship MV Boudicca, along with a flotilla of British navy vessels.

– Trump in Ireland –
The D-Day commemorations are among May’s last official duties before she steps down as leader of the governing Conservatives on Friday over her failure to get Britain out of the EU on time.

She will remain as prime minister until her successor is chosen in late July. Eleven candidates intend to stand.

May’s meetings with Trump have gone smoothly. The president tweeted on Wednesday that he “could not have been treated more warmly in the United Kingdom by the royal family or the people”.

He reaffirmed his commitment to a “very big trade deal” with Britain after Brexit.

The US president left Britain after the D-Day ceremony for Ireland, where he met Prime Minister Leo Varadkar at Shannon Airport for talks.

Trump said he thought Brexit would work out well for Ireland, including “your wall, your border”. The invisible frontier between the UK and the Irish Republic is one of the most contentious Brexit issues.

The president was then heading to his luxury golf resort near the village of Doonbeg.

He leaves for northern France on Thursday, where he will attend another D-Day ceremony alongside May and Macron.

Queen Elizabeth Receives Trump At Buckingham Palace Ceremony

US First Lady Melania Trump, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, US President Donald Trump, Britain’s Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Britain’s Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall watch guardsmen parade during a welcome ceremony at Buckingham Palace in central London on June 3, 2019, on the first day of the US president and First Lady’s visit to the UK. PHOTO: Adrian DENNIS / AFP

US President Donald Trump met Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace on Monday after kicking off his UK state visit by branding the London mayor a “loser” and weighing in on the Brexit debate.

With a 41-gun royal salute ringing out across the royal palace’s lawn, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles shook hands with the US leader and First Lady MelaniaTrumpbefore British soldiers played the national anthems of the two countries.

The queen then led the couple inside for a private lunch, which will be followed in the evening by a glittering banquet.

READ ALSO: Trump Slams London Mayor, Brings Brexit Advice On UK Visit

Trump’s plane had not even touched down when he tweeted that London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who has been highly critical of the red-carpet welcome laid on for Trump, was doing a “terrible job”.

The president called the mayor a “stone cold loser”, adding: “Kahn reminds me very much of our very dumb and incompetent Mayor of NYC, (Bill) de Blasio, who has also done a terrible job – only half his height.

“In any event, I look forward to being a great friend to the United Kingdom,” he added.

Backing for Boris

Trump’s three-day visit comes with Britain in political turmoil. Prime Minister Theresa May is due to step down within weeks over her handling of her country’s exit from the European Union.

Trump weighed in on the divisive issue, declaring before he arrived that Britain’s former foreign minister Boris Johnson would make an “excellent” choice to succeed May.

In a round of British newspaper interviews, he also recommended her successor walk away from talks with Brussels, refuse to pay Britain’s agreed divorce bill and leave the EU with no deal.

The UK-US “special relationship” was already under strain over different approaches to Iran, the use of Chinese technology in 5G networks, climate change, andTrump’s personal politics.

Labour’s Khan has led the opposition to the three-day visit, writing a newspaper article on Sunday in which he compared the US leader to European dictators from the 1930s and 1940s.

“DonaldTrumpis just one of the most egregious examples of a growing global threat,” Khan wrote.

His spokesman calledTrump’s tweets “childish” and “beneath the president of the United States”.

Baby Trump blimp

Huge protests are being organised in London, with organisers crowdfunding a bright orange “babyTrump” blimp depicting the US leader in a diaper — aiming for an even larger version than the one flown during his visit last year.

The leaders of Britain’s main opposition parties and the speaker of parliament are boycotting the state banquet on Monday night.

In an effort to brush past the controversy, May andTrumpare expected to emphasise the wider benefits of their old alliance when they hold talks at Downing Street on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, they will join other world leaders in the English port of Portsmouth to commemorate 75 years since the D-Day landings, which changed the course of World War II.

“Our relationship has underpinned our countries’ security and prosperity for many years, and will continue to do so for generations to come,” May said ahead of the visit.

No-deal Brexit

May announced her resignation last month after failing to get her Brexit deal through parliament and twice delaying Britain’s EU departure.

She will formally quit as her Conservative party’s leader on Friday but will stay on as caretaker prime minister while her successor is chosen.

Three years after the referendum vote for Brexit, Britain remains divided.

Trump recommended the new government make a clean break with the EU if necessary, adding that there was “tremendous potential” for Britain to trade with his country after Brexit.

Causing more potential embarrassment for May, Trump said he might also meet with Johnson and pro-Brexit leader Nigel Farage during his UK visit.

“They want to meet. We’ll see what happens,” he told reporters before he left the United States.

Strained special relationship

May was the first foreign leader welcomed to the White House afterTrump’s election victory in November 2016, but their relationship has not always been rosy.

They have clashed overTrump’s migration policies, while Britain still backs the Iranian nuclear deal and the Paris climate accord, both of whichTrumphas abandoned.

Washington has also been putting pressure on Britain to exclude Chinese tech giant Huawei from its 5G network over security concerns, suggesting it might harm intelligence-sharing.

Trump’s first official visit to Britain last year was overshadowed by criticism of May’s approach to Brexit, as well as large demonstrations.

He is not expected to meet Prince Harry and his American wife Meghan Markle, after saying her previous criticism of him was “nasty”.

AFP

Queen Elizabeth ‘Deeply Saddened’ By New Zealand Mosque Attacks

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II/AFP

 

Queen Elizabeth II, New Zealand’s head of state, said she was “deeply saddened” by the attacks on two mosques on Friday which left 49 people dead.

“I have been deeply saddened by the appalling events in Christchurch… At this tragic time, my thoughts and prayers are with all New Zealanders,” she said in a message.

“Prince Philip and I send our condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives,” she said, paying tribute to emergency workers and volunteers providing support to the injured.

READ ALSO: Erdogan ‘Strongly Condemns’ New Zealand Mosque Killings

Queen Elizabeth, 92, the world’s oldest and longest-serving living monarch, is the queen of 15 other realms besides Britain, including Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

She last visited New Zealand in 2002 as part of celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of her accession to the throne.

AFP

Queen Elizabeth’s Granddaughter Weds At Windsor Castle

Britain’s Princess Eugenie of York (R) and her husband Jack Brooksbank kiss as they emerge from the West Door of St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, in Windsor, on October 12, 2018 after their wedding ceremony. PHOTO: Steve Parsons / POOL / AFP

 

Queen Elizabeth II’s granddaughter Princess Eugenie married a wine merchant on Friday in Windsor Castle.

The big day for the ninth in line to the throne and Jack Brooksbank — a “commoner” with blue-blood friends — comes on the heels of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s fairytale service in May.

That event was watched by adoring masses and followed by months of fawning UK headlines about the US actress who charmed her way into the royal court.

But what may be a mixture of royal wedding overload and scepticism about Eugenie’s role in Britain’s public life stripped Friday’s ceremony of some of its charm.

Newspapers have spent weeks complaining about taxpayers having to foot the £2 million ($2.6 million, 2.3 million euro) security bill.

They noted the expense could have been spared had Eugenie not insisted on having a horse-drawn carriage parade around Windsor — just like Meghan and her prince.

The BBC also reportedly caused Buckingham Palace upset by deciding not to televise the event live because of its likely low ratings.

The smaller ITV commercial channel picked up the broadcast for its morning programme aired directly from a studio overlooking Windsor’s lawn.

ITV spent much of the morning discussing the fierce gusts of wind that forced arriving guests to grasp for their complicated hats and to rearrange their morning coats.

“Unfortunately, this is not a good wedding hair day,” one of ITV morning show hosts observed.

The BBC said only “a few hundred” had set up lawn chairs and covered themselves in the Union Jack in preparation for Eugenie’s procession through the heart of Windsor.

The couple did their best to win over the crowds by doing taped interviews for ITV in which they heaped each other with praise.

Jack called his 28-year-old bride his “shining light”.

Eugenie called the 32-year-old wine merchant and tequila ambassador “humble and generous”.

But the more traditionally conservative Telegraph daily was the only one of the non-tabloid papers to put the wedding at the top of its internet news page.

Cocktail bar groom

The ceremony itself featured 850 guests and much of the morning saw royalty and celebrities strolling up to Windsor and arranging themselves in its magnificent 14th-century chapel.

The better-known invitees include the pop star Robbie Williams and David and Victoria Beckham — the unofficial royal couple of the British celebrity world.

George Clooney, who has been tied in the press to Jack’s work as the European ambassador of the US actor’s line of tequila, is also expected.

Jack himself mixes in London’s glitzy social circles but is unknown to most outside the celebrity gossip world.

He managed a posh cocktail bar in London favoured by royals called Mahiki and has since launched his own wine wholesale business.

Press reports said he has lately harboured dreams of launching his own chain of pubs.

AFP

Trump’s Meeting With Queen Elizabeth II Annoys Many Britons

Trump's Meeting With Queen Elizabeth II Annoys Many Britons
US President Donald Trump speaks with Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II as US First Lady Melania Trump looks on at Windsor Castle in Windsor, west of London, on July 13, 2018.
Brendan Smialowski / AFP

 

Queen Elizabeth II welcomed US President Donald Trump for tea at Windsor Castle on Friday — a meeting which many Britons find the toughest part of his already contentious trip to swallow.

Trump walked ahead of the 92-year-old while inspecting troops and did not bow when he met her — a couple of minor protocol breaches — but the meeting went smoothly.

Trump was gracious about the British sovereign in a newspaper interview out Friday in which he attacked Prime Minister Theresa May’s strategy on Brexit.

However, his previous comments about the Royals have been less tactful, including boasting he would have slept with Diana, Princess of Wales “without even hesitation”, and saying “who wouldn’t” photograph the Duchess of Cambridge topless.

Some 1.86 million people signed a petition at the June 2017 general election, wanting to prevent Trump from making a state visit “because it would cause embarrassment to Her Majesty the Queen”.

His four-day trip to Britain is not a state visit — with the formal trappings of a carriage procession and certain banquets — but it bears many of the hallmarks, including time with the head of state.

A YouGov poll of 1,648 British adults conducted on Monday and Tuesday found that half thought Trump’s working visit to Britain should go ahead, with just over a third thinking it should be cancelled.

However, the meeting with Queen Elizabeth on his first visit to Britain as US president still seems to rankle.

Just one in three (35 per cent) thought the monarch should meet Trump, as opposed to half (49 per cent) who thought she should not.

‘Great and beautiful grace’

Trump was treated with a guard of honour when he arrived at Windsor Castle, west of London. The Coldstream Guards gave a royal salute and played the US national anthem.

The two heads of state inspected the guard before watching them march past, in the castle’s quadrangle.

The Trumps then went for tea with Queen Elizabeth.

“For so many years she has represented her country, she has really never made a mistake. You don’t see, like, anything embarrassing. She is just an incredible woman,” Trump told The Sun newspaper.

“My wife is a tremendous fan of hers. She has got a great and beautiful grace about her.”

His previous comments about members of the royal family have not been so generous. Buckingham Palace said no other royals will be meeting him at Windsor.

Trump has previously spoken about Prince William’s wife Kate and his late mother Diana. William, second in line to the throne, is the monarch’s grandson.

In a 1997 interview, just weeks after Diana’s death, US radio host Howard Stern asked Trump if he “could have nailed her”.

Trump replied: “I think I could have.”

In 2000, Stern asked Trump if he would have slept with Diana. The tycoon replied: “Without even hesitation.

“She was crazy, but these are minor details.”

‘Only herself to blame’

In 2012, after Kate was photographed sunbathing topless in France, Trump weighed in on Twitter.

“Who wouldn’t take Kate’s picture and make lots of money if she does the nude sunbathing thing. Come on Kate!” he wrote.

“Kate Middleton is great — but she shouldn’t be sunbathing in the nude — only herself to blame.”

Trump will not be meeting Queen Elizabeth’s eldest son and William’s father Prince Charles, the heir to the throne.

A January 2017 report in The Sunday Times newspaper said Trump and Charles would not meet during his visit to Britain due to their strongly divergent views on climate change.

Prince Charles is a keen environmentalist.

A source close to Trump was quoted as saying: “He won’t put up with being lectured by anyone, even a member of the royal family. Frankly, they should think twice about putting him and Prince Charles in the same room.”

There have been 13 US presidents since Queen Elizabeth’s reign began in 1952, and, including Trump, she has met them all, barring one: Lyndon B. Johnson.

AFP

Queen Elizabeth To Miss Christening Of Royal Baby

Britain’s Prince Louis, the baby son of Prince William and his wife Kate, is due to be christened at a private ceremony at St James’s Palace in London on Monday, July 9, 2018. Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

Britain’s Prince Louis of Cambridge, the baby son of Prince William and his wife Kate, is to be christened on Monday but Queen Elizabeth II will not be in attendance, Kensington Palace said.

Queen Elizabeth, 92, and her 97-year-old husband Prince Philip attended the christenings of Louis’ older siblings Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

But the decision for them not to attend Louis’ baptism at St. James’s Palace in London was understood to have been mutually agreed by the monarch and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge some time ago and was not health-related.

They will return to London from the monarch’s private Sandringham estate in eastern England on Monday.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the spiritual leader of the world’s Anglicans, will lead the service in the Chapel Royal at St James’s Palace.

Welby, who will baptise the baby by pouring holy water from the River Jordan over his head, said the event would be “very nerve-wracking” but “a great privilege”.

Louis is fifth in the line of succession to the British throne after his grandfather Prince Charles, his father William and his older siblings George and Charlotte.

He is also one of Queen Elizabeth’s seven great-grandchildren.

From the royal family, the baptism will be attended by William’s father Charles and his wife Camilla; and William’s brother Prince Harry and his new wife Meghan, who married in Windsor Castle in May.

From the duchess’s side, Kate’s parents Michael and Carole, brother James, sister Pippa and her husband James Matthews were to attend.

The six godparents and their spouses were also due to attend.

 ‘Court jester’ 

The godparents are all friends or family of William and Kate.

They include Guy Pelly, once dubbed the “court jester” to William and Harry for his wild ways that were often cited as a bad influence on the brothers in their youth, running their favourite drinking haunts.

Louis’ other godparents are: Nicholas van Cutsem, whose family is close to the royals; William’s school pal Harry Aubrey-Fletcher; Laura Meade, who is married to William’s close friend James Meade; Kate’s schoolfriend Hannah Carter; and the duchess’s cousin Lucy Middleton.

Welby will use the Lily Font, commissioned by queen Victoria for the baptism of her first child in 1841.

Louis will wear the replica of the royal christening robe, first used in 2008. The original, retired in order to preserve it, was worn for all royal baptisms since 1841.

William and Kate were to host a private tea afterwards. As after George and Charlotte’s baptisms, guests will be served slices of the duke and duchess’s wedding cake.

Louis was born on April 24 — St. George’s Day, England’s national day — at St Mary’s Hospital in central London weighing eight pounds and seven ounces (3.8 kilogrammes).

AFP

Queen’s Patronage Of Royal Ascot Hard To Estimate

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II greets well-wishers from the balcony of the Chester Town Hall during her visit, with Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, to Chester, Cheshire on June 14, 2018.
Eddie MULHOLLAND / POOL / AFP

 

The grin on Queen Elizabeth II’s face when her horse Estimate won the 2013 Ascot Gold Cup at Royal Ascot remains one of the iconic images of probably the most famous race meeting in the world.

The victory in what is the week’s most historic race rewarded a monarch who has an extraordinary knowledge of the ‘Sport of Kings’ Johnny Weatherby, Her Majesty’s Representative at Royal Ascot, told AFP in a rare interview.

Weatherby, who has been in his present role since 2011 and a Trustee of Ascot since 1997, was speaking ahead of this year’s meeting which gets underway on Tuesday with the traditional Royal Procession down the finishing straight.

Whilst for some the week represents the very height of fashion many like the Queen are keener on watching the action on the track which will welcome 300,000 spectators, see eight Group One races contested over the five days and £7.3million ($9.7million) in prize money up for grabs.

“The Queen has an amazing knowledge of horseracing worldwide and she very much enjoys both breeding and racing her horses,” said Weatherby.

“She has also had fantastic success with her own horses at the Royal meeting.”

The Queen — whose predecessors since Queen Anne founded it in 1711 have not all been as enthusiastic as she is — is also a keen participant in the running of the meeting itself and it would be hard to find a more faithful attendee.

“The Queen owns the racecourse –- it has been Crown Estate Land since 1813 and she takes a close interest in all that goes on at Ascot,” said Weatherby.

“The fact that the Queen has not missed a single day of Royal Ascot since her coronation in 1953 says it all.”

Estimate’s victory presented just one problem as she was due to present the trophy — this was quickly remedied as her middle son Prince Andrew stepped in.

“The Queen was the first reigning monarch to win The Gold Cup,” said Weatherby.

“It was a hugely special day and with a mare who returned to Stud at Sandringham, hopefully, to produce offspring to compete at Royal Ascot in years to come.”

– ‘Unique cocktail of history, royalty, pageantry’ –

Her very public patronage of Royal Ascot has helped it become a global event but Weatherby adds he and the Ascot team also put a lot into ensuring runners come from all over the world to make the action on the track a mid season world championship.

American trainer Wesley Ward has enjoyed success in recent years with his two-year-olds whilst Australian — champion sprinter Choisir memorably won two races in the 2003 renewal as well as the legendary Black Caviar who won the Group One Diamond Jubilee Stakes in 2012 — and Hong Kong-based horses have also triumphed.

“There is an awful lot of hard work that goes into attracting the best bloodstock to Ascot,” said Weatherby.

“International racing is established and there are some huge prizes on offer around the world but there is much more to the Royal meeting than just prize money.

“We do court international competitors and their success has proven the five days at Ascot in June is the focus of the entire racing world.”

Weatherby, whose family also has historic ties with the sport going back to 1770 and acts as racing’s bank among many things, says Royal Ascot owes its unique position compared to other meetings for several reasons.

“It is a unique cocktail of history, royalty, pageantry, and fashion combined with genuine championship racing that sets Royal Ascot at the pinnacle of the sport,” said the urbane 58-year-old.

Weatherby, whose first memories of the meeting were going with his parents in the 1970’s and watching admiringly the achievements of Irish trainer Vincent O’Brien and legendary jockey Lester Piggott, has a live chance of being the breeder of next year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup champion the Irish-trained Presenting Percy.

However, his top hat stays firmly on his head when asked would he swap a Cheltenham Gold Cup for an Ascot Gold Cup.

“If you were to ask me this question next March I might give you a different answer but for now it has to be the Gold Cup at Ascot!”

Queen Marks 92nd Birthday With Commonwealth Concert

Queen Marks 92nd Birthday With Commonwealth Concert
(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 11, 2017, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II arrives for the annual Royal Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall in London on Armistice Day. Stefan Rousseau / POOL / AFP

 

Queen Elizabeth II marked her 92nd birthday on Saturday with traditional gun salutes and a Commonwealth-themed charity concert featuring Tom Jones, Kylie and Shaggy.

Horse-drawn guns fired 41 times in Hyde Park and 62 times at the Tower of London, while at Windsor Castle, the band played “Happy Birthday” during the changing of the guard.

In the evening, the monarch and her family were due to attend a concert with performers from around the Commonwealth, the 53-nation grouping which held its summit in London this week.

Australia’s Kylie, Canadian pop chart-topper Shawn Mendes, South African all-male choir Ladysmith Black Mambazo and US-Jamaican reggae star Shaggy were to join British stars including Jones, Craig David and Sting.

The queen usually celebrates her birthday in private, saving the pomp for her official birthday in June.

The concert at the Royal Albert Hall will raise money for a new youth charity, The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust.

The monarch’s grandson Prince Harry, who will marry US actress Meghan Markle at Windsor on May 19, is the trust’s new president and was due to give a speech at the concert.

The queen has been the symbolic head of the Commonwealth since her father King George VI’s death in 1952, but its leaders agreed on Friday that her son and heir Prince Charles should succeed her.

The summit was overshadowed by a row over Britain’s treatment of Caribbean immigrants, while Charles himself also came under scrutiny.

A non-white writer, Anita Sethi, claimed he joked about whether she was really from the British city of Manchester when they met at a Commonwealth meeting this week.

Sethi — whose mother was born in Guyana — said Charles asked her where she was from and when she replied, said: “Well, you don’t look like it!” and laughed.

She wrote in The Guardian that she felt humiliated and angry, adding that “some people, including the prince, urgently need a history lesson about immigration”.

AFP

Queen Elizabeth To Celebrate 70th Wedding Anniversary With Prince Philip

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth will add another landmark to her record-breaking reign on Monday, November 20 when she celebrates her 70th wedding anniversary with husband Prince Philip.

Princess Elizabeth, as she was at the time, married dashing naval officer Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten at London’s Westminster Abbey on Nov. 20, 1947, in a lavish ceremony attended by statesmen and royalty from around the world.

Seventy years on, Elizabeth, 91, and her 96-year-old husband will mark their platinum anniversary with a small, family party at Windsor Castle, the monarch’s home to the west of London. A spokesman for Buckingham Palace said there would be no public event to mark the occasion.

Greek-born Philip, a descendant of Elizabeth’s great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria in his own right, has been at his wife’s side throughout her 65-year reign, the longest in British history. He was the person who broke the news to her that her father was dead and she was queen.

“One of the secrets of this very, very long marriage and it’s an incredibly impressive anniversary, is the fact Prince Philip has always seen it as his main duty to support the queen, to help her in whatever way he can,” royal historian Hugo Vickers told Reuters.

“He is the only person who can actually tell the queen absolutely straight what he thinks and if he thinks some idea is ridiculous he will say so in whatever language he chooses to use.”

Their engagement was announced in July 1947 and they married four months later. With Britain still recovering from the hardships of World War Two, the wedding offered a rare burst of colour and pageantry against an austere background of rationing and shortages.

While some two billion people were estimated to have watched the couple’s grandson Prince William marry his wife Kate, their own wedding was only broadcast live to some 200 million radio listeners although highlights of the day were captured on grainy black and white film footage.

While royal watchers say Elizabeth and Philip have had their ups and downs like any married couple, they have avoided the travails of three of their four children whose marriages have ended in divorce, most notably heir Prince Charles’s ill-fated union with his late first wife Princess Diana.

Philip, who has suffered health issues in recent years and was hospitalised in June, retired from active public life in August.

However, they both attended a memorial service on Remembrance Sunday although a royal source said the queen had decided not to lay a wreath so she could watch from a nearby balcony alongside her husband.

“Without Prince Philip, the queen would have had a very tough and lonely life. He’s been a complete support to her a rock to her from the moment she was on the throne,” royal biographer Claudia Joseph told Reuters.

Reuters 

Russia Insists #ParadisePapers Deals Were Legal

The Queen Victoria Memorial statue is pictured in front of Buckingham Palace, the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II, in central London on November 6, 2017. US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has business ties to a shipping firm linked to Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, according to a vast leak of financial documents that also revealed Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II’s investments in tax havens. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

Russia on Monday downplayed leaks in the Paradise Papers concerning Russian officials and companies, insisting the deals were legal and not politically motivated.

One of the companies mentioned in the papers, petrochemicals giant Sibur, slammed media reports on the findings, while confirming the facts.

In a statement reported by Russian news agencies, Sibur voiced its “amazement at the politically charged interpretation in some media of ordinary commercial activity.”

The leaks revealed that US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has ties to a shipping firm called Navigator Holdings, which has a contract with Sibur.

Sibur confirmed that it works with Navigator Holdings, making up 2.8 percent of its logistics spending, or $15.9 million, in the first half of 2017.

A billionaire reported to be President Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law, Kirill Shamalov, owns a 3.9 percent stake in Sibur, according to Vedomosti business daily.

Gennady Timchenko, Putin’s friend and business partner who is subject to US sanctions, owns 17 percent of Sibur, Vedomosti reported.

Sibur said that it had thoroughly checked whether there were any restrictions on its activities due to a shareholder (Timchenko) being under sanctions, but “did not find any such restrictions.”

– ‘Muddled wording’ –

The head of the foreign affairs committee of the Russian senate, Konstantin Kosachev, charged that the leaks were “stirring emotions and muddled wording,” speaking to RIA Novosti state news agency earlier Monday.

The papers leaked from offshore law firm Appleby reveal that VTB Bank, Russia’s second largest bank and now under US sanctions, funded an investment in Twitter.

In addition, a branch of Gazprom energy giant through an offshore company financed an investment vehicle that owned Facebook shares.

Both deals are linked to Russian billionaire investor Yuri Milner.

“When it is boiled down, what is described here is standard and legal commercial activity,” Kosachev said.

He added that the deals were being “presented as practically a plot against the foundations of Western democracy.”

The findings emerged as part of the Paradise Papers released by the US-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which was behind the Panama Papers made public last year.

– Political ties –

Russia’s opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta was the only Russian media to take part in analysing the leaked materials. It reported that it looked at 13.4 million documents over the course of a year.

The newspaper said the leaks did not principally concern Russians, saying this was possibly because Appleby, “asked questions about the origins of funds more often” than the company that leaked the Panama Papers, Mossack Fonseca.

“Russia is not even in the top 10 countries whose citizens used Appleby’s services,” it wrote.

Novaya Gazeta found the names of two current lawmakers in the papers: Alexei Yezubov of the ruling party and Vladimir Blotsky of the Communist Party. Yezubov told RIA Novosti he had “heard nothing” of the leaks.

The former wife of powerful Rosneft chief and Putin ally Igor Sechin, Marina Sechina, also figures. She registered a property investment company in 2012, soon after their divorce.

Sechin’s declarations previously showed she had no earnings for several years.

Novaya Gazeta said Appleby was aware of Sechina’s significant political ties.

The files also name the wife of first deputy prime minister Igor Shuvalov, Olga Shuvalova, as the beneficiary of a company that owned a Bombardier plane, Novaya Gazeta reported.

The anti-corruption foundation of opposition leader Alexei Navalny in 2016 had accused Shuvalova of using a private plane to fly her corgies to dog shows.

Those named also include Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea football club, who did not respond to the newspaper’s request for comment.

AFP

Queen Elizabeth Opens Scotland’s Third Forth Bridge

Queen Elizabeth cutting ribbon at ceremonial opening of Queensferry crossing 

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth formally opened Scotland’s biggest infrastructure project in a generation – the third bridge across the River Forth – on Monday, exactly 53 years after she opened the second.

The 91-year-old monarch met workers and school children who had gathered on the new road bridge before cutting a blue ribbon to mark its opening, as a flotilla passed underneath and the Royal Air Force’s Red Arrows display jets flew overhead.

The 1.35 billion-pound ($1.7 billion) Queensferry Crossing, the longest bridge of its type in the world at 1.7 miles (2.7 km), connects the capital Edinburgh to Scotland’s north.

The Queen described all three “magnificent structures” crossing the River Forth, built in three separate centuries, as “feats of modern engineering”.

Queen Elizabeth said, “In declaring open the southside of the Queensferry Crossing and then travelling along the bridge, I was reminded today’s ceremony takes places exactly 53 years since that memorable day when I opened its predecessor, the Forth Road Bridge, which has served Scotland so well during more than half a century.

“The three magnificent structures we see here, spanning three centuries, are all feats of modern engineering and a tribute to the talents, vision and the remarkable skills of those who designed and built them.

“The Queensferry Crossing joined its iconic and historic neighbours to create not only a breathtaking sight over the Firth of Forth but to provide an important link for so many in this community and the surrounding areas.”

Built with 35,000 tonnes of steel and 150,000 tonnes of concrete, the crossing reaches 210 metres (690 ft) above high tide, standing as tall as about 48 London buses stacked on top of each other. Barriers deflect the wind and shield vehicles from the huge gusts common on the Forth.

Reuters