Queen Elizabeth II Approves Government’s Brexit Bill

 

Queen Elizabeth II gave her formal assent Thursday for Britain to end its decades-long involvement in the European Union and seek a more independent but uncertain future at the end of the month.

The head of state’s ceremonial approval of the withdrawal legislation allows Britain to leave its closest neighbours and trading partners after years of bickering and three delays.

Two top EU officials in Brussels are expected to sign the separation treaty on Friday and Prime Minister Boris Johnson — the pro-Brexit figurehead of Britain’s seismic 2016 referendum — will put his name on it in the coming days.

“At times it felt like we would never cross the Brexit finish line, but we’ve done it,” Johnson said after both houses of the British parliament ratified the withdrawal bill on Wednesday.

“Now we can put the rancour and division of the past three years behind us and focus on delivering a bright, exciting future.”

The January 31 split caps a remarkable political comeback for Johnson at one of the most difficult points in Britain’s post-war history.

He quit former prime minister Theresa May’s government in 2018 in protest at what he viewed as her pro-European separation terms.

Johnson returned as May’s successor in July last year and has since managed to negotiate his own deal with Brussels and regain the government’s control of parliament in a risky early election last month.

The rest was a formality. Lawmakers barely debated the withdrawal agreement before passing it — even though critics called it worse for Britain than the one reached by May.

Johnson will celebrate his victory by issuing commemorative coins and chairing a special cabinet meeting in England’s pro-Brexit north on January 31.

‘Absolute priority’

Johnson will now be responsible for defining the terms on which Britain trades and shares everything from data to fishing waters with the remaining 27 EU member states.

The formal talks are not expected to begin until March but the war of words is already intense.

Johnson rejects EU arguments that the end-of-year negotiations deadline is too short to reach a comprehensive deal.

The UK government is also demanding the post-Brexit right to set its own rules on politically sensitive issues such as environmental standards and workers’ rights.

EU officials say this will give Britain an unfair advantage and are threatening to retaliate with tariffs and quotas that could hit the UK auto and pharmaceutical industries especially hard.

European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde said the bloc’s financial system was ready for the next stage.

“There can always be a risk somewhere,” she said in Frankfurt. “But I think in good conscience we have covered everything that we thought was necessary.”

Some analysts believe Johnson is prepared to pay the price of short-term economic damage in order to deliver on pledge to “get Brexit done”.

He argues that greater flexibility will help him reach a quick post-Brexit agreement with the United States and other nations that are growing much faster than those in Europe.

US officials say they are eager to strike a deal with Johnson.

An agreement “is an absolute priority for President (Donald) Trump and we expect to complete that with them this year,” US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said ahead of his arrival in London this weekend.

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross added that Johnson would have an easier time with Washington than Brussels because “there are far fewer issues between the UK and US.”

Johnson is expected to lay out his vision for the post-Brexit agreement with Brussels in a big policy address early next month.

“Once we have left the EU in just over a week’s time we’ll be free to start having discussions with countries around the world including the US,” Downing Street said Wednesday.

Ten-Man Arsenal Hold Chelsea In Torrent Of Late Premier League Goals

 

 

Ten-man Arsenal slowed Chelsea’s charge for a Champions League place on Tuesday as Manchester City kept up their distant pursuit of Liverpool with victory at Sheffield United on a dramatic evening of Premier League football.

Newcastle improbably came back from 2-0 down to draw against Everton, with substitute Florian Lejeune netting twice in stoppage time, and Aston Villa found a last-gasp winner against in-form Watford.

Elsewhere, Southampton climbed to ninth in the table with victory against Crystal Palace while Bournemouth gave themselves hope with a 3-1 win over fellow-strugglers Brighton.

Fourth-placed Chelsea twice took the lead against Arsenal, who were reduced to 10 men after former Blues defender David Luiz took out Tammy Abraham when he was through on goal.

Jorginho put Chelsea 1-0 ahead from the penalty spot in the 28th minute but Gabriel Martinelli equalised for Arsenal in the second half.

Cesar Azpilicueta put Chelsea 2-1 up with just six minutes remaining but Arsenal levelled only three minutes later through Hector Bellerin.

The 2-2 draw leaves Chelsea six points ahead of fifth-placed Manchester United having played a game extra while Arsenal are in 10th spot, seemingly out of the running for a place in the top four.

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard was frustrated that his team had not been more clinical in front of goal.

“We could have had three or four goals today,” he told the BBC. “Having shots, crosses and lots of ‘ooh’ moments. We have to be clinical.”

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta hailed his side’s reaction.

“To do that against this kind of opponent in this stadium, I really value,” he said. “The way they have done it, with the spirit they have done it, that’s great.”

Aguero spares City blushes

Pep Guardiola’s City, with defender Aymeric Laporte back in the side, looked as though they might rue Gabriel Jesus’s squandered first-half penalty but their Argentine hitman Sergio Aguero came to the rescue.

Despite the 1-0 win, second-placed City remain 13 points behind runaway leaders Liverpool, having played two games more, and their bid to defend their title appears hopeless.

City’s French central defender Laporte has been out of action since suffering a knee injury at the end of August and he was a surprise inclusion at Bramall Lane.

Sheffield United goalkeeper Dean Henderson denied Jesus from the penalty spot about 10 minutes from half-time after a foul on Riyad Mahrez.

But City made amends when substitute Sergio Aguero, on for Jesus, tapped in from Kevin De Bruyne’s cross in the 73rd minute.

“We knew it would be a difficult place to come,” Guardiola said. “We concede one or two clear chances, nothing more than that.

“In the first half the ‘keeper was excellent with the penalty and two incredible saves. It was an incredibly good victory for us to take a step towards securing Champions League football next season.”

Southampton’s 2-0 victory against Crystal Palace, thanks to goals from Nathan Redmond and Stuart Armstrong, continued a remarkable turnaround for the club, who hit rock bottom earlier this season in a 9-0 defeat by Leicester.

“Throughout the team — the behaviour, belief — everyone is absolutely committed,” said Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuettl.

“They know what they have to do and the atmosphere is fantastic. Everyone enjoys to play.”

Watford took the lead against Villa when Troy Deeney headed in Gerard Deulofeu’s cross but the home side hit back in the second half through Douglas Luiz.

Tyrone Mings scored a dramatic late winner for Villa deep into stoppage time to end Watford’s recent revival under Nigel Pearson.

Moise Kean scored his first goal for Everton since his arrival from Juventus in the 30th minute of their match against Newcastle and Dominic Calvert-Lewin doubled the lead in the second half.

Everton were cruising deep into stoppage time but threw away the three points, with Lejeune striking twice.

Bournemouth, who had lost their previous four matches, all against relegation rivals, beat Brighton 3-1 thanks to goals from Harry Wilson, an own goal from Pascal Gross and a second-half Callum Wilson effort.

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool are in action on Thursday at Wolves after Manchester United take on Burnley without Marcus Rashford, who could be out for three months with a back injury, on Wednesday.

Arteta Hopes 10-Man Arsenal’s Grit Points To Brighter Future

 

 

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta hopes the resilience his side showed in twice coming from behind while a man down to hold Chelsea 2-2 at Stamford Bridge proves a “stepping stone” to a brighter future for the Gunners.

Arteta’s men remain 10th in the Premier League, 10 points behind Chelsea in fourth, but while a point may be too little for their hopes of a return to the Champions League, the manner in which it was achieved gave their new manager cause for optimism.

“Time will tell if this is a stepping stone, but at least I saw a reaction,” said Arteta.

“I demand from the players that they never give up. We have to keep playing with the spirit we showed in every game. I’m proud of the way they reacted.”

David Luiz endured a nightmare evening on his return to Stamford Bridge as the Brazilian was sent off after 26 minutes for hauling down Tammy Abraham. Jorginho converted the resulting penalty.

However, Chelsea’s struggles at home continued as they offered another lifeline to those challenging for a top-four finish.

Frank Lampard’s men are now six points clear in fourth, but Manchester United can cut that gap to three with victory over Burnley on Wednesday.

“We’re in fourth position, but I know and we know there should be another 10 points on the board,” said a frustrated Lampard.

“We shouldn’t dwell too much on results that have gone, but a lot of them look the same.

“The initiative is on us to be ruthless, to take the chances when they came along.”

Lampard had already spoken of his desire for Chelsea to be more clinical after losing 1-0 at Newcastle on Saturday with Paris Saint-Germain’s all-time top goalscorer Edison Cavani a target.

And a move for the Uruguayan could be even more of a priority after top scorer Abraham had to be helped from the field at full-time after injuring his ankle in colliding with the advertising boards late on.

Abraham had a big role to play on what should have been the decisive moment in the match when he pounced on a gift from Shkodran Mustafi to race clear on goal and round Bernd Leno.

Luiz got back in time to make a challenge, but barged Abraham to the ground and in the opinion of the referee did not make an attempt to play the ball as he saw red.

Jorginho produced a characteristically cool finish from the penalty spot and Chelsea should have been on course for a comfortable three points.

But the Blues have now won just four of their last 12 league games and were guilty of the same lack of creativity at one end, and defensive lapses at the other, that characterised the home defeats to West Ham, Bournemouth and Southampton.

Fortune also favoured Arsenal for their first equaliser midway through the second half as a slip from N’Golo Kante allowed Gabriel Martinelli to run from the edge of his own box unopposed before slotting home the 10th goal of an impressive debut season in England.

Chelsea were lacking the guile to unlock the 10 men in their search for a winner, but Arsenal’s good work was undone six minutes from time when they were caught cold by a quickly taken corner and Cesar Azpilicueta swept home Hudson-Odoi’s cross.

Arsenal were not to be denied as Hector Bellerin produced a magnificent finish on his weaker left foot from outside the area three minutes later.

BBC Boss Tony Hall To Step Down In Six Months

(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 15, 2018 Director-General of the BBC Tony Hall is seen waiting to greet Britain’s Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Britain’s Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, as the royal couple visit BBC Broadcasting House in London on November 15, 2018.BEN STANSALL /POOL/ AFP

 

 

Embattled BBC boss Tony Hall will step down in six months’ time, he told staff on Monday, as the British broadcaster grapples with a damaging equal-pay ruling and scrutiny over funding.

“I will give my all to this organisation for the next six months… but in the summer I’ll step down as your Director-General,” he told staff in a group email.

“If I followed my heart I would genuinely never want to leave. However, I believe that an important part of leadership is putting the interests of the organisation first.”

Hall took up his post in 2013, tasked with restoring the reputation of the world’s biggest broadcaster after presenter Jimmy Savile was exposed as one of Britain’s most prolific child-sex offenders following his death.

But the corporation now faces the fallout of an equal-pay ruling in which an employment tribunal ruled it discriminated against female presenter Samira Ahmed, paying her one sixth of the amount given to Jeremy Vine for hosting a similar show.

The ruling opens the door to many other claims and could end up costing the corporation many millions of pounds.

The BBC is also facing pressure from Britain’s new government headed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, which accuses it of bias in reporting in the recent general election.

Hall rebuffed the claims in his parting email, saying: “In an era of fake news, we remain the gold standard of impartiality and truth.”

The government has previously committed to maintain the licence fee model until 2027. A standard licence costs each British household just over £154 ($202, 182 euros) a year.

In the last financial year to April 30, the BBC received £3.7 billion in funding from the licence fee — an enviable revenue stream in tough economic times for media companies.

The prime minister has said that “you have to ask yourself whether that kind of approach to funding a TV media organisation still makes sense”.

“How long can you justify a system whereby everybody who has a TV has to pay to fund a particular set of TV and radio channels,” he asked, highlighting the challenge for the incoming boss.

Chairman of the BBC David Clementi called Hall “an inspirational creative leader, within the UK and around the globe”.

“Tony has led the BBC with integrity and a passion for our values that is obvious to everyone who meets him,” he said.

Hall, 68, is a former head of BBC news but spent more than a decade as chief executive of the Royal Opera House before returning to the broadcaster as director general.

The BBC said it would begin searching for a successor “within the next few weeks.”

Queen, Prince Harry, Senior Royals Set For Crisis Meeting

 

 

 

Queen Elizabeth II will host a showdown meeting with Prince Harry on Monday in an attempt to solve the crisis triggered by his bombshell announcement that he and wife Meghan were stepping back from the royal frontline.

Other senior royals including Harry’s father Prince Charles and brother Prince William, with whom he has strained relations, will join the monarch at her private Sandringham estate in eastern England, according to British media.

Meghan will join the meeting via conference call from Canada as they attempt to work out the “next steps” towards a compromise and nip the growing crisis in the bud.

Issues up for debate include how much money the couple will still receive from Charles’s estate, their HRH titles and what commercial deals they can strike, according to the Sunday Times.

Harry, Meghan, and son Archie spent Christmas in Canada, with the American former actress returning there this week.

The Queen on Thursday demanded that staff work with the couple to urgently find a “workable solution” that would take into account their demands for more freedom.

Several Canadian media reported Meghan had returned to Vancouver island off the country’s Pacific coast, where the family spent the year-end holidays and where baby Archie had remained with his nanny.

Senior royals were caught off guard by Wednesday’s announcement that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex wanted to seek a “progressive new role” and divide their time between Britain and North America.

The Queen’s office issued a terse statement the same evening, saying there were “complicated issues that will take time to work through”.

Harry and Meghan said they intended to continue to “fully support” the queen and “collaborate” with senior royals.

They also want to keep their home on the queen’s Windsor Castle estate as their British base, while aiming to become financially independent.

But their desire to live as both members of the monarchy and private individuals making a living was described as a “toxic mix” by David McClure, an investigator into royal finances.

“The history of senior royals making money — the two is a toxic mix. It hasn’t worked well in the past,” he told the Press Association.

“How can you be half-in, half-out — half the week perform public duties and the other half earn your own income with TV, lectures, books? It is fraught with dangers.”

The younger prince, who has struggled with his role, last year revealed he has been growing apart from his brother, who as second in line to the throne is increasingly pursuing a different path.

Harry has been open about his mental health issues and he and Meghan last year admitted to struggling with the spotlight following their wedding at Windsor Castle in May 2018 and Archie’s birth a year later.

The couple has also lashed out at negative news coverage, some of which Harry says was racist — in light of Meghan’s biracial heritage.

UK PM Says Information Suggests Ukraine Jet Hit By Iran Missile

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks to the media on November 30, 2019.  SIMON DAWSON / POOL / AFP

 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Thursday that there was now “a body of information” that the Ukrainian Boeing 747 that crashed in Iran, killing all 176 people aboard, was brought down by an Iranian missile.

His comments follow a similar message by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“There is now a body of information that the flight was shot down by an Iranian Surface to Air Missile. This may well have been unintentional,” Johnson said in a statement on the air disaster in which four British passengers died.

Johnson reiterated the call for “all sides urgently to de-escalate to reduce tensions in the region.”

The Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) Boeing 737NG went down on Wednesday, shortly after Tehran launched missiles at US forces in Iraq in response to the killing of a top Iranian general in a US drone strike in Baghdad.

“We are working closely with Canada and our international partners and there now needs to be a full, transparent investigation,” into the plane crash, Johnson added.

The British PM also called for “an immediate and respectful repatriation of those who’ve lost their lives to allow their families to grieve properly”.

Harry, Meghan Quit Royal Front Line In Shock Move

 

 

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan stunned the British monarchy on Wednesday by quitting as front-line members — reportedly without first consulting Queen Elizabeth II.

In a shock announcement, the couple said they would spend time in North America and rip up long-established relations with the press.

Media reports said the Duke and Duchess of Sussex made their bombshell statement without notifying either Harry’s grandmother the monarch, or his father Prince Charles.

The surprise news follows a turbulent year for the couple, who have openly said they have struggled in the spotlight and grown apart from Harry’s brother Prince William. They have also reacted badly to negative news coverage.

“We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the royal family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen,” they said in a statement released by Buckingham Palace.

“We have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution,” they added.

“We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America.”

The announcement appeared to catch the royal family by surprise.

Buckingham Palace put out a second statement an hour and 40 minutes later, saying discussions with Harry and Meghan were “at an early stage”.

“We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through,” it added.

It was understood that the mood in Buckingham Palace was one of disappointment and even, according the the BBC, “hurt”.

Struggling in the spotlight

Harry, 35, and Meghan, 38, are among the most senior, core members of the royal family, and, along with William and his wife Kate, seen as the monarchy’s future.

The pair spent six weeks over Christmas in Canada after speaking of the pressure of being in the spotlight following their fairytale wedding at Windsor Castle in May 2018 and son Archie’s birth 12 months later.

They skipped the royal family’s traditional Christmas at Sandringham, the sovereign’s private estate in eastern England, spending the festive season instead with Meghan’s mother Doria Ragland.

Rumours that all was not well with the Sussexes surfaced in October when Harry, sixth in line to the throne, admitted that he and William were “on different paths” and had good and bad days in their relationship.

“We don’t see each other as much as we used to,” he told ITV television’s Tom Bradby, whom Harry and William have grown to trust with interviews over the years.

Asked by Bradby if she was “not really OK” and life had “really been a struggle” becoming a mother while living under intense media scrutiny, Meghan appeared emotional and replied simply: “Yes.”

Bradby said Wednesday that he sensed he was witnessing “a long, sad farewell to this royal life”.

“This is a new war of the Windsors — and it’s not over yet.”

Media battle

In October, Harry issued a stinging statement about general tabloid coverage and launched the first of a handful of lawsuits against newspaper publishers.

Asked if Meghan was facing the same media pressures as his mother Diana, who died in a car crash in Paris in 1997 while pursued by paparazzi, Harry told Bradby: “I will not be bullied into playing a game that killed my mum.”

On a new website, the couple said they would no longer take part in the royal rota.

The rota system is an established arrangement between the palace and the press whereby news organisations take it in turns to cover events and then share the pictures, text and video with everyone in the pool, avoiding the mass media scrambles of the past.

Instead the couple will attempt to invite only “specialist”, “grassroots”, “credible” and “young, up-and-coming” media to events.

Queen Elizabeth’s former press secretary Dickie Arbiter told Sky News television that the couple’s approach was “a succession of doing things their own way — which is the wrong way”.

“Sometimes there’s good press; sometimes there’s bad press. You take the rough with the smooth.”

Always ends in tears

Currently, Harry and Meghan’s costs are largely funded from Charles’ private income from the heir to the throne’s estates, while the police foots their security bill.

Former BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt told Channel 4 television that royals thinking they can earn money in a side career “has always ended in tears”.

Newspaper headlines on Thursday included The Sun’s “Megxit”, saying the couple had sparked civil war at the palace.

“They didn’t even tell the Queen,” said the Daily Mirror, while the Star said: “The Royal formerly known as Prince”.

Iheanacho Denies Villa As Leicester Earn League Cup Semi-Final Draw

 

 

 

Brendan Rodgers warned Leicester will have to suffer to reach the League Cup final after Kelechi Iheanacho’s late goal earned a 1-1 draw against Aston Villa on Wednesday.

Rodgers’ side fell behind to Frederic Guilbert’s first half goal in the semi-final first leg at the King Power Stadium.

But Iheanacho came off the bench to equalise with his sixth goal in eight appearances this season.

Leicester will feel they should have won after dominating for long periods, but the team in second place in the Premier League will have to finish the job at Villa Park in the second leg on January 28.

“Overall I thought we dominated the game. Villa made some blocks and the keeper made some good saves,” Rodgers said.

“Over two ties it was always going to be tough and to get to a final you have to suffer, but the boys are confident.”

Rodgers has a remarkable record of advancing from his last 30 domestic cup ties with Liverpool, Celtic, and Leicester.

But the last team to beat Rodgers in a domestic knockout competition were Villa in the FA Cup semi-finals in 2014-15 when he was Liverpool manager.

And Villa, whose last major trophy was the 1996 League Cup, will feel they are in pole position to reach the final after surviving a stern examination.

“I thought Leicester were the better team. We have given away a farcical goal. Ezri Konsa has got brain dazzled,” Villa manager Dean Smith said.

“But we defended brilliantly at times and it will be a raucous crowd at Villa Park. I’m looking forward to it. It’s all to play for.”

The second leg winner will play Manchester City or Manchester United in the final at Wembley, with City leading 3-1 after their first leg at Old Trafford on Tuesday.

Leicester last won the competition in 2000, beating Villa in the semi-finals that year, and they were well on top at the start.

Jamie Vardy was back after missing three games due to the birth of his daughter and a calf injury and took the fight to Villa.

He seized Marvelous Nakamba’s wayward header before testing Orjan Nyland, then saw his low drive blocked by Villa’s keeper moments later.

But, having soaked up Leicester’s early blitz on a rain-drenched evening in the east midlands, it was Villa who snatched the lead against the run of play in the 28th minute.

Infused with confidence

Anwar El Ghazi was playing in an unfamiliar role up front due to Wesley’s injury and Jonathan Kodjia’s illness.

The winger drifted back out to the left flank to deliver a cross that landed perfectly for Guilbert, who got in front of Ben Chilwell and stabbed his volley in from close-range.

The French defender’s first goal since August was Villa’s first shot on target in the match.

Infused with confidence after that bolt from the blue, Smith’s team were inches away from doubling their lead before half-time.

Jack Grealish’s inswinging free-kick found Ezri Konsa and the Villa defender headed against the bar from inside the six-yard box.

Leicester wrestled back the initiative after the interval and Nyland alertly smothered the danger when Vardy tried to latch onto a through ball.

Tyrone Mings won header after header as Villa tried to weather the storm and when James Maddison did get past the defender with a bold burst, Nyland was on hand to make another good save.

Maddison tried again with a run onto Ricardo Pereira’s pass, but the Norwegian saved at the near post.

Leicester’s pressure finally told in the 74th minute.

Luiz, put in trouble by Konsa’s sloppy free-kick, lost possession to Hamza Choudhury and Vardy found Iheanacho, who shot high past Nyland from 15 yards.

Vardy nearly won it in the closing minutes, but his shot rippled into the side-netting just as Leicester fans were anticipating a dramatic finale.

Harry And Meghan: Royal Fairytale Turns Grim

In this file photo taken on January 07, 2020, Britain’s Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex react as they leave after her visit to Canada House in thanks for the warm Canadian hospitality and support they received during their recent stay in Canada, in London. DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / POOL / AFP

 

Britain’s Prince Harry and his wife Meghan announced Wednesday that they were stepping back from major royal duties and would be partially relocating to North America.

Here are five major moments in their relationship, which has seen them go from being the royal family’s hottest property to their shock announcement in less than two years.

Love at first sight

Prince Harry was 31 with a few failed relationships and his 10-year army career behind him when they first met, while US actress Meghan Markle was 34 and a divorcee of three years.

They were set up by a mutual friend when Meghan was passing through London in July 2016, with the couple later revealing they knew little about each other. The speed of their relationship surprised them both.

Both quickly sensed their blind date could blossom into something bigger.

Their romance was undercover for the first five or six months, and largely conducted through nights in behind closed doors — and a camping trip to Botswana.

Eventually, Harry proposed in November 2017 during a night in roasting a chicken.

Fairytale wedding

The relationship was welcomed by the British press, which saw Meghan as a breath of fresh air for the royal family — a woman who had proved herself with a career of her own, who would project a more modern image.

There was also public relief that Harry, who had walked behind his mother Diana’s coffin as a 12-year-old boy, had found settled happiness in his life.

The couple tied the knot at Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018, in a ceremony filled with personal touches, mixing British pomp and African-American culture in front of a celebrity-studded congregation and cheering crowds.

Meghan began her walk down the aisle alone after falling out with her wayward father, while firebrand US pastor Michael Curry delivered a full-throttle address invoking slaves and the power of love.

Baby joy

The couple moved out of their two-bedroom home on the Kensington Palace estate in London and into the much bigger Frogmore Cottage on the Windsor Castle estate in April 2019 ahead of the birth of their son.

Born on May 6, they named him Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, eschewing royal titles.

“I have the two best guys in the world so I’m really happy,” Meghan declared, showing off the baby at Windsor Castle.

Fall from grace

The goodwill that surrounded their marriage gradually began to ebb away as the couple’s shine came off.

Critics did not take kindly to what they saw as the couple’s right-on causes, complaints at their treatment while living an expensive lifestyle, war on the media, and seeming hypocrisy, preaching on the environment while jetting around on private flights.

Rumours swirled that Meghan was difficult to work with, amid reports of staff members quitting one after another.

Announcing that Meghan had gone into labour after the baby was actually born infuriated the British press.

Their decision not to let the public know who Archie’s godparents were was also seen as petty.

They were slated for the £2.4 million cost of refurbishing Frogmore Cottage.

A well-received tour of southern Africa saw their stock rise, but as it concluded in early October last year, the couple overshadowed their own good work by launching a written tirade on the press and legal action against certain newspaper groups.

In an ITV television documentary that followed, Harry said he and William were “on different paths” and have “good days” and “bad days” in their relationship — confirming rumours that the couple were diverging from the fold.

Stepping back

In Wednesday’s shock announcement, the couple said they intended to step back from frontline royalty and would attempt to become financially independent.

Currently their work and running costs are funded by Harry’s father Prince Charles.

They said they will continue to support Queen Elizabeth and honour their duties to her, the Commonwealth and their patronages, indicating they are not fully quitting.

The couple also said they were going to launch a new charitable entity, and spend much of their time in North America.

Harry and Meghan were among the most senior members of the royal family and were expected to take a much bigger role as Queen Elizabeth scales back her duties and Charles eventually becomes king.

Their future is now up in the air.

UK Condemns Iran Missile Attacks, Voices Concerns Over Reports Of ‘Casualties’

Britain’s Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State Dominic Raab carries a cup as he walks to the door of 10 Downing Street in central London on January 6, 2020. Tolga AKMEN / AFP

 

Britain on Wednesday condemned Iran’s missile attacks on Iraqi bases housing coalition military and voiced concern over “reports of casualties” from the strikes.

“We condemn this attack on Iraqi military bases hosting Coalition – including British – forces,” said Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

“We are concerned by reports of casualties and use of ballistic missiles.”

Iran fired missiles overnight at Iraqi bases housing the US and British military, officials in Washington and Tehran said.

READ ALSO: Iran Claims 80 Americans Killed By Missiles

It was the first act of the Islamic republic’s promised revenge for the US killing of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani last week.

Launched from Iranian territory and by Iranian forces not a proxy, the attack marked a new turn in the intensifying confrontation between the United States and Iran.

The Pentagon said it was still “working on initial battle damage assessments” after more than a dozen ballistic missiles were launched, with no immediate reports on casualties.

The Iraqi military said it sustained no casualties in 22 missile strikes on bases housing US troops.

Raab urged Iran to show restraint going forward.

“We urge Iran not to repeat these reckless and dangerous attacks, and instead to pursue urgent de-escalation,” he added.

“A war in the Middle East would only benefit Daesh and other terrorist groups,” Raab said, referring to the Islamic State group.

Britain Will Not lament Death Of Soleimani, Says Boris Johnson

 

Britain will not lament the death of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Sunday, though he warned that reprisals would lead to greater violence.

The United States killed top military leader Soleimani outside Baghdad airport in a drone strike on Friday.

In his first intervention on the escalation of tensions in the Middle East, Johnson said he had spoken Sunday with US President Donald Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

He said he would speak to other leaders in the coming days.

“General Qasem Soleimani posed a threat to all our interests and was responsible for a pattern of disruptive, destabilising behaviour in the region,” Johnson said in a statement.

“Given the leading role he has played in actions that have led to the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians and Western personnel, we will not lament his death.

“It is clear however that all calls for retaliation or reprisals will simply lead to more violence in the region and they are in no one’s interest.”

Johnson said that following ministerial meetings and further international calls, MPs would be updated on the situation on Tuesday.

Meanwhile London has urged Baghdad to allow international coalition soldiers to stay in Iraq, where the parliament on Sunday pressed the government to oust foreign troops.

The cabinet would have to approve any such decision.

British troops are part of an international coalition of forces stationed in Iraq — invited by the government in Baghdad in 2014 — to help fight against the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group.

A British government spokesman said: “The coalition is in Iraq to help protect Iraqis and others from the threat from Daesh (IS), at the request of the Iraqi government.

“We urge the Iraqi government to ensure the coalition is able to continue our vital work countering this shared threat.”

Some 5,200 US soldiers are stationed across Iraqi bases to support local troops preventing an IS resurgence.

Liverpool Kids Bury Everton As Lucas Rescues Spurs

 

Liverpool inflicted fresh misery on Merseyside rivals Everton as a superb strike from teenager Curtis Jones sealed a 1-0 win in the FA Cup third round on Sunday.

Jones’ second-half curler sent Anfield in ecstasy as the club’s youth academy graduates handed Everton an embarrassing derby defeat.

The 18-year-old Liverpool-born midfielder was making only his fifth appearance and his memorable match-winner was his first senior goal.

Jones is the youngest goalscorer for Liverpool in a Merseyside derby since Robbie Fowler.

Without a win over their rivals in any competition since 2010 and thrashed 5-2 at Anfield in the Premier League earlier this season, Everton will feel the pain from this defeat against their under-strength neighbours for some while.

Hit by injuries that left him with 12 fit senior outfield players, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp had made nine changes, selecting Nat Phillips, 22, and teenage trio Neco Williams, Harvey Elliott, and Jones.

In contrast, Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti made just two changes, fielding a strong team as the visitors chased a first win at Anfield since 1999.

Liverpool’s injury problems mounted within 10 minutes when James Milner limped off to be replaced by another teenager Yasser Larouci.

Ancelotti’s side threatened early on when Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s strike was pushed away from Adrian, who then repelled Mason Holgate’s header and Richarlison’s shot.

Liverpool’s youngsters had been thrashed by Aston Villa while the senior stars were away at the Club World Cup in December.

But they acquitted themselves much better this time and Japan striker Takumi Minamino, making his debut after joining from Salzburg, glanced a header narrowly off-target before Divock Origi’s low drive was brilliantly saved by Jordan Pickford.

Jones’ moment of magic came in the 71st minute when he played a chipped pass to Origi, took the return ball and curled a stunning effort into the top corner.

Spurs held

Elsewhere on Sunday, Lucas Moura kept Tottenham’s FA Cup hopes alive with the equaliser in their 1-1 draw at second-tier Middlesbrough, while Callum Hudson-Odoi got back in the groove as Chelsea cruised to a 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest.

Tottenham haven’t lifted a major trophy since 2008 when current Middlesbrough manager Jonathan Woodgate scored the League Cup winner against Chelsea.

Woodgate was on course to dent Tottenham’s bid to end that wretched run when Ashley Fletcher put Middlesbrough ahead in the second half at the Riverside Stadium.

But Brazilian winger Lucas headed the equaliser to send the tie to a replay in north London later in January.

“When we were losing 1-0, at that moment I had the feeling of ‘we are in trouble’,” Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho said.

“We could be out like a few other Premier League teams. But then everyone reacted. I reacted. The boys reacted.”

At Stamford Bridge, there were signs that Hudson-Odoi might be emerging from his sophomore slump.

He opened the scoring against the second-tier side in the sixth minute, just his second goal of the season and his first since September.

Blues boss Frank Lampard had made nine changes, but Chelsea doubled their lead in the 33rd minute when Hudson-Odoi’s shot was parried straight to Ross Barkley and the midfielder poked home at the back post.

“I was particularly pleased for Callum, he has had a bad injury, is getting himself fit and getting sharper. His goal was an early settler for us,” Lampard said.

Crystal Palace became the third Premier League club to be knocked out this weekend as second tier Derby won 1-0 at Selhurst Park.

Jayden Bogle fizzed a cross to the far post and Chris Martin tapped into the net in the 32nd minute.

In a VAR first in England, referee Michael Oliver used the pitch-side monitor to change a decision, sending off Luka Milivojevic after initially booking the Palace midfielder for kicking out at Tom Huddlestone in the 63rd minute.

Sheffield United avoided a non-league upset with a 2-1 win against AFC Fylde at Bramall Lane.