Midsummer's Day is an appropriately Game of Thrones-ish date for a birthday, and Prince William turns 31 today. It’s been a truly remarkable year for the young royal—although the 12 months ahead look like they will be even more amazing as the future king awaits the birth of his heir, and he comes to grips with fatherhood.
In fact, William’s 31st year started badly, with the ridiculous row over the topless photos of Kate on holiday.
The blurry photos were certainly embarrassing, and it was undeniably a gross example of media intrusion on their private lives, but William’s actions in issuing an emotional statement condemning the pictures as reminiscent of the “worst excesses” of the Diana era (which they were not) and demanding a criminal prosecution against the photographer and the magazine involved—the French edition of Closer—was utterly counterproductive. All he did was ensure the story ran a few days longer than it otherwise would, when most publications—including every single newspaper in the U.K.—declined to run the pictures anyway. The photographer has still not been identified, and probably never will, as under French law he (or she) is protected as a source. The photos are also not illegal as they were taken from a public road.
Brilliant footage as excited Queen allows a rare public display of emotion
OK so we have now got the video of the Queen's reaction to her horse wining one of the biggest races of the year, the Gold Cup, earlier today.
It's definitely the happiest I have ever seen the Queen!
Britain's Queen Elizabeth reacts with members of her family and her racing team as she watches her horse Estimate win The Gold Cup during ladies day at the Royal Ascot horse racing festival at Ascot, southern England, June 20, 2013. (Darren Staples/Reuters)
Off the record briefing reveals details of royal birth
Sources have told the Royalist that Kate is planning a natural birth, scotching rumours the future queen is "too posh to push" and wants to have an elective caesarian.
Speaking as part of an off the record briefing, the source added that although the birth will be announced in the traditional fashion, via a note displayed on an easel outside the gates of Buckingham Palace, it was hoped that the birth would be transmitted electronically and on social media including twitter and facebook 'within minutes' of the hard copy being posted.
The source said that Kate is expected to give birth at the private Lindo wing of St Mary's Paddington, but that as Kate will be spending time at her mothers in Berkshire before the birth, the local hospital there will also be prepared in case of an emergency.
Outrage in some quarters, amusement in others, greets union leaders remarks
Outrage in some quarters - and guilty snickers in others today - following remarks by Dave Prentis, the head of the UK's biggest worker's union, Unison, who made a joke at his organization's annual conference comparing Kate Middleton to young mums who have babies to access welfare payments.
Kate arrives for an official visit to Naomi House near Winchester, England on April 29, 2013. (Alastair Grant/AP)
During his speech to delegates in Liverpool, Dave Prentis was arguing against cuts to welfare payment, saying: "In the tabloid press, so much is written about benefits abuses - young women having babies to get state hand-outs. But conference, that's enough on Kate Middleton."
Mr Prentis's joke went down a storm with delegates but was later downplayed by an official spokesperson as "a throwaway remark".
Queen arrived for the first day of Royal Ascot races
Lest anyone doubt that the Queen has fully accepted Camilla into the Royal family, she rode with her today in her open-top carriage on the first day of Royal Ascot.
Camilla took the place of the Duke of Edinburgh who will not be seen in public for around three months following his release from hospital this week.
Queen Elizabeth ll and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall arrive in an open carriage to attend Day 1 of Royal Ascot (Anwar Hussein / WireImage / Getty Images)
A military band played the Adele song Skyfall from James Bond as she arrived, paying tribute to the Monarch's 'skydive' into the Olympic Stadium last year.
Palace reportedly asked Pippa not to participate in match
The palace always refuses to comment publicly on anything concerning Pippa Middleton, insisting she is not a royal, yet they also seem to have the ability to put pressure on her when they choose.
Neil P. Mockford / Film Magic / Getty Images
The latest example of this double standard is that Pippa was reportedly asked not to play in a charity tennis match by Buckingham Palace over the weekend, as courtiers were apparently concerned that the prospect of Pippa in her tennis whites might beat out the Queen's attendance of the Cartier Queen’s Cup on the same day for the attention of the nation's picture editors.
“Pippa was informed that it would not be prudent for her to participate,” a source tells the Telegraph. “It was unfortunate we hadn’t addressed the issue earlier, but Miss Middleton took on board what we had to say.”
Britons expected to splash out on food and drink for street parties
The birth of Kate and William's baby is expected to lead to a right royal knees-up, with analysts saying that $100m will be spent on food and drink to celebrate the birth of Its Royal Babyness.
Joshua Bamfield, director of the Centre for Retail Research (CRR), estimated that the arrival of the baby, due in July, could add more than $300m to the British economy.
He added, "There has been a lot of interest across the Atlantic as well, as the younger royals are very well thought of in the United States, so we are expecting good sales of souvenirs."
Although there is not an official line of new, curated baby goods, the Royal Collection already sells baby gear including a baby sleepsuit modeled on a guardsman's outfit.
Updated 09:04 EST: Saatchi has accepted a police caution for assaulting his wife, Nigella Lawson saying it was "better than the alternative of this hanging over all of us for months".
Charles Saatchi has admitted assaulting his wife Nigella Lawson, and accepted a police caution after a five-hour interrogation at a central London police station.
This morning, Tuesday, he told the newspaper for which he writes, The Evening Standard: "Although Nigella made no complaint I volunteered to go to Charing Cross station and take a police caution after a discussion with my lawyer because I thought it was better than the alternative of this hanging over all of us for months."
His admission of assault came yesterday, after a day in which the multi-millionaire art dealer provoked outrage when he attempted to dismiss the incident as a 'playful tiff'.
Charles Saatchi outside his multi-million pound London home on Monday, after pictures emerged of his wife Nigella Lawson with his hands on her neck during an alleged argument. (Mirrorpix/Splash News)
Prince Philip left hospital today, walking out of the London Clinic unaided
Prince Philip looked cheerful this morning as he was discharged from hospital 11 days after he was admitted for 'exploratory abdominal surgery'.
Palace officials had originally estimated that the Duke of Edinburgh, 92, would be in hospital for two weeks, and today said that "the fact that he is well enough to leave hospital speaks for itself".
Buckingham Palace had said that he will now take a thrre month period of convalescence.
Sources at the palace told the Daily Telegraph that the Duke is "not expected to need any more treatment" for the mystery complaint and that "there won’t be any update on his condition."
William and Harry chuckled as an excited girl squealed after snapping their photo
William and Harry received an enthusiastic reception from this young fan, who squealed as she snapped the boyson her camera phone after a charity polo match at Beaufort Polo Club in Tetbury, Gloucestershire.
As the royal brothers were leaving the field, she charged out in front of them, with her iPhone at the ready.
Max Mumby/Indigo, via Getty
William and Harry played on opposing teams at the match, which Kate did not attend.
Following the shocking pics showing art multimillionaire Charles Saatchi apparently choking his celebrity-chef wife, the gallerist now claims it was just a ‘playful tiff.’ Tom Sykes on the rumors that Saatchi has finally flipped.
Charles Saatchi, the multimillionaire art collector who was photographed repeatedly squeezing his wife Nigella Lawson’s throat outside a London restaurant, today described the incident as “a playful tiff.”
His remarks prompted an immediate outraged reaction in a U.K. already shocked and disgusted by the images, which are plastered all over today’s newspaper front pages.
The novelist Tony Parsons tweeted, “Men who are violent towards women always have some excuse—‘playful tiff’—and there is never an excuse if you are anything resembling a man,” and the M.P. Diane Abbot commented, “Wondering what I would do if a man tried to strangle me as part of a ‘playful tiff’ #getthehellout.”
Saatchi made his comments to the Evening Standard’s crime reporter, Justin Davenport. Saatchi is a columnist for the paper.
Oddly, the Times ignored a big divorce story for today's front page, choosing the tale of William's Indian ancestry instead. Any idea why?
DNA testing has revealed that Prince William's great-great-great-great-great grandmother on Diana's side was Indian, meaning he will become the first British monarch of Indian ancestry.
The Indian connection is revealed in a splashy front-page story on The Times today - curiously the only paper in the UK not to have a massive story about the Murdoch divorce on the front page … wonder why that it is?
The Times reports that there is a unassailable genetic link between the Duke of Cambridge and a half-Indian woman, Eliza Kewark, who married Englishman
Theodore Forbes arrived in India in 1809 at the age of 21, working as a merchant for the East India Company.
Kate suffered wardrobe malfunction on windy day launching a cruise ship
Kate, sweetie, you really need to get some hem weights fitted to your clothes.
How many times can one Duchess get her skirts blown up by the wind and not invest in a little lead tape? The Queen's been doing it for yonks. And her Majesty wears big heavy pieces by Angela Kelly, that weigh a ton anyway, not the flimsy little high street numbers Kate favours.
Woops! Wind catches Kate's flimsy dress. (Getty Images) (Chris Jackson)
Anyway, it happened again today, while Kate was smashing a champagne bottle on the hull of new cruise ship being launched in Southampton by US company Princess Cruises (un-fun fact: their parent company owned the Costa Concordia).
John Brown was Queen Victoria's medium, enabling her to communicate with the ghost of Prince Albert, according to an authoritative new book
Mention Queen Victoria and her ghillie John Brown, and the minds of most royalists will automatically recall the film with Judi Dench in which Brown was memorably portrayed by Billy Connolly as a kind of gruff platonic Scottish lover of the bereaved Queen, who adressed her not as “your majesty” but “woman.”
However, according to, “Whisperers”, an authoritative new study of the influence of apparent spirit contact on the course of history from ancient times to the present day by Irish author J.H. Brennan, John Brown was much more than just a plain-spoken friend and shoulder to cry on – he was Queen Victoria’s medium, carrying messages to and from her dead husband Albert.
Queen Victoria (1819 - 1901) seated on her horse at Balmoral with her ghillie John Brown (1826 - 1883). (Archive Picture / W. and D. Downey / Getty Images)
Brennan – who may be better known to readers with teenage kids as Herbie Brennan, the author of the New York Times best-selling series of the young adult fantasy books "Faerie Wars" – writes at some length about Victoria’s obsession with spiritualism and seances, which was very much of the age.
Naomi Watts stars as the People's Princess
Could go either way, this one.
The first trailer of the new Diana film is out. The movie focuses on the last two years of her life and looks like it will probably not be highly complimentary about the papparazzi.
Prince Harry’s girlfriend is the opposite of Kate Middleton in every way. Tom Sykes examines the evidence: a pair of Doc Martens, some dungarees, and that infamous scrunchie.