If one of Prince Harry’s aims in reconfiguring his life was indeed to step away from the spotlight, he’s at least succeeded magnificently in certain parts of the United States. The Daily Mail showed citizens in small communities a recent photo of the prince and asked whether they knew who it was. The responses were humbling. A small sample follows …
In Taft, California (population 10,000): “I think I saw him on a ‘Wanted’ poster at the post office. Or is he one of Donald Trump’s kids?” In Delray Beach, Florida (population 70,000): “He’s familiar to me, he’s on the TV, I think. He’s married, divorced? I don’t know. Wait, he’s married—to a tennis player, actress or singer? I’m not sure.” And in London, Ohio (population 10,000): “He’s not been in my shop that I know of. If you’re not buyin’ my coffee or bringin’ in a bike to fix, I tend not to care.”
The frisson experienced by so many at onetime Prince Andrew girlfriend Koo Stark’s sudden reappearance in the news a couple of weeks ago—she failed to persuade a London court that a subsequent ex, Warren “Robbie” Walker, owed her a stipend—had barely begun to fade when another of Andrew’s former girlfriends stepped up and claimed our attention. Amanda Staveley, the financier who in 2003 reportedly declined the prince’s marriage proposal, has lost her $1.4 billion lawsuit against Barclays. Staveley had claimed Barclays owed her fees for having brokered a rescue deal for the bank with the Qatari royal family. The High Court ruled that while Barclays was “guilty of fraudulent misrepresentation” and “serious deceit,” Staveley was not entitled to a fee because her firm wouldn’t have been able to raise the money to complete the deal as a principal. She may appeal.
Female cartoon characters had better cover up, according to a fatwa issued by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. IranWire reported that in response to a question from the Tasnim News Agency—“Is observing hijab necessary for characters in animated films?”—Khamenei replied, “Although wearing hijab in such a hypothetical situation is not required per se, observing hijab in animation is required due to the consequences of not wearing hijab.” That is, explained IranWire, “the artist is free to imagine women without hijab but he cannot present them to the viewers.”
Satellite dishes have made foreign shows and movies far more available in Iran than they once were. As The Times of London reported, “Watching western and Gulf channels was wrong, the ayatollah said, because they promulgated ‘misleading thoughts and factual misrepresentations’. The issue of what non-Muslim women wore in films was more complicated, he added. Looking at a woman in a pre-recorded film was fine as long as the viewer avoided watching an uncovered woman with lust.” What on earth would the ayatollah make of Jessica Rabbit?
It’s probably just another conspiracy theory, but there’s a growing assumption—and the evidence to back it, if you bother to connect the dots—that the QAnon movement owes a debt to Q, a 1999 novel by “Luther Blissett” (actually four Italian writers). “Luther Blissett,” according to The Art Newspaper, was “an amorphous organisation of leftist artists who, for most of the mid-1990s, called themselves Luther Blissett after the 1980s English footballer” and “perpetrat[ed] countless media hoaxes, pranks and art interventions.” The novel, notes the newspaper, includes a character who “manipulates facts and spreads disinformation to sow seeds of doubt in society and help maintain the dominance of the church, infiltrating and sabotaging every revolt, every uprising.” (The notion of there being a connection between Q and QAnon was first mentioned in BuzzFeed in 2018.)
According to Wikipedia, Q “has been translated into Danish, Dutch, English (British and American), French, German, Greek, Korean, Lithuanian, Polish, Russian, Turkish, Basque, Czech, Portuguese, Spanish and Serbian.” Not a good sign!
As we now can fully appreciate, journalism’s loss has been politics’ gain, and Boris Johnson says it was his guilt about “always abusing or attacking people” that caused him to make that momentous career switch. The prime minister assured a group of London schoolchildren that “I still write stuff,” but regretted that in his Boris Journalist phase he didn’t always succeed in putting himself “in the place of the person you’re criticizing.”
Is Johnson, who as a correspondent was notorious for his lively, occasionally accurate stories, being too hard on himself? “In a 2018 column for the Daily Telegraph, he wrote that women who wore burkas were choosing ‘to go around looking like letter boxes’ or ‘a bank robber’,” says The Guardian. “In a 2002 column also for the Telegraph, he described black people as ‘piccaninnies’ and referred to ‘watermelon smiles’, language for which he later apologised but claimed had been taken out of context. In a 1998 column, again for the Telegraph, he used the phrase ‘tank-topped bumboys’ to describe gay men.” Hmm. It might just be the case that Downing Street is actually a safer place to stash him than Fleet Street.
If he were to stay at Downing Street, why not make it comfortable? Setting up a charity so citizens can contribute to No. 10’s upkeep sounds like a shrewd idea, and reports that this is in fact happening have gone undenied. And, if improvements are in the works at No. 10 anyway, why not look in and see if that nice family next door needs anything done? The prime minister’s fiancée, Carrie Symonds, “is understood to have undertaken a substantial redecoration of the flat above No 11 that she shares with Johnson and their baby son, Wilfred,” reports The Guardian. “Johnson is known to have joked with Conservative MPs about the cost of the refurbishment.” A former chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life told The Times that “the idea of the charity being funded by party donors was ‘monstrous.’”
The body of a soldier killed at the Battle of Dunkirk, in northern France, in 1940, and buried nearby in a grave marked unknown officer has finally been identified. Lieutenant Piers Edgcumbe, the 25-year-old son of the sixth Earl of Mount Edgcumbe, essentially missing for 80 years, will now get a proper headstone—thanks to a 17-year investigation by Andrew Newson, an amateur military historian. Edgcumbe and Lance Corporal Leonard Webber, 19, were part of a reconnaissance unit and were killed when their armored car was blown up: Webber’s body was identified at the time; Edgcumbe’s was not. “I go to Dunkirk every year,” Newsom told The Times of London, “and the next time I go I will be able to tip my hat to him and lay a poppy cross on his grave and he will have a name.”
George Kalogerakis is a Writer at Large for Air Mail