It has been a very eventful week for The Firm with Queen Elizabeth reaching out to Kim Jong-un, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle posing for the cover of Time Magazine and a court escalating Prince Andrew’s American legal woes. There were several highlights, however, including a royal adjacent wedding in France, Kate’s tribute to Kabul evacuation heroes and a big step for Prince William’s career-defining project. Here’s everything you need to know.
ONE’S BEST WISHES TO UN: The Queen raised eyebrows this week after expressing her ‘good wishes’ to North Korea on its national day as Kim Jong-un continued to test missiles. Her Majesty sent the message via the Foreign Office on September 7, in time for the celebrations two days later — and while many were shocked by the tidings Buckingham Palace and the FCDO confirmed the congratulations were given ‘as has been done before’.
Many found the timing of the message especially perplexing as it was sent just days before North Korea again began flexing its muscles. In fact, in recent days the country has launched two ballistic missiles and fired a new kind of weapon with possible nuclear capabilities (pictured). The Queen’s message was not shared with the British press or published on the Royal’s social media account as has become standard practice with other international leaders — leaving many baffled by the whole situation .
Aidan Foster-Carter, a North Korea expert at Leeds University, told the Telegraph: ‘With North Korea in the doghouse, it’s an interesting time for us to send a gesture of friendship. The key thing we need to know is what exactly has changed here. It certainly seems to be the first time North Korean media have published such a greeting from Her Majesty the Queen.’ He added: ‘We need to know who has changed their policy: the UK, sending for the first time? Or North Korea, publishing for the first time. If the former, further questions arise. Why now? And on whose initiative?’
According to local media reports in North Korea, the note says: ‘As the people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea celebrate their national day, I send my good wishes for the future.’ Pictured: The night-time military parade that marked the 73rd anniversary of the communist state.
PHILIP’S SECRET WILL: On Thursday, it was revealed that Prince Philip’s will is to remain secret for 90 years to protect the ‘dignity’ of the Queen and ‘close members of her family’, the High Court has ruled. The Duke of Edinburgh – the nation’s longest-serving consort – died aged 99 on April 9, just two months before he would have turned 100.
After the death of a senior member of the royal family, it has been convention for over a century that an application to seal their will is made to the President of the Family Division of the High Court. This means the wills of senior members of the royal family are not open to public inspection in the way a will would ordinarily be.
The current president, Sir Andrew McFarlane, heard arguments from lawyers representing Philip’s estate and the Attorney General – who represents the public interest in such matters – at a private hearing in July. In a ruling published Thursday, Sir Andrew ordered that Philip’s will is to remain sealed for 90 years from the grant of probate, and may only be opened in private even after that date.
The practice of sealing Royal wills began when Queen Mary’s brother Prince Francis of Teck died of pneumonia in 1910 aged 39. He was known for womanizing and gambling and allegedly left prized family jewels, known as the Cambridge Emeralds, to a mistress, Ellen Constance, the Countess of Kilmorey. There was also a suggestion that he fathered an illegitimate child. Fearing a scandal just before her coronation, Mary had the will sealed. The jewels were bought back from the Countess by Mary, who wore them when her husband George V was crowned. The emeralds have since been worn by the Queen and Princess Diana.
THE NEW MR AND MRS MIDDLETON: The Duchess of Cambridge watched her beloved younger brother James marry his French fiancee Alizee at their secret Cote d'Azur wedding over the weekend, after being twice forced to postpone because of the coronavirus pandemic. Kate, Prince William and their children flew to join James Middleton as he wed Alizee Thevenet in the village of Bormes-les-Mimosas on Saturday.
But the future king and queen weren't the guests of honor: James and Alizee’s dogs were, with golden retriever Mabel even photobombing the wedding pictures . Mr Middleton, 34, wrote on Instagram: 'Yesterday I married the love of my life surrounded by family, friends and of course a few dogs.' The couple became engaged in September 2019 but had to delay the ceremony twice in the last year due to Covid. Mr Middleton and Miss Thevenet, a French financial analyst, also in her 30s, met in 2018 when his cocker spaniel, Ella, approached her at a private members' club in London.
Kate’s new sister-in-law is fluent in three languages, having lived in six countries – Germany, Indonesia, Chile, France, Belgium and England. The finance guru has lived and worked in London for several years now and is currently a director at TreasurySpring, a fintech firm that uses digital pipelines to connect cash rich firms to institutional borrowers. She’s the daughter of retired diplomat Jean-Gabriel Thevenet, who lives in Paris and is currently pursuing a career as a writer and poet, and shares a close relationship with both parents.
Her father is very fond of his daughter’s new husband, previously describing Alizée as ‘deliriously happy’ with James. ‘My daughter Alizee is very happy with James, they are very much in love,’ Mr. Thevenet told MailOnline in March 2019 when news of the couple’s relationship first broke. ‘James is a very charming man,’ he said. ‘I am very happy that Alizee is together with James. I know she is very happy. We keep our fingers crossed for them.’
WHAT FUTURE KING? While Prince George was celebrating his uncle’s marriage in France, novelist Hilary Mantel was making waves in the UK for questioning the future of the monarchy . The author, 69, is best known for her Wolf Hall trilogy that traced the rise of blacksmith’s son Thomas Cromwell to Henry VIII’s chief minister and then his downfall and execution. In a new interview, however, she has said that The Firm won’t last long enough for Prince George to ascend the throne.
Speaking to The Times yesterday, Hilary claimed: ‘It's very hard to understand the thinking behind the monarchy in the modern world when people are just seen as celebrities.’ She continued, ‘Kingship is so ancient and it has a dimension of holiness’. Meanwhile she also said she believes Prince Charles and the Queen do the job ‘as well as anyone possibly could’ and ‘take it as seriously as anyone could.’
But when asked how long the monarchy had left, Mantel (pictured) said that her ‘back of the envelope’ calculation was just two generations. If Hilary is right, that would mean that while Prince Charles, and Prince William could ascend to the throne, Prince George, 8, would not become king.
The report came just days before anti-monarchy billboards appeared in Wales . The signs – featuring a picture of Charles, the Prince of Wales – have been spotted in Aberdare, Cardiff and Swansea and read: ‘Wales doesn’t need a prince’. The posters were organized by Republic, an anti-royal group who want the UK’s system of monarchy to end after the Queen’s death. They are part of a campaign named ‘EndTheMonarchy’, which has been paid for by more than £25,000 ($35,000) of crowdfunding. The posters, however, were slammed by officials in Wales, who say they do not reflect the public opinion in the country. Similar billboards have been spotted across the UK in the past.
THE CAMBRIDGES CARRY ON: Embodying the Queen’s motto of ‘keep calm and carry on’, Kate Middleton was all business when she met with heroes from the Kabul evacuation on Wednesday. The Duchess of Cambridge arrived by helicopter at RAF Brize Norton to meet military personnel and civilians who helped evacuate Afghans from their country last month. Kate chatted to those who took part in Operation Pitting, which saw more than 15,000 people airlifted out of Kabul, including thousands of Arap (Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy) applicants and their dependents.
The 39-year-old mother-of-three wore a Reiss ‘Larsson’ double-breasted twill blazer and a ‘Binky’ blouse by Jane, which she accompanied with a Tusting ‘Holly’ mini bag. The Duchess later took to social media to praise all those involved in the operation as ‘incredible people’. She tweeted: ‘Thank you to all the incredible people involved in #OperationPitting, the largest humanitarian aid operation for over 70 years, which saw 15,000 people flown out of Kabul in August by the @RoyalAirForce.’
Prince William also shared an encouraging message this week in a foreword to the new book for his landmark £50million ($69M) Earthshot Prize. The future king urged humanity ‘not to give up’ in the face of ‘terrifying’ and ‘exponential’ climate change. Recalling his very personal moment of clarity following a trip to Namibia in 2018 that led him to set up the initiative, he says: ‘I was hit by a wave of global pessimism. The headlines were dominated by a sense that world leaders were not moving fast enough. There was widespread finger pointing and political and geographical division. To those of us following at home, it wasn’t an inspiring sight’.
But William says he then looked to his own experiences – and those of his father and grandfather, both of whom have proved environmental pioneers in their own ways. ‘Following in their footsteps, I have seen people all over the world face what seem like insurmountable challenges yet come together with collective ambition, and a can-do-spirit, to find solutions to them,’ he says. ‘I strongly believe that change is possible, when you put your mind to it. I started thinking about what to do to change the equation to something else: urgency + optimism = action.’
The prince, 39, decided to take inspiration from John F Kennedy’s Moonshot challenge, which pushed man’s exploration of space more than ever before, resulting in the Apollo moon landings. He decided to recapture that ‘human ingenuity, purpose and optimism’ with the Earthshot Prize, which sees 15 finalists competing for the massive prize pot with innovative solutions that could repair the planet and change life on earth for all. Every year from 2021 until the end of the decade, winners in five categories will each receive £1 million ($1.3M) and support from a range of experts after being picked by a judging panel consisting of William and leading figures, including Sir David Attenborough. The prize is likely to be seen as William’s career-defining project.
PRINCE ANDREW ‘BEHIND PALACE WALLS’: A US judge has dealt a blow to Prince Andrew’s bid to dodge being served legal papers for sexual assault by saying they can be given to his LA-based lawyers instead . He said Virginia Giuffre’s plan to deliver them to his US lawyer was ‘reasonably calculated to bring the papers served to the defendant’s attention’. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan noted it did not matter whether the Duke of York ‘authorized’ the lawyer to accept them. Mr Kaplan ruled barely six hours after Ms Giuffre formally requested his intervention, with her lawyers saying ‘service is not intended to be a game of hide and seek behind palace walls.’ Pictured: Prince Andrew playing with dogs at Balmoral earlier this week.
Earlier, the Prince had challenged a High Court ruling that he can be served with papers in his US case. In what was being seen as another delaying tactic by the duke, his legal team said it would look to overturn the decision on a legal technicality. Prince Andrew is being represented by Andrew Brettler, of powerhouse Los Angeles law firm Lavely & Singer. Brettler’s clients include Armie Hammer and other celebrities accused of assault.
The Duke, 61, was sued by Giuffre (pictured in 2019) last month, accusing him of battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress over alleged misconduct. Giuffre, 38, was underage at the time of Andrew’s alleged abuse, which she said occurred when his friend, the financier Jeffrey Epstein, was abusing her. She is arguing that she was trafficked by Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell while she was 17 and Andrew slept with her on three occasions.
The Prince’s mood has reportedly changed over the past few days and he has become ‘worried’ and is ‘not his usual blasé self’. He is said to be readying himself for a brutal legal battle that he fears could cost him millions of pounds. Still, it was revealed this week that Andrew is ‘keen to re-marry Fergie’ after they ‘rekindled’ their love during the Covid-19 pandemic and she continues to stand by him through his abuse and Jeffrey Epstein scandals. Insiders told Vanity Fair’s Katie Nicholl: ‘They still love and care for each other a great deal and have been living together during the pandemic… It has rekindled something and I can see a second wedding happening if it all goes Andrew's way.’
HARRY CELEBRATES HIS BIRTHDAY: Elsewhere in California, Meghan Markle, Archie and baby Lilibet celebrated Prince Harry’s 37th birthday at home in Montecito on Wednesday . A source close to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said the couple opted for a small and more relaxed celebration amid recent world events, and are now focusing on ‘being of service’ rather than being socialites.
‘Meghan is planning a low-key birthday dinner for Harry. In light of what’s happening in the world – from Afghanistan to Covid – they both decided to keep it simple,’ the insider told DailyMail.com. ‘Meghan said they she’s making a carrot cake with the help of Archie, and that guests will include Doria and a few close friends… their focus right now is being of service, and that attending glitzy events like the MET Gala is wasted time and energy that could be put to good use towards those suffering and in need,’ the source added.
The same day, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle said they were ‘humbled’ to be the cover stars of Time magazine’s 2021 list of the 100 most influential people on the planet in a feature that includes an ‘awkward’ photoshoot and a gushing tribute from a friend who praises them for ‘giving a voice to the voiceless’ and ‘running toward the struggle’ rather than living a quiet life in their California mansion. The US publication released the glossy and heavily-airbrushed cover on Harry’s birthday – showing the Duke of Sussex stood behind his wife with his arms on her right shoulder in the ‘icons’ section of the annual line-up alongside Naomi Osaka, Dolly Parton, Britney Spears and Alexei Navalny.
On the cover Harry is dressed in all black and Meghan in all white on a terrace at their $14.65million mansion. In another image (pictured) they are attired in matching monochromatic office-style clothes next to a window in outfits chosen by celebrity stylists Clare and Nina Hallwroth, who have recently dressed Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, in pictures taken by Serbian Pari Dukovic. But one critic, a fellow photographer, tweeted: ‘Terrible retouching job. They look CGI’. Others wrote: ‘This photo looks photoshopped. Also, the way they are positioned is very revealing: it’s the Meghan show and Harry is just the supporting actor’. Another critic said: ‘Harry looks completely awkward peering behind his wife like this’.
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