Monday, 4 July 2022

Curator's introduction | Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light




Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (Valencian: Joaquim Sorolla i Bastida, 27 February 1863 – 10 August 1923) was a Spanish painter. Sorolla excelled in the painting of portraits, landscapes and monumental works of social and historical themes. His most typical works are characterized by a dexterous representation of the people and landscape under the bright sunlight of Spain and sunlit water.

 

Early life

Joaquín Sorolla was born on 27 February 1863 in Valencia, Spain. Sorolla was the eldest child born to a tradesman, also named Joaquín Sorolla, and his wife, Concepción Bastida. His sister, Concha, was born a year later. In August 1865, both children were orphaned when their parents died, possibly from cholera. They were thereafter cared for by their maternal aunt and uncle, a locksmith.

 

He received his initial art education at the age of 9 in his native town,[3] and then under a succession of teachers including Cayetano Capuz, Salustiano Asenjo. At the age of eighteen he travelled to Madrid, vigorously studying master paintings in the Museo del Prado. After completing his military service, Sorolla, at age twenty-two, obtained a grant which enabled a four-year term to study painting in Rome, Italy, where he was welcomed by and found stability in the example of Francisco Pradilla, the director of the Spanish Academy in Rome. A long sojourn to Paris in 1885 provided his first exposure to modern painting; of special influence were exhibitions of Jules Bastien-Lepage and Adolph von Menzel. Back in Rome he studied with José Benlliure, Emilio Sala, and José Villegas Cordero.

 

In 1888, Sorolla returned to Valencia to marry Clotilde García del Castillo, whom he had first met in 1879, while working in her father's studio. By 1895, they had three children together: Maria, born in 1890, Joaquín, born in 1892, and Elena, born in 1895. In 1890, they moved to Madrid, and for the next decade Sorolla's efforts as an artist were focused mainly on the production of large canvases of orientalist, mythological, historical, and social subjects, for display in salons and international exhibitions in Madrid, Paris, Venice, Munich, Berlin, and Chicago.

 

His first striking success was achieved with Another Marguerite (1892), which was awarded a gold medal at the National Exhibition in Madrid, then first prize at the Chicago International Exhibition, where it was acquired and subsequently donated to the Washington University Museum in St. Louis, Missouri. He soon rose to general fame and became the acknowledged head of the modern Spanish school of painting. His picture The Return from Fishing (1894) was much admired at the Paris Salon and was acquired by the state for the Musée du Luxembourg. It indicated the direction of his mature output.

 

Sorolla painted two masterpieces in 1897 linking art and science: Portrait of Dr. Simarro at the microscope and A Research. These paintings were presented at the National Exhibition of Fine Arts held in Madrid in that year and Sorolla won the Prize of Honor. Here, he presents his friend Simarro as a man of science who transmits his wisdom investigating and, in addition, it is the triumph of naturalism, as it recreates the indoor environment of the laboratory, catching the luminous atmosphere produced by the artificial reddish-yellow light of a gas burner that contrasts with the weak mauvish afternoon light that shines through the window. These paintings may be among the most outstanding world paintings of this genre.


Sad Inheritance

An even greater turning point in Sorolla's career was marked by the painting and exhibition of Sad Inheritance (1899, seen at right), an extremely large canvas, highly finished for public consideration. The subject was a depiction of crippled children bathing at the sea in Valencia, under the supervision of a monk. They are the victims of hereditary syphilis the title implies, perhaps.[8] Campos has suggested that the polio epidemic that struck the land of Valencia some years earlier is present, possibly for the first time in the history of painting, through the image of two affected children.[9] The painting earned Sorolla his greatest official recognition, the Grand Prix and a medal of honor at the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1900, and the medal of honor at the National Exhibition in Madrid in 1901.

 

A series of preparatory oil sketches for Sad Inheritance were painted with the greatest luminosity and bravura, and foretold an increasing interest in shimmering light and of a medium deftly handled. Sorolla thought well enough of these sketches that he presented two of them as gifts to American artists; one to John Singer Sargent, the other to William Merritt Chase. After this painting Sorolla never returned to a theme of such overt social consciousness.

 

Maturity

The exhibit at the Paris Universal Exposition of 1900 won him a medal of honour and his nomination as Knight of the Legion of Honour; within the next few years Sorolla was honoured as a member of the Fine Art Academies of Paris, Lisbon, and Valencia, and as a Favourite Son of Valencia.

 

A special exhibition of his works—figure subjects, landscapes and portraits—at the Galeries Georges Petit in Paris in 1906 eclipsed all his earlier successes and led to his appointment as Officer of the Legion of Honour. The show included nearly 500 works, early paintings as well as recent sun-drenched beach scenes, landscapes, and portraits, a productivity which amazed critics and was a financial triumph. Though subsequent large-scale exhibitions in Germany and London were greeted with more restraint, while in England in 1908 Sorolla met Archer Milton Huntington, who made him a member of The Hispanic Society of America in New York City, and invited him to exhibit there in 1909. The exhibition comprised 356 paintings, 195 of which sold. Sorolla spent five months in America and painted more than twenty portraits.

 

Sorolla's work is often exhibited together with that of his contemporaries and friends, John Singer Sargent and Anders Zorn.

 

Portraits

Although formal portraiture was not Sorolla's genre of preference, because it tended to restrict his creative appetites and could reflect his lack of interest in his subjects, the acceptance of portrait commissions proved profitable, and the portrayal of his family was irresistible. Sometimes the influence of Velázquez was uppermost, as in My Family (1901), a reference to Las Meninas which grouped his wife and children in the foreground, the painter reflected, at work, in a distant mirror. At other times the desire to compete with his friend John Singer Sargent was evident, as in Portrait of Mrs. Ira Nelson Morris and her children (1911).A series of portraits produced in the United States in 1909, commissioned through the Hispanic Society of America, was capped by the Portrait of Mr. Taft, President of the United States,This portrait, which was painted at the White House, is on permanent display at the Taft Museum of Art in Cincinnati, Ohio.

 

The appearance of sunlight could be counted on to rouse his interest, and it was outdoors where he found his ideal portrait settings. Thus, not only did his daughter pose standing in a sun-dappled landscape for María at La Granja (1907), but so did Spanish royalty, for the Portrait of King Alfonso XIII in a Hussar's Uniform (1907). For Portrait of Mr. Louis Comfort Tiffany (1911), the American artist posed seated at his easel in his Long Island garden, surrounded by extravagant flowers. The conceit reaches its high point in My Wife and Daughters in the Garden (1910, see gallery below), in which the idea of traditional portraiture gives way to the sheer fluid delight of a painting constructed with thick passages of color, Sorolla's love of family and sunlight merged.

 

The Provinces of Spain

Early in 1911, Sorolla visited the United States for a second time, and exhibited 152 new paintings at the Saint Louis Art Museum and 161 at the Art Institute of Chicago a few weeks later. Later that year Sorolla met Archie Huntington in Paris and signed a contract to paint a series of oils on life in Spain. These 14 magnificent murals, installed to this day in the Hispanic Society of America building in Manhattan, range from 12 to 14 feet in height, and total 227 feet in length. The major commission of his career, it dominated the later years of Sorolla's life.

 

Huntington had envisioned the work depicting a history of Spain, but the painter preferred the less specific Vision of Spain, eventually opting for a representation of the regions of the Iberian Peninsula, and calling it The Provinces of Spain. Despite the immensity of the canvases, Sorolla painted all but one en plein air, and travelled to the specific locales to paint them: Navarre, Aragon, Catalonia, Valencia, Elche, Seville, Andalusia, Extremadura, Galicia, Guipuzcoa, Castile, Leon, and Ayamonte, at each site painting models posed in local costume. Each mural celebrated the landscape and culture of its region, panoramas composed of throngs of laborers and locals. By 1917 he was, by his own admission, exhausted. He completed the final panel by July 1919.

 

Sorolla suffered a stroke in 1920, while painting a portrait in his garden in Madrid. Paralysed for over three years, he died on 10 August 1923. He is buried in the Cementeri de Valencia, Spain.

 

The Sorolla Room, housing the Provinces of Spain at the Hispanic Society of America, opened to the public in 1926. The room closed for remodeling in 2008, and the murals toured museums in Spain for the first time. The Sorolla Room reopened in 2010, with the murals on permanent display.

 

Legacy

Sorolla's influence on some other Spanish painters, such as Alberto Pla y Rubio and Julio Romero de Torres, was so noted that they are described as "sorollista."

 

After his death, Sorolla's widow, Clotilde García del Castillo, left many of his paintings to the Spanish public. The paintings eventually formed the collection that is now known as the Museo Sorolla, which was the artist's house in Madrid. The museum opened in 1932.

 

Sorolla's work is represented in museums throughout Spain, Europe, America, and in many private collections in Europe and America.In 1933, J. Paul Getty purchased ten Impressionist beach scenes made by Sorolla, several of which are now housed in the J. Paul Getty Museum.

 

In 1960, Sorolla, el pintor de la luz, a short documentary written and directed by Manuel Domínguez was presented at the Cannes Film Festival.

 

The Spanish National Dance Company honored the painter's The Provinces of Spain by producing a ballet Sorolla based on the paintings.

 

Valencia high-speed railway station has been named after Sorolla.

 

Temporary exhibitions

In 2007 many of his works were exhibited at the Petit Palais in Paris, alongside those of John Singer Sargent, a contemporary who painted in a similarly impressionist-influenced manner. In 2009, there was a special exhibition of his works at the Prado in Madrid, and in 2010, the exhibition visited the Oscar Niemeyer Museum in Curitiba, Brazil.

 

From 5 December 2011 to 10 March 2012, several of Sorolla's works were exhibited in Queen Sofía Spanish Institute, in New York. This exhibition included pieces used during Sorolla's eight-year research for Vision of Spain.

 

An exhibition titled Sorolla & America explored Sorolla's unique relationship with the United States in the early twentieth century. The exhibition opened at the Meadows Museum at SMU in Dallas (13 December 2013 – 19 April 2014). From there it traveled to the San Diego Museum of Art (30 May – 26 August 2014) and then to Fundación MAPFRE in Madrid (23 September 2014 – 11 January 2015).

 

In 2016 the Munich Kunsthalle held a major Sorolla exhibition.

 

In 2019 the National Gallery, London, held a major temporary Sorolla exhibition, titled Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light.













Sunday, 3 July 2022

Visiting Venice? Make a Reservation and Be Ready to Pay.

 


Visiting Venice? Make a Reservation and Be Ready to Pay.

 

City officials are introducing a new fee to visit Venice and its islands, a move, they hope, will limit tourists.

 


By Elisabetta Povoledo

July 1, 2022

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/01/world/europe/venice-tourism-register-pay.html

 

ROME — Traveling to Venice? Get ready to pay for the privilege of visiting the city, one of the most beautiful on earth. Oh, and be sure to reserve your spot.

 

Beginning in January 2023, visitors must make a reservation through a new digital system and many will have to pay a daily fee — from 3 to 10 euros depending on how crowded Venice is at the time — as part of a plan to better control the masses of tourists that can overwhelm the fragile city.

 

The system will allow city officials to know ahead of time how many visitors they can expect on any particular day, and can then deploy staff and services accordingly. Those making early reservations will be charged at lower rates.

 

The reservation system and entry fee is part of a “revolution” when it comes to visiting Venice and its islands, Simone Venturini, the city councilor in charge of tourism and economic development, told reporters on Friday. He said it aims to balance “the needs of residents, the needs of tourists who sleep in the city and those of the day-trippers, whose rhythms are different.”

 

Before the pandemic curbed tourism, hordes of day visitors and cruise ship passengers had transformed Venice into a prime example of “over-tourism,” its narrow streets so crowded that on some days the police instituted one-way flows. Annual estimates for the numbers of tourists fluctuate wildly, with some as high as 30 million and others at a more modest 12 million.

 

In a city with a population of just over 50,000, those numbers were overwhelming at times.

 

Just about everyone visiting the city will have to register their presence, but not everyone will have to pay a fee, including children under 6, guests of Venetian residents and visiting relatives of people held in city jails. The city’s residents, people who work in Venice, students enrolled in city schools and property owners (as long as they’ve paid their taxes) are among those who won’t have to register or pay at all.

 

But even those who are exempt will have to show proof that they have a right to be in the city. Officials said the verification could come by way of a QR code that reveals whether someone deserves an exemption.

 

Tourists sleeping in the city won’t pay the daily fee directly because a fee is already tacked onto their hotel stay.

 

People will be stopped on the streets to make sure that they’ve paid up or have a right to an exemption. Ten to 15 “controllers” will be deployed daily to enforce the rules, said Michele Zuin, the city councilor responsible for the budget and taxes

 

“Naturally, their attitude won’t be that of a police state — they will be cordial, polite,” Mr. Zuin said. “But there will be controls, just as there will be sanctions for those caught without having made the payment.”

 

Violators will face hefty fines, ranging from €50 to €300, plus the €10 entry fee. And if someone is found to have lied — claiming, say, that they were visiting a resident in order to avoid a fee — they could face criminal penalties, Mr. Venturini said.

 

City officials are still fine-tuning some details, like daily pricing and the daily cap on the number of people. They hope that higher costs during high season will encourage people to come at slower times. “But the city of Venice will remain open,” Mr. Zuin said.

 

The city’s costs for implementing and managing the system are expected to be considerable, so the city doesn’t foresee that the fees will do much more than recover its investment. Should anything be left over, it would be used to offset taxes and service fees for residents.

 

Mr. Venturini said the new reservation system complements a monitoring system that the Venice City Council introduced last year to track people via phone location data, a system some critics have likened to Big Brother.

 

Mr. Venturini claimed Venice would be the first city in the world to use such a complex monitoring system. Bumps in the road could be expected, he said.

 

“It would be foolish, ambitious, arrogant to think that everything will work perfectly, with a snap of our fingers,” he said. “It won’t” he added. “It will be a course that can certainly be improved and we will work constantly.”

 

Elisabetta Povoledo has been writing about Italy for nearly three decades, and has been working for The Times and its affiliates since 1992. @EPovoledo • Facebook

Crowded Out: The Story of Overtourism / Welcome to Venice! That’ll be €10 / “Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism,”


Welcome to Venice! That’ll be €10

 

 From January 2023, day-trippers will have to pay to enter the city.

The money raised from the scheme will be spent on reducing the garbage collection bills paid by Venetians |

 

 BY HANNAH ROBERTS

July 1, 2022 6:15 pm

https://www.politico.eu/article/welcome-to-venice-italy-10-euros-entrance-fee-tourists/

 

 ROME — Venice is to become the first city in the world to charge visitors an entrance fee.

 

 To help manage overcrowding and discourage day-trippers, city authorities announced Friday that they will charge tourists up to €10, starting in January 2023.

 

 The city has been massively overcrowded for years, with tourists generating mountains of refuse and bringing the city’s narrow walkways to a virtual standstill in busy periods.

 

 Once the charges come in, visitors will need to make an advance online booking and pay between €3 and €10, depending on the time of year. Inspectors will patrol the city and have the power to stop tourists and demand to see proof of payment. Failure to have paid online will be punishable with a fine of up to €300.

 

 The money raised from the scheme will be spent on reducing the garbage collection bills paid by Venetians, which are higher than those in neighboring cities.

 

 Residents, and people coming to visit them, and tourists with an overnight booking in a hotel will be exempt and can download a certificate to prove they don’t have to pay.

 

 Other cities affected by mass tourism will be watching closely to see if Venice’s pioneering model works.

 

 Simone Venturini, the city’s tourism chief, told a press conference Friday that the measure was “truly revolutionary” but warned it might take time and adjustments to get the system working perfectly.

 

 He said: “It’s a journey, we know that being the first city in the world to do this, we would be arrogant to think that it will all work perfectly. We are not saying we have resolved all problems of over-tourism, or that we have the magic solution. We will constantly improve it.”

 

 Michele Zuin, the city’s budget chief, said the fee was about disincentivizing visitors at busy times to create better flows of tourism. “The city remains open. Venice is not closed,” he said.



“Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism”


REVIEW: 

100 Places to Visit Before They Die

 

By Joshua Hammer

April 19, 2013

https://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/21/books/review/overbooked-by-elizabeth-becker.html

 

In 1980, armed with a backpack and a dog-eared copy of the Lonely Planet guidebook, I set out on a yearlong post-university trip through Asia. I hired a fishing boat to take me to a near-deserted island in the Gulf of Thailand and trekked for weeks through roadless villages in the Nepalese Himalayas. The highlight of the trip was a one-week tour of Myanmar, then almost completely cut off from the outside world. Three decades later, Jet Skiers and beach resorts have taken over my Thai island, and busloads of day-trippers flock to those Nepalese villages on a newly built trans-Himalayan highway. Even once-hermetic Myanmar is grabbing a piece of the global tourism trade; during the high season, the medieval temples of Bagan now face a crush of foreign invaders.

 

As Elizabeth Becker observes in “Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism,” her meticulously reported and often disturbing exposé of the travel industry, the world has gotten smaller — but not often for the better. A former correspondent for The New York Times, Becker crisscrossed the globe, from the beaches of Sri Lanka to the game reserves of sub-Saharan Africa, from the vineyards of France to America’s national parks, measuring the impact of the tourist trade. And while she finds plenty of inspiring examples of wise governance and corporate responsibility, in many other cases greed and shortsightedness have ruined once-pristine environments, exacerbated human misery and destroyed the spontaneity that once made travel an adventure.

 

As Becker tells it, entrepreneurism, technology and political transformation all brought about the tourism boom. In the late 1950s, Arthur Frommer, a former G.I., turned a guidebook he wrote for soldiers on R.&R. into the best-selling “Europe on 5 Dollars a Day.” It made overseas travel inviting for millions. The decreasing cost of long-distance flights placed exotic destinations within the reach of people who once would have indulged their wanderlust by reading National Geographic. And the fall of the Berlin Wall and collapse of the Soviet Union opened regions that had previously been off limits. Before 1990, Becker reports, 60 percent of the world’s international tourists visited Western European countries. “Afterward the tourist map was redrawn” to include the former Eastern bloc and “vast swaths of Africa and Asia.” The result, she says, was a remarkable surge in the overall number of foreign trips, from 25 million in 1960 to one billion in 2012. Today, “in gross economic power,” tourism “is in the same company as oil, energy, finance and agriculture.”

 

In the face of the tourist onslaught, some governments have acted with foresight and sensitivity. Becker lavishes praise on France, which has protected its coasts and its cottage industries, including winemaking and cheese production, through a mix of subsidies and tough environmental laws. Costa Rica has become the world’s pioneer of “ecotourism,” turning cloud forests into nature reserves and inspiring hotels to go green. The Costa Rican government even refused to sign a free-trade pact that would have forced it to admit developers from the United States and jeopardized control of its coastline. Looking for a safari, Becker avoids Kenya and South Africa, which have increasingly become “Out of Africa” theme parks. Instead she heads to Zambia, where the safari industry is just beginning to be built up. Here she finds conservationists, government officials and tour operators seeking a balance between encouraging tourism and safeguarding the country’s wildlife. “Zambia is still wide open,” she observes, “with more than a hint of the Africa that the Europeans fell in love with a century ago.”

 

At the opposite end of the spectrum is Cambodia, which has pursued tourist dollars with little concern for the environmental or human consequences. The temples of Angkor Wat are being degraded, and the mystical ambience, Becker writes, has been lost “in a scrum of foreigners with guides shouting in competing languages.” Fueled by government corruption, sex tourism has flourished in Phnom Penh and other Asian cities. Dubai, transformed by oil wealth into an oasis of conspicuous consumerism, condemns its laborers to the equivalent of indentured servitude and expends enormous amounts of energy air-­conditioning its skyscrapers, hotels and shopping malls. Dubai and Abu Dhabi, in Becker’s view, “are now global cities with little left of their desert heritage, their environment or their hold on the future should all those foreigners leave.”

 

She devotes two chapters to China, the new colossus in the tourism industry, where Becker and her husband stay in ersatz-traditional hotels, endure shakedowns in a panda park and are led around by a robotic guide who insists that the smog stinging their eyes and making them choke is merely a “yellow mist.” The guide also tells them that if the government hadn’t mowed down pro-­democracy demonstrators at Tiananmen Square “China would have collapsed.”

 

Becker aims her sharpest barbs at the cruise ship industry, which claims to add some $40 billion a year to the United States economy. Giants like Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Lines avoid paying minimum wage and exempt themselves from environmental scrutiny by registering their vessels under the flags of countries with lax or nonexistent regulations. They lure cruise passengers into making expensive purchases of diamonds and art from companies that offer dubious money-back guarantees. And they have turned certain ports of call into crowded bazaars filled with tacky merchandise and tourist hordes. “They’re like portable low-rent Hiltons,” one walking-tour executive tells Becker, “that go everywhere with little concern for the garbage they leave behind or the havoc they make in the short time they invade a place.”

 

Becker lapses occasionally into trade-magazine speak, attending “dazzling” industry awards ceremonies and dutifully quoting hotel and public-relations executives. I would like to have seen her address the rapid opening of Myanmar, and how its government is dealing with a potential tourist onslaught. And she could have delved a bit into Tunisia, where the corrupt former president, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, enriched himself and his cronies by turning the coastline into an eyesore of cheap hotel towers catering to package tourists. And “Overbooked” doesn’t engage in much discussion of the moral quandaries raised by tourism in dictatorships and quasi dictatorships — in Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, for example, where one of the world’s most repressive regimes benefits from every tourist dollar.

 

Becker ends her investigation with a look at tourism in the United States, which followed an idiosyncratic path after 9/11. While the rest of the world was opening its doors to foreign visitors, the State Department tightened visa requirements and foreigners were subjected to humiliating interrogations at entry points, even jailed when they inadvertently overstayed their welcomes. “Travel to America? No Thanks,” ran the headline on a scathing article in The Sunday Times of London. American tour operators call the period a “lost decade,” claiming the industry lost $94 billion and 200,000 jobs in the first five years after the attacks. Given the horrors Becker so vividly documents in “Overbooked,” it might be time for places like Cambodia and Dubai to adopt a similar approach.

 

Correction: May 5, 2013

A review on April 21 about “Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism” by Elizabeth Becker, referred incorrectly to Dubai at one point. As the review correctly noted elsewhere, it is a city (situated in the emirate of the same name) in the United Arab Emirates; it is not a country.


Friday, 1 July 2022

Agatha Christie’s Real Life Inspirations | Agatha Christie’s England | Channel 5


Agatha Christie’s England, Channel 5, review: An evocative film almost as good as one of the author’s capers

 

With suitably plummy narration by Downton Abbey’s Samantha Bond, this documentary was a thoroughly enjoyable travelogue through the author’s life

 

By Ed Power

July 6, 2021 10:00 pm

https://inews.co.uk/culture/television/agatha-christies-england-channel-5-review-documentary-1089827

 

In her murder mysteries Agatha Christie celebrated a romanticised England that was passing into history before her eyes. That Narnia of postcard-pretty villages, seedcake from a silver tray and murder in the shires was eulogised in agreeably wistful fashion in Agatha Christie’s England.

 

With suitably plummy narration by Downton Abbey’s Samantha Bond, the film traced the writer’s life from her privileged upbringing in Edwardian Torquay. From there, it proceeded to her childhood visits to Ealing and her unhappy first marriage in “stifling” suburban Sunningdale.

 

In Ealing, Christie’s imposing great aunt Margaret provided inspiration for the snoopy Miss Marple. Agatha’s aunt was warm-hearted and outgoing – but, just like Christie’s sleuth, always saw the worst in people.

 

From a young age Christie had consumed sensational newspaper reports of murder and betrayal. There was betrayal in her own life, too. Having swept Agatha off her feet, dashing husband Archie was soon spending all his spare time at the golf course – and with a mistress.

 

One theory is that Christie may have considered taking her own life because of the condition of her marriage. “When she drove out into the night… she was in a state of utter despair,” said her biographer Laura Thompson.

 

Christie lived from 1890 until 1976 – a span that stretched from the Victorian era to the dawn of punk rock. She yearned for the England of her youth and made her readers nostalgic for it, too.

 

“The England of Agatha Christie still exists as much as it did when she wrote about it,” said Christie scholar JC Bernthal.

 

“It’s in the pages of her books and in your mind when you read it.”

 

The programme was a hugely evocative travelogue that brought to life a “traditional England of servants, retired colonels and the wireless”. The best compliment that can be paid is that, as soon as the credits rolled, viewers will have wanted to pick up one of Christie’s capers and dive in.


Thursday, 30 June 2022

Buckingham Palace confirms 'revised policies' after claims Meghan 'humiliated' staff

Buckingham Palace won’t publish probe into claims of Meghan bullying staff / Royal family receives over £100 million as costs soar despite cost of living crisis - full breakdown


 

EUROPE

Buckingham Palace won’t publish probe into claims of Meghan bullying staff

By Karla Adam

June 30, 2022 at 7:20 a.m. EDT

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/06/30/meghan-royal-family-bullying-report-conclusion/

 

LONDON — Buckingham Palace confirmed that “lessons have been learned” following an investigation into complaints that Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, had bullied palace staff members, but it has not published the findings nor explained what those lessons are.

.

Last year, the palace launched an investigation into bullying claims after an article in the Times of London claimed that two of her employees had been driven from their jobs and a third had been undermined.

 

Lawyers for Meghan denied the reports, calling it a “calculated smear campaign” and said that the Times of London was being “used by Buckingham Palace to peddle a wholly false narrative” about the duchess. The reports appeared in the paper shortly before Meghan and Prince Harry’s bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey.

 

The palace, which never backed the claims but said they were serious enough to be investigated, said in a statement on Thursday that the probe had concluded and that “recommendations on our policies and procedures have been taken forward.” The palace said that it would not be publishing the results of the review, which looked at how the palace handled the complaints — not the specifics of the allegations themselves.

 

Buckingham Palace to investigate whether Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, bullied her staff

 

During a Wednesday briefing on annual royal finances, a palace official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told reporters that the details would remain confidential to protect the privacy of those who gave testimony about their experiences.

 

“Because of the confidentiality of the discussions we have not communicated the detailed recommendations,” the official said. “The recommendations have been incorporated within policies and procedures wherever appropriate, and policies and procedures have changed.”

 

The official added: “I think the objectives have been satisfied because lessons have been learned.”

 

Royal watchers had expected the review might be mentioned in the Sovereign Grant Report, the annual financial accounts of the monarchy’s spending and income that was published on Thursday.

 

According to the palace official, the investigation into the bullying allegations was funded privately, not by taxpayers, meaning that it did not have to be included in the public accounts.

 

The annual report showed that British monarch’s official expenditure for 2021-2022 had been about $124 million, an increase of 17 percent on the previous financial year.

 

This amount exceeded the $105 million in the Sovereign Grant — the pot of public money provided by the British government to cover the costs of the queen’s household and upkeep of royal residences. The palace said that the royal finances cost $1.57 per person in the United Kingdom and that the bulk of its spending went toward major renovation works at Buckingham Palace. The extra costs, the palace said, would be met by reserves set aside in previous years.

 

The accounts showed that the most expensive trip over the past year was the trip to the Caribbean in March by Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge — seen as something of a public relations disaster — that cost $274,000.

 

William and Kate, touring the Caribbean to celebrate queen’s jubilee, draw anti-colonial protests, demands for reparations

 

Some said that the costs seemed excessive, especially in the current economic climate with a cost-of-living crisis that is starting to bite. Inflation in the U.K. is over 9 percent — the highest rate in 40 years. “£100m for the royals? Reign it in,” roared the Daily Mirror on its front page.

 

Michael Stevens, the queen’s treasurer who is also called the Keeper of the Privy Purse, said in a statement that royal finances would also probably be tightened in coming years.

 

“With the Sovereign Grant likely to be flat in the next couple of years, inflationary pressures on operating costs and our ability to grow supplementary income likely to be constrained in the short term, we will continue to deliver against our plans and manage these impacts through our own efforts and efficiencies,” he said.

 

By Karla Adam

Karla Adam is a London correspondent for The Washington Post. Before joining The Post in 2006, she worked as a freelancer in London, writing for several U.S. publications including the New York Times, Newsweek and People magazine. She is a former president of the Association of American Correspondents in London.  Twitter



Royal family receives over £100 million as costs soar despite cost of living crisis - full breakdown

 

Costs claimed by senior royals such as the Queen, Prince Charles and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have continued to rise

 

By Russell Myers Enda Mullen

08:26, 30 JUN 2022UPDATED08:53, 30 JUN 2022

https://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/uk-world-news/royal-family-receives-over-100-24359721

 

A new report has revealed that the royal family cost taxpayers £102.4 million last year. While the country continues to cope with the cost of living crisis the money received by the the royals rose by 17 per cent (£15 million).

 

It means the cash they received exceeded £100 million for the first time. Royal finances expert Norman Baker described it as “not right”, the Mirror reports.

 

The bill was driven up in part by the multi-million-pound renovation of Buckingham Palace. Spending on the project rose to £63.9 million, up £14.4million on the previous year.

 

Renovation work intensified to prepare the palace for the Platinum Jubilee celebrations. The Queen was in another of her official residences yesterday, receiving Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh.

 

The Sovereign Grant Report shows that last year the royal family’s travel costs soared from £1.3 million to £4.5 million, as in-person royal visits resumed following the pandemic.

 

Royal finances expert Norman Baker said: “The Government should have a complete rethink of how taxpayers’ money is allocated to the royal family. We have no say in how the royals choose to use private jets or helicopters, which are all paid for out of the public purse, and while ordinary people are struggling it isn’t right.”

 

The 10-year Buckingham Palace renovation project appears to be on target to cost £369 million. Delivering the Sovereign Grant Report, Keeper of the Privy Purse, Sir Michael Stevens, said: “There was a significant increase in work against a hard deadline to enable Buckingham Palace to be at the centre of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations. We were pleased to deliver against our plans.”

 

Spending on the royals rose by almost £15 million in 2021/22, up more than 17 per cent on the previous year, the report revealed. Sir Michael said: “The year was not without operational and financial challenges. Covid meant we had another year in which access to the royal palaces was restricted for the Royal Collection Trust, which again affected our ability to help self-finance our work on behalf of the nation.”

 

While ordinary Brits coped with the cost of living crisis costs incurred by senior royals continued to rise. Prince William and Kate’s trip to the Caribbean cost £226,000 in flights and accommodation.

 

Despite campaigning on environmental issues, Prince Charles still flies between his royal residences at an average cost of £15,000 a time. The Queen’s royal train cost £100,000 for just three outings last year, but is now exclusively powered by “hydro-treated vegetable oil”, royal sources revealed.

 

As a non-working royal, like Prince Harry and his wife Megan, Prince Andrew no longer qualifies for public funding and gets nothing from the Sovereign Grant. He is now thought to be exclusively funded privately by the Queen.

 

Caribbean tour

William and Kate’s controversial visit to Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas cost roughly £226,000. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge came in for heavy criticism during the tour in March, with critics labelling it a “throwback to Britain’s colonial past”.

 

The royal pair raised eyebrows for travelling in an open top Land Rover driven by a Jamaican soldier during a military parade, with some people suggesting it “looked like a scene from The Crown”.

 

In an unprecedented statement, William said after the Caribbean visit: “Tours are an opportunity to reflect. You learn so much. This tour has brought into even sharper focus questions about the past and the future. In Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas, that future is for the people to decide upon.”

 

Royal train

The Queen will not give up using the royal train despite just three outings for her and Prince Charles costing £100,000 The monarch will hold on to her favourite mode of transport, which she can travel and sleep on when on engagements - despite it being used so little each year.

 

Her Majesty used the royal train last July on a return journey from Windsor to Manchester to celebrate 60 years of Coronation Street and the 600th Anniversary of Manchester Cathedral, costing a staggering £42,452. Prince Charles used the train twice, with a journey over several days between Stonehaven, Newcastle and Durham and back to Windsor coming in at £42,450.

 

A royal aide said: “The Queen has no plans to stop using the royal train which provides excellent value for money.”

 

Green fuel

Environmentalist Charles committed to using “green fuel” for plane journeys where he can, despite it costing the public purse far more than normal fuel. A source said: “The prince is aware of the extra cost but the destructive cost to the environment during a climate emergency is far greater."

 

Harry and Meghan are now paying for themselves - the Prince of Wales no longer funds them after they ditched their royal roles seeking “financial independence”. After they shed their life as working royals in 2020 they signed £100m worth of deals with streaming giants Netflix and Spotify.

 

During the couple’s interview with Oprah Winfrey in March last year, Harry said “my family literally cut me off financially” in “the first quarter of 2020”. A source close to Prince Charles said the Duke and Duchess “should be congratulated on achieving their goal” in raking in millions from the private sector - despite using their new found roles to routinely slam the royal family on global television interviews.

 

Charles’s bill for his sons and their families no longer lists the Sussexes in the accounts.

 

Charity cash

 

Changes to the way the royal charities accept donations have been implemented after Prince Charles accepted £2.6million in cash from a former prime minister of Qatar. The Prince of Wales will never again handle large sums in notes to be passed to his charities, a royal source has stated.

 

Charles faced criticism over being presented with one million euros stuffed in a briefcase while two other cash gifts of more than £1.6million were given in Fortnum & Mason carrier bags between 2011 and 2015. A report claimed the heir to the throne personally accepted the donations for his charity The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund from Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim, above .

 

A royal source said Charles acts on advice and such incidents have not happened in the past five years and will not happen again.