Saturday 31 August 2019

Burning issue: how fashion's love of leather is fuelling the fires in the Amazon

Burning issue: how fashion's love of leather is fuelling the fires in the Amazon
Beef and soya aren’t the sole culprits – our demand for shoes, belts and handbags is driving rainforest destruction. It’s time for consumers to wake up

Lucy Siegle
Thu 29 Aug 2019 12.27 BST Last modified on Thu 29 Aug 2019 12.28 BST

Smokes rises from the Amazon on August 27, 2019.
 Devastation … an Amazon blaze this week. Photograph: Joao Laet/AFP/Getty Images

The level of destruction is almost impossible to fathom. About 41,000 fires have been recorded by scientists in the Brazilian Amazon since January, with more than half of those in the past three weeks – hence the apocalyptic headlines. Every minute, the equivalent of a football field and a half of the so-called lungs of the Earth is incinerated.

The rainforest isn’t just totemic, we know that the future stability of the climate rests on preserving it. To be an onlooker to this burning triggers the type of overwhelming anxiety that probably won’t be soothed by wearing a “save the rainforest” T-shirt like we did in the 1980s. In fact, that’s the last thing we should be doing, because the Amazon burn is very much a fashion crisis, connected to the leather your shoes are made from and the bag on your shoulder. We need action.

Earlier this week, the fashion industry made a move, as LVMH, the world’s top luxury goods firm, pledged €10m to fight the Amazon burn, adding to the $20m pledged by the G7 with President Macron as frontman. “Protecting the environment is not just about words and speeches or signing declarations of principle,” read the statement accompanying the LVMH pledge by CEO Bernard Arnault and director Yann Arthus-Bertrand, adding: “It also requires taking concrete collective actions when dangers arise in order to provide resources for local specialists and work together to save our planet.”

Except that the industry should have done far more far earlier – and has for years been tacitly driving destruction. The causes of this are often far away from the actual forest.

This has been evident for a decade. In 2009, Greenpeace published Slaughtering the Amazon, a report that should have – and nearly did – change everything. The report concluded that the demand for leather was fuelling the destruction of the Amazon in its own right, not just accidentally as a by-product of beef. Researchers found cattle ranchers were clearing rainforest illegally despite laws protecting it, including Brazil’s “forest code”. One hectare of rainforest was being lost to ranches every 18 seconds. Through a murky supply chain, Brazilian beef companies were supplying leather to leading global fashion brands and retailers, across price points and across retail markets.

 Complacency is a contagion and this one has spread to us, as fashion consumers
To add insult to injury, the whole venture was underpinned by state-funded banks. In effect, while former president Lula made speeches about saving the “lungs of the Earth” (the Brazilian Amazon stores 80-120bn tonnes of carbon and produces 20% of the planet’s oxygen), the state was sponsoring its wholesale destruction.

In the aftermath of the report and on the trail of a nascent sustainable fashion movement, I found many stories on the ground in Brazil. In 2012, I travelled to cattle-producing states with agro-forestry researchers to meet ranchers. The researchers were trying to persuade them that there was greater economic value in saving the rainforest biome than in destroying it. They very nearly succeeded.

Two things were stunningly clear to me from the outset. While the Amazon is more closely connected to iconic species of megafauna – including jaguars, tapirs and all manner of large, wildly coloured birds – the whole country is really about the cow, specifically the Nelore, an Indian import with folds of skin collecting around its neck. From 1993 to 2013, the Brazilian herd grew 200% to more than 60m cows. Everywhere you looked as evening fell across treeless ranches, you’d see their forms silhouetted against the dusty backdrop.

The second was how deeply ingrained the slash and burn model of agriculture was in ranchers. This was a hangover from the 1970s when across the country government posters urged prospectors to head to the Amazon and settle the land. The quickest way to gain land rights? Chop the trees, burn them, put cattle on the land. Never stop. Keep pushing forwards into the rainforest. This is the deeply held ethos that Bolsonaro has been able to tap into.

But back then, all was not lost. Ranchers could often be persuaded to stop burning to produce leather for a concerned and engaged fashion market that wanted to promote leather goods that were certified as zero deforestation. In 2013, Gucci launched a collection of bags produced through a pilot project with ranchers and NGOs at Paris fashion week.

On a wider level, things changed after the Greenpeace report as environmental groups pressured publicly listed conglomerates to delink their supply chains from Amazonian destruction. In 2011, an agreement between one of Brazil’s biggest meat companies, JBS, and others was signed with federal prosecutors. They agreed not to buy cattle directly from embargoed or illegally deforested areas. The Brazilian meat companies hurried to register the ranches that they sourced from into a Rural Environmental Registry that could be confirmed by satellite imagery. In October 2009, just 2% of JBS’s purchases were from registered properties. By 2013, that figure was 96%. A later study by US geographer Holly Gibbs showed these initiatives had worked and that zero deforestation commitments could be effective.

What a tragedy then, that 10 years on we are witnessing the destruction of the Amazon and dismantling of these precious agreements. A recent Guardian investigation found cattle ranchers who were seemingly breaking the embargo linked to big meat companies.

Perhaps no system, however tough, could have withstood the determined assault on the Amazon by Bolsonaro, who is making good on his promises to slash environmental protections whatever the cost.

But it is hard not to wish that it had been made more difficult for him. Truthfully, the fashion industry has remained complacent about leather from the Amazon and, outside of pilot projects, has failed to commit to zero deforestation supply chains in a big way. The €10m pledged earlier this week by LVMH could have been spent to great effect over the past decade on monitoring and enforcement.

 If the current crisis in the Amazon does one thing, I hope it wakes us up to the true cost of Amazon leather
Complacency is a contagion and this one has spread to us, as fashion consumers. The global production of footwear was up to 23.5bn pairs by 2018, accounting for 55% of all leather production. Almost nobody asks where the cows are from, never mind requesting certified zero-deforestation leather.

Brands swear that their leather is from Europe rather than 6,000 miles away in the Brazilian Amazon. I find this unlikely. If all the shoes professing Italian heritage really were from Italian cattle, cows would drink from the Trevi fountain and chew the cud in Piazza San Marco. If the crisis in the Amazon does one thing, I hope it wakes us up to the true cost of Amazon leather.

More conscious
Buying consciously from the Amazon means supporting brands that are Amazon-first, putting the ecology and people of the biome above profit and volume. Here are our top brands investing in the Amazon rather than exploiting it:

The Brazilian Amazon is the only place on Earth where rubber trees grow in a wild state. Environmentalist Bia Saldanha moved her family to the Chico Mendes reserve in Acre (named after the activist murdered in 1998 for his work) many years ago and works with 20 seringueiros families rubber tapping wild trees sustainably. Two or three times a week, the seringueiros collect 12kg of wild rubber primarily destined for the soles of Veja trainers, made in Portugal in a fair-trade factory. In 2018, this collaboration preserved 90 hectares of forest, says Saldanha.

Jair Bolsonaro has also declared war on the 400 indigenous communities who inhabit the rainforest. These groups, according to Fiona Watson, director of research at Survival International, possess “vast and acute botanical and zoological knowledge … and protect some of the largest and most biodiverse forests on Earth”. Auá is a southern Brazilian brand that works with artists and indigenous communities to develop collections where all are equal partners, with the avoidance of cultural appropriation – one of fashion’s biggest pitfalls – in mind. The Auá team, which includes an inhouse anthropologist, negotiate the terms of use of patterns and designs from indigenous communities.

Osklen is one of Brazil’s most established sustainable fashion brands. The company was founded by a former doctor, Oskar Metsavaht, in 1988 and is known for pioneering sustainable fabrics. The brand’s motto is “as sustainable as possible, as soon as possible” – he refuses to wait for certification bodies to catch up. An early avoider of cattle leather on environmental grounds, Metsavaht has pioneered the use of skins from the pirarucu fish found in Amazonian rivers and lakes. Olsken bags from pirarucu are sold all over the world, generating a new income source for the area. Olsken’s sustainable practices and materials are being studied by the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

The London-based accessories brand has an enduring relationship with Brazil. The classic Bottletop bag is made from ring pulls (recovered from Brazilian landfill), handpainted in an atelier in Itapua that works to fair-trade principles, and then linked together with leather that is certified zero-deforestation. The brand also produces Together wrist-bands, promoting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

What can we do?
In response to the Amazon fires and an Extinction Rebellion protest outside the Brazilian embassy in London last Friday, a promise of match-funding has been made to the tune of $350,000 for the Climate Emergency Fund. To join the surge and donate, visit this website.
Greenpeace wants you to sign a petition to tell the government to suspend trade talks with Brazil until the fires are out and the Amazon and its people are protected.
Plant trees: Offest.Earth is fundraising for a protest forest, in the name of Bolsonaro, “tree enemy number one”. So far 4,000 trees have been planted. Donations can be made here.
Donate to Cool Earth via its website.

Thursday 29 August 2019

Dunhill Bourdon House, London

Alfred Dunhill Limited (known and stylised as dunhill) is a British luxury goods brand, specialising in ready-to-wear, custom and bespoke menswear, leather goods, and accessories.The company is based in London, where it also owns and operates a leather workshop. The company is currently owned by Richemont Holdings (UK) Limited and managed by CEO Andrew Maag.

Early history
The business was developed by Alfred Dunhill after he inherited his father's saddlery business on London's Euston Road at the age of 21 in 1893. Alfred Dunhill, responding to the growing demand for automobiles at this time, developed a line of accessories called "Dunhill's Motorities". This first collection included car horns and lamps, leather overcoats, goggles, picnic sets and timepieces, which provided the company with the strap line of "Everything But The Motor".

Within a few years, the business moved towards the luxury market with the opening of two Dunhill Motorities stores in Mayfair. By this time, Dunhill's had become known not only for motoring accessories but also for motoring attire. The Dunhill Motorities catalogue featured over 1,300 items.

The launch of the Dunhill pipe was a logical step from Motorities; in 1904 Alfred had patented a "Windshield Pipe" to help a driver combat the effects of wind and weather in his open top car. Alfred's first tobacconist and pipe shop opened in 1907 on Duke Street.

Alfred retired from the business in the 1920s. In the position of managing director and President were his brother Alfred-Henry, then daughter Mary and finally his grandson Richard and with the interests of the Dunhill family at heart, the business continued to embody the attributes and characteristics of Alfred's personality.

Alfred summarised his retail philosophy in an article written in the summer in 1923: "My experience in the motorists' trade has convinced me that, if one can exactly meet the desires of a good class of public, time alone is necessary to make it profitable. Compared with quality, price is relatively important."

Later history
By the late 1970s, Alfred Dunhill was offering a range of 3,500 luxury products in more than 20 stores round the world. The brand had expanded into offering a full range of men's ready to wear clothing.
In the 1990s, Alfred Dunhill's store on Jermyn Street was renovated to evoke the atmosphere of a private club, complete with a marble-floored humidor and a barber's shop.

Homes of Alfred Dunhill
Alfred Dunhill have built a series of retail emporiums for men around the world, referred to as the Homes of Alfred Dunhill. These Homes aim to represent the experience of luxury, allowing the customer to live the brand. The retail environment is distinguished by a range of services – which include a bespoke tailoring service, dunhill barbers, bar or restaurant and screening room. The Homes are located in London and Tokyo.
The London home, Bourdon House, was mentioned as one of Georgia Barretta-Whiteley's (Head of Design at Saatchi & Saatchi) top retail experiences, "Committed to advancing the pursuit of male indulgence', Alfred Dunhill has here presented us with a unique global concept that embraces an ultimate in masculine luxury and retail lifestyle – the Homes of Alfred Dunhill."

Alfred Dunhill has been resident at 48 Jermyn Street since 1906, welcoming iconic customers such as Winston Churchill. The brand has become synonymous as the ultimate British luxury brand for men; defined by elegance and innovation, Alfred Dunhill is committed to using the finest materials and world’s greatest artisans to create its uncompromising products.

Tuesday 27 August 2019

The Legend of "The erotic cabinet " of Catherine the Great

The erotic cabinet of Catherine the Great
An urban legend states that an erotic cabinet was ordered by Catherine the Great, and was adjacent to her suite of rooms in Gatchina. According to said urban legend; the furniture was highly eccentric with tables that had large penises for legs. Penises and vulvas were carved out on the furniture, the walls were covered in erotic art, statues of a naked man and woman inside, and some versions of the legend state that some erotic artifacts from Pompeii were even brought into Russia to augment this collection.

There are unconfirmed reports of photographs of this cabinet. The rooms and the furniture were allegedly seen in 1940 by two Wehrmacht officers during the Nazi Invasion of The Soviet Union, but even if that were true, the rooms and furniture seem to have vanished since then. This account is "dodgy" , "sketchy" , and "dubious" at the very best[citation needed]. The account says the Wehrmacht officers filed a report, but no report has ever been found, nor are any other records from anyone from before, during, or after the Second World War; other than the aforementioned legend. Also, the account says the rooms and furniture were seen in 1940, during the Nazi Invasion of The Soviet Union, but the invasion of The Soviet Union by Nazi Germany did not start in 1940, but on June 22, 1941. For this reason, historical experts challenge the veracity of such claims. But being as all of these stories did not even originate until some years after Catherine the Great's death, it is most likely the cabinet never existed, and the whole story was simply fabricated as another bawdy tale.


"During the second world war in one of the palaces of Tsarskoye Selo, a group of Soviet soldiers found a room decorated in a frank erotic style. According to witnesses , one of the walls was entirely hung with wooden phalluses of various shapes, a range of chairs, desks, and screens all decorated with pornographic images supplementing the whole appearance. Soldiers didn’t loot anything or destroy anything there, on the contrary, they made a dozen of documentary photos.

There are photographs of this room, or at least claiming to be, taken by German soldiers who arrived at the palace in 1941 during WWII and stumbled across the eye-opening boudoir. These Wehrmacht soldiers may very well have been the last witnesses to see the room before the palaces were bombed and most of their contents destroyed in the ensuing fire. Experts and historians however adamantly believe that the contents of the erotic boudoir were most certainly purposefully removed from the palace and all traces of the erotic cabinet vanished under suspicious circumstances.

Russian authorities have always been very secretive about this peculiar Czarist heritage. Catherine was a confident woman with too much passion who ignored the boundaries of womanhood in her time. Labelled a nymphomaniac and hyper sexual, in reality, her sexual adventures were unlikely all that different from her male counterparts, but Catherine, Empress or not, was born a woman trapped in a man’s world, and the rumours that circulated around her private life led to negative portrayals of her reign.

Most of the pictures were lost in the fire of war, but some of Hermitage personnel also confirm the existence of the parlour, noting that Catherine the Great even made a bodouir for Platon Zubov, but it’s unlikely that it could reached the 20th century. It is also known that the collection of erotic art belonged to the Romanov family was catalogued in 1930s . The evidences indicate that the objects were only shown to a selection of visitors. But the catalogue was lost. Like the whole entire collection, it was allegedly destroyed in 1950."

CATHERINE THE GREAT Trailer (2019) Helen Mirren, Drama TV Series

What is Catherine the Great about?
According to Sky, this four-part drama “delves into the politically tumultuous and sexually charged court of the most powerful female monarch in history. Catherine wielded supreme power throughout Russia for nearly half of the 18th century – strong-minded, independent, brilliantly intelligent and sexually liberated, she was the definition of the modern woman.”

Catherine the Great was born in 1729 and became Empress of Russia in 1762, reigning until her death in 1796. That makes her the country’s longest-ruling female leader.

This TV miniseries will follow Catherine towards the end of her reign and will put the spotlight on her passionate affair with Grigory Potemkin, played by Jason Clarke.

Catherine The Great
“Amid scandal, intrigue and immense conflict, this is a story of obsessive love,” Sky says. “Unable to publicly marry and famously promiscuous, they develop a unique and devoted relationship, overcoming their adversaries and together shaping Russia as we know it today.”

The series will be written and directed by people who have formerly collaborated with Mirren, while the actress will also serve as executive producer.

Writer Nigel Williams, who previously won both a Golden Globe and Emmy Award for Mirren’s 2005 series Elizabeth I, is on board for the project – as is Philip Martin, who previously directed Mirren in Prime Suspect.

Who is in the cast of Catherine the Great?
Oscar-winning actress Helen Mirren takes the lead as Catherine the Great, returning to the small screen for the first time in years. The actress’s many, many credits include Prime Suspect, Elizabeth I, The Queen, The Madness of King George, Gosford Park and The Last Station.

“I am very excited by the possibility of embodying a woman from history who grabbed and then wielded great power,” Mirren said. “She rewrote the rules of governance by a woman, and succeeded to the extent of having the word Great attached to her name, Catherine the Great.”

Jason Clarke will play Russian nobleman Grigory Potemkin, a favourite of Catherine the Great. In recent years Clarke has appeared in the movies Pet Semetary (as Louis Creed), The Aftermath, First Man, Chappaquiddick, Terminator Genisys, and Mudbound.

Gina McKee will play Catherine’s confidant Praskovya Bruce. The Bafta-winning actress is perhaps best known to TV fans from her work with Jed Mercurio – playing Anne Sampson in Bodyguard and Jackie Laverty in Line of Duty. McKee has also starred in Notting Hill, Phantom Thread, In the Loop, The Lost Prince, The Borgias, and The Forsyte Saga.

Rory Kinnear (of Years and Years, The Imitation Game and Skyfall) is set to star as Catherine’s political mentor Nikita Ivanovich Panin.

Moulin Rouge actor Richard Roxburgh will play Grigory Orlov, a noble favourite of Catherine the Great who fathered her son and was virtually co-ruler with her until his fall.

When is Catherine the Great set to air?
An exact air date for the Sky and HBO series has yet to be announced – but according to the trailer, this four-part drama is set to arrive in autumn 2019.

By Eleanor Bley Griffiths
Friday, 23rd August 2019 at 8:49 am

Monday 19 August 2019

Buckingham Palace intruder Michael Fagan, radio interview 1993

Michael Fagan (born 8 August 1948) is a British man who broke into Buckingham Palace and entered Queen Elizabeth II's bedroom in 1982 / video:Preview - Playhouse Presents - Walking the Dogs - BBC First

 Michael Fagan (born 8 August 1948) is a British man who broke into Buckingham Palace and entered Queen Elizabeth II's bedroom in 1982. The incident was one of the 20th century's worst royal security breaches.

Michael Fagan was born in Clerkenwell, London, on 8 August 1948, the son of Ivy and Michael Fagan, who was a steel erector and a "champion safe-breaker." He had two younger sisters, Margaret and Elizabeth. In 1955, he attended Compton Street School in Clerkenwell (now St. Peter & St. Paul RC Primary School). In 1966, he left home at 18 to escape from his father – who, Fagan says, was violent – and started working as a painter and decorator. In 1972, he married Christine, with whom he had four children.

First entry
According to his own account, the 9 July 1982 incident was Michael Fagan's second attempted intrusion on the palace; the first happening about a month before.[2] Fagan says he shinnied up the drainpipe, startling a housemaid, who called security. When guards reached the scene, Fagan had disappeared, leading them to believe the housemaid was mistaken. Fagan claims he entered the palace through an unlocked window on the roof and spent the next half-hour eating cheddar cheese and crackers and wandering around. He tripped several alarms, but they were faulty. He claims to have viewed royal portraits and rested for a while on the throne. He also spoke of entering the postroom, where Diana, Princess of Wales, had hidden presents for her son, William, who had only been born the previous month. Fagan said he drank half a bottle of white wine before becoming tired and leaving.

Second entry
At the time of the second incident, 9 July 1982, Michael Fagan was 33 years old and an unemployed decorator whose wife had just left him. At around 7:00 am on that day Fagan scaled Buckingham Palace's 14-foot-high (4.3 m) perimeter wall – topped with revolving spikes and barbed wire – and climbed up a drainpipe before wandering into the Queen's bedroom at about 7:15 am.

An alarm sensor had detected his prior movements inside the palace, but police thought the alarm was faulty and silenced it. Fagan wandered the palace corridors for several minutes before reaching the section where the royal apartments were located. In an anteroom Fagan broke a glass ashtray, cutting his hand. He was still carrying a fragment of the glass when he entered the Queen's bedroom.

The Queen woke when he disturbed a curtain, and initial reports said Fagan sat on the edge of her bed. However, in a 2012 interview, he said she left the room immediately to seek security. She had phoned the palace switchboard twice for police, but none had arrived. Fagan then asked for some cigarettes, which were brought by a maid, who had been cleaning a neighbouring room. The duty footman, Paul Whybrew, who had been walking the Queen's dogs, then appeared, followed by two policemen on palace duty who removed Fagan. The incident had happened as the armed police officer outside the royal bedroom came off duty before his replacement arrived.

A subsequent police report was critical of the competence of officers on duty, as well as a system of confused and divided command.

Since it was then a civil wrong rather than a criminal offence, Fagan was not charged for trespassing in the Queen's bedroom. He was charged with theft (of the wine), but the charges were dropped when he was committed for psychiatric evaluation. In late July, Fagan's mother said, "He thinks so much of the Queen. I can imagine him just wanting to simply talk and say hello and discuss his problems." He spent the next six months in a psychiatric hospital before being released on 21 January 1983.

It was not until 2007, when Buckingham Palace became a "designated site" for the purposes of section 128 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, that his offence became criminal.

Two years after entering Buckingham Palace, Fagan attacked a policeman at a café in Fishguard, Wales, and was given a three-month suspended jail sentence. In 1983, Fagan recorded a cover version of the Sex Pistols song "God Save The Queen" with British punk band the Bollock Brothers. He was found guilty of indecent exposure in 1987 after he was spotted running around wearing no trousers on waste ground in Chingford, London. In 1997, he was imprisoned for four years after he, his wife and their 20-year-old son were charged with conspiring to supply heroin.

Fagan made an appearance in Channel 4's The Antics Roadshow, an hour-long 2011 TV documentary directed by the British street artist Banksy charting the history of people behaving oddly in public. The palace intrusion was adapted in 2012 for an episode of Sky Arts' Playhouse Presents series entitled Walking the Dogs, a one-off British comedy drama starring Emma Thompson as the monarch.

Emma Thompson to star as Queen in Buckingham Palace break-in drama
Daniella GrahamFriday 24 Feb 2012 9:22 am

Thompson is to play the Queen in a drama based on the 1982 Buckingham Palace break-in – although real-life intruder Michael Fagan claims to be ‘appalled’ by plans to dramatise the event. Emma Thompson will play the Queen in Walking The Dogs (Picture: PA)
30 years ago Fagan managed to sneak into the palace, making his way into the Queen’s bedroom and chatting to her for ten minutes before police finally arrived. He was initially charged with theft after drinking some wine in the palace, but the charges were later dropped and he went on to be detained in a psychiatric hospital. Now the event is to be dramatised for in a made-for-TV film entitled Walking The Dogs, with Oscar-winner Emma Thompson set to follow in the footsteps of Helen Mirren by taking on the role of Queen Elizabeth II. Michael Fagan (played by Eddie Marsan) spent 10 minutes in the Queen’s bedroom in 1982 (Picture: Sky/PA) Fagan will be played by Tyrannosaur’s Eddie Marsan, while Being Human star Russell Tovey will play a footman who had been walking the royal corgis instead of guarding the royal bedroom. In the fictionalised account the three discuss a variety of topics before police arrive to take away Fagan. The real-life Michael Fagan has blasted the programme, saying his ‘moment of madness’ should not be dramatised. Michael Fagan has blasted the drama (Picture: Sky/PA) The Daily Telegraph quotes him as saying: ‘The Queen deserves respect and I’m sorry that all the focus over all these years has been on the fact that I was in her bedroom. ‘I can’t believe they’re now putting so much attention on it, particularly in her jubilee year. ‘It was just a moment of madness. For her to be dragged through the dirt by me isn’t nice. And how can they make a drama? They don’t know what happened in there.’ He also claimed he was ‘appalled’ that his description of the Queen’s underwear was public and said he wanted to ‘protect’ the monarch by remaining silent on what happened – despite discussing the incident at length in an interview this week. Walking The Dogs, part of a series of one-off comedies and dramas called Playhouse Presents, is set to be screened by Sky Arts in the spring.

Buckingham Palace intruder Michael Fagan 'given whisky by Queen's staff'
Michael Fagan, the man who broke into Buckingham Palace, has claimed that her staff gave him whisky after catching him in the Queen’s bedroom, saying that he looked like ‘he needed a drink’.

Nick Britten By Nick Britten1:09PM GMT 19 Feb 2012
In the year the Queen celebrates her Diamond Jubilee, Fagan has disclosed some the secrets of what happened the night of July 9th 1982, revealing that he went barefoot after losing his shoes on the roof and talking about the knee-length nightie she was wearing.

Revealing that he was “scareder” than he had ever been as he came face to face with the Queen, pulling back the curtains surrounding her bed, he said: “Then she speaks and it's like the finest glass you can imagine breaking: 'Wawrt are you doing here?!'

"It was a double bed but a single room, definitely – she was sleeping in there on her own. Her nightie was one of those Liberty prints and it was down to her knees."

Claiming reports down the years that the Queen had a long conversation with him to stall him while security was summoned were wrong, Fagan said: “She went past me and ran out of the room; her little bare feet running across the floor.”

He claimed moments later, an unarmed footman arrived at the door. He said: “The footman came and said, 'Cor, f****** hell mate, you look like you need a drink'. His name was [Paul] Whybrew, which is a funny name for someone offering you a drink, innit? He took me to the Queen's pantry, across the landing, where I presume she cooks her baked beans and toast and whatever – and takes a bottle of Famous Grouse from the shelf and pours me a glass of whisky."

In an interview with the Independent on Sunday, Fagan said he had lost his shoes on the roof of the Palace, but they were eventually returned. "I got my sandals returned to me two years later by the security guard. 'These are Michael's sandals, we found them on the roof,' they said."

Fagan’s antics remain one of the most embarrassing breaches of royal security. Before entering the Queen’s room, he wandered around the palace unhindered, via King George V's multimillion-pound stamp collection, triggering the alarm twice. Police turned it off, assuming the warnings were errors. The resulting scandal prompted the then Home Secretary, Willie Whitelaw, to offer his resignation to the Queen, which she refused.

It wasn’t the first time Fagan had broken into the Palace. A month earlier, he climbed in through the window of a maid's bedroom, but by the time security arrived, he was lost in the maze of corridors.

He said; “I found rooms saying 'Diana's room', 'Charles's room'; they all had names on them. But I couldn't find a door which said 'WC'. All I found were some bins with 'corgi food' written on them. I was breaking my neck to go to the toilet. What do I do? Pee on the carpet? So I had to pee on the corgi food. I got into Charles's room and took the wine off the shelf and drunk it. It was cheap Californian.

"I was loving it... It was like Goldilocks and the Three Bears; I tried one throne and was like 'this one's too soft'. I was having a laugh to myself because there was one right next to it, so I tried another.”

Fagan was later charged over stealing the wine but charges were dropped and he was sent to a mental health institution.

Wednesday 14 August 2019

Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth II in season 3 of The Crown

The Crown: first glimpse of Olivia Colman’s Queen as hit drama returns
Netflix have released a first look at the Oscar winner as she prepares to enter the palace – and set a date for the third season

Kate Abbott
Mon 12 Aug 2019 15.58 BST Last modified on Mon 12 Aug 2019 20.00 BST

The first look at the hugely anticipated third season of The Crown has arrived – showing Olivia Colman (plus her corgi sidekicks) poised to succeed Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II.

The third series of the royal smash hit will land on 17 November, Netflix has confirmed, with Oscar winner Colman taking the throne as the entire cast is given a reboot. Tobias Menzes will replace Matt Smith as Prince Philip, Helena Bonham Carter will become the new Princess Margaret, Game of Thrones star Charles Dance will play Lord Mountbatten and The Durrells’ Josh O’Connor will join the show as Prince Charles.

Created by Peter Morgan, The Crown has been a ratings smash since its release in 2016, and is one of the streaming giant’s most popular and most lavish shows. The first season cost a rumoured £100m to make.

The third and fourth series, in which Colman will star before a more modern queen takes a bow, will cover the early 60s to early 80s. It is likely to take in the birth of Prince Edward, Prince Charles’ university life and later coronation as the Prince of Wales, the death of Winston Churchill, Princess Margaret’s affair with British baronet and landscape gardener Roddy Llewellyn, and the Apollo 11 moon landing of 1969.

Netflix has also confirmed that Call the Midwife star Emerald Fennell, who took over from Phoebe Waller-Bridge to write Killing Eve 2, will be introduced as Camilla Shand (now known as Camilla Parker-Bowles) – Prince Charles’ future wife. “I absolutely love Camilla,” Fennell has said of landing the part, “and am very grateful that my teenage years have well prepared me for playing a chain-smoking serial snogger with a pudding bowl hair cut.”

Sex Education and X Files star Gillian Anderson has been signed up to play Margaret Thatcher in the fourth series, expected to land late in 2020, and newcomer Emma Corrin will play Princess Diana.

Sunday 11 August 2019

About Eton by Adam Nicolson & Eric Anderson / The Importance of Being Eton by Nick Fraser

About Eton
by Adam Nicolson & Eric Anderson

An excellent short guide to a remarkable institution
2 May 2012
“This is an excellent short guide to a remarkable institution. The authors write from extensive inside knowledge and experience, and cleverly use an anecdotal approach to give life to what could otherwise have been a dry history. As a range of characters both famous and infamous passes before our eyes we get a sense of Eton's colourful and sometimes murky past, and accounts of contemporary school life give us an insight into the machinery that keeps this ancient institution on top of its game. Entertaining, informative and highly readable.”
Douglas Lee

Adam Nicolson writes a celebrated column for The Sunday Telegraph. His books include Sissinghurst, God’s Secretaries, When God Spoke English, Wetland, Life in the Somerset Levels, Perch Hill, Restoration, and the acclaimed Gentry. He is winner of the Somerset Maugham Award and the British Topography Prize and lives on a farm in Sussex.

The Importance of Being Eton
by Nick Fraser
“The uniform is Dickensian, the sports arcane, the fees astronomical. But Eton College still stitches itself into the fabric of our national life like no other school - the breeding ground for princes and prime ministers, where the arriviste meets the aristocrat. What is it about Eton? For many, it is a symbol of all that is wrong with Britain: an obstacle to modernity and a powerful force for privilege, elitism, and snobbery. For others, it represents a beacon of tradition and excellence in an otherwise monochrome world. But whether you love, loathe, fear or ridicule it, no one can ignore a school, which has such an impact on those who go there - and those who don't. Award-winning film maker Nick Fraser draws on his own experiences as an "OE", as well as those of teachers and fellow pupils - famous and infamous - to evaluate the phenomenon that is Eton.”

You can take the boy out of Eton ...
Bastion of wealth and privilege, or academic hothouse? With David Cameron poised to lead the Tories, fellow old boy Nick Fraser asks what Eton means now

Wed 23 Nov 2005 02.13 GMT First published on Wed 23 Nov 2005 02.13 GMT

Can an Etonian become prime minister? I suspect that only weeks ago most journalists wouldn't have known how to answer this question. "Maybe, maybe not," they might have muttered. "But perhaps only in a Michael Dobbs novel, or in a BBC rewrite of a Trollope plot by Andrew Davies." David Cameron has a tastefully tattooed wife, and makes speeches without notes. We can't be sure about his views, but he has supplied a resolution to a conundrum that has lingered over British politics since the day in 1964, when the still young Harold Wilson consigned the antiquated "grouse moor" figure of Sir Alec Douglas-Home to the dustbin of history. And the answer is surely: "Yes."

Cameron has achieved this transformation in political attitudes by cannily deflecting discussion of his education with the bland, unexceptionable remarks that have become his trademark ("It's not where you come from that matters, it's where you are going," he said in his unscripted Blackpool speech, to rapturous blue-rinse applause). He may even have been helped in his efforts by the ruse of apparently unwisely discussing his attitude to drugs - ECSTASY BOY NOT ETON BOY, etc. But his success does signal a long overdue shift in attitudes. Either it means that the old, reflexive antipathy towards Eton is dying. Or, at the very least, it could be delivering the message that Etonians are becoming more adept at circumnavigating the treacherous reefs of class war.

I wish to know what it means to be Eton. For the past two years, I've been going to Eton, attending classes, talking to teachers and Etonians. I should of course state here that I was educated there. But this isn't some perverse exercise in nostalgia undertaken in middle age. I would like to find out how it is that a single-sex school, founded in 1440, with only 1,290 pupils, a bizarre, quasi-Hassidic dress code and fees of £23,000 a year has come to be identified (depending on whom one is talking to) both with conspicuous excellence and with the maintenance of grotesque privilege.

Except among foreigners, in whose company they still seem like gods sent to walk on earth, Etonians appear arrogant pricks, raving snobs, closet homosexuals, members of a corrupt Masonic order, or, at the very least, as Alan Bennett puts it, "exotic creatures" beyond the immediate comprehension of lesser mortals educated at state school. The old distinction between Eton and so-called "minor"' public schools, it must be noted, still appears to exist. "Etonians tend to rub along with anyone they meet - because they can afford not to feel superior," says Tatler editor Geordie Greig. "But minor public schoolboys do tend to suffer from a 'wannabe factor' in relation to Eton."

Tony Little, the current headmaster, was at Eton during the 60s, but he doesn't look or sound like an Old Etonian. With his Harry Potter specs and genial, unassuming manner, he appears to epitomise the chummy egalitarian style of contemporary Britain. Little was on Chinese television a few weeks ago, speaking about the glories of an Eton education. He is fond of talking, in an ironical way, about the old tradition of noblesse oblige. But he also refers to Eton as a "four-letter word". His advice to Etonians is that, like gays, they should decide when to come out. And Little is keen to point out that the school isn't just a place for toffs. Eton does offer scholarships to those who cannot afford the fees (around 25% of the boys receive some sort of assistance) and it claims to accept a number of boys from poor families. With competitive entrance standards, Old Etonians can no longer find places for their offspring. One master tells me that the "thickest 15%" no longer attend the school. There is a plan to double the school's endowment, which currently stands at £150m, thus allowing any boy to come to Eton, whatever his parents' circumstances. I am not sure that this is an adequate response, though it is hard to see what else Eton can do, short of internationalising itself and going after corporate money.

Meanwhile, I suspect that it is Eton's relation to the royal family that most arouses feelings of exasperated resentment. Last year the question of whether Prince Harry had been helped to cheat in his art A-level was aired during the proceedings of an employment tribunal. When Eton lost its case against a young art teacher, and was censured, it was Roy Hattersley, writing in this paper, who attacked Eton most bitterly. Hattersley didn't suggest that Eton was a bad school. Instead, he wondered what would have happened if a comprehensive school had found itself in a similar jam. His point was that unfairness lay at the heart of places such as Eton, and it is hard to disagree.

Eton is a surprisingly small place, ungrand in the best English way, especially if you compare it with the ugly blockhouse of Windsor castle. Disregard the shambling outhouses and the green playing fields, and one could be in an Oxford or Cambridge college. Most visitors glance at the red-brick 16th-century yard, going either to the Chapel, with its banners and exquisite stained-glass windows, or beyond, to the brick wall, at the foot of which the likes of George Orwell and the philosopher AJ Ayer struggled for advantage in the famously incomprehensible Wall Game.

Created for poor scholars, Eton flourished by establishing bed-and-breakfasts for the sons of the wealthy. Generations of aristocrats gave to Eton its distinctive, laidback culture of insouciance. Eton is a good school, coming near the top in the annual tables of exam results; but it remains, most of all, a grand place. Attempts have been made to change the dress code, or introduce girls, but these have foundered. However, Eton is also an institution with an unerring instinct for survival, trading off its reputation even as it seeks to extend its influence. Among the generals and civil servants, or the merely rich, one can find Eton spies (Guy Burgess); Eton geniuses (George Orwell and Maynard Keynes); Eton roués (Alan Clark); Eton bounders (Sir James Goldsmith); and Eton murderers (Lord Lucan). There have been many simply nice or not-so-nice-but-ordinary Etonian chaps. Encouraged by their elders, Etonians went out and got themselves killed for their country in astounding numbers, as the school's many unbearably poignant war memorials attest.

In the old days Eton didn't need or bother to sell itself; but it has recently acquired brand status. "It is a luxury brand," Greig points out. "And luxury brands are wanted these days. You can go to any city where English is spoken, and they will know about Eton." Nowadays, Eton likes to lay stress on the entrepreneurs it produces (Johnnie Boden), the athletes (Matthew Pinsent), actors (Damian Lewis), successful cultural log-rollers (Jay Jopling) or green activists-lobbyists (Jonathan Porritt). Provost Sir Eric Anderson was housemaster to Tony Blair at Fettes ("the Scottish Eton"), and an intimate of the late Queen Mother. And yet this formidable establishment figure now talks, like any management consultant, about the need to renew an old brand. "Don't forget that the school is, above all, a modern place," he observes. "We do change, even if we don't always change in an obvious way."

But the primary function of Eton over the centuries was to produce a more or less educated ruling elite. Those interested in the real, partly lost history of Eton and its relation to power in Britain should make their way to Upper School. This is a long, beautifully proportioned 18th-century room with a dais on which names are carved, with crude benches each side, and, above them, busts of 18th-century Etonian worthies, wearing togas, such as Lord North and Charles James Fox. It is here, next door to the small room in which headmasters punished recalcitrant Etonians by "flogging" (the exquisitely painful application of a birch to the bare bum) that school debates took place.

"Debating at Eton has always been important," the writer Adam Nicolson observes. "You're never allowed to go off and be dreamy. Everything has to be tested by means of confrontation." "Etonians are good at politics," the writer Anthony Sampson (not an Etonian) told me, shortly before his death. "I've never quite understood why. And this applies to Etonians of any political beliefs." There have been a number of Etonian prime ministers, among them William Ewart Gladstone, and, in modern times, AJ Balfour, Anthony Eden, Harold Macmillan and Sir Alec Douglas-Home. More than half the members of AJ Balfour's 1902 cabinet were Etonians, but there were nine in Macmillan's 1956 government and 11 in Douglas-Home's.

How did these Etonians perform in government? In 1956, Eden took Britain into a catastrophic Middle East war, lying about the reasons for the conflict, and suffering a nervous breakdown that led to his resignation. Before the 1963 Profumo sex scandals, and his own prostate trouble, Macmillan presided over the spoliation of the countryside and the creation of abominable public housing, regaling Britons with such empty slogans as "You've Never Had it So Good". In his hands, too, the old "special relationship" with America came to mean agreeing with everything America wanted - a posture that ensured Britain's rebuff at the hands of De Gaulle when Britain wished to enter Europe. Poor at economics and public speaking, Douglas-Home used matchsticks in a vain effort to explain how he proposed to deal with Britain's economic ills. He is remembered chiefly for having made the career of satirists such as Bernard Levin.

In the early 60s, Etonians appeared to be everywhere in Britain - in City boardrooms, presiding over the National Theatre, as bishops or generals. Queen magazine ran a piece about the establishment by the journalist Henry Fairlie, with an illustration taken from an old Eton house photo in which all the boys' and masters' heads were superimposed images of contemporary Etonians. "The Macmillan era represented a never to be repeated moment," explains ex-Tory MP and writer Jonathan Aitken. "There was a joke to the effect that a sign was hung on the school gates - 'Cabinet Makers to Her Majesty the Queen'." With the fashion for egalitarianism, things began to change. "In those days it wasn't apparent what we were for," an Oxford professor educated at Eton explained to me. "And we suffered from the inheritance of so much privilege. We were instant dinosaurs, and, of course, no one would feel sorry for us."

Neither Ted Heath (cabinet-maker's son) nor Margaret Thatcher (grocer's daughter) displayed any conspicuous love for Eton. There were Etonians in Thatcher's first cabinet, but it appears that she didn't feel easy in their presence. In 1983, she sacked four of the most prominent Tory Etonians, prompting Macmillan's snobbish (and anti-semitic) mot about there being more Old Estonians than Old Etonians in the cabinet. There are still, to be sure, Etonians in the Tory party; but what Alan Clark called "government by means of the Old Etonian cabal", appears distinctly passé nowadays. When the mandarin Etonian Douglas Hurd ran unsuccessfully against the trapeze artist's son John Major, he was obliged, somewhat against his wishes, to stress the relatively modest circumstances in which he had been raised. "I was brought up on a farm," he said irascibly. "This is inverted snobbery. I thought I was running for leader of the Tory party, not some demented Marxist sect."

As shadow chancellor, Oliver Letwin was frequently barracked in the House of Commons, with cries of "You're an Old Etonian". Not so long ago, prodded on the matter by Jon Snow on Channel 4 News, he admitted that it was a disadvantage, if one wished to be leader of the Tories, to have gone to Eton. ("It's not important," he said, though it wasn't clear if this applied to the fact that Etonians couldn't any more get to the top, or was simply an attempt to evade Snow's irritating question.) Etonians wishing to get ahead in public life become parodies of themselves if they wish to survive. So we have Boris Johnson, MP and editor of the Spectator, adopting the role of buffoon in a way that would have seemed bizarre to Etonian forebears.

"Etonians aren't that political at present," says Fredrick Mocatta, who left Eton this year. "We tried to start a Conservative Club, and the school authorities gave us permission. But there was a total lack of interest in politics, Conservative or otherwise. Present-day Etonians are the same as the rest of the wristband generation - they vote in Big Brother. Give them the choice of debating the issues of the day and playing football, and you'll find that apathy and disinterest reign."

A contingent of 10 Etonians did march behind an Eton banner in the demonstration against the Iraq war, with school approval. But the school wouldn't allow its boys to protest against the ban on hunting, and a debate on the future of the monarchy was cancelled two years ago, because of the adverse publicity it might bring. Among the many Eton societies only the one named after Orwell has a record of airing dissident voices, and its meetings are often poorly attended.

Richard Pratt, a housemaster at Eton, and a Lib-Dem councillor, says that being Tory is still "the school's default mode". But he, too, believes Etonians are changing. Few boys admit to voting Labour, but a handful did canvas for the Lib Dems in the last election. "You do still encounter a quota of fat-bottomed Tories," he says. "On the other hand, I've never met an Etonian in my time here who actually said that he wanted to be a cabinet minister. Of course, Etonians are political, in the sense that they want to be rich and influential. But that means something different now. It's just not cool to be overtly political. Don't you think that politics now seem boring to many intelligent people?"

Significantly, Cameron wasn't active, or even much interested in, politics, either at Eton or, later, at Oxford. Like the young Tony Blair he appears enough of an outsider to seem fresh. In a contemporary British context (especially for a Tory party grown desperate in exile, grown old and regarding the jowly Cameron, perhaps a bit misleadingly, as the incarnation of Tory Youth), he doesn't appear to be a political hack. For the moment he can appeal outside politics, and across old class lines, to our sense of disgruntlement. As anyone in political life must do these days, Cameron looks and sounds like an anti-politician.

I recently spoke to a Toryish columnist who praised the rightwing tone of Cameron's formulations; but any Etonian will know that this is an illusion. Etonians are the ultimate pragmatists, totally free of ideology. Other than the imperatives of getting - and gaining - power, no conspicuous motives inspire them. In power, they mostly behave as other politicians, which is to say that they make compromises, cut deals and often end up telling half-truths, all the while talking of public service. It's not clear that Etonian politicians really believe in much except themselves - and this is one reason why Thatcher disposed of them so easily.

I wonder how the ultimate Cameron triumph, if it occurs, will play among Etonians. As Aitken explains, "oiling" is a readily practised school activity, indulged in if one wants to be elected to any of the self-selecting societies by means of which Eton governs itself. The Eton word "mob" (v.t.) means something like "to dismiss someone noisily, by taking the piss out of them". On the other hand, Floreat Etona is the school motto, and Etonians are expected to flourish. In their own blase way, they may simply come to believe that the school is once again receiving its due.

· Nick Fraser is the author of The Importance of Being Eton, published on June 4 2006 by Short Books.

St. Andrews Day At The Eton Wall Game (1914-1918)

The Eton wall game is a game which bears some resemblance to rugby union that originated at and is still played at Eton College. It is played on a strip of ground 5 metres wide and 110 metres long ("The Furrow") next to a slightly curved brick wall ("The Wall") erected in 1717.

The traditional and most important match of the year is played on St Andrew's Day, as the Collegers (King's Scholars) take on the Oppidans (the rest of the school). Although College has only 70 boys to pick from, compared to the 1250 or so Oppidans, the Collegers have one distinct advantage: access to the field on which the Wall Game is played is controlled by a Colleger. Despite this, it is usual for them to allow the Oppidans to use it whenever they wish.

The wall game being played in the late 19th or early 20th century. At right is The Wall, the dark strip of ground running alongside it is The Furrow.
At the annual St Andrew's Day match, the Oppidans climb over the wall, after throwing their caps over in defiance of the Scholars, while the Collegers march down from the far end of College Field, arm-in-arm, towards the near end, where they meet the Oppidans.

The Wall Game is also played on Ascension Day, immediately after a 6 a.m. service on the roof of College Chapel. Various scratch matches are also played throughout the Michaelmas and Lent halves (terms), where boys from different year groups, as well as masters, take part.

The aim of the game is to move the ball towards the opponents' end of the playing area. In those last few yards of the field is an area called the "calx". In this area a player can earn a "shy" (worth one point) by lifting the ball against the wall with his foot. A teammate then touches the ball with his hand and shouts "Got it!" These two plays must happen within the calx. After this, if the umpire says "Given", the scoring team can attempt a goal (worth a further nine points) by throwing the ball at a designated target (a garden door at one end of the field and a tree at the other end). A player can also score a kicked goal, worth five points, if he kicks the ball out and it hits a goal during the normal course of play.

The main game consists of the two sets of players forming a rugby-style scrummage (called a "Bully") in which neither team may "furk" the ball, which is to hook it backwards (except in Calx, where a different type of Bully called a Calx Bully occurs). The Bully is formed next to the Wall and crabs slowly along the Wall until the ball emerges. Many players, particularly those whose position is actually against the Wall, lose the skin off their elbows, hips and knees. Because of this, players usually wear long sleeves. Players within the Bully shove and push each other, mostly with their bodies but also by placing their fists against the faces of the opposition and attempting to lever them backwards and away from the Wall. Actual punching is not permitted, and grabbing an opponent's shirt ("holding") is also not allowed.

When in Calx, a different type of Bully called a Calx Bully occurs. The fastest way to make ground is by kicking the ball upfield and out of play whenever it comes sideways out of the Bully – unlike most types of football, play is restarted opposite where the ball stops after it had gone out, or was touched after it had gone out.

Consequently, the most common tactic revolves around the formation of a 'phalanx'. This consists of a tunnel (coming out from the wall, diagonally forward from the position of the ball) of players from one team who are crouching on hands and feet next to each other. Once the team in possession of the ball has formed a successful phalanx, it attempts to pass the ball down the 'tunnel' using the knees of the players forming it, to a player standing at the end of the phalanx, known as Lines, whose job it is to kick the ball upfield. The team not in possession is constantly attempting to disrupt this, and win the ball back.

The game lasts up to an hour, with two halves of 30 minutes each. Many games end 0-0. Scoring goals (ten points) is very rare; they occur about once every 10 years and there have been no goals scored in the St Andrew's Day game since 1909. There was a goal scored in a recent scratch match (a less formal warm-up match for the St Andrew's Day game) in May 2016 by a College player. However, shies (worth 1 point) are scored more frequently.

In the 2015 St Andrew's Day match, the outcome was a 0-0 draw. This marked the 106th consecutive St Andrew's Day match in which no goals were scored by either team. There was, however, a near controversy in the latter stages of the match. College was in Calx and shouted "Got it" to claim that they had scored a shy. Even though even an Oppidan player told the umpire that it was a clear shy and that it could be seen from where he was, the umpire claimed he could not see the ball off the ground and did not give the shy.

In the 2016 game, the 250th St. Andrew's Day match, College triumphed 1-0 against the Oppidans. This was the 107th consecutive St Andrew's Day match in which no goals were scored by either team; however, College scored a shy.

The Wall Game is organized entirely by boys, particularly by the Keepers (captains) of College Wall, Oppidan Wall and Mixed Wall. Famous past players of the Wall game include Boris Johnson, who was Keeper of the College Wall, George Orwell and Harold Macmillan.[citation needed] The First World War flying ace Arthur Rhys Davids also played, representing College with Ralph Dominic Gamble in 1915.

Members of the College Wall also annually commemorate the great Wall Game player Logie Leggatt, making a toast at each year's Christmas Sock Supper with the words in piam memoriam L.C.L (towards the pious memory of L.C.L). Despite its renown outside the school, only a very small number of the 250 or so boys in each year group ever take part in the sport, unlike the lesser-known but much more widely played Eton Field Game.

The Eton Wall Game has been played twice by all-female teams.

Saturday 10 August 2019

A Clique of 'Pseudo-Adults' / Britain's Elite-School Problem

A Clique of 'Pseudo-Adults'
Britain's Elite-School Problem

Boris Johnson is the 20th prime minister to come out of Eton College. The school represents a system in which the elite stay among themselves and fail to see the problems of others. And it is becoming a serious problem for the country.

 © By Jörg Schindler
Photo Gallery: 'Posh, Arrogant Boys'
Richard Shymansky

August 09, 2019  06:06 PM

At the very front of the Eton Museum, there is a wall of fame set up on a mint-green background. Princes William and Harry are there, as is James Bond author Ian Fleming, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the actor Damian Lewis and Hugh "Dr. House" Laurie. There are also decorated soldiers, Olympics athletes, journalists and adventurers. And, of course, politicians. David Cameron is there, as is Jacob Rees-Mogg and, on the top-right, a young, blonde man grinning broadly into the camera: Boris Johnson, who is described there as the former mayor of London and ex-foreign minister.

Eton College, it seems, hasn't completely caught up with the times.

The school is extremely proud of its "Old Etonians." The exhibit proudly notes that graduates of the school "can be found involved in almost every national movement, in every event and on every side."

That, some would say, is the problem.

In the United Kingdom, a lot of people are once again talking and writing about Eton. They aren't, of course, talking about the Berkshire village by that name, which is essentially just a long street decorated with Union Jacks located just west of London, around the corner from Windsor Castle.

They mean the complex that lies at the end of this road: a huge, castle-like clutch of red brick buildings largely closed off to the public. It is almost two square kilometers in size and sits between the Thames and the Jubilee Rivers. Eton College, the empire's almost mythical elite academy, the place where the wealthy classes send their children, one of the most famous and oldest boarding schools in the world. It is also the place that has "produced," as Eton itself says, 20 prime ministers.

The most recent Old Etonian to take the helm is Boris Johnson. He inherited his most important -- perhaps only -- task from another Old Etonian, David Cameron, who unnecessarily paved the way for the Brexit referendum in 2016. If you include former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who was educated in an elite Scottish school called Fettes College, the UK's fate for over the past 20 years has largely been determined by the graduates of elite boarding schools.

Is that merely a coincidence?

Once one begins reporting on private schools and starts speaking to their former students, one quickly comes into contact with an exclusive world of archaic rules and unconscionable wealth. This world only exists in Britain. There, only success counts, no matter how it is attained. The system has brought forth an astounding number of statesmen, military heroes, Nobel laureates, gold-medal winners and Oscar recipients. But it has also helped promote, deepen and cement inequality. It is a system that "underpins almost all that is wrong with British society," as Boris Johnson's own sister, Rachel, has said. She is among the many who believe that the private school system should be broken up.

An Archaic System

There is nothing to indicate that her brother agrees. Boris Johnson has appointed numerous private school-educated politicians to his cabinet, with almost two-thirds of his ministers belonging to the 7 percent of the population whose worldview was formed in a private institution.

As such, his government doesn't represent "modern Great Britain," as Johnson has claimed, but an archaic system that teaches those who belong to it that they are destined for the kind of greatness that others cannot reach. It is a system that teaches the preservation and exercise of power, but it also one in which the shrewd and cunning, but not necessarily the best, rise to the top. In its eagerness to produce a ruling elite, the system has also done lasting damage to the psyches of many of the children who have passed through it. And many view the boys' school of Eton College as perhaps the most representative example of this system.

It is a Friday in late July and around 25 tourists from around the world have gathered in the "Upper School." It is a classroom -- or, rather, an 18th century refectory, the walls of which are covered in names carved into the dark wood by former pupils. It has room for up to 70 students, and when they gather here, they aren't far from power.

Looking down at them from above are busts of numerous men who once transformed England into a global power. Lord North is there, the British prime minister who fought in vain to hold onto Britain's North American colonies, as is the former Lord High Chancellor and judge Earl Camden and the first Duke of Ellington, who defeated Napoleon. All of them were educated here, molded for a life in power.

A dark brown door leads from the Upper School to the headmaster's chambers. For much of the school's existence, there were essentially only two reasons for a student to enter these chambers. Either he had violated one of Eton's rules and had to be punished with a birch rod. Or he belonged to the elite of the elite and received the honor of extra lessons. The names of these particularly brilliant pupils are carved into the wooden walls for eternity. For the year of 1981, there is an entry for A. B. Johnson, roughly at the same height as the busts of the heroes of British history. "He was undoubtedly a very bright boy," says the tour leader, as Chinese tourists takes pictures of the name.

'Bumbling Confidence'

There is almost nobody on whom the teenager Boris Johnson didn't leave a lasting impression. He was known in Eton as "Yeti," as his former schoolmate James Wood recently wrote in the London Review of Books. "The bigfoot stoop, the bumbling confidence, the skimmed-milk pallor, the berserk hair, the alarming air of imminent self-harm, which gave the impression that he had been freshly released from a protective institution: All was already in place."

Johnson was a "King's Scholar" and from the very beginning he was among the most academically gifted at Eton. The bulky blonde quickly made a name for himself in rugby and Eton's own "Wall Game," a sport largely incomprehensible to outsiders that centers around doing all you can to hold onto a ball once you have possession of it. Johnson's path to leadership position was charted when entered the boarding school at the age of 13. In the five years that followed, the Eton system took care of the rest.

"There was always a real sense that we were kind of the elite in every way: socially, intellectually, educationally and financially," says Adam Nicolson at his country home in Sussex. The 61-year-old is co-author of "About Eton," a book about the institution, and the grandson of poet Vita Sackville-West. He attended the boarding school in the 1970s, just before Johnson made his appearance, and is ambivalent about his time at the school. He says Eton was akin to a small city-state, made up of students from different houses that compete with each other. Nicolson describes it as a strictly hierarchical "mimic-republic" that sees itself as a "a school for government."

"You have to understand how to build your constituency, how to network, how to charm people so you can build your world and become significant within your world." Charm, he emphasizes, was always the most effective means to that end, helping to free oneself from every dicey situation.

One time, when he was 15, Nicolson relates, he was found drunk by his house master. He was taken aside and told: "Listen, Adam. It doesn't matter if you get drunk, just don't get caught. This is Eton. The spotlight is on you."

Silver Buttons

Fear and humiliation, Nicolson says, were important elements of the Eton system at the time, and remain so today. Poorly written papers are still torn up by teachers in front of the entire class, and at the end of each school year, everyone can see who was best in class and who was worst. The school is home to "horrible bullying," Nicolson says. When he was a student, the less-brilliant ones were referred to as "dockers."

The notorious practice of "fagging," which saw older students taking younger ones as a kind of slave, no longer exists in quite the same way. But there is still a caste system that is manifested in a number of different ways, including in the uniforms that have remained largely unchanged since the end of the 19th century -- a black three-piece suit that makes the streets of Eton sometimes look like the town is hosting an undertakers' convention.

The best athletes, the best poets, the best thinkers are allowed to augment their outfits with ties or bowties, for example. And the crème de la crème have silver buttons in their vests. Boris Johnson was allowed to wear one of the latter early on in his Eton career. While other boarding schools have abandoned their uniforms, Eton has held on to the tradition.

The boarding school, says Adam Nicolson, "taught me how to learn," but also "to be frightened of failure." He paid a high price for those lessons, he says. "I've spent years trying to re-cultivate those parts of myself which the Etonian system would ignore or suppress." Nevertheless, the author, who has written two dozen books and won numerous awards, says he would still go to Eton if he had it to do over again. He also sent his own offspring to the school.

In doing so, Nicolson finds himself in good company. For centuries, the British upper classes have seen it as self-evident that they would send their children and grandchildren to Eton or another elite private school, usually at the age of 13. A spot in such a school doesn't just guarantee a top-quality education in luxurious surroundings -- with a golf course, horse stables, a recording studio, a theater and a facility for shooting clay pigeons.

Part 2: A Leadership Clique of 'Pseudo-Adults'

 August 09, 2019  06:06 PM

It also offers its students an influential network of friends and acquaintances they can rely on for the rest of their lives -- a network that dominates every relevant area of British society. Indeed, just like in feudal times, the alumni of the most important elite boarding schools -- in addition to Eton, the list includes Charterhouse, Harrow, Merchant Taylors', Rugby, St. Paul's, Shrewsbury, Westminster and Winchester -- inherit money, status and influence.

But it comes at a price. Since 1980, private school tuition has tripled on average, with some schools passing the 40,000-pound barrier in 2017. In places like Eton, the cost of the school uniform, trips and many other extras are not included.

As such, these schools have turned their original purpose on its head. Winchester College, the first school of this kind, was founded in 1382 by William of Wykeham, the deeply pious son of a farmer. It was intended to educate 70 children from poor families, enabling them to climb out of poverty. King Henry VI had the same idea when he founded Eton College in the shadow of Windsor Castle in 1440. Because these boarding schools were the only ones open to any child in the empire, they were called "public schools."

Their excellent reputations, though, attracted more and more rich families, who sent their children to the schools and, in return, paid fees that were initially voluntary. It didn't take long for the schools, originally set up to emulate Wykeham's brainchild, to succumb to the temptations of money. In response to the repeated criticism of the system, headmasters came up with the creative argument that the students were poor, and that "just their parents are rich." While they continued to be called "public schools," nothing could be further from the truth.

In response to growing public pressure, many of the around 2,500 "public" schools in Britain have, in recent years, increased the number of students able to attend thanks to bursaries, discounts or even full scholarships. Some institutions have even sought to mitigate their elite reputations by having their young charges perform some sort of community service outside of the school walls. But the majority of those who go to such boarding schools still come from wealthy families. In Eton, there are 73 children from "poor" families compared to 1,200 wealthy or extremely wealthy students. The latter often don't hide their disdain for those without money.

Education Budget Shortfalls

In the 2017-2018 school year, the school took in 51 million pounds in tuition, with an additional couple million coming in for extras such as school trips and music lessons. Eton College also owns 400 buildings, most of them listed due to their historical importance, a significant endowment and securities in addition to 175,000 artworks and valuable antiques.

This list of assets makes it even more astonishing that Eton College, like most similar boarding schools, enjoys significant tax breaks and that the state doesn't impose any tax at all on the tuition fees it takes in. This is partly because they are classified as charities due to their "cooperation" with other nearby schools, allowing them tax benefits in the billions. That cooperation, though, frequently only exists on paper. As a result, private schools continue to flourish while state-run schools often can't even afford the basics due to recent cuts to the education budget. A march on Westminster is scheduled for September to call attention to the shortfalls.

Even Michael Gove, a former education minister who is currently charged with making preparations for a no-deal Brexit as a member of Johnson's government, once expressed astonishment over the unfairness. In a 2017 op-ed for the Times, he wrote that state-supported private schools had facilities reminiscent of five-star hotels. Tuition at all of the schools, he wrote, was over 30,000 pounds, which is more than the annual salaries earned by most Britons. "To my continuing surprise, we still consider the education of the children of plutocrats and oligarchs to be a charitable activity."

Gove isn't the first to make that observation. Several efforts were made to reform the system in recent years, but all failed -- more sooner than later -- in part because those who profit from the status quo are grotesquely overrepresented in key government positions. Whereas just one in 15 people in Britain was educated in a private school, the educational charity Sutton Trust has found that 65 percent of all judges, 59 percent of state secretaries and 29 percent of lawmakers were educated at an elite school. And because almost half of all newspaper columnists likewise got their start in the system, criticism in the media tends to be limited. In all areas, women are severely underrepresented.

The most recent attempt to eliminate the education system's shocking inequality was undertaken by former Prime Minister Theresa May, who attended a state-run school. Only 30 percent of her cabinet was made up of private school graduates, the lowest share in seen decades. In 2017, the Conservative Party manifesto read: "The greatest injustice in Britain today is that your life is still largely determined not by your efforts and talents, but by where you come from, who your parents are and what schools you attend. This is wrong."

Educational Apartheid

The election that followed, however, ended in disaster for May, and from that point on, she was completely consumed by an intra-party battle over Brexit. Hardly a word more was said about education reform.

As a result, 21st century Britain has seen the perpetuation of a system that has almost nothing to do with educational equity and equal opportunity. In search of higher profits, many of the elite schools have opened up branches in China, Singapore, Dubai and the United Arab Emirates, offering the children of the elite the best education possible. Meanwhile, the mantra of social mobility in Britain has remained as hollow as ever. Indeed, independent studies have found that the boundaries between the very top and the very bottom are becoming increasingly impermeable.

"A child today has less chance of breaking through the class and career barrier than their grandparents born in the 1950s," writes Robert Verkaik in his book "Posh Boys." "The subtle networks of the privately schooled help to create a system of self-perpetuating advantage and social immobility." Verkaik has dubbed the situation "educational apartheid."

It is thus hardly surprising that anger against "the elite" has intensified. This rage contributed to the result of the Brexit referendum three years ago -- a decision to leave the European Union that caught David Cameron, the political classes, British business leaders, much of the media and even Brexit frontman Boris Johnson unprepared.

Nick Duffell isn't surprised. "Elite boarding schools consistently turn out people who appear much more competent than they actually are," says the 70-year-old psychotherapist. It is an overcast Wednesday in London and Duffell is on the way to the House of Commons to take part in a forum on the abolishment of private schools. But he takes a bit of time to talk about his favorite issue over a cappuccino, an issue that has been working on for the last 25 years: "boarding school survivors." He is one himself.

Duffell points out that the system, which takes children away from their parents for several months at a time, is largely unique to Britain. He explains that it has also left lasting damage on many of his clients. At its core, Duffell says, the system is about "getting rid of the parents, putting children in houses together, keeping them away from sexual contacts, putting them through a program of learning, sports and other things so that they have no leisure time whatsoever. And you get a recognizable product, which is very poor at emotions and has a built-in sense of entitlement." Products of the system, he says, tend to be self-confident, eloquent and charismatic, but often lack the ability to deal with their own feelings and those of others.

A Simpsons Character Come-to-Life

British boarding school students, Duffell says, have to leave their homes and families prematurely to struggle for survival in an environment of competition and harassment. Frequently, he says, their inner child is locked away and they quickly become "pseudo adults." That is why many of them seem so "boyish." Essentially, he says, Britain is being run by children in adult bodies for whom politics is little more than a fascinating game. The title of one of Duffell's books is "Wounded Leaders."

It is a tempting hypothesis, and looking at the country's political alpha males, one does in fact find a certain predilection for infantilism: Boris Johnson and his mussed hair; Jacob Rees-Mogg, who remains fond of taking pictures with his nanny; David Cameron, who turned tail and disappeared after his brutal Brexit defeat in 2016; and Nigel Farage, another elite school product, who seems like a Simpsons character come-to-life.

Nick Duffell was harshly criticized in parts of the British establishment for his thesis when he first presented it several years ago. These days, though, many others speak of the "boarding school syndrome." There have been shocking reports of psychological abuse, draconian punishments and sexual misconduct. A couple of years ago, a group of psychologists, doctors and academics joined forces to call on private elite schools to at least stop accepting really young children, saying that it was damaging to their psyche and the expression of an antiquated class system. The call was heard -- and then immediately disregarded.

Yet there is one thing that should be completely uncontroversial: The British boarding school system is not in a position to provide its charges with a realistic image of the conditions in which the vast majority of the population live their lives. The years in educational luxury are instead much more likely to further deepen the chasm between the self-proclaimed elite and the rest. There are, of course, counterexamples, such as the postwar British prime minister Clement Atlee, who is considered the father of the social welfare system, or the current Tory lawmaker Rory Stewart, whose modest, even-keeled manner is essentially the opposite of Boris Johnson.

For many other leading politicians, Robert Verkaik is on the money when he writes: "Pupils leave school with inflated egos, unshakeable faith in their own abilities and a craving for success. But this system for the self-selection of our leaders ... may be damaging to a nation that is trying to come to terms with a more modest place in world affairs."

Self-Confidence Above Expertise

Even some Conservatives are becoming increasingly uneasy with the fact that their party is losing its connection to reality. In 2012, following years of brutal austerity, Conservative lawmaker Nadine Dorries described Cameron and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, who was also educated in a private school, as "two posh, arrogant boys ... who don't know the price of milk, ... who show no remorse, no contrition and no passion to want to understand the lives of others -- and that is their real crime."

Dorries could have been referring to Johnson, who was mayor of London at the time and who was recently unable to identify the minimum wage in Britain. He instead presented a plan to lower taxes on the richest 10 percent. Even the center-right magazine Economist wrote that "Britain is governed by a self-involved clique that rewards group membership above competition and self-confidence above expertise."

It is precisely this wealthy and extremely well-networked clique that will have to bring Brexit to fruition in the coming months. Because of the advantages they enjoy, they will likely be unafraid of a "no deal" departure from the EU, because they almost certainly will not have to pay the price for it. The members of this clique know that they will get away scot-free. They always have.

They haven't learned any different.