Friday 31 July 2020

National Trust to make 1,200 staff redundant / VIDEO:A huge thank you from National Trust

Welcome to our virtual tea party to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the National Trust. We have a special message of thanks from our Director-General, Hilary McGrady and our president His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, so why not settle down with a cup of tea and even a slice of cake whilst you watch.

National Trust to make 1,200 staff redundant

Charity lost almost £200m after coronavirus lockdown shut its houses, gardens, car parks, shops and cafes

Chiara Giordano

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The National Trust is planning to make 1,200 staff redundant as it looks to save £100m in the wake of coronavirus.

The conservation and heritage charity, which has 5.6 million members, said it had lost almost £200m as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, which forced the closure of all of its houses, gardens, car parks, shops and cafes, and put a stop to holidays and events.

The trust said it had already saved millions of pounds through furloughing staff, drawing on reserves, borrowing and stopping or deferring projects, but still needs to make savings to keep it sustainable in the long term.

It has proposed £100m in annual savings, equivalent to almost a fifth of its yearly expenditure, through changes to operations and cuts to staff and budgets.

Director general Hilary McGrady said the organisation would continue to care for historic sites, and tackle climate change, loss of wildlife and unequal access to nature, beauty and history.

A quarter of furloughed workers could be made redundant in September
Some 1,200 salaried staff face redundancy as part of £60m proposed pay savings – about 13 per cent of the 9,500-strong salaried workforce.

The move, which comes after a decade which saw the National Trust nearly double in size, would bring staffing levels back to what they were in 2016.

The plans also include £8.8m savings by cutting the budget for hourly paid staff such as seasonal workers by a third.

The remaining £40m of savings will be made in areas such as travel, office costs and IT spending, through reductions in marketing and print spending in favour of digital communications, and by renegotiating contracts.

The trust has already announced it is stopping or deferring £124m of projects this year.

The charity said it is refocusing its efforts to protect cultural heritage, with limited cuts to staff caring for houses, gardens and collections.

There will be a shift from a “one-size-fits-all” approach to properties, with reviewed opening hours at some places and in some cases running a pre-booked guided tour system for visits.

The trust said it would continue its ambition, announced in January, to step up action against climate change, cutting emissions to net zero by 2030, planting millions trees and creating green corridors for people and nature.

It plans to restart the strategy in March next year, but Ms McGrady said the organisation would have to be “flexible” in achieving it.

She said: “We are going through one of the biggest crises in living memory.

“All aspects of our home, work and school lives and our finances and communities have been affected, and like so many other organisations the National Trust has been hit very hard.

“The places and things the National Trust cares for are needed now more than ever, as the nation needs to recuperate and recover its spirit and wellbeing.

“It is deeply upsetting to face losing colleagues and we are committed to supporting all of those affected. Sadly, we have no other course of action left open.”

Mike Clancy, general secretary of Prospect, the union for National Trust workers, said the priority was minimising the number of redundancies, maximising voluntary redundancy and getting as good a deal as possible for those who lose their jobs.

He warned: “At the moment there are no plans for National Trust to close whole properties, but they are shutting ‘unprofitable’ shops and cafes and the worry is that it’s only a matter of time.

“Once jobs are lost and assets are closed it is very hard to recover them.

“Access to our cultural heritage should be an essential part of society’s recovery from the pandemic, and the government should be doing everything it can to protect it.”

He said Prospect would be pushing ministers to ensure the rescue package announced for arts, culture and heritage get to where it is needed in a timely manner.

Additional reporting by Press Association

Thursday 30 July 2020

The Influence of Rugby and Football equipment on PREPPY FASHION / VIDEO: Rugby Ralph Lauren Fall 2008 Collection

Rugby Ralph Lauren was an American clothing brand launched in 2004 under the management of parent company Polo Ralph Lauren, the line has been retired. The brand specialised in Preppy/Rugby inspired lifestyle apparel for male and female clientele ages 16 through 25. Rugby also encompassed Rugby Food & Spirits, a small café modeled after the brand and offering dining inspired by the Rugby theme. Rugby merchandise was available at twelve stores throughout the United States, as well as one in Covent Garden in London, UK. By August, 2008 merchandise was also available online at

In November 2012, it was announced that Ralph Lauren would be ending the Rugby line by February 2013. On February 5, the website was closed with only links to Ralph remaining.

Rugby Ralph Lauren was a concept created by luxury lifestyle apparel designer, Ralph Lauren. The brand's first location opened at 342 Newbury Street in Boston, Massachusetts on October 23, 2004. Rugby's lower price point and edgier styling catered to a younger shopper than Lauren's other luxury clothing brands. Though the company experimented with logos, most of the clothing either carried a small embroidered rugby player, "R.L.F.C", or a skull and crossbones motif. Similarly, the brand adopted its signature colours of yellow and navy stripes on its shopping bags, tags and other promotional material.

The brand consisted of a line of rugby shirts, polos, jackets, suits, dresses, outerwear and accessories, all with a distressed or embellished flair, as well as RRL signature Rugby Football shirts that could be customized by buying patches in-store. Tying in with the brand name, the staple of the concept was the rugby shirt. Originally, these rugby shirts were created in the school colors in the college towns that the Rugby stores resided. Rugby also had a full book of patches that customers could purchase to personalize their rugby shirt in-store. Typically, there were also multiple luxury items in each line such as leather jackets and blazers.

Wednesday 29 July 2020

The English Game | VIDEO: Official Trailer | Netflix

From "Downton Abbey" creator and "Gosford Park" writer Julian Fellowes. Based on true events, this 19th century drama follows two footballers on opposite sides of a class divide who changed the game  — and England — forever. The English Game arrives on Netflix March 20.

The English Game is a British historical sports drama television miniseries developed by Julian Fellowes for Netflix about the origins of modern football in England. The six-part series was released on 20 March 2020.

In April 2018, it was announced Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes would write and executive produce his first Netflix series. Birgitte Stærmose and Tim Fywell are directing, Rory Aitken, Eleanor Moran and Ben Pugh of 42 are executive producing, and Ben Vanstone is co-executive producing.

The cast was announced in May 2019 as production began in England, mostly in the North.

The first season epilogue reads: "In 1885 the FA changed their rules to allow professional players. An amateur team never won the FA Cup again. Arthur Kinnaird became President of the FA, serving 33 years until his death in 1923. Fergus Suter and Jimmy Love are recognised as pioneers of the modern game, which now has over four billion fans across the world."

1             "Episode 1"        Birgitte Stærmose           Julian Fellowes, Tony Charles, Oliver Cotton & Ben Vanstone               20 March 2020
Arthur Kinnaird is captain and star player of the Old Etonians, an upper class football team. Their opponents in the 1879 FA Cup Quarter finals are Darwen FC, a working class factory team. James Walsh, the owner of Darwen FC and the associated mill decides to secretly pay two Scottish players, Fergus "Fergie" Suter and James "Jimmy" Love to join his team in a bid to secure the FA Cup (which at the time is exclusively for amateurs). At halftime the Old Etonians lead 5-1, however Darwen recover with a progressive adjustment (spreading out their formation and focusing on passing) to draw 5 all. The Old Etonians, who also happen to be FA Board members, decide that since extra time was not previously agreed to then the Quarterfinal will be replayed instead. The mill has financial issues and townsfolk pitch in to help pay for the trip. The replay is handily won by Old Etonians who focus more on shutting down Suter and Love rather than playing their own game. Darwen FC are greeted positively for their efforts by the town.

2             "Episode 2"        Birgitte Stærmose           Julian Fellowes & Ben Vanstone               20 March 2020
Suter meets with Walsh and persuades him to change some football strategies. Stokes, a team member, goes to Kinnaird’s bank to ask for a loan. Some Darwen mill workers talk about strike as a result of a prior 5 per cent wage cut. The Cotton Guild imposes another 10 per cent wage cut. Darwen workers walk out. The team refuses to train or play in matches while on strike. Suter fails to persuade Walsh to go against the guild. Workers go to the guild to demand a 5 per cent wage cut and fewer hours to help fight the oversupply that has caused the price of goods to fall. The guild refuses. Workers riot. Kinnaird is saved from the riot by Stokes. Against Kinnaird’s wishes, Stokes goes in his place to warn Colonel Jackson (the guild leader) that the mob is coming for him. Police show up and arrest Stokes and kill his dog. Stokes is put on trial and sentenced to 15 years in prison. Kinnaird testifies on behalf of Stokes and saves him from prison and gives him his loan. Walsh agrees to the 5 per cent wage cut and to work five days a week if the team plays their upcoming match. While waiting on the team at the match, Suter is approached by the manager of Blackburn FC and is offered £100 upfront and a £6 weekly wage increase. Suter turns him down as the team arrive to play.

3             "Episode 3"        Birgitte Stærmose           Julian Fellowes & Gabbie Asher 20 March 2020
Suter goes home to Glasgow to visit his poor family and drunken, abusive father who tries to shame Suter for being paid to play. Kinnaird and his wife continue to mourn the loss of her pregnancy six months earlier. Once back in Lancashire, Suter meets with Cartwright, the Blackburn FC manager and accepts his offer but needs a few days to make it right with Jimmy, Walsh and the Darwen team. After practice with the Etonians, teammates talk about the “epidemic” of working-class teams joining the Football Association. While the gentleman scoff at the conditions of the working poor, Kinnaird comes to their defence. The Darwen team are out celebrating Jimmy’s stag party. Mr. Walsh tells Suter that he’s proud of his decision to bring Suter on to the team. Suter thanks him but doesn’t mention the deal with Blackburn. Clearly drunk, Suter gets in a fight with another Blackburn player recently hired from Partick when he compares Suter to his drunken father. The following day, at the match between Darwen and St Luke’s, Suter arrives late and plays terribly. Darwen lose 3-0 and are out of the FA Cup. Suter storms off the pitch. At home, Suter tells Doris about the deal with Blackburn and says that he will tell Jimmy after the wedding. Jimmy practises his vows and Doris overhears. At the wedding, Jimmy tells all that he finally feels like he has a home in Darwen. As Suter begins his best man’s speech, he is interrupted by a teammate who reads a Blackburn ad about Suter joining the team, shocking everyone.

4             "Episode 4"        Tim Fywell          Julian Fellowes & Sam Hoare      20 March 2020
At the Darwen mill, Walsh shames Suter for his choice to leave. Suter tries to persuade Jimmy to come with him. Jimmy refuses, saying that Darwen is his team and his family now. Cartwright shows Suter the new facilities and stands. He shows off new teammates, including Jack Hunter from Sheffield, and tells Suter he is assembling a team of the best players north of Eton. Cartwright asks Walsh for his discretion regarding Suter’s professionalism and offers him £100 for Blackburn to play Darwen the next week in an exhibition match. After being seen talking familiarly with Mr Cartwright (with whom she previously had a child), Martha is fired from her job at the Cotton Master’s club. Mr Cartwright offers her money to help but Martha refuses, saying she needs to find her own way. At the Blackburn v Druids match, Suter struggles to mesh with his new teammates. Hunter is hailed the hero. Suter talks with Jimmy, who calls him a Judas. Suter tells Jimmy that he is trying to get his family away from his father. Suter again asks Jimmy to join Blackburn. Later, Jimmy stands up for Suter against the Darwen team and tells them he is joining Blackburn. On the way to the match between the Old Etonians and Preston, the Etonians discuss how football is becoming a booming business and is no longer just a game. The FA President complains that if it continues, only the richest teams will win and is planning to watch the exhibition match between Darwen and Blackburn to find evidence to expel them from the FA cup. The match between Darwen and Blackburn is rough and Jimmy’s leg is badly broken by a tackle and the blood loss threatens both his life and his leg.

5             "Episode 5"        Tim Fywell          Julian Fellowes & Geoff Bussetil               20 March 2020
Jimmy is told he’ll never play football again. Cartwright tells the Blackburn team that a portion of the match proceeds will go to help Jimmy’s recovery. Cartwright asks Suter how Martha and her daughter are doing after her job loss. After Cartwright tells his wife about the affair, she goes to Martha’s house and offers to care for her daughter, Jenie. Martha refuses. Martha tells Suter about Cartwright and Jenie. Martha goes back to talk with Mrs Cartwright and apologises for the affair with her husband. Suter and Martha kiss. Tommy, the player who hurt Jimmy, visits and to apologise. Suter arrives and tells Jimmy the team will support him financially and they are struggling to replace him. Later, Suter pushes Jimmy in a cart to the pub to cheer him up. Darwen teammates start to reconcile with Suter. Stokes talks about his business success making football kits. Doris asks after a job for Jimmy. Kinnaird has a falling out with his friend over the true reason behind missing the quarter-final match. After some tense discussions with his father about his football career, Kinnaird uses his football contacts to help save a vital investment. Kinnaird debates the merits of paying players with the Etonians. The Lancashire teams band together to beat the elite teams. Mr. Walsh persuades Tommy to join Blackburn to replace Jimmy. Cartwright offers Suter the captainship (and a bonus) if they make it to the final. Mrs Cartwright offers Martha a job at Brockshall and says she can bring Jenie. Two days later the FA Board meets without Kinnaird and discuss expelling Darwen and Blackburn from the cup.

6             "Episode 6"        Tim Fywell          Julian Fellowes & Ben Vanstone               20 March 2020
The FA Board votes to expel Blackburn. Kinnaird is furious. Later Kinnaird has it out with his friends about their betrayal.

Walsh, now the head of the Lancashire FA holds a meeting to figure out how to fight the ban. Suter offers to talk to Kinnaird. Walsh gives Suter a new suit so that he will fit in with the elite. Suter discusses the merits of professional players. Suter argues that the elites banning of professionals is not fair because they are not working all day to put food on the table. They both agree they play for the love of the game. At the Board meeting. Suter argues in favour of letting Blackburn play. The Board stands by their decision to ban Blackburn from the cup. Walsh tells him the Lancashire FA and most other county FAs will withdraw from the FA cup and form a new association. Kinnaird would be the new president. Kinnaird argues that the working-class teams will overwhelm the elite teams unless they include the working class. Kinnaird persuades the Board to let Blackburn play. At the match, the 1883 FA Club Final, the Etonians are playing well but in a very physical way. The score is 0-0 at half-time. One of the Etonian players is injured but they agree to keep playing anyway. Suter scores with a header from Tommy’s pass. In the last moments of the match, Kinnaird scores on a breakaway. The teams agree to extra time. Suter sits out a player to make the match fair and gives the players a rousing pep talk. Suter scores the winning goal. Suter lifts the cup to overwhelming cheers. In 1885, the FA officially allows professional players and an amateur team never wins the cup again. Kinnaird becomes the FA President and serves for 33 years until his death in 1923.

The English Game's few charms lie in the background, not centre stage
 This article is more than 3 months old
Jonathan Wilson

The latest series from Julian Fellowes starts badly and barely improves but it is a reminder football has never stood still

Sat 4 Apr 2020 20.00 BST

You can see how The English Game must have sounded in conception. It’s the birth of football. It’s toffs against proles, the rivalry of one of the great aristocrats of the early game, Lord Arthur Kinnaird, and the Glaswegian stonemason who was the first great professional, Fergus Suter. It’s about an idea going out into the world and being profoundly changed when it is taken up by the masses.

But Netflix’s new series comes nowhere near what it might have been, and is little more than a mishmash of Downton Abbey stereotypes and trouble-at-mill cliches. The toffs are habitually awful, the banks are always foreclosing, and the proles, salt-of-the-earth brawlers and charmers that they are, can’t help themselves but get everybody unhelpfully pregnant.

And the football? From the moment a minute in when Craig Parkinson, as the self-made mill-owner Walsh, tells Suter: “I’ve seen ’ow you play in Scotland. Your passing game is the future of football,” you know that subtlety, or characters who actually speak like real humans, isn’t what this is about. Still, for those who last saw Parkinson as the AC-12 officer Cottan in Line of Duty, where the plot revolved around the quest for the kingpin H and the implausible possibility that as he took his final breath he tapped out the letter in morse code, it’s something of a relief that here he eschews Hs altogether.

The English Game does improve slightly after a truly dire opening episode, but the interest really lies in themes that are glimpsed almost out of the corner of the eye, shoved to the margins by the heavy-handed central narrative. Suter, for instance, is offered a huge lump sum plus improved wages to leave Darwen and join Blackburn Rovers, which he accepts because he needs the money to rescue his mother and sister from his abusive father. Quite aside from the issue of whether it’s legitimate, without any evidence, to portray an actual person, albeit one who died more than a century ago, as a wife-beater, there’s a more universal question. Why shouldn’t Suter take the better offer? Darwen had paid to lure him from Partick and then they themselves were outbid: once professionalism has been accepted, why should there be a perceived need to give Suter an excuse for moving?

Other than giving one of the principal characters a troubled backstory, what is gained by blurring the central dilemma of professionalism, that without adequate checks money will dominate – something all too apparent in the super-club era – and that the transformation of the game into a job, while beneficial and necessary in opening it up to all, also inevitably erodes to an extent the camaraderie and athletic purity that are so central to the notion of sport as somehow spiritually improving?

It’s a thought that occurs now in discussions about a putative super-league. It’s easy to rail against it, to anticipate the potential tedium of the same super-clubs endlessly grappling with each other, to think of the social damage done to the non-super-clubs cast into permanent semi-irrelevance by exclusion from the main competition, to rage against the victory of capital over community, but there’s always also a thought of how history will view the debate. After 10 or 20 years of a super-league, and the brilliant football it would probably yield, would those arguments come to seem as irrelevant as those that once doubted the European club competitions, or British involvement in the World Cup, or, yes, professionalism and the formation of a league?

In The English Game, the toffs object to the working-class northern teams largely for reasons of status. And perhaps that’s how it was: after all, even leaving overt snobbism aside, it’s understandable that the university-educated teams who had codified the game not two decades earlier (in January 1864, the Football Association comprised eight south-eastern clubs plus Sheffield) would be resistant to an entirely different group of people taking over their game, particularly when they interpreted it in a very different way.

The tactical exposition in The English Game is clunkingly preposterous, but it’s not without substance: the passing game the northern teams came to favour (in part because they were smaller than their better-fed public school counterparts and so would have been seriously disadvantaged if they had no way of manoeuvring the ball away from physical clashes) was very different to the head-on charging practised by the game’s progenitors.

Although the point is not made explicitly in the series, the reason Darwen had to travel to London for their FA Cup quarter-final replay against Old Etonians in 1879 is that it was stipulated that all games from the quarter-finals onwards had to be played in London (the first match was not, as depicted in The English Game, played at Eton, but at Kennington Oval) – a not unreasonable requirement when most of the teams were based in the south-east. It’s notable that by the following season the regulation had been lifted, suggesting at least some flexibility on the part of the FA and a recognition that the geographic make-up of the game was changing.

And it would go on to change, spreading across the world. The English game became the Austrian game, the Hungarian game, the Argentinian game and, particularly, the Uruguayan game. It became everybody’s game, interpreted differently by every culture that embraced it. And that in turn created difficulties – as demonstrated in the tours made by British clubs to South America in the first half of the 20th century, which often became fractious with mutual misunderstanding, laying the ideological foundations for the controversy that would, for instance, overwhelm the 1966 World Cup quarter-final between England and Argentina. One of the fascinations of football is that it is simultaneously intensely local and utterly globalised, with all the tensions that brings.

But don’t expect to see any of that on Netflix, where the toffs drink claret and the proles drink beer (or whisky if they’re Scottish and having a bad time), the bank is forever foreclosing and an implausible number of goals are scored in the few seconds after kick-off. It’s a tremendous opportunity missed.

The 19th century saw the codification of the rules of football at several public schools, with those of Rugby School (first published 1845) and Eton College (first published 1847) being particularly influential, in addition to those of Harrow, Winchester and Shrewsbury. The need for alumni of different public schools to be able to play against each other resulted in several sets of "compromise laws", often known as Cambridge rules, being drawn up at the University of Cambridge between the 1830s and the 1860s.

In the second half of the century, a culture of independent "football clubs" began to thrive, particularly in London and Sheffield, with Sheffield Football Club, founded in 1857, today being recognised as the world's oldest surviving independent football club. The example of Sheffield F.C., which published its first set of laws in 1859, soon led to a proliferation of clubs in and around the city playing "Sheffield rules". Sheffield hosted the world's first multi-team football tournament, the Youdan Cup, in 1867.

In general, each football club, school or university tended to have its own rules, which might differ on such fundamental questions as whether to follow the example of Rugby School by allowing the ball to be carried, with players carrying the ball being allowed to be "hacked" (kicked in the shins) by their opponents. The desire of football clubs for a common code was the impetus behind the foundation of the Football Association (FA) in 1863. Within the FA, there was an acrimonious debate between the "hacking" and "non-hacking" clubs. When the first meetings were held to discuss the FA's laws of football, the "hackers" were in the ascendancy, but the publication of the 1863 set of Cambridge rules (which forbade hacking) enabled the "non-hackers" to prevail and the FA's first Laws of the Game, published in December 1863, banned hacking and carrying the ball. The FA, initially dominated by London-based clubs, saw its influence gradually spread over the country by the success of FA Cup, first contested in the 1871–72 season.

Between 1863 and 1877, the FA and Sheffield rules co-existed, with each code at times influencing the other. Several games were played between Sheffield and London teams, using both sets of rules. After several disputes, the two codes were unified in 1877 when the Sheffield Football Association voted to adopt the FA laws, following the adoption of a compromise throw-in law by the FA. The Sheffield rules had a major influence on how the modern game of football developed. Among other things they introduced into the laws of the game are the concepts of corners, and free kicks for fouls.

International football began when teams representing England and Scotland met in a match at Kennington Oval in south London on 5 March 1870. A total of five games were played between the two teams to 21 February 1872 but they are not recognised as official internationals by FIFA because the Scottish players were all London-based and so not fully representative of Scotland as a nation.

The first official international, Scotland v England, was played on 30 November 1872 at Hamilton Crescent, the West of Scotland Cricket Club's ground in Partick, Glasgow. It was a 0–0 draw watched by 4,000 spectators.[citation needed] On 8 March 1873, England's 4–2 win over Scotland at Kennington Oval was the first-ever victory in international football.

The late nineteenth century was dominated by the growing split between the amateur and professional teams, which was roughly aligned along a North-South divide. Northern clubs were keen to adopt professionalism as workers could not afford to play on an amateur basis, while Southern clubs by the large part stuck by traditional "Corinthian" values of amateurism. Eventually, in 1885 the FA legalized professionalism, and when Aston Villa director William McGregor organised a meeting of representatives of England's leading clubs, this led to the formation of the Football League in 1888. Preston North End were inaugural winners in 1888–89, and were also the first club to complete the double of both winning the league and the FA Cup. Aston Villa repeated the feat in 1896–97.

Saturday 25 July 2020

Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan book claims royal relations turned bitter / Harry angry at William's 'snobbish' advice about Meghan, book claims

Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan book claims royal relations turned bitter

Biography in which Sussexes did not take part depicts deteriorating relationship with Prince William and Kate

Staff and agencies
Sat 25 Jul 2020 01.12 BSTLast modified on Sat 25 Jul 2020 09.27 BST

Relations between the Sussexes and Prince William and his wife, Kate, deteriorated so much that by March the two couples were barely speaking, extracts from a book on Prince Harry and Meghan claims.

Finding Freedom, by Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, claims the couples hardly spoke during an engagement at the Commonwealth service at Westminster Abbey despite not having seen each other since January amid the fallout of the Sussexes’ decision to step back from the royal family.

The book is due to be published in August and is being serialised in the Times and Sunday Times. Harry and his wife, Meghan, have said they were not interviewed for the biography and did not make any contributions to it.

The authors said the couple “liked being in control of their narrative” from the early days of their marriage. Being told to operate under Buckingham Palace’s umbrella after splitting their household from the Cambridges’ was “a big disappointment to them”.

“As their popularity had grown, so did Harry and Meghan’s difficulty in understanding why so few inside the palace were looking out for their interests. They were a major draw for the royal family.”

The authors describe a culture of bitterness and resentment gradually growing between the Sussexes and other members of the royal family.

Prince Harry felt ‘unprotected’ by his family
Extracts from the book say the Sussexes felt their complaints were not taken seriously and believed other royal households were leaking stories about them to the press.

“There were just a handful of people working at the palace they could trust … A friend of the couple’s referred to the old guard as ‘the vipers’. Meanwhile a frustrated palace staffer described the Sussexes’ team as ‘the squeaky third wheel’ of the palace.”

Harry and Meghan arrive at Royal Albert Hall in London in March.

Harry and Meghan arrive at the Royal Albert Hall in London in March. The book says Harry believed some of the old guard ‘simply didn’t like Meghan and would stop at nothing to make her life difficult’.

The book is also reported to say that Harry felt “unprotected” by his family and disparaged within palace walls for being “too sensitive and outspoken”. He believed some of the old guard “simply didn’t like Meghan and would stop at nothing to make her life difficult”.

Scobie said it was hard for Meghan as a mixed-race American to join the royal family. “That was going to ruffle some feathers.”

The Sussexes considered the extreme measure of breaking royal protocol to contact his grandmother, the Queen, as tensions grew in the family. Harry spoke to his father, Prince Charles, and the Queen about the need to change things before he left for Canada for six weeks at the end of 2019.

The authors write: “He felt at once used for their popularity, hounded by the press because of the public’s fascination with this new breed of royal couple, and disparaged back within the institution’s walls.”

While in Canada the couple decided to step back as senior royals. The book claims Harry attempted to set up a meeting with his grandmother at the start of January but was told she was unavailable until the end of the month.

In the extract published in the Times, the authors write that as the couple flew back to the UK they “toyed with the idea of driving straight from the terminal to see the Queen”.

But this was abandoned because they decided it could have “ruffled feathers” and caused them difficulty.

A website designed to clarify Harry and Meghan’s future was “deeply upsetting” to members of the royal family and “hurt the Queen”, the book claims, saying the couple were forced to take action after a story broke that they were going to stay in Canada permanently.

The book’s authors write that a royal source denied leaking the story, instead blaming the couple “because they were frustrated at the palace in the talks that were going on … They wanted to force the decision, to break it open.”

The couple deny this claim, the Times reports.

In Finding Freedom a source said the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were ‘devastated’ by the Sussexes’ website.

On 8 January Harry and Meghan used their Instagram page to share the news of their future plans and launched the website

The website took everyone by surprise, the authors write.

“Aides and family members knew the couple wanted to step back, but the website, which laid out the details of their half-in-half-out model as if it were a done deal, put the Queen in a difficult position.”

Buckingham Palace put out a short statement 15 minutes after the Sussexes made theirs, but aides, including the Queen’s private secretary, were “furious”. And there was significant reaction from fellow royals, with a source saying the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were “devastated”.

A senior member of the household was quoted in the book as saying: “The element of surprise, the blindsiding of the Queen, for the other principals who are all very mindful of this, rightfully, it was deeply unsettling.

“The family is very private and bringing it into the public domain, when they were told not to, hurt the Queen.

“It was laying out what the Sussexes wanted in a statement without consulting with Her Majesty first – and she’s the head of the institution.”

The book’s authors write that the Queen told Harry his proposed arrangement would not work, prompting him to search for solutions across several days of intense meetings with top aides from all three royal households.

One aide made a joke about Meghan launching a line of cosmetics, while another source is quoted in the book as saying: “The biggest row was over money, because it always is.”

In April 2019, Kensington Palace announced Harry was working with the US chat show queen Oprah Winfrey on a mental health documentary series.

The couple have promised that “everything they do will continue to uphold the values of Her Majesty”.

As the excerpts were published, a statement on behalf of Harry and Meghan said: “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were not interviewed and did not contribute to Finding Freedom. This book is based on the authors’ own experiences as members of the royal press corps and their own independent reporting.”

With Reuters and the Press Association

Harry angry at William's 'snobbish' advice about Meghan, book claims

Prince William said to have feared brother was ‘blindsided’ by lust in his haste to marry

Caroline Davies
Sun 26 Jul 2020 12.00 BSTLast modified on Sun 26 Jul 2020 19.05 BST

The royal rift that led to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex leaving Britain and stepping back from royal duties began after Prince William feared his brother had been “blindsided” by lust in his haste to marry Meghan Markle, a new book claims.

Harry was offended by William’s advice to “take as much time as you need to get to know this girl”, causing tension between the two that finally led to “Megxit” , according to the authors of Finding Freedom.

He was allegedly angered by the words “this girl”, perceiving it as “snobbish” and “condescending”.

The Sussexes have distanced themselves from the book, by the royal correspondents Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, with a spokesman for the Sussexes saying they were not interviewed and did not contribute to Finding Freedom, which was “based on the authors’ own experiences as members of the royal press corps and their own independent reporting”.

In it, the authors claim to chronicle the deteriorating relationships between the Sussexes, senior royals, and the palace “old guard”. One senior royal is said to have referred to Meghan as “Harry’s showgirl”, while another allegedly said: “She comes with a lot of baggage.”

A senior courtier is said to have remarked: “There’s just something about her I don’t trust.” One frustrated palace staffer is said to have referred to Meghan as “the squeaky third wheel” of the palace. The book claims the couple thought there was only a handful of people at the palace they could trust, while a friend of theirs referred to the old guard as “the vipers”.

In extracts serialised in the Times and Sunday Times, the authors claim there was no actual feud between Kate and Meghan, contrary to press reports, but that the two women had nothing in common. Kate would reach out to Meghan, but “didn’t lose sleep” over it when she did not respond, while Meghan was disappointed by Kate’s lack of support, according to the book.

Rather, the authors claim, the alleged rift between the two couples was due to a growing coolness between Harry and William. By March, at the time of the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey, the couples were said to be barely speaking. Scobie told the Times Meghan had tried to make eye contact with Kate at the service, but had been barely acknowledged. “To purposefully snub your sister-in-law … I don’t think it left a great taste in the couple’s mouths.”

Harry and Meghan’s decision to cut free grew out of Harry’s belief they were unprotected by the institutions around the monarchy and derided by the old guard for being too sensitive and outspoken, the book claims.

This apparently led to their decision to move to Windsor. “He wanted to get away from the goldfish bowl that was Kensington Palace,” the authors said. It is also claimed they believed other royal households were leaking stories about them to the press.

Once they decamped to Frogmore Cottage in Windsor, thus splitting from the Cambridges at Kensington Palace, it was apparently “a big disappointment” to them to be told they must operate under Buckingham Palace’s umbrella. The authors wrote: “As their popularity had grown, so did Harry and Meghan’s difficulty in understanding why so few inside the palace were looking out for their interests. They were a major draw for the royal family.”

Having spent Christmas in Canada away from palace pressure, and formulated plans to move there, they were unable to immediately see the Queen to discuss their plans. Believing they were being blocked from seeing the monarch, they even considered breaking protocol by springing a surprise visit by driving straight to see her from the airport terminal after landing back in the UK, it was claimed.

When they made their “Megxit” announcement on a new website,, aides including the Queen’s private secretary were said to be furious, and the Queen and Prince Philip apparently devastated.

Neither Buckingham Palace nor Kensington Palace have commented.

Author of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's biography Omid Scobie says even the Sussexes 'didn't expect things to turn out the way they did' and promises book will be the definitive version' of their lives

British journalist Omid Scobie discussd the release of Harry and Meghan's bio
Says it feels nice to finally talk about the project after  'beavering away at quietly for two years'
Admitted even the Sussexes didn't expect things to turn out the way they did
 Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of A Modern Royal Family is set to be released worldwide online on August 11

With Reuters and the Press Association
PUBLISHED: 12:06 BST, 6 May 2020 | UPDATED: 14:42 BST, 8 May 2020

The author of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's much-anticipated biography Omid Scobie has admitted it feels nice to 'finally be able to talk about' the project he's been 'beavering away at quietly for two years'.

British journalist Omid Scobie, who has accompanied Prince Harry, 35, and Meghan Markle, 38, on a variety of royal tours, took to the podcast The Heir Pod to discuss the release of the book.

Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of A Modern Royal Family is set to be released worldwide online on August 11, with the hard copy on sale from August 20 and was released to pre-order over the weekend.

And Omid admitted that their tale has included twists and turns that 'even the Sussexes didn't expect'.

Speaking about finishing the biography, he said: 'It's been a long time in the making. The last few weeks have been quite a challenge getting it all ready in time for the deadline.

'It feels nice to finally be able to talk about it after quietly beavering away on it for a long time.'

He added: 'This project started about two years ago, and there have been twists and turns that no one expected. This is something no one expected.

'I don't even think Harry and Meghan, who by their own account struggled with the realities of the situation, expected things to turn out the way they did.'

Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of A Modern Royal Family is set to be released worldwide online on August 11, with the hard copy on sale from August 20 and was released to pre-order over the weekend

Explaining that the biography gives a real inside account of their story, he said: 'I've been on so many engagements and around them as much as possible, and spoken to so many people in their lives, so no stone has been left unturned.

'I've seen the couple remain faithful in their own beliefs and stand strong in the face of adversities which have been publicly played out in the press, and I would like to think this tells the definitive version of their lives together.'

British journalist Omid Scobie, who has accompanied Prince Harry, 35, and Meghan Markle, 38, on a variety of royal tours, took to the podcast The Heir Pod to discuss the release of the book
British journalist Omid Scobie, who has accompanied Prince Harry, 35, and Meghan Markle, 38, on a variety of royal tours, took to the podcast The Heir Pod to discuss the release of the book

Publishing house Harper Collins, which owns Dey Street Books, the publisher of the biography released a brief description of Meghan and Prince Harry's collaboration with the two journalists.

The book's description says that 'few know the true story of Harry and Meghan'.

It promises to go 'beyond the headlines to reveal unknown details of Harry and Meghan's life together, dispelling the many rumours and misconceptions that plague the couple on both sides of the pond'.

It continues: 'With unique access and written with the participation of those closest to the couple, Finding Freedom is an honest, up-close, and disarming portrait of a confident, influential, and forward-thinking couple who are unafraid to break with tradition, determined to create a new path away from the spotlight, and dedicated to building a humanitarian legacy that will make a profound difference in the world.'

A description of the biography on Amazon promises to offer an 'honest, up-close, and disarming portrait' of the 'confident, influential, forward' Prince Harry , 35, and Meghan Markle, 38 (seen on their wedding day in May 2018)      +4
A description of the biography on Amazon promises to offer an 'honest, up-close, and disarming portrait' of the 'confident, influential, forward' Prince Harry , 35, and Meghan Markle, 38 (seen on their wedding day in May 2018)

The cover features a beaming Prince Harry and Meghan as they visited their namesake county in October 2018 for the first time.

 The Mail on Sunday were told that before moving to North America, the Sussexes gave an interview to the book's authors, both journalists.

One of them, Omid Scobie, is thought to be close to Meghan and was one of the favoured journalists given details of the couple's video call to the Queen last week in which they wished her a happy 94th birthday.

Echoing Princess Diana's secret involvement in the blockbuster biography, Diana: Her True Story, when she encouraged her friends to speak to author Andrew Morton, questions are being asked whether members of Meghan's inner circle were being urged to help Scobie and his American co-author, Carolyn Durand.

The 320-page biography, due to be released in August, is expected to be a global bestseller.

Harry and Meghan 'did not contribute' to new book Finding Freedom


The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have denied contributing to a new book about their life in the Royal Family.

The book, Finding Freedom - which is being serialised in the Times - has claimed the Sussexes and Cambridges were barely speaking by March.

It also says friends of Prince Harry and Meghan referred to some Palace officials as "vipers".

A spokesman for the Sussexes, who now live in California, said they had not been interviewed for the book.

A statement said: "The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were not interviewed and did not contribute to Finding Freedom.

"This book is based on the authors' own experiences as members of the royal press corps and their own independent reporting."

The book's authors, Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, describe a culture of increasing tension between the Sussexes and other members of the Royal Family.

They say the Sussexes felt their complaints were not taken seriously and believed other royal households were leaking stories about them to the press.

"There were just a handful of people working at the palace they could trust," the authors write.

"A friend of the couple's referred to the old guard as 'the vipers'.

"Meanwhile, a frustrated palace staffer described the Sussexes' team as 'the squeaky third wheel' of the palace."

The duke and duchess are now based in Los Angeles, California, having stepped back as senior royals earlier this year.

For their last public appearance as working members of the Royal Family, they joined the Queen and other senior royals at the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey on 9 March.

They have since begun their new life of personal independence in the US, pursuing charity projects.

There are some startling headlines accompanying the serialisation of Finding Freedom but those in search of a smoking gun may be disappointed.

Reliable, quotable sources are the hard currency of books about royalty. And Finding Freedom is quite well sourced. The authors have leant heavily on contacts in the different courts - Buckingham Palace for the Queen, Kensington Palace for William and Kate, 'the Sussexes' for Harry and Meghan. And they have spoken to at least one person, maybe more, who feels he or she can speak for, and at times quote, Meghan herself, and at least one friend of Prince Harry who feels he or she can do the same.

So some flesh is put on the bones of a story that we know quite well but despite the headlines there are no new properly sourced revelations in the book as serialised so far. We knew that William and Harry's relationship was badly damaged; Harry told ITN's Tom Bradby that in the interview he gave in late 2019. We knew that Meghan felt abandoned by the Palace; she went out of her way to make that point to Bradby in the same programme.

We knew that the Queen was upset by the couple's declaration of independence in January this year - senior Palace sources told the BBC within hours of the couple's statement. And we knew that Harry despises the media and some of its coverage of Meghan; he has spoken openly and very clearly about how he feels.

So Finding Freedom may be more rewarding for the rounded portrait it paints of a couple at the centre of a terrible whirlwind than in any particular revelation about who did what to whom, and when.

Earlier this month, Meghan delivered a speech to a gender equality summit, while the duke and duchess also spoke to young people about equal rights during the Queen's Commonwealth Trust weekly video call.

Meanwhile, the Sussexes have launched legal action in the US after drones were allegedly used to take pictures of their infant son Archie.

The move marked the latest example of the Sussexes actions against what they have previously described as "invasive" tabloid media.

Meghan is also suing the publisher of the Mail on Sunday and Mail Online for breach of privacy and copyright infringement. The publisher denies her claims.

Friday 24 July 2020

Découvrez le Palais de l’Elysée à Paris / TV Baron Noir season 3: criticism of a France on the brink of chaos

 The Élysée Palace (French: Palais de l'Élysée is the official residence of the President of the French Republic. Completed in 1722, it was initially built for Louis Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne. It was used as the office of the French President for the first time in 1848. The current building contains the presidential office and residency, as well as the meeting place of the Council of Ministers. It is located near the Champs-Élysées in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, the name Élysée deriving from Elysian Fields, the place of the blessed dead in Greek mythology. Important foreign visitors are hosted at the nearby Hôtel de Marigny, a palatial residence.

Hôtel d'Évreux

The Count of Évreux, by Hyacinthe Rigaud, circa 1720

The Hôtel d'Évreux and its gardens circa 1737

The architect Armand-Claude Molet possessed a property fronting on the road to the village of Roule, west of Paris (now the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré), and backing onto royal property, the Grand Cours through the Champs-Élysées. He sold this in 1718 to Louis Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne, Count of Évreux (families: Dukes and Princes of Bouillon and Sedan: La Marck | von der Marck), with the agreement that Mollet would construct an hôtel particulier for the count, fronted by an entrance court and backed by a garden. The Hôtel d'Évreux was finished and decorated by 1722, and though it has undergone many modifications since, it remains a fine example of the French classical style. At the time of his death in 1753, Évreux was the owner of one of the most widely admired houses in Paris, and it was bought by King Louis XV as a residence for the Marquise de Pompadour, his mistress. Opponents showed their distaste for the regime by hanging signs on the gates that read: "Home of the King's whore". After her death, it reverted to the crown.

In 1773, it was purchased by Nicolas Beaujon, banker to the Court and one of the richest men in France, who needed a suitably sumptuous "country house" (for the city of Paris did not yet extend this far) to house his fabulous collection of great masters paintings. To this end, he hired the architect Étienne-Louis Boullée to make substantial alterations to the buildings (as well as design an English-style garden). Soon on display there were such well-known masterpieces as Holbein's The Ambassadors (now in the National Gallery in London), and Frans Hals' Bohemian (now at the Louvre). His architectural alterations and art galleries gave this residence international renown as "one of the premier houses of Paris".

Royal and Imperial Palace
The palace and gardens were purchased from Beaujon by Bathilde d'Orléans, Duchess of Bourbon in 1787 for 1,300,000 livres. It was the Duchess who named it the Élysée. She also built a group of cottages in the gardens which she named the Hameau de Chantilly, after the Hameau at her father-in-law's Château de Chantilly. With the French Revolution, the Duchess fled the country and the Élysée was confiscated. It was leased out. The gardens were used for eating, drinking, and dancing, under the name Hameau de Chantilly; and the rooms became gambling houses.

In 1803, the Élysée was sold to Joachim Murat, and in 1808, to the Emperor, and it became known as the Élysée-Napoléon. After the Battle of Waterloo, Napoléon returned to the Élysée, signed his abdication there on 22 June 1815, and left the Élysée on the 25th.

Russian Cossacks camped at the Élysée when they occupied Paris in 1814. The property was then returned to its previous owner, the Duchesse de Bourbon, who then sold it to her royal cousin, Louis XVIII, in 1816.

Presidential residence
Under the provisional government of the Second Republic, it was called Élysée National and was designated the official residence of the President of the Republic. (The President also has the use of several other official residences, including the Château de Rambouillet, forty-five kilometres southwest of Paris, and the Fort de Brégançon near Marseille.)

In 1853, following his coup d'état that ended the Second Republic, Napoléon III charged the architect Joseph-Eugène Lacroix with renovations; meanwhile he moved to the nearby Tuileries Palace, but kept the Élysée as a discreet place to meet his mistresses, moving between the two palaces through a secret underground passage that has since been demolished.[citation needed] Since Lacroix completed his work in 1867, the essential look of the Palais de l'Élysée has remained the same.

In 1873, during the Third Republic, The Élysée became the official presidential residence.

In 1899, Félix Faure became the only French President to die in the palace.

In 1917, a chimpanzee escaped from a nearby ménagerie, entered the palace and was said to have tried to haul the wife of President Raymond Poincaré into a tree only to be foiled by Élysée guards.President Paul Deschanel, who resigned in 1920 because of mental illness, was said to have been so impressed by the chimpanzee's feat that, to the alarm of his guests, he took to jumping into trees during state receptions.

The Élysée Palace was closed in June 1940, and remained empty during World War II. It was reoccupied only in 1946 by Vincent Auriol, President of the provisional government, then first President of the Fourth Republic from 1947 to 1954.

From 1959 to 1969, the Élysée was occupied by Charles de Gaulle, the first President of the Fifth Republic. De Gaulle did not like its lack of privacy, and oversaw the purchase of the luxurious Hôtel de Marigny to lodge foreign state officials in visits to France, saying, "I do not like the idea of meeting kings walking around my corridors in their pyjamas."

In the 1970s, President Georges Pompidou had some of the original rooms in the palace redesigned by Pierre Paulin in the modern style, of which only the Salle à Manger Paulin survives.

Socialist President François Mitterrand, who governed from 1981 to 1995, is said to have seldom used its private apartments, preferring the privacy of his own home on the more bohemian Left Bank. A discreet flat in the nearby presidential annexe Palais de l'Alma housed his mistress Anne Pingeot, mother of his illegitimate daughter Mazarine Pingeot.

By contrast, his successor Jacques Chirac lived throughout his two terms in office (1995–2007) in the Élysée apartments with his wife Bernadette.

Chirac increased the Palace's budget by 105% to 90 million euros per year, according to the book L'argent caché de l'Élysée. One million euros per year is spent on drinks alone for the guests invited to the Élysée Palace, 6.9 million euros per year on bonuses for presidential staff and 6.1 million euros per year on the 145 extra employees Chirac hired after he was elected in 1995.

The Élysée has gardens, in which presidents hosted parties on the afternoon of Bastille Day until 2010. That year, then-President Nicolas Sarkozy decided to stop organizing this event because of France's high debt and the economic crisis.

The heavily guarded mansion and grounds are situated at 55 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré at its intersection with Avenue de Marigny [fr]. A monumental gate with four iconic[clarification needed] columns, flanked by walls topped by a balustrade, opens onto a large rounded courtyard. The majestic ceremonial courtyard imparts a degree of grandeur to the house. The main residence is constructed in the French classical style. An entrance vestibule is aligned with the ceremonial courtyard and gardens. There is a long central building, a great — or State — apartment divided in the middle by a large salon that opens into the garden. This building also has a central three-storey section, and two single-floor wings: the Appartement des Bains to the right, and the Petit Appartement (private apartments) to the left. The French-style garden has a central path aligned with the central building, patterned flowerbeds and alleys of chestnut trees edged with hedgerows.

Ground floor

Diagram of the ground floor: 1/ Terrasse 2/ Salon d'argent 3/ Salle à Manger 4/ Bibliothèque 5/ Salon bleu 6/ Salon des Cartes 7/ Salle des fêtes 8/ Salon Murat 9/ Salon des Aides de camps 10/ Salon des ambassadeurs 11/ Salon Pompadour 12/ Salon des portraits 13/ Salon Cléopâtre 14/ Escalier Murat 15/ Vestibule d'honneur 16/ Salon des tapisseries 17/ Jardin d'hiver 18/ Salon Napoléon III 19/ Cour d'honneur.

The Vestibule d'Honneur (Hall of Honour) is the room which the main entrance to the palace leads into. In this room the President of France meets visiting officials, world leaders and spiritual leaders.

The Salon d'Argent (Silver Room), in the east wing of the palace, was decorated by Caroline Murat, wife of Joachim Murat and sister of Napoleon I. The room is so called because of the silver coloured edges to the wall features, mantelpieces, tables, sofas and armchairs, of which the last have swan sculptures at the sides. Three notable historical events happened in this room. On 22 June 1815, Napoleon formally signed his abdication warrant after losing the Battle of Waterloo that year; on 2 December 1851 Louis Napoleon launched his coup d'état; and in 1899, President Félix Faure met his mistress, Marguerite Steinheil.

The Salle à Manger Paulin (Paulin Dining Room), named after its architect, Pierre Paulin, is a complete contrast to most of the other rooms in the palace. It was designed as a private dining room for President Georges Pompidou and his wife Claude, and the interior and furniture date from the 1970s. The walls are made of 22 polyester panels, the chairs have a single leg attached to a round base, and the round table is made of glass. The room is lit by roof panels decorated with glass balls and rods.

The Salon des Portraits (Portrait Room) was used by the Emperor Napoleon III for portrait medallions of the most important sovereigns of the time, replacing earlier portraits of the Bonaparte family installed by Joachim Murat. The portraits are of: Pope Pius IX, Emperor Franz Josef I of Austria-Hungary, Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, King Victor Emmanuel II of Italy, Tsar Nicholas I of Russia, King Frederick William IV of Prussia, Queen Isabel II of Spain and King William I of Württemberg. Previously a dining room, President Nicolas Sarkozy used the room as his second office.

The Salle des Fêtes (Hall of Festivities) dominates the west wing of the palace. It was designed by Eugène Debressenne [fr] and opened on 10 May 1889 by the then President, Sadi Carnot, to coincide with the Exposition Universelle that year. The room has paintings on the ceiling called "La République sauvegarde la Paix" (The Republic Safeguards Peace), painted by Guillaume Dubufe in 1894. There are also six Gobelins tapestries in the room, which is predominantly laid out in red and gold decor. In 1984 President François Mitterrand added ten windows to the room to let in more light. It is in this room that all French Presidents are inaugurated, and where they host official conferences and banquets.

The Jardins d'Hiver (Winter Gardens) was built in 1883 as a greenhouse for growing plants. Today it is no longer used for this purpose, being instead an extension of the Salon des Fêtes, and used for official banquets. There is a Gobelins tapestry on the wall, and three chandeliers hang from the ceiling.

 The Salon des Ambassadeurs
The Salon Murat (Murat Room) is used every Wednesday by the President for meetings with the Prime Minister and Cabinet of France, along with the Presidential Secretary (known as the "Secretary-General of the Élysée"). It was also in this room that Konrad Adenauer, Chancellor of Germany, signed the Treaty of the Élysée in 1963.

The Salon Cléopâtre (Cleopatra Room) gets its name from a Gobelins tapestry on the wall, installed during the presidency of Sadi Carnot, which depicts Antony and Cleopatra meeting at Tarsus. Also in the room is a portrait of Maria Amalia, Duchess of Parma, painted by Alexandre Roslin.[6]

The Salon des Ambassadeurs (Ambassadors' Room) is where the French President officially receives ambassadors from abroad.

The Salon Bleu (Blue Room) is used as the office of the First Lady of France.

The Escalier Murat (Murat Staircase) is the main staircase in the palace, linking the ground and first floors.


 Baron Noir season 3: criticism of a France on the brink of chaos

Alexander Janowiak March 2, 2020 - UPDATE: 06/05/2020 23:43
Political Drama

Season 3 of Baron Noir allows Canal - to confirm its status as the best creator of original French series, far ahead of Netflix. The political series showrunned by Eric Benzekri and carried by a determined Kad Merad is not always at its best in these eight new episodes, but plays very skilfully the real and the fictional to deliver a captivating story about the French political and societal world.

With these first two episodes, this season 3 of Baron Noir has set the bar high. Its ultra-promising beginning and its multiple stakes with its political chessboard in full reshaping (especially with the departure of some main characters like that of Cyril Balsan embodied by the excellent Hugo Becker) heralded a rather mind-blowing fight between the characters and innovative ideas about French politics.

However, very quickly, the series is forgotten a little and sadly leaves to tick a few mandatory boxes to fully anchor itself in the French reality, even global. One thinks of course the accusations of sexual harassment of which the German Chancellor is accused of resigning and drowning Françallemagne's ambitious plans alongside Dorendeu.

This choice is not fundamentally a bad thing, as the subject has become major in the public debate. On the other hand, its importance is so minor at the heart of the story that its approach lacks finesse, accuracy and above all sincerity and resembles above all a gadget allowing the narrative to advance and kill the (false) great ambitions installed, more than a real plea or simple denunciation.

This kind of narrative misdirections will happen a few times during season 3 (not for the same reasons) and will then sometimes prevent the good performance of the story or in any case, take away some form of spontaneity and naturalness.

That said, this reversal of situation that happens very quickly (from the 3rd episode therefore) will obviously move the lines for the President of the French Republic embodied by the magnetic Anna Mouglalis. Amélie Dorendeu wants to do everything to avoid replaying her place in universal suffrage. The series therefore has fun with the French institutions and tries to reshape the political and constitutional landscape of France. The ideas are innovative, quite amazing and making his political proposals electoral strategies makes every thought, vision and design exciting.

It must be said that the series enjoys an audience of screenwriters even more rooted in French political history. In addition to Eric Benzekri (former collaborator of Jean-Luc Mélenchon or Julien Dray), we find Thomas Finkielkraut (son of Alain) or Raphael Chevènement (son of Jean-Pierre). No wonder, then, that the series manages to be so precise and plausible about what it portrays of institutions and politics.

However, Baron Noir knows that politics is not just a matter of ideas or convictions. To the public, voters, politics and de facto figure of politics are a matter of magnetism, charisma, charm or at least image in the broadest sense. In the age of social media, everything is known and everything is important, and Eric Benzekri's series meticulously describes it in season 3.

At the same time that the Parisian municipal women experienced an unprecedented turnaround with the abandonment of Benjamin Griveaux (LREM candidate) at the Paris mayoralty following the dissemination of private sexual images, Baron Noir gained credit for his ability to play the fate of his characters on their image with French citizens. More than a war of ideas, politics has undeniably turned into a war of image and pageantry, and as the series says: "The presidential election has become a television series".

The much-anticipated (and much recommended) appearance by President Dorendeu in the fictional show Ambition Intime presented by Karine Le Marchand is a striking example, demonstrating how politics is taking a major turn. A turning point where it is ultimately no longer the proposals that convince only, but also the pace and form. De facto, all moves are allowed.

In this right line, Baron Noir takes the lead on the emergence of a new form of politics with the exciting character of Christophe Mercier (incredible Frédéric Saurel): an anti-system SVT professor candidate for the election to the draw, a kind of mix between the Yellow Jacket Jérôme Rodriguez, the Italian populist Beppe Grillo and the American President Donald Trump.

His arrival at the forefront offers both a totally new vision of the French political landscape and is part of a fiction not so far removed from reality. If Coluche frightened the Mitterrand - Chirac - Giscard generation in the 1980s with the announcement of his candidacy, the current politicians are equally concerned about a so-called clown candidacy imbued with anti-system pujadism and able to bring back an electorate usually absentee in the polls (one obviously thinks of Remi Gaillard in Montpellier or the rumors of candidacy of the flagship tv host Cyril Hanouna in the presidential election).

It is a way to launch major topics on the current functioning of the political system while providing a captivating account of the inner workings of elections, government formations and presidential debates. Politicians (or rather politicians) play excessively with their functions, statutes and powers to ensure their privileges rather than those of their fellow citizens. The backlash could well hit them sooner or later, harder and faster than they think, and plunge France into chaos.

By pushing the cursor this far, Eric Benzekri's series fits into a completely new register that gives it a real breadth. While it presented itself primarily as a drama in season 1 and then a political thriller in its season 2, the series becomes almost a dystopia in this season 3. In Baron  Noir, disparaître le politics  politique  is  simply    disappearing  and  degagism  is on the way. Everything  could  shift  to   another   power   that  is angry  and  determined:   that  of the  people,  buried  and  contained  for  the time being, but for how much longer? temps 

Largely driven  by the current  movements    and  they  very real, the Yellow Jackets  Jaunes  therefore,  the story  of  this  season  3  perfectly examines  the  major political issues    that  stand  dressent  before  France  today  and  tomorrow. In addition  to being  a  precise  reflection  on  the idea of  sur             retrouver   politics, but  also  of  politique  politique  politics  itself  and the  exemplarity  demanded  and  flouted of the  function,these ten episodes  take  an  intelligent  look at an outdated left that fails to find a new lease of life, the  rise  of  extremes  or  the   almostirretrievable divide  between  the elites and the mass, and the tipping point  that is likely to take place  soon  (aslap as a  catalyst?). catalyseur

Baron Noir thus succeeds very well after a slightly disappointing season 2. tête   d'un Ultra-ambitious,ambitieuse  pre-screensy  and  captivating,  this  season  3  offers a lot  of  tense  moments  during  its  eight  episodes,  despite  an extremely  repulsive  staging   (circular  traveling,   it  turns  tourner  your head after a while). Moreover, même  beyonddelà this  lack  of  visual audacity,   while  the  production  had  eu  the chance to tour  within  the Élysée,we  can  also  blame a lot  of  narrative  and  rhythmic choices. .

After all,  this  season  3 takes  time  to  launch  the  real subject of  its  plot  (almostpresque  five  episodes). More than  a  series  about  Rickwaert,  always  impeccably  interpreted  by  Kad  Merad    (evenmême  if  seeing him  bellow  and come out  of  the metaphors with a toit  head-to-head  champ  wears  a  little  in the long run)  or  a   series  on  politics  politique  and  its  workings,Baron  Noir has become  a  portrait  of  French society  in  this  season  3. Much attention to Rickwaert's fate and political resurrection takes the depth out of the series.

Finally, this season 3 suffers from time ellipses far too important. In eight episodes, nearly two years elapse, including a full one in the last two episodes. The rush of writing often spoils the power of certain situations, especially given the number of twists and different paths that each character can take in just a few minutes.

Thus, several passages and key moments of the plot do not have time to live on screen and to make the spectators feel any emotion. A careless choice of writing that the series sometimes tries to conceal by playing the card of the novel especially in its grand finale. Unfortunately, the intention remains very fabricated and the conclusion of this season 3 is above all a cliffhanger/twist terribly easy and opportunistic to permanently eject one of his characters. It remains to be seen, however, what he will provoke deep within Rickwaert in the potential season 4.

The three seasons of Baron Noir are available in full on Canal -Series.

Baron Noir saison 3 : critique d'une France au bord du chaos
Alexandre Janowiak | 2 mars 2020 - MAJ : 06/05/2020 23:43
Drame Politique

La saison 3 de Baron Noir permet à Canal + de confirmer son statut de meilleur créateur de séries originales françaises, très loin devant Netflix. La série politique showrunnée par Eric Benzekri et portée par un Kad Merad déterminé n'est pas toujours à son top dans ces huit nouveaux épisodes, mais joue très habilement du réel et du fictionnel pour livrer une histoire captivante sur le monde politique et sociétal français.

Avec ces deux premiers épisodes, cette saison 3 de Baron Noir a mis la barre haut. Son début ultra prometteur et ses enjeux multiples avec son échiquier politique en plein remodelage (d'autant plus avec le départ de certains personnages principaux comme celui de Cyril Balsan incarné par l'excellent Hugo Becker) annonçaient un combat assez hallucinant entre les personnages et des idées novatrices sur la politique française.

Pourtant, très rapidement, la série s'oublie un peu et part tristement cocher quelques cases obligatoires pour s'ancrer pleinement dans la réalité française, voire mondiale. On pense évidemment aux accusations de harcèlements sexuels dont est accusé le chancelier allemand, obligé de démissionner et noyant les projets ambitieux de Françallemagne aux côtés de Dorendeu.

Ce choix n'est pas foncièrement une mauvaise chose, tant le sujet est devenu majeur au sein du débat public. En revanche, son importance est tellement mineure au coeur du récit que son approche manque de finesse, de justesse et surtout de sincérité et ressemble avant tout à un gadget permettant au récit d'avancer et de tuer les (fausses) grandes ambitions installées, plus qu'à un véritable plaidoyer ou simple dénonciation.

Ce genre d'égarements narratifs arrivera à quelques reprises durant cette saison 3 (pas pour les mêmes raisons) et empêchera alors parfois la bonne tenue de l'histoire ou en tout cas, lui retirera une certaine forme de spontanéité et de naturel.

Cela dit, ce retournement de situation qui arrive très vite (dès le 3e épisode donc) va évidemment bouger les lignes pour la présidente de la République française incarnée par la magnétique Anna Mouglalis. Amélie Dorendeu veut tout faire pour éviter de rejouer sa place au suffrage universel. La série s'amuse donc avec les institutions françaises et essaye de remodeler le paysage politique et constitutionnel de la France. Les idées sont novatrices, assez étonnantes et faire de ses propositions politiques des stratégies électorales rend chaque pensée, vision et conception passionnantes.

Il faut dire que la série jouit d'un parterre de scénaristes encore plus ancré dans l'histoire politique française. Outre Eric Benzekri donc (ancien collaborateur de Jean- Luc Mélenchon ou Julien Dray), on y retrouve Thomas Finkielkraut (fils d'Alain) ou encore Raphael Chevènement (fils de Jean-Pierre). Pas étonnant donc que la série réussisse à être aussi précise et vraisemblable sur ce qu'elle dépeint des institutions et la politique.

Pour autant, Baron Noir sait que la politique n'est pas uniquement une affaire d'idées ou de convictions. Auprès du public, des électeurs, la politique et de facto la figure du politique sont une affaire de magnétisme, de charisme, de charme ou en tout cas d'image au sens le plus large. À l'heure des réseaux sociaux, tout se sait et tout a une importance, et la série d'Eric Benzekri le décrit méticuleusement dans cette saison 3.

Au moment même où les municipales Parisiennes ont connu un retournement sans précédent avec l'abandon à la mairie de Paris de Benjamin Griveaux (candidat LREM) suite à la diffusion d'images sexuelles privées, Baron Noir gagne en crédit grâce à sa capacité à jouer le destin de ses personnages sur leur image auprès des citoyens français. Plus qu'une guerre d'idées, la politique s'est indéniablement transformée en une guerre d'image et d'apparat, et comme la série le dit : "La présidentielle est devenue une série télévisée".

Le passage très attendu (et tant recommandé par ses conseillers) de la présidente Dorendeu dans l'émission fictive Ambition Intime présentée par Karine Le Marchand en est un exemple frappant, démontrant à quel point la politique prend un tournant majeur. Un tournant où ce n'est finalement plus les propositions qui convainquent uniquement, mais aussi l'allure et la forme. De facto, tous les coups sont permis.

Dans cette droite lignée voire plus encore, Baron Noir prend les devants sur l'émergence d'une nouvelle forme de politique avec le personnage passionnant de Christophe Mercier (incroyable Frédéric Saurel) : un prof de SVT candidat anti-système pour l'élection au tirage au sort, sorte de mélange entre le Gilet Jaune Jérôme Rodriguez, le populiste italien Beppe Grillo et le président américain Donald Trump.

Son arrivée sur le devant de la scène offre à la fois une vision totalement inédite du paysage politique français et s'inscrit dans une fiction pas si éloignée de la réalité. Si Coluche a effrayé la génération Mitterrand - Chirac - Giscard dans les années 80 avec l'annonce de sa candidature, les politiques actuels s'inquiètent tout autant d'une candidature dite clown empreinte de poujadisme anti-système et capable de rameuter un électorat habituellement absentéiste dans les urnes (on pense évidemment à Remi Gaillard à Montpellier ou les rumeurs de candidature de l'animateur phare de la télévision Cyril Hanouna à la présidentielle 2022).

C'est le moyen de lancer des sujets majeurs sur le fonctionnement actuel du système politique tout en offrant un récit captivant sur les rouages des élections, des formations gouvernementales et des débats présidentiels. Les politiques (ou plutôt politiciens) jouent démesurément avec leurs fonctions, leurs statuts et leurs pouvoirs pour assurer leurs privilèges plutôt que ceux de leurs concitoyens. Le retour de bâton pourrait bien les frapper un jour ou l'autre, plus durement et rapidement qu'ils ne le pensent, et plonger la France dans le chaos.

En poussant le curseur aussi loin, la série de Eric Benzekri rentre dans un registre totalement nouveau qui lui donne une véritable ampleur. Alors qu'elle se présentait avant tout comme un drame dans sa saison 1 puis un thriller politique dans sa saison 2, la série devient quasiment une dystopie dans cette saison 3. Dans Baron Noir, la politique est tout simplement en passe de disparaître et le dégagisme est en marche. Tout pourrait basculer vers un autre pouvoir en rogne et déterminé : celui du peuple, enfoui et contenu pour le moment, mais pour encore combien de temps ?

Largement poussée par les mouvements actuels et eux bien réels, les Gilets Jaunes donc, l'histoire de cette saison 3 ausculte à merveille les enjeux politiques majeurs qui se dressent devant la France d'aujourd'hui et de demain. En plus d'être une réfléxion précise sur l'idée de la politique, mais aussi du politique en lui-même et de l'exemplarité exigée et bafouée de la fonction, ces dix épisodes portent un regard intelligent sur une gauche dépassée qui n'arrive pas à retrouver un nouveau souffle, de la montée des extrêmes ou encore de la fracture quasi-irrémédiable entre les élites et la masse, et la bascule qui risque de s'opérer prochainement (une baffe comme catalyseur ?).

Baron Noir réussit donc très largement son retour après une saison 2 légèrement décevante. Ultra-ambitieuse, précurseuse et captivante, cette saison 3 offre de sacrés moments de tensions durant ses huit épisodes, malgré une mise en scène extrêmement rébarbative (les travelings circulaires, ça fait tourner la tête au bout d'un moment). D'ailleurs, au-delà de ce manque d'audace visuelle, alors que la production a eu la chance de tourner au sein même de l'Élysée, on pourra également reprocher énormément de choix narratifs et rythmiques.

Après tout, cette saison 3 met du temps à lancer le véritable sujet de son intrigue (presque cinq épisodes). Plus qu'une série sur Rickwaert, toujours impeccablement interprété par Kad Merad (même si le voir beugler et sortir des métaphores à toit bout de champ use un peu à la longue) ou une série sur la politique et ses rouages, Baron Noir est devenue un portrait de la société française dans cette saison 3. S'attarder énormément sur le destin de Rickwaert et sa résurrection politique ôte de la profondeur au propos de la série.

Enfin, cette saison 3 subit des ellipses temporelles bien trop importantes. En huit épisodes, près de deux années s'écoulent, dont une entière au sein des deux derniers épisodes. La précipitation de l'écriture gâche souvent la puissance de certaines situations, d'autant plus au vu du nombre de rebondissements et de chemins différents que peut prendre chaque personnage en seulement quelques minutes.

Ainsi, plusieurs passages et moments clés de l'intrigue n'ont pas le temps de vivre à l'écran et de faire ressentir une quelconque émotion aux spectateurs. Un choix d'écriture négligeant que la série essaye de dissimuler parfois en jouant la carte du romanesque notamment dans son grand final. Malheureusement, l'intention reste très fabriquée et la conclusion de cette saison 3 est avant tout un cliffhanger/twist terriblement facile et opportuniste pour éjecter définitivement un de ses personnages. Reste à voir cependant ce qu'il provoquera au plus profond de Rickwaert dans la potentielle saison 4.

Les trois saisons de Baron Noir sont disponibles en intégralité sur Canal + Séries.