Saturday 31 July 2021

Woman found guilty of Boodles £4.2m diamond heist after switching them for pebbles

Woman convicted of £4.2m diamond theft at luxury UK jewellers


Lulu Lakatos, who posed as expert to value gems at Boodles store, given five and a half years in prison


PA Media

Wed 28 Jul 2021 16.50 BST


A woman has been found guilty and sentenced to five and a half years in prison for stealing diamonds worth £4.2m, swapping them for pebbles in a plot akin to a Hollywood heist movie.


Lulu Lakatos, 60, posed as gem expert “Anna” sent to the luxury jewellers Boodles, in Mayfair, London, in March 2016 to value the stones on behalf of supposed wealthy Russian buyers.


Prosecutors said it was the highest-value theft of its kind ever committed in the UK.


The seven diamonds, including one worth £2.2m, were to be placed in a padlocked purse and held in the New Bond Street store’s vault until funds were transferred.


But CCTV footage from the family firm’s basement showroom captured the moment the purse was put into Lakatos’ handbag and switched for a duplicate in seconds using “sleight of hand”.


Nicholas Wainwright, the chair of Boodles, had briefly left to talk on the phone to an apparent Russian buyer named “Alexander” whom he had met over lunch at the Hotel Metropole, Monaco.


The jewellers’ diamond expert, Emma Barton, raised suspicions but the diamonds, believed to have been concealed in a hidden compartment, were not found in Lakatos’ handbag. She left the shop before switching the gems to the handbag of an unknown woman, and the international gang of criminals fled the UK for France in less than three hours.


When the purse in Boodles’ safe was opened the following day, inside were seven small garden pebbles. The diamonds have never been recovered.


Lakatos claimed Anna was in fact her late younger sister, Liliana Lakatos, who had confessed to using the former’s passport to commit the crime months before she died in a car crash, aged 49, in Romania, in October 2019.


Liliana Lakatos was wanted in Switzerland for an almost identical plot, where an envelope containing €400,000 (£340,000) was switched for a duplicate filled with paper.


But on Wednesday Lulu Lakatos was found guilty at Southwark crown court of conspiracy to steal on or before 10 March 2016, by a jury majority of 10 to one after nine hours and 19 minutes of deliberation.


The judge, Emma Goodall QC, said she would sentence Lakatos later on Wednesday.


Romanian-born Lakatos, from Saint-Brieuc, Brittany, has three previous convictions for theft in France. She arrived in London the day before the theft and was seen on CCTV with Georgeta Danila, 53, entering the Cricklewood Lodge Hotel, London, before making a reconnaissance trip to Boodles with Christophe Stankovic and Mickael Jovanovic.


Danila waited in the Willow Walk pub, in the Victoria area of London, with a change of clothes for Lakatos, who went to Boodles disguised in a long dark coat, brimmed hat and long scarf.


Wainwright escorted her down a glass spiral staircase into the meeting room with Barton, where Lakatos examined and weighed the diamonds.


Wainwright said he was “watching her like a hawk” as she wrapped the diamonds individually in pre-cut tissue paper and placed them inside opaque boxes, which were put into a zippable purse-like bag that was padlocked shut.


But Barton said Anna put the locked purse into her own handbag when Wainwright went upstairs to take a call from “Alexander”.


Barton said, giving evidence: “She watched Nicholas walk up the stairs and as soon as his back was turned on the spiral staircase she grabbed the bag and stuck it in her handbag. I said: ‘No, no, no, you can’t do that, please take the diamonds out of your handbag now. I have to be able to see the diamonds at all times.’ In English she replied: ‘It’s OK, don’t worry, there’s nothing to worry about.’”


After leaving the store Lakatos switched the diamonds to the bag of one of two unknown young women before discarding her disguise and leaving London for France on the Eurostar with Danila.


Stankovic and Jovanovic left with the two younger women in a rented car via the Channel tunnel. Both men were jailed for three years and eight months after pleading guilty to conspiracy to steal, while Danila was acquitted after telling a jury she had no idea she had been involved in the crime.

Thursday 29 July 2021

Threading the Needle: Live - A Conversation with Richard Press and G. Br...


Since 1902 J. Press has been the quintessential source for authentic Ivy Style clothing. In Threading the Needle, Richard Press, grandson of founder Jacobi Press, provides memories and anecdotes of the history of this legendary retailer and the origins of Ivy style. Fifty of his favorite Threading the Needle columns are combined with contributions from guest writers and a wealth of nostalgic photos offering a pleasurable insight into this timeless American style.

Tuesday 27 July 2021

Royal Editor Reveals Fears Over Prince Harry's Memoirs & His Surprising Supporters |

Buckingham Palace shudders at prospect of more of Prince Harry’s truth / Prince Harry 'says he DOESN'T need Queen's permission' to write $20m Megxit memoir as Royal aides fear more 'truth bombs' and 'poor me introspection' in tell-all 'book by Harry, written by Meghan'


Buckingham Palace shudders at prospect of more of Prince Harry’s truth


Past royal efforts are tame in comparison to what Duke of Sussex could unleash on his family


Caroline Davies

Tue 20 Jul 2021 14.39 BST


Queen Victoria did it, as did a couple of her granddaughters. And her great-grandson, the Duke of Windsor, famously did so 15 years after his abdication.


So, the Duke of Sussex follows a well-trodden royal path with news that he is penning his “accurate and wholly truthful” memoirs, writing “not as the prince I was born but as the man I have become”.


As shudders, no doubt, convulse Buckingham Palace, the book has a planned publication date in autumn 2022, perfectly timed for the Christmas market, but perhaps not the finale the Queen would have hoped for her platinum jubilee celebrations.


Past royal memoirs are tame in comparison to what Prince Harry could unleash on his family, if his soul-baring screen interviews with Oprah Winfrey are a yardstick.


His efforts are unlikely to compare with Queen Victoria’s published journals, which were by no means scandalous, though she was dissuaded from writing a book about John Brown, the Scottish ghillie and personal attendant to whom she became close in widowhood.


Victoria’s granddaughters, Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone, and Princess Marie-Louise, as well as Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, widow of the Queen’s cousin Prince Henry, all produced “terribly interesting” accounts of royal life, said the royal historian Hugo Vickers, though all non-controversial.


Harry’s musings can best be compared to those of the exiled Duke of Windsor; A King’s Story, published in 1951, and an international bestseller still available on Amazon. His wife, Wallis Simpson, also took up the pen.


“The Duke of Windsor’s was not terribly revelatory or scandalous,” said Vickers, adding that it was beautifully ghostwritten. “I don’t think his or the duchess’s caused any more ructions that you would imagine they would.”


Simpson consulted her former husband when writing her memoirs, though he never wrote his own. “He said: ‘As far as I’m concerned the truth lies at the bottom of the well and anyone who wants to go and look for it is welcome to do so.’ So he did not write anything at all, or ever tell his story,” said Vickers.


Though not especially revelatory, the Duke of Windsor’s account was frowned on given that his mother, Queen Mary, and brother, George VI, were still alive. “By today’s standards it might be regarded as pretty tame,” said Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty magazine. “But 70 years ago, it was seen as all quite shocking, disrespectful and treacherous. I think he saw it as his opportunity to settle scores and did so.”


With Harry reportedly working with the Pulitzer-winning ghostwriter JR Moehringer and the deadline for a first draft rumoured to be in October, its contents are the subject of much speculation, though experts believe that he will be under pressure to up the ante.


“The pressure must be on him to come up with something even more sensational that what we learned from the Oprah interview,” said Little. “It’s hard not to think that Harry would want to redress the balance, as far as he’s concerned, in print, though it’s been done on screen.


“You would think hearts will continue to sink at Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Kensington Palace. I suppose in an ideal world they would have liked a line to be drawn after the Oprah revelations. But clearly that isn’t Harry’s way of doing things. And so this won’t have been great news for Harry’s family.”


He could revisit the racism allegations he has levelled against the royal household. “Then there’s Meghan’s arrival into the spotlight, her becoming girlfriend, then fiancee, then bride. And, of course, he has a lot of demons still about his childhood and the treatment his mother got both at the hand of the establishment and the media. Also, having to leave the army much sooner that he would have liked might also manifest itself.”


Little added: “You would think it is going to be quite a troubled read in a way. You would hope that by the end of it there will be light at the end of the tunnel. He’s been in North America now for 15 months or so, so clearly he feels he’s turned a corner.”


Sarah, Duchess of York, was fiercely criticised when she wrote My Story, detailing her experience at the hands of the press and the breakdown of her marriage to Prince Andrew. She was accused of cashing in on her royal connections. Harry’s publisher, Penguin Random House, have said proceeds are going to charity.


For the Duke of Windsor, his memoirs brought him back into the spotlight after years of relative obscurity. And, as with any memoir, there are different versions of the story.


So, as Buckingham Palace awaits Harry’s book, it will no doubt think back to the Queen’s diplomatic words following the Oprah revelations, when she said: “Some recollections may vary.”

Prince Harry 'says he DOESN'T need Queen's permission' to write $20m Megxit memoir as Royal aides fear more 'truth bombs' and 'poor me introspection' in tell-all 'book by Harry, written by Meghan'


  • Prince Harry has been secretly working on book for nearly year which he has sold to Penguin Random House
  • He has been collaborating with a ghostwriter in a rare move from a senior member of the royal family
  • First draft of manuscript, currently untitled, is said to be almost completely written with deadline in October
  • Financial terms were not disclosed but Prince Harry will donate proceeds to charity, according to publisher
  • But sources told that the advance is likely to be in the region of $20m, one of the biggest ever



PUBLISHED: 07:55 BST, 20 July 2021 | UPDATED: 09:51 BST, 21 July 2021


Prince Harry didn't feel he needed permission from Buckingham Palace to write his $20million Megxit memoir, his spokesman declared today.


The decision to write a tell-all autobiography has been branded a 'moneymaking exercise at the expense of his blood family' by royal experts and insiders who predicted it would be 'a book by Harry, as written by Meghan.'


Harry, 36, did not warn his grandmother, father or brother about the tell-all book until 'moments before it became public' in a sign that his relationship with the Royal Family did not improve during his visit to unveil Princess Diana's statue in London earlier this month, it was claimed today.



The Sussexes' spokesman told the BBC that Harry would not be expected to obtain permission for the project from Buckingham Palace - but told his family including the Queen 'very recently' - and it is not yet clear if royal officials will get to see the finished book before its release in late 2022 by publisher Penguin Random House. MailOnline has asked Harry's LA team to comment.


Harry said last night: 'I'm writing this not as the prince I was born but as the man I have become'. Responding to his bombshell statement signed 'Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex', broadcaster Kirstie Allsopp replied: 'In which case stop using the title to sell books' and one royal insider said tartly: 'A book by Harry, as written by Meghan.'


In his latest column for MailOnline, Piers Morgan today urged the Queen to strip Harry and Meghan of all their titles, calling the book a betrayal too far and accusing them of turning Her Majesty's world-famous motto of 'never complain, never explain' into 'always complain, always explain, never stop whining'.


The Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William are said to have been completely blindsided by Harry's shock announcement that he has been secretly working on his as yet untitled memoirs with Pulitzer-winning ghostwriter J. R. Moehringer for a year.


Another source revealed that the announcement had provoked 'much eye-rolling', adding: 'I think everyone is just tired of being angry when it comes to those two. They have spent the last 18 months doing everything they promised Her Majesty they wouldn't do – making a living off their previous lives and status as members of the Royal Family. It's depressingly predictable, unfortunately.'


The Duke and Duchess of Sussex's 'truth bombing' began in March with their extraordinary 90-minute interview with Oprah Winfrey where they accused the Royal Family of racism towards Archie and ignoring cries for help from a depressed Meghan when she was suicidal and pregnant.


In the chaotic aftermath of the show, watched by almost 100million people worldwide, the couple claimed this would be their 'final word' on Megxit, only to continue talking about it in more damaging detail over the coming months.


And now the royals will be dreading the release of the book next year, which experts predict will be 'more 'poor me' introspection and more excuses to justify his decision to quit royal life' and 'the last thing the Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William will want to hear'.


Royal author Phil Dampier wrote in the Express today: 'They will be in despair that Harry - doubtless prompted by Meghan - just won't leave it alone for a while.  It is obvious that when Harry came over for the unveiling of Diana's statue earlier this month, no meaningful progress was made in his relationship with his father or brother. If he respected their opinion, he wouldn't do this book because they wouldn't approve of it.


'Harry wants to present himself as a mature family man who has learnt from his mistakes and become a wise old sage. But I fear many other people will see this as yet another moneymaking exercise at the expense of his blood family'.   


Harry's biographer Angela Levin said: 'I feel he risks looking like a traitor to the Royal Family. I don't believe it's going to be all honey and sweetness, I think he's going to smash again. I don't know why, does he want to destroy his family? Does he feel so revengeful that he has to take yet another knock after Oprah and after Finding Freedom.


'I don't quite get it, why he doesn't want to move on, enjoy his life, he's making pots of money. He's in love with his wife, he's got two children, a girl and a boy. But why is he so negative about his past, he can't leave it alone. It's like a cat or dog, tearing at something to destroy it.'(…)

Monday 26 July 2021

How Sperry Boat Shoes Are Made | The Making Of / Paul Alling Sperry (December 4, 1895 – November 7, 1982)

Boat shoes (also known as deck shoes) are typically canvas or leather with non-marking rubber soles designed for use on a boat. A siping pattern is cut into the soles to provide grip on a wet deck; the leather construction, along with the application of oil, is designed to repel water; and the stitching is highly durable. Boat shoes are traditionally worn without socks.



Modern boat shoes were invented in 1935 by American Paul A. Sperry of New Haven, Connecticut after noticing his dog's ability to run easily over ice without slipping. Using a knife, he cut siping into his shoes' soles, inspiring a shoe perfect for boating and a company called Sperry Top-Sider. Sperry Top-Siders are still a popular brand of boat shoe today, among many others, including Portside, Sebago and Timberland. Boat shoes are worn by both women and men.


Boat shoes are used by sailors, as the name suggests; however, since the 1970s they have become casual footwear in coastal areas of the Netherlands, United States, Canada, Argentina, Australia, China, France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Some boat shoes today have traditional white, non-marking soles, though many others today have dark non-marking soles. They usually have a moc-toe (like a moccasin) construction. They are usually seen as somewhat of a status symbol (owning boating shoes usually denotes the owner of a boat with a deck large enough to walk around on — a moderately expensive vessel).


In the 1980s through to the early 1990s, they became a fashion trend and returned in 2007-2008 and continuing in the 2010s, as a fashion trend and were worn with every day and dress wear alike by boys, girls, men and women. The fashion was widely popular among upper elementary through middle school, high school, and college crowds in many countries.[citation needed] Besides being worn by themselves, many children and adults wear them with socks, especially low-cut, ankle socks and crew in white and many other bright neon and pastel colors. Many schools with uniform requirements allow boat shoes as acceptable uniform shoes.


In the 1980s through the early 1990s they were worn with the slouch socks trend. They were worn a lot with tight rolled/French rolled jeans to show off the slouch socks. Girls would also wear them with a crew neck or v neck sweater over a turtleneck or a crew neck top with the v neck sweater and leggings with slouch socks over them and Sebagos with many wearing their hair with a hair band or hair wrap or ponytail and scrunchie and bangs for a comfortable and fashionable look that could be worn casually every day to school, college, church, hanging out, etc. or would look just as in as a dressy casual or dressy informal wear. Sebago, Sperry Top-Siders and Eastland were the three most popular brands at the time and have remained so through the 2008 into the 2010s fashion trend revival.


Paul Alling Sperry (December 4, 1895 – November 7, 1982) was an American inventor, businessman, photographer, screen printer, sailor and outdoorsman. He designed the first boat shoe and founded Sperry (formerly Sperry Top-Sider), a sportswear company now headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts.


Paul Alling Sperry born in New Haven, Connecticut, the second of three sons born to Nettie Alling Sperry and Sereno Clark Sperry. His younger brother, Armstrong Wells Sperry, was a writer and illustrator of children's literature, best known for his 1941 Newbery Medal-winning book, Call It Courage. Sperry's father was a native of New Haven who served in leadership positions for several companies in the area, including the William Wells Company, the United States Finishing Company and the Pond Lily Company. His grandfather, William Wallace Sperry was a shipbuilder and served as a sergeant major in the 13th Connecticut Infantry Regiment during the American Civil War.


Sperry spent his early childhood in Stamford, Connecticut, and New York City. Accompanied by their mother, he and his brother Armstrong briefly attended school in Paris, France. Sperry received additional schooling at the Taft School in Connecticut. He spent a single freshman year at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.


Sperry worked as a salesman and in the master mechanics office of the United States Finishing Company of New York before joining the naval reserve in 1917. He served as Office Aid for Information, Section 1, 3rd Naval District, USNRF, and was released from duty as Seaman, First Class at the end of the year. Sperry married Pauline Letitia Jacques on December 30, 1922. They shared a love of the outdoors, sailing and traveling. The Sperrys spent their honeymoon on Chincoteague Island, Virginia, hunting ducks in separate duck blinds.


An avid outdoorsman and bird hunter, Sperry designed and produced some of the first balsa wood duck decoys in the early 1920s. He started Sperry Natural Decoys, whose buyers included Abercrombie & Fitch and Kirkland Brothers. The company's sole supplier of raw materials, the American Balsa Company, raised its prices, which contributed to Sperry closing the business after fulfillment of its final orders.



In the early 1930s, Paul purchased his first boat, Gilnockie. In 1935, Gilnockie won second prize in the Vineyard Race sponsored by the Stamford Yacht Club. He bought his second boat from Nova Scotia: a schooner named Sirocco after the hot winds of the Libyan deserts. The boat was later damaged during the 1938 New England hurricane at Davis Island in Connecticut. Its replacement, the Sirocco II, arrived in New Haven in 1939. It was during these early sailing years Sperry learned that painted decks were very hazardous. He said, "I had the idea of repainting and lightly dusting with fine emery dust, but sandpaper had poor results on skin."


While sailing on the Long Island Sound, Sperry slipped on the deck and fell overboard. He was able to pull himself back on board, but the experience drove him to develop a non-slip shoe. While experimenting with possibilities for non-slip shoes, he noticed his dogs' ability to run down the icy hill without slipping. The grooves on their paws inspired him to try cutting grooved patterns (siping) in a natural rubber sole.


Sperry tried various patterns of siping and settled on a herringbone pattern as the most effective. He cemented the prototype soles to a pair of canvas sneakers and gave them to Leon Burkowski, the young man who looked after his boat. When Sperry and his wife returned, "Leon immediately threw a bucket of water on the deck and yelled, 'watch.'" He took a running start and stopped dead in his tracks. This was the invention of the first pair of Sperry Top-Siders.


In 1937, Sperry applied for a United States patent for his non-skid sole. He first offered the patent to the United States Rubber Company of Connecticut. The company turned him down because the sole would cost $4.50, when an expensive shoe at the time cost $3.75. Sperry then offered the patent to Converse Rubber Company in Boston, Massachusetts, which agreed to make blank rubber soles and ship them to Sperry for siping and then assemble the finished shoes and return them to Sperry for sale. Sperry developed a machine for cutting the non-skid design into the soles and launched the project working in his spare hours while employed full-time at the Pond Lily Company.


A friend, Donald White, who worked as an advertising salesman for McGraw-Hill, suggested Sperry sell directly by mail and helped him compose a letter to send to all 500 of Sperry's fellow members of the Cruising Club of America. Sperry received responses and requests for shoes from all 500 members. Confident that he had a winning product, he started a mail order business, while also selling the shoes through the Commonwealth Shoe & Leather Company in Boston and a small direct mail catalog.


In the later 1930s, Sperry continued work on developing a more durable and functional boat shoe. He worked with the United States Rubber Company, which developed a rubber compound for traction and wear that could be more easily siped, and with the Commonwealth Shoe & Leather Company on a new leather shoe design made with specially tanned leather. Sperry's new design had a unique "saddle" through which rawhide laces were pulled—the now-familiar Sperry Authentic Original boat shoe.


In 1939, the United States War Department specified Sperry Top-Sider as one of the official shoes of the Navy and negotiated the right to manufacture the shoes for its sailors. It became the official footwear of the casual uniform of the United States Naval Academy. In 1940, Sperry sold his business to the United States Rubber Company, which successfully marketed the shoe across the United States.


Sperry was interested in photography from an early age. His black and white photographs of Cannon Mountain in New Hampshire from 1938 to 1940 were donated by the Sperry Family to the New England Ski Museum in 2007. In 1950, Sperry founded Sirocco Screenprinters in North Haven, Connecticut and served as its president until his death. The company made screenprints of artwork by Josef Albers, Robert Indiana, Roy Lichtenstein, and others, which can be viewed on the websites of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and the Art Institute of Chicago.


Sperry was named corporate secretary of the Pond Lily Company in 1941 and president and director of the Guider Specialty Company in 1955. He held both positions until the late 1970s. He also served as a director of the Echlin Manufacturing Company and president and treasurer of the Sperry Real Estate Corporation. Sperry died on November 7, 1982, in New Haven, Connecticut, at the age of 86.

Saturday 24 July 2021

"Tweedland" has reached 5.000.000 page views ! Thanks to you all ! Jeeves.


Stonehenge may be next UK site to lose world heritage status


Stonehenge may be next UK site to lose world heritage status


Britain is eroding global reputation for conserving its historic assets, culture bodies are warning


Josh Halliday North of England correspondent

Fri 23 Jul 2021 16.58 BST


The UK is eroding its global reputation for conserving its “unparalleled” historic assets, culture bodies have warned, with Stonehenge expected to be next in line to lose its coveted World Heritage status after Liverpool.


The UN’s heritage body has told ministers that Wiltshire’s cherished stone circle will be placed on its “in danger” list – the precursor to it being stripped of world heritage status – if a £1.7bn road tunnel goes ahead as planned.


Heritage bodies said on Friday that Unesco would throw a “harsher spotlight” on the UK’s other 31 listed sites, which include the Palace of Westminster and Kew Gardens, after Liverpool became only the third place in nearly 50 years to be stripped of its world heritage status.


Other sites expected to come under greater scrutiny from the UN agency include Stonehenge, Edinburgh’s new and old towns, the Tower of London and Cornwall’s historic mining area, all of which have attracted concerns over controversial developments.


Chris Blandford, the president of World Heritage UK, complained that there was a “low awareness at the government level” of the importance of the country’s Unesco sites, which rank alongside international gems such as the Taj Mahal and the pyramids of Giza. He said many were critically underfunded and that ministers had shown a “great reluctance to want to make the most of our World Heritage offer”.


He said: “These are places of international significance. They are the best of the best of our cultural heritage. At a time when we’re out [of the European Union] and want to be taken seriously internationally, why not use these incredible assets of such significance to help us do that?”


Unesco chiefs criticised the UK government for failing to “fulfil its obligations” to protect Liverpool’s Victorian waterfront and blamed years of development for an “irreversible loss” to its historic value.


Unesco’s World Heritage Convention, to which the UK is a signatory, encourages governments to establish national foundations to provide ringfenced funding for their cultural assets, but the UK has no such body.


Instead, most world heritage sites are run by cash-strapped local authorities and have seen their funding slashed since 2010 due to the abolition of bodies such as regional development agencies. Given the financial strain, many councils are under increasing pressure to approve contentious developments that adversely affect the historic value of their cultural assets.


A 2019 report by World Heritage UK, which represents the country’s 31 Unesco sites, said they received an average of only £5m each from central government between 2013 and 2018. The annual government spend on the UK’s 27 mainland world heritage sites is £19m, compared with £70m on the country’s 15 national parks, the report found.


Stonehenge is expected to be stripped of its status if the two-mile tunnel is built on the site as planned. The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, gave the green light for the scheme in November despite warnings from Unesco that it would have on “adverse impact” on the area’s historic value. The high court is expected to decide within weeks whether the project can proceed following a judicial review by campaigners.


Unesco’s world heritage committee has told ministers that Stonehenge will be placed on its “list of world heritage in danger” – a precursor step to being stripped of its status – if the tunnel goes ahead.


Barry Joyce, a former vice-chair of the International Council on Monuments and Sites UK, which advises the Unesco committee, said it was “rather shocking” that Shapps had approved the Stonehenge tunnel despite planning inspectors’ serious concerns.


He said: “It is conceivable that other sites will be put on the Unesco at-risk register, and if steps are not taken to mitigate or avoid the potential damage identified by Unesco, then it is quite conceivable that other sites will be removed from the world heritage list.”


Such a move would make Britain the first country to have more than one historic site struck off the list, dealing an embarrassing blow to its global cultural standing.


Henrietta Billings, the director of Save Britain’s Heritage, said Britain was now under the international spotlight over its “devolve and forget” approach to its cultural gems. “The world is watching how we manage global heritage. Britain used to have a reputation for outstanding planning and conservation and the real concern is that we’re sleepwalking into a situation where we’re losing that.”


The UK’s plethora of historic monuments, which range from prehistoric sites such as Stonehenge to medieval castles and Roman forts, contribute billions of pounds to the economy each year and draw in millions of visitors from around the world.


Joe O’Donnell, the director of the Victorian Society, said he was concerned that the government’s forthcoming planning bill would weaken the protections for heritage sites, potentially leaving more of them vulnerable to new developments. He added: “Sadly, given the combative and dismissive reactions to the Unesco decision from politicians, improvements in protection do not seem likely any time soon.”


Jo Stevens, the shadow culture secretary said it was “vital we preserve and protect these sites which are not just important parts of our national identity but also vital for tourism both inbound and domestic”. She added: “It is typical of this government to make barbed statements about our national culture while failing to do the very basics to protect it.”


A government spokesperson said the UK was “a world leader in cultural heritage protection”, and that the government disagreed with Unesco’s decision over Liverpool. They said: “Protecting the heritage and archaeology of the Stonehenge site is a priority for the government and Highways England and we will continue to work closely with Unesco, Icomos [the International Council on Monuments and Sites] and the heritage and scientific community on next steps.”

Prince Charles highlights dangers of Climate Change during Isles of Scil...

Friday 23 July 2021

Finally! Royal love child Princess Delphine to take part in major event ...

Belgium’s Princess Delphine attends first official royal event since recognition

Wednesday, 17 February 2021


On Wednesday, Belgium’s Princes Delphine and her husband were present at a traditional ceremony for the deceased members of the royal family in the royal crypt of the Notre-Dame church in Laeken.


Every year since 1935, a mass has been held on 17 February to commemorate all deceased members of the Royal Family.


“Princess Delphine was invited, like her siblings, and responded positively,” Francis Sobry, a spokesperson for the palace, told Het Nieuwsblad.


This year, however, the mass could not take place due to the coronavirus measures, and the members of the family followed each other into the crypt, separately and per social bubble.


In early 2020, after years of legal battles and a court-ordered DNA test, King Albert acknowledged that he was Boël’s biological father.


On 1 October 2020, Delphine Boël was also officially recognised as the legitimate daughter of King Albert II, according to a ruling by the Brussels Court of Appeal. She officially became a Princess of Belgium, putting an end to a legal battle that dates back to 2013.


Following a previous meeting with Albert II and Paola at the Château Belvédère, and a separate one with King Philippe at Laeken Castle, this is the third private meeting that has been made public since Delphine was officially recognised as Princess of Belgium.


Delphine Boël is now officially a Belgian princess

Thursday, 01 October 2020


 As of today, Delphine Boël, the illegitimate daughter of King Albert II, is officially a princess of Belgium, the Brussels Court of Appeal decided.


The judgment was not expected until 29 October, but has already been handed down today, reports RTBF and was confirmed to VTM News and VRT.


Delphine is now changing her name to that of her father, namely ‘of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha’. Her children, Joséphine and Oscar, also become princess and prince of Belgium, and should be addressed the same way.


At the beginning of this year, and after years of legal battles and a court-ordered DNA test, King Albert acknowledged that he was Boël’s biological father.


However, Boël did not settle for that and wanted to be treated like the other children of Albert (Belgium’s current King Philippe, Princess Astrid and Prince Laurent), and also bear the name ‘of Saksen-Coburg’.


Additionally, she wanted to be addressed as Royal Highness and princess of Belgium. The Court of Appeal has now proved her right.


Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times


Belgian King Philippe meets half-sister Princess Delphine for the first time

Published15 October 2020


Belgium's Princess Delphine finally met her half-brother King Philippe for the first time, following her successful legal battle to use a royal title.


The siblings enjoyed a "warm encounter" last Friday, the royal family's official Facebook account says.


The princess, who is 52, spent years fighting to be recognised as a child of former King Albert.


He admitted paternity in January. A court later granted her the same rights and titles as his children by marriage.


The decision was announced on 1 October.


A message issued by King Philippe and Princess Delphine said on Thursday they had met for the first time at the Castle of Laken the previous week.


"This long and rich discussion gave us the opportunity to learn to know each other. We talked about our respective lives and areas of shared interest," they said.


"This bond will further develop within the family setting."


Delphine Boël, an artist, won her court case on 1 October. According to the ruling, she and her two children can now hold the surname of her father, Saxe-Cobourg.


She will be entitled to receive an inheritance after Albert's death, along with his three other children - Prince Laurent, Princess Astrid and King Philippe.


Despite her new title, Princess Delphine will not receive any royal endowment. But Albert must pay nearly €3.4m (£3.1m) to cover her legal fees, according to local outlet De Standaard.


What is the background?

Princess Delphine's mother, Baroness Sybille de Selys Longchamps, says she had an 18-year affair with Albert before he was king.


Rumours first emerged that he had fathered a child with another woman after it was disclosed in an unauthorised biography of Albert's wife, Queen Paola, published in 1999.


The princess first alleged on the record that King Albert was her biological father during a 2005 interview, but it was not until he abdicated in 2013 - when he lost his immunity to prosecution - that she opened court proceedings.


The 86-year-old had resisted court orders to undergo DNA testing until he was facing fines of €5,000 per day for refusing to do so. In January, he announced that he accepted her as his fourth child after he had "learnt the results of the DNA tests".


Belgium has a constitutional monarchy in which the king plays a largely ceremonial role.

Princess Delphine cries after winning right to become princess

Thursday 22 July 2021

THE DUKE (2021) Official Trailer [HD] Jim Broadbent, Helen Mirren

The Duke review – art thief takes one for the common man


 Roger Michell’s warm take on the true story of how Kempton Bunton acquired the National Gallery’s new Goya features a glorious performance by Jim Broadbent


 Xan Brooks


Xan Brooks


Fri 4 Sep 2020 21.15 BST


 All rise for The Duke, a scrappy underdog yarn that makes a powerful case for the rackety English amateur, the common man who survives by his wits with the odds stacked against him. Kempton Bunton of Byker, for instance, is about as far removed from the Duke of Wellington as a frog is from a prince. But now the Duke is trapped behind the wardrobe in Kempton’s tatty back bedroom, which is one in the eye for the British class system and means that Kempton is sitting pretty, at least for a while.


 Roger Michell’s delightful true-crime caper comes bolstered by a terrific lead performance from Jim Broadbent, rattling about the red-brick terraces of early 1960s Newcastle. His Kempton Bunton is a wannabe playwright and soapbox revolutionary, a man who prefers Chekhov to Shakespeare because he feels that the Bard wrote too many plays about kings. By night he’s sitting up in bed reading books by George Orwell. By day he’s tilting at windmills, squabbling with shop-floor managers and getting under the feet of his pinched, knackered wife. As played by Helen Mirren, Dorothy Bunton is constantly cleaning up the mess left by her husband and her two adult sons. She says: “Be sure to use the coasters. You’re not in Leeds now.”


 The city of Leeds may be bad in its way, but the real problem is London; it’s taken leave of its senses. Down at the National Gallery, they’ve just spent £140,000 of public money to secure Francisco Goya’s portrait of Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington. “An outstanding example of late-period Goya,” sighs the curator. “Some half-baked portrait by a Spanish drunk,” says Kempton. He argues that the cash would have been better spent providing free TV licences for all the UK’s old age pensioners. Kempton, perhaps relatedly, has recently served a brief prison term for not paying his own TV licence.


 Michell and Broadbent previously worked together on 2013’s excellent Le Week-End, in which the actor played a middle-aged professor in meltdown, drunkenly singing along to Bob Dylan inside a poky Paris hotel. The Duke (scripted by Richard Bean and the BBC’s Clive Coleman) is a more obviously crowd-pleasing affair, precision-tooled but big-hearted. Michell does well in capturing a 60s north-east of belching chimney-stacks and rag-and-bone men; a limbo-land Britain, caught between the end of rationing and the birth of the Beatles. Kempton, one suspects, has both boots in the old world - but he can still dream of tomorrow.


 What a lovely, rousing, finally moving film this is. The Duke is unashamedly sentimental and resolutely old-fashioned in the best sense of the term: a design classic built along the same lines as That Sinking Feeling, A Private Function or 50s Ealing comedies. In an earlier era, the role of Kempton would have been played by Denholm Elliott or Alastair Sim.


 Hauled into court to account for the theft, Kempton is finally given the stage he’s been craving all his life. The man is an upstart, a liar, undeniably a crook. But he’s also an idealist, a committed socialist, and it is this side of Kempton that now comes to the fore. He teases the judge, jokes with the jury and explains that he puts his faith “not in God, but in people”. Meanwhile, up in the public gallery, sit his own band of people. The posh young woman who employs his wife as a cleaner. The exploited co-worker whom he once tried to defend. Individually, in Kempton’s view, these people are all just single bricks. But put them together and you make a house. Put them together and you build Jerusalem.

Saturday 17 July 2021

The Most Beautiful Boy in the World - Official Trailer / The tragic story of Visconti’s ‘beautiful boy’


‘Death in Venice screwed up my life’ – the tragic story of Visconti’s ‘beautiful boy’

Ryan Gilbey

Björn Andrésen was the striking child star of the classic film, the perfect embodiment of youthful beauty. Fifty years on, he is still haunted by the exploitation that continued long after filming stopped


Thu 15 Jul 2021 06.00 BST


Björn Andrésen was just 15 when he walked straight into the lion’s den, being cast as Tadzio, the sailor-suited object of desire in Luchino Visconti’s film Death in Venice. Its release in 1971 made him not merely a star but an instant icon – the embodiment of pristine youthful beauty. Sitting alone in Stockholm today at the age of 66, he looks more like Gandalf with his white beard and his gaunt face framed by shoulder-length white locks. His eyes twinkle as alluringly as ever but he’s no pussycat. Asked what he would say to Visconti if he were here now, he doesn’t pause. “Fuck off,” he says.


No one who sees The Most Beautiful Boy in the World, a new documentary about Andrésen’s turbulent and tragic past, will be surprised by that answer. Visconti, he tells me, “didn’t give a fuck” about his feelings. He wasn’t alone in that. “I’ve never seen so many fascists and assholes as there are in film and theatre,” says Andrésen. “Luchino was the sort of cultural predator who would sacrifice anything or anyone for the work.” He makes his feelings about Death in Venice itself equally plain: “It has screwed up my life quite decently.” Although he is an accomplished pianist, no one seems very interested in that side of him. “Everything I ever do will be associated with that film. I mean, we’re still sitting here talking about it 50 years later.”


The documentary includes footage of his audition, where he looks angelic but intimidated, not least when Visconti’s interest in him becomes suddenly inflamed. The director issues a string of escalating demands: smile, walk round the room, remove your top. At that last one, the young Andrésen lets slip a nervous laugh, wondering if he has misheard. Soon, though, he is down to his trunks, shifting awkwardly as Visconti and his assistants evaluate his body.


When he strolled into that audition, he was no stranger to the camera. His grandmother, who was raising him after the death of his single mother four years earlier, was a regular Mrs Worthington, dispatching him to auditions practically as soon as he could walk. He is happy to have starred in Roy Andersson’s 1970 debut A Swedish Love Story (“I was there at the start of his career!”) and wasn’t too perturbed making Death in Venice. “It was a cool summer job,” he says. It also sounds incredibly lonely. Visconti was an imposing figure who warned the crew to keep their hands off the boy during shooting, then dragged him off to a gay club after filming had finished.


Andrésen’s relationship with Dirk Bogarde – who played the ageing composer smitten with him – was nothing more than “neutral”. In his 1983 memoir An Orderly Man, Bogarde described him with a mixture of fascination and pity. “He had an almost mystic beauty,” he wrote. To preserve Andrésen’s complexion and poise, “he was never allowed to go into the sun, kick a football about with his companions, swim in the polluted sea, or do anything which might have given him the smallest degree of pleasure … He suffered it all splendidly.”


It felt like a swarm of bats around me – it was a living nightmare


Bogarde’s one complaint concerned the “slabs of black bubble gum which he would blow into prodigious bubbles until they exploded all over his face.” Andrésen shrugs at the detail: “I don’t remember that.”


The late actor got at least one point right: “The last thing that Björn ever wanted, I am certain, was to be in movies.” If Andrésen didn’t already feel that way, the hoopla surrounding Death in Venice convinced him. The London gala premiere, at which he met the Queen and Princess Anne, was a breeze compared with the film’s unveiling at the Cannes film festival, where he was mobbed by carnivorous crowds. “It felt like swarms of bats around me,” he recalls in the documentary. “It was a living nightmare.”


For Kristina Lindström and Kristian Petri, the directors of The Most Beautiful Boy in the World, the footage from the Cannes press conference was uniquely revealing. The assembled hacks are shown laughing obsequiously at Visconti’s jokes about Andrésen losing his looks. The young man simply appears bewildered. “There was no compassion or empathy,” says Lindström. “He had the feeling of being used,” Petri adds. “He was packaged as an object.”


Andrésen agrees. “I don’t think it’s ethically defensible to let a 16-year-old bear the burden of advertising the damn film,” he says. “Especially not when you come back to school and you hear, ‘Hi there, angel lips.’ A guy who’s in the middle of his own teenage hormone tempest doesn’t want to be called ‘beautiful’.” He thinks the adoration inhibited his development. “When you snap your fingers and you’ve got 10 chicks running after you, there’s no need to learn any social skills for dealing with the opposite sex.”


Worse was to come. In Japan, Andrésen was dragooned into public appearances and musical turns, and plied with pills to help him survive the punishing schedule. In his early 20s, he found himself in Paris on the promise of an acting job. He was installed in an apartment by an older man and paid a generous stipend. Meals and gifts came his way from assorted male admirers; one composed love poems in his honour. The film is cagey about what happened during that year in Paris. “He didn’t talk about it,” says Petri, “and we didn’t want to dig any further than was necessary. He does say now that he doesn’t regret much, except for his time in Paris.”


There is a pervasive, necessary sadness to the documentary: we see Andrésen discovering details about his mother’s suicide, and reflecting on the death of one of his own children. But what endures is its subject’s dry humour and buoyant, philosophical spirit. He is also a generous soul: though the movie makes clear that there was a dereliction of duty on his grandmother’s part, he is reluctant to add to the criticism. “Maybe she wasn’t the sharpest blade in the box,” he tells me. “But I got over it. I don’t have any demons left. I kicked them all out. I haven’t had a demon since …” He thinks for a moment. “1992.”


He can pinpoint it that specifically? “Yes. I was sitting in my kitchen and they hopped out one by one. I gave them name and number and said, ‘You’re fired.’ ‘What?’ ‘You heard me.’ And that was it.” He claps his hands together briskly as if wiping them free of dust and dirt. What did the demons represent? “All kinds of anxieties and horrors and memories. I still have the memories but they don’t frighten me. I’m scared of very little these days. Too old for that.”


Andrésen is pleased with The Most Beautiful Boy in the World, if perhaps foggy on his reasons for agreeing to it, other than his friendship with the film-makers. “I’m not after attention,” he says. “I got an overdose of that 50 years ago.” The directors have their own ideas about why he let them follow him for the six years it took to make the picture. “After being a public figure for so long, I think it was nice for him to take back the story of his life,” says Petri. “We didn’t want Visconti experts or other talking heads discussing him.” Lindström nods enthusiastically: “I think Björn also liked that we wanted to do a cinematic film, and to do it beautifully, like Death in Venice.”


Andrésen is still acting, and still insisting it’s not the life he chose, though he did tell Lindström recently: “OK, I’m an actor.” She smiles at that: “At 66, he finally said it!” He had a memorable role three years ago in Midsommar, as an elderly man who sacrifices himself at a pagan ceremony: he jumps off a cliff, then a bystander finishes the job by smashing his head with a mallet. “Being killed in a horror movie is every boy’s dream,” he laughs. It seems like a supremely perverse joke – to take the face that has bewitched millions of viewers and then destroy it. Perhaps The Most Beautiful Boy in the World is doing something similar, minus the mallet. Its message is clear: Tadzio is dead. Long live Björn Andréson.


 The Most Beautiful Boy in the World is in cinemas 30 July