Wednesday 30 November 2022

Woodland house used as a retreat by Sherlock Holmes author for sale / VIDEO: Crown And Country - The New Forest - Full Documentary

Woodland house used as a retreat by Sherlock Holmes author for sale


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s former Bignell Wood home in the New Forest has an asking price of just under £3 million.


By Danielle Desouza

06 November 2022


house in the New Forest which Sir Arthur Conan Doyle used as a retreat has been put on the market at just under £3 million.


Estate agent Spencers New Forest said the Sherlock Holmes creator regularly used Bignell Wood, at Brook near Lyndhurst, from 1924 to 1930 after buying it as a birthday present for his second wife Jean.


They said Sir Arthur was first drawn to the New Forest in Hampshire while researching for his book The White Company – a historical adventure published in 1891 set during the Hundred Years’ War.


Minstead, about two miles north of Lyndhurst, was referred to several time in the book, and Sir Arthur and Jean are buried in the churchyard of All Saints in the village.


The detached cottage, with an asking price of £2,950,000 and has eight bedrooms, seven bathrooms and 10 living rooms.


Other amenities include a terrace, music studio, a greenhouse, garage and workshop, a barn with three stables and around six acres of woodlands which surround the house.


Spencers New Forest added that one of the standout features of the property is its “own private wooden walkway across the stream”, which has a “winding path” leading to the entrance.


More information can be found at:


New Forest National Park


Location of the National Park

Consultations on the possible designation of a National Park in the New Forest were commenced by the Countryside Agency in 1999. An order to create the park was made by the Agency on 24 January 2002 and submitted to the Secretary of State for confirmation in February 2002. Following objections from seven local authorities and others, a public inquiry was held from 8 October 2002 to 10 April 2003, and concluded by endorsing the proposal with some detailed changes to the boundary of the area to be designated.


On 28 June 2004, Rural Affairs Minister Alun Michael confirmed the government's intention to designate the area as a National Park, with further detailed boundary adjustments. The area was formally designated as such on 1 March 2005. A national park authority for the New Forest was established on 1 April 2005 and assumed its full statutory powers on 1 April 2006.


Forestry England retain their powers to manage the Crown land within the Park. The Verderers under the New Forest Acts also retain their responsibilities, and the park authority is expected to co-operate with these bodies, the local authorities, English Nature and other interested parties. The designated area of the National Park covers 566 km2 (219 sq mi) and includes many existing SSSIs. It has a population of about 38,000 (it excludes most of the 170,256 people who live in the New Forest local government district). As well as most of the New Forest district of Hampshire, it takes in the South Hampshire Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a small corner of Test Valley district around the village of Canada and part of Wiltshire south-east of Redlynch.


However, the area covered by the Park does not include all the areas initially proposed: it excludes most of the valley of the River Avon to the west of the Forest and Dibden Bay to the east. Two challenges were made to the designation order, by Meyrick Estate Management Ltd in relation to the inclusion of Hinton Admiral Park, and by RWE NPower Plc in relation to the inclusion of Fawley Power Station. The second challenge was settled out of court, with the power station being excluded.[56] The High Court upheld the first challenge; but an appeal against the decision was then heard by the Court of Appeal in Autumn 2006. The final ruling, published on 15 February 2007, found in favour of the challenge by Meyrick Estate Management Ltd,[58] and the land at Hinton Admiral Park is therefore excluded from the New Forest National Park. The total area of land initially proposed for inclusion but ultimately left out of the Park is around 120 km2 (46 sq mi).

Saturday 26 November 2022

The Guardian view on the return of super-thin models: a worrying trend


The Guardian view on the return of super-thin models: a worrying trend


At a time when anxieties about body image are rife, the idealisation of skinniness is too dangerous to leave to the whims of the fashion industry


Paloma Elsesser

The ‘curve’ model Paloma Elsesser is one of the most sought-after catwalk stars.


Reports from the latest high-profile catwalk shows have sent a shiver through the bones of the body positivity movement. From Versace to Burberry and Stella McCartney, wafer-thin bodies appear to be back in vogue, in costumes that both hide little and depend on having little to hide. The most striking example was at Paris fashion week, where Bella Hadid, a model for the French designers Coperni, stood almost naked for nine minutes while a dress was sprayed on to her body.


It’s in the nature of the fashion industry to be fickle, and to reflect idealised images that have little to do with the day-to-day reality of the people who, come next spring, will be buying more prosaic interpretations of these unworldly visions on the high street. You only have to look back at the work of, say, Zandra Rhodes to appreciate that catwalk designs are artworks: the veteran British designer has even set up her own museum in London to celebrate this fact.


However, the ideal of the ultra-thin model has come to be connected over the years with all sorts of damaging behaviours, from fat-shaming to eating disorders among young men and women. It is particularly worrying to hear the term “heroin chic”, three decades after Kate Moss strutted it down the catwalk.


Though Ms Moss has distanced herself from the term, telling Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs that she was just naturally thin, one must not forget its association with others who were not so lucky, such as the American supermodel Gia Carangi, whose life, and premature death at the age of 26, were commemorated in a 1998 film starring Angelina Jolie.


The body positivity movement itself has come in for some criticism for condoning obesity and encouraging a different range of eating disorders, but in the fashion industry it has largely meant embracing models who are simply bigger than average, which in the UK means above a size 12.


Plus-size – or “curve” – models are not going away, according to analysts for the search engine Tagwalk, and one of their number, the American Paloma Elsesser, is among the world’s most sought-after catwalk stars. Yet moves by social media companies such as Instagram and TikTok to protect users from the pursuit of #thinspo (thin inspiration) underline that this is no time for complacency.


In 2017 real progress was made when two leading fashion conglomerates banned size zero models. France had recently followed Italy, Spain and Israel in legislating against the use of any who were “unrealistically thin”. The UK has yet to follow suit, leaving it to the Advertising Standards Authority to ban advertisements featuring unhealthily thin models in response to public complaints. This is shutting the gate after the cat has walked.


Last year, the parliamentary women and equalities committee published a damning report on the government’s approach to eating disorders and body image. They were responding to a submission by academics involved in a long-term research project in north-east England, whose recommendations included legislation on a minimum body mass index for models. It is an issue too important to leave to the whims of fashion.

Thursday 20 March 2014: Does The Devil read Vogue ?

“What fashion considers to be the ideal is barely a woman.”

'The incitement of misogyny in pursuit of profit.' Illustration by Matt Kenyon

If fashion is your primary means of expression, I pity you
Vogue's editor says she is bored by questions about thin models. But then, she's selling clothes for a misogynistic industry
Tanya Gold

Alexandra Shulman, the editor of British Vogue, is bored with being asked why models are so thin. She said this on Radio 2 to Lily Allen, who acted like a frightened child but nonetheless asked Shulman tough questions that fashion journalists won't ask. Fashion journalists are notoriously prostrate beneath the clothes; their shtick is to act like Vladimir Putin's acolytes trapped in Topshop, screaming about belts, and if you break out and speak the truth, you become Liz Jones, an outcast in your own genre.

Allen said images of thin models made her feel "crap". Well, they don't make me feel crap, answered Shulman (I paraphrase) – so who cares what you think? Anyway, Shulman is bored with this thin-themed twaddle; such a fashion word, "bored", so passive aggressive, so unanswerable. You may be right but you're dull; this is no-platforming in the style of Mean Girls. In fact Shulman can't even really stretch to being "bored", despite being paid what I presume is a large salary for a slender workload; she is, in fact, only "sort of" bored, because this phrasing better expresses the exact proportions of her ennui, which I can only presume is definitely overweight.

She told Allen that looking at overweight women didn't make her feel good, as if overweight is the only alternative, in her mind, to significantly malnourished. Shulman has written to designers asking for larger sample sizes. (I read that in another piece of iconography posing as an interview.) But that was it. She is, at the end of things, only an advocate for the clothes. She calls herself a journalist; but she is a saleswoman.

The answer to the original question of why models are so thin – and do prepare to be bored, because I cannot give you a new answer because the old answer is boring (as is the old question, of course): it is the incitement of misogyny in pursuit of profit.

What fashion considers to be the ideal is barely a woman. This is so obviously the case there is almost nothing else to say. In this dystopia Shulman can, in her defence, tell Lily Allen that the Vogue cover girl for April, Nigella Lawson, is a "totally real person" – as opposed to what? Lawson is a woman of extraordinary beauty, but to Shulman, obviously deadened by an unceasing parade of tiny, malleable teenagers (she says "clothes to our kind of western eye look better on a thinner frame"), Nigella is simply "real".

But fashion's fantasy woman – her default fault, if you will – is a mere scrape of a woman, a woman who has had no time to actually be a woman: too young, too small, a vulnerable thing I often imagine crawling from an egg in Karl Lagerfeld's fridge. (And he is a man so pathologically isolated, his stated muse is now a cat called Choupette with a Twitter feed. Sample tweet: "Anna Wintour sits SECOND ROW at @MaisonValentino? Tres Horror!") It is as if fashion closed its eyes and dreamed up the woman who most closely resembles dust.

Why? Some say it is because designers are all gay, and are afraid of big bottoms and so forth, but this is nonsense, and homophobic; fashion is full of straight women capable of revolution, if they weren't all hostages in Topshop and so very bored.

Shulman says that fashion sells a fantasy, a wonderland, and this may be true for the few thousand women who can afford to wear couture; but it is a wonderland where happiness is as fleeting as any narcotic (six collections a year?). And it is, above all, monetised.

If fashion is your primary means of expression, you are, for me, only to be pitied – because women have better means of expression nowadays. Is it a coincidence that the fashion houses' most avid customers are the female relatives of the tyrants of the Middle East? Fashion is obsessed with surfaces; and it is full of victims.

I would not say that all fashion people are unhappy, but it does seem to attract the unhappy, the soon to be surgically enhanced. And so this child creature, this ideal, is no coincidence. She is a complex sales strategy; both fragile and remote. Because she cannot be impersonated, she sells self-loathing, as Lily Allen noted, and therefore clothing, perfumes and the rest. It is not the wonderland that Shulman espoused, but it is an escape from something that can never be successfully eluded for any length of time – yourself.

If fashion is truly, as apologists suggest, dedicated to female self-expression, then why have trends? Why have a homogeneous law of beauty that cannot be bent? Why have subservient media that behave, so shamefully, like a marketing subsidiary? Why call it "fashion" at all?

In fact, the fashion industry is the most perfect expression of the late capitalist business model. It pretends to sell free choice, but is conventional. It is conservative, racist, misogynist, a terrible polluter, and a fearsome hierarchy. It is covetous, exploitative of models, workers and customers, and it is often tasteless: Vogue Italia's 2006 State of Emergency, for instance, photographed models being sexually assaulted by a tableau of men dressed like Batman, to celebrate – or commemorate – 9/11.

And all this it does, as Alexandra Shulman has demonstrated, with a tiny yawn – a cat's yawn, perhaps? – and entirely without shame.

• Twitter: @TanyaGold1

Many fashion editors get caught up in perpetuating the stereotype … and often have eating disorders themselves, says Clements. Photograph: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty

Former Vogue editor: The truth about size zero
The fashion industry is not a pretty business. Here, one of its own, the former editor of Australian Vogue Kirstie Clements describes a thin-obsessed culture in which starving models eat tissues and resort to surgery when dieting isn't enough
Kirstie Clements

One of the most controversial aspects of fashion magazines, and the fashion industry, is models. Specifically, how young they are and how thin they are. It's a topic that continues to create endless debate, in the press and in the community. As the editor of Australian Vogue, my opinion was constantly sought on these issues, and the images we produced in the magazine were closely scrutinised. It's a precarious subject, and there are many unpleasant truths beneath the surface that are not discussed or acknowledged publicly.

When I first began dealing with models in the late 1980s we were generally drawing from a pool of local girls, who were naturally willowy and slim, had glowing skin, shiny hair and loads of energy. They ate lunch, sparingly for sure, but they ate. They were not skin and bones. I don't think anyone believes that a model can eat anything she wants, not exercise and still stay a flawless size 8 (except when they are very young), so whatever regime these girls were following was keeping them healthy.

But I began to recognise the signs that other models were using different methods to stay svelte. I was dressing a model from the US on a beauty shoot, and I noticed scars and scabs on her knees. When I queried her about them she said, nonchalantly: "Oh yes. Because I'm always so hungry, I faint a lot." She thought it was normal to pass out every day, sometimes more than once.

On another shoot I was chatting to one of the top Australian models during lunch. She had just moved to Paris and was sharing a small apartment with another model. I asked her how that was working out. "I get a lot of time by myself actually," she said, picking at her salad. "My flatmate is a 'fit model', so she's in hospital on a drip a lot of the time." A fit model is one who is used in the top designer ateliers, or workrooms, and is the body around which the clothes are designed. That the ideal body shape used as a starting point for a collection should be a female on the brink of hospitalisation from starvation is frightening.

The longer I worked with models, the more the food deprivation became obvious. Cigarettes and Diet Coke were dietary staples. Sometimes you would see the tell-tale signs of anorexia, where a girl develops a light fuzz on her face and arms as her body struggles to stay warm. I have never, in all my career, heard a model say "I'm hot", not even if you wrapped her in fur and put her in the middle of the desert.

Society is understandably concerned about the issues surrounding body image and eating disorders, and the dangerous and unrealistic messages being sent to young women via fashion journals. When it comes to who should be blamed for the portrayal of overly thin models, magazine editors are in the direct line of fire, but it is more complex than that. The "fit" model begins the fashion process: designer outfits are created around a live, in-house skeleton. Few designers have a curvy or petite fit model. These collections are then sent to the runway, worn by tall, pin-thin models because that's the way the designer wants to see the clothes fall. There will also be casting directors and stylists involved who have a vision of the type of woman they envisage wearing these clothes. For some bizarre reason, it seems they prefer her to be young, coltish, 6ft tall and built like a prepubescent boy.
It is too simplistic to blame misogynistic men, although in some cases I believe that criticism is deserved. There are a few male fashion designers I would like to personally strangle. But there are many female fashion editors who perpetuate the stereotype, women who often have a major eating disorder of their own. They get so caught up in the hype of how brilliant clothes look on a size 4, they cannot see the inherent danger in the message. It cannot be denied that visually, clothes fall better on a slimmer frame, but there is slim, and then there is scary skinny.

Despite protestations by women who recognise the danger of portraying any one body type as "perfect", the situation is not improving. If you look back at the heady days of the supermodels in the late 80s and early 90s, beauties such as Cindy Crawford, Eva Herzigová and Claudia Schiffer look positively curvaceous compared to the sylphs of today. There was a period in the last three years when some of the girls on the runways were so young and thin, and the shoes they were modelling so high, it actually seemed barbaric. I would watch the ready-to-wear shows on the edge of my seat, apprehensive and anxious. I'm not comfortable witnessing teen waifs almost on the point of collapse

After the shows, the collection is made available for the press to use for their shoots. These are the samples we all work with and they are obviously the size of the model who wore them on the runway. Thus, a stylist must cast a model who will fit into these tiny sizes. And they have become smaller since the early 90s. We've had couture dresses arrive from Europe that are so minuscule they resemble christening robes. There are no bigger samples available, and the designer probably has no interest in seeing their clothes on larger women. Many high fashion labels are aghast at the idea of producing a size 14, and they certainly wouldn't want to see it displayed in the pages of the glossies.

As a Vogue editor I was of the opinion that we didn't necessarily need to feature size 14-plus models in every issue. It is a fashion magazine; we are showcasing the clothes. I am of the belief that an intelligent reader understands that a model is chosen because she carries clothes well. Some fashion suits a curvier girl, some doesn't. I see no problem with presenting a healthy, toned, Australian size 10 [UK 8-10]. But as sample sizes from the runway shows became smaller, 10 was no longer an option and the girls were dieting drastically to stay in the game.

It is the ultimate vicious cycle. A model who puts on a few kilos can't get into a sample size on a casting and gets reprimanded by her agency. She begins to diet, loses the weight, and is praised by all for how good she looks. But instead of staying at that weight, and trying to maintain it through a sensible diet and exercise, she thinks losing more will make her even more desirable. And no one tells her to stop.

Girls who can't diet their breasts away will have surgical reductions. They then enter into dangerous patterns of behaviour that the industry – shockingly – begins to accept as par for the course. We had a term for this spiral in the office. When a model who was getting good work in Australia starved herself down two sizes in order to be cast in the overseas shows – the first step to an international career – we would say in the office that she'd become "Paris thin". This dubious achievement was generally accompanied by mood swings, extreme fatigue, binge eating and sometimes bouts of self-harming. All in the quest to fit into a Balenciaga sample.

Not every model has an eating disorder, but I would suggest that every model is not eating as much as she would like to. In 1995 I cast a lovely Russian model for a studio shoot in Paris, and I noticed that by mid-afternoon she hadn't eaten a thing (we always catered). Her energy was fading, so I suggested we stop so she could have a snack. She shook her head and replied: "No, no. It is my job not to eat." It was one of the only sentences she knew how to say in English.

A few years later we booked another Russian girl, who was also starving herself, on a trip to Marrakech. When the team went out to dinner at night she ordered nothing, but then hunger would get the better of her and she would pick small pieces of food off other people's plates. I've seen it happen on many trips. The models somehow rationalise that if they didn't order anything, then they didn't really take in the calories. They can tell their booker at the agency before they sleep that they only had a salad. By the end of the trip, she didn't have the energy to even sit up; she could barely open her eyes. We actually had her lie down next to a fountain to get the last shot.

In 2004, a fashion season in which the girls were expected to be particularly bone-thin, I was having lunch in New York with a top agent who confidentially expressed her concern to me, as she did not want to be the one to expose the conspiracy. "It's getting very serious," she said. She lowered her tone and glanced around to see if anyone at the nearby tables could hear. "The top casting directors are demanding that they be thinner and thinner. I've got four girls in hospital. And a couple of the others have resorted to eating tissues. Apparently they swell up and fill  your stomach."

I was horrified to hear what the industry was covering up and I felt complicit. We were all complicit. But in my experience it is practically impossible to get a photographer or a fashion editor – male or female – to acknowledge the repercussions of using very thin girls. They don't want to. For them, it's all about the drama of the photograph. They convince themselves that the girls are just genetically blessed, or have achieved it through energetic bouts of yoga and eating goji berries.

I was at the baggage carousel with a fashion editor collecting our luggage after a trip and I noticed a woman standing nearby. She was the most painfully thin person I had ever seen, and my heart went out to her. I pointed her out to the editor who scrutinised the poor woman and said: "I know it sounds terrible, but I think she looks really great." The industry is rife with this level of body dysmorphia from mature women.

In my early years at the magazine there was no minimum age limit on models, and there were occasions that girls under the age of 16 were used. Under my editorship, the fashion office found a new favourite model – Katie Braatvedt, a 15-year-old from New Zealand. We had her under contract: the idea being that Vogue grooms and protects the girls at the beginning of their careers. But in April 2007 I ran a cover of Katie wearing an Alex Perry gown standing in a treehouse, and received a storm of protest, from readers and the media, accusing us of sexualising children. I lamely debated the point, claiming that the photographs were meant to be innocent and charming, but in the end I had to agree wholeheartedly with the readers. I felt foolish even trying to justify it. I immediately instigated a policy that we would not employ models under the age of 16. Internationally Vogue has since launched a project called Health Initiative, instigated by the US Vogue editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour, which bans the use of models under 16 and pledges that they will not use models they know to be suffering from eating disorders. The first part you can police. The second is disingenuous nonsense, because unless you are monitoring their diet 24/7, you just can't be sure.
I had no dealings with Wintour during those years, and on the few occasions we were introduced, her sense of froideur was palpable. The deference she commands from people is astonishing to watch. There appears to exist some kind of psychological condition that causes seemingly sane and successful adults to prostrate themselves in her presence. It's not just respect – it's something else. People actually want to be scared witless of her, so she obliges. After they had met me, people would often say: "You're so nice and normal" – often I think with a tinge of disappointment, wishing I'd been just a little bit like Wintour. I could never win. I was either expected to be terrifying or snobbish. And I don't consider myself either.

Being a Vogue editor is precarious. It's a job everybody in the industry desires, and most people are convinced they could do it better. I was harder on myself than anybody would be if I made a mistake, and when you're the editor of Vogue, your slip-ups are very public. Traditional publishing is under enormous pressure, with declining revenues and readership, and decisions are being made to radically cut costs and  do anything to please the advertiser. For me, this is perilous. I still believe in the magic.

This is an edited extract from The Vogue Factor by Kirstie Clements. Buy it for £8.99 (RRP £12.99) at or call 0330 333 6846.

Thursday 24 November 2022

Savile Row tailor reflects on creating Princess Diana’s Panorama outfit


– The full interview with Andrew Ramroop on Desert Island Discs will air on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Sounds on Sunday at 11am.

Released On: 10 Jul 2022 Available for over a year


Savile Row tailor reflects on creating Princess Diana’s Panorama outfit


Andrew Ramroop created suits for the likes of actor Samuel L Jackson and the Princess of Wales.


By Connie Evans

10 July 2022


Savile Row tailor Andrew Ramroop has revealed he did not know Princess Diana was going to wear one of his designs for her now-infamous Panorama interview.


Ramroop, 69, began working on London’s Savile Row at the age of 17 after leaving his home in Trinidad and has since created suits for the likes of actor Samuel L Jackson and the Princess of Wales.


Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, Ramroop reflected on one of his most famous creations, the jacket worn by Princess Diana in her 1995 Panorama interview on the BBC.


When asked by presenter Lauren Laverne whether he knew Princess Diana was going to wear one of his pieces for the occasion, Ramroop said: “I wasn’t aware.


“And all of the photographs, and even on television, it looks as though it’s black. It isn’t black.


“It’s midnight blue. It’s pure cashmere. Of course it had to be pure cashmere, or silk.


“I made the Princess of Wales at least eight suits.


“And I had, I think, three in progress when she passed away.”


He added: “One was half made, one was completely made, and the other wasn’t cut yet.”


After reaching England by boat, Ramroop managed to secure a job on Savile Row and while also working a weekend job on the King’s Road in Chelsea, he self-funded a degree at the London College of Fashion.


Despite being a top graduate, Ramroop was continuously turned down for more visible jobs on Savile Row, which he now sees as racism.


He said: “I could not get a job at the front of the shop and this is where probably the act of racism came in.


“But I did not recognise it. I just felt that I wasn’t suitable. So I didn’t take umbrage at being turned down, but one boss said our customers would not take kindly to a foreigner.”


Ramroop was eventually offered a job by Savile Row tailor Maurice Sedwell. After working alongside Sedwell for a decade, Ramroop bought the business when he retired and has since kept Sedwell’s name above the shop as a token of thanks.



Ramroop, who was the UK’s Black British Business Person of the Year in 2017, explained the process of creating pieces for Princess Diana.


“You submit three designs,” he said.


“You don’t want too many choices, swatches and designs.


“And then a selection is made.


“It was very much keeping it confidential from everyone. Even keeping it confidential from staff, confidential from your own family, because you were sworn to secrecy.”


During the conversation, Ramroop chose eight tracks to take with him to the Desert Island, including James Brown’s It’s Man’s Man’s World, Jimmy Cliff’s Time Will Tell and The Boxer by Simon & Garfunkel.


Ramroop also picked a steel pan as his luxury item.


– The full interview with Andrew Ramroop on Desert Island Discs will air on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Sounds on Sunday at 11am.


Wednesday 23 November 2022

The English - Official Trailer | Prime Video / Emily Blunt’s sweeping western is a rare, sensational masterpiece

The English review – Emily Blunt’s sweeping western is a rare, sensational masterpiece


Lucy Mangan


Thu 10 Nov 2022 21.50 GMT


First and foremost – don’t let the moony opening of The English (“It was in the stars … And we believed in the stars, you and I”) put you off. It is completely unrepresentative of the six hours that follow and I want you to follow them.


The English (BBC Two), written and directed by Hugo Blick, is a revisionist western further revised. We are in 1890, the last days of settlement of the old west and our all-but-silent hero is Eli Whipp (Chaske Spencer), a Pawnee native and former scout for the US army cavalry – doubly displaced by the settlers’ theft of his homeland and what his people see as his betrayal of it. He is on his way to Nebraska to stake a claim to the acres he is owed for his army service, despite warnings that the white men in charge will never honour their debt.


Our heroine is Lady Cornelia Locke (Emily Blunt), who arrives at a remote hostelry in Kansas from England, on the trail of the man she holds responsible for her son’s death. There she finds the manager, Mr Watts (Ciarán Hinds, in the most terrifying of all his terrifying modes), in the process of torturing Eli. She tries to buy his safety but is beaten for her trouble. It becomes clear that news of her vengeful intentions has gone before her and that Watts is under instructions to kill her. The murder will be pinned on Eli.


One semi-mutual rescue and at least four bloody deaths later, their fates – along with his quest and her revenge narrative – have become firmly intertwined. As they cross the plains in search of their different ideas of peace, the relationship between these two lost and harrowed souls becomes deeper and more tender in a way that avoids and transcends mere romance. By the end it is infused with yearning, that rare and vanishing sensation in a world where nothing is forbidden any longer, which helps give the series the edge of grandeur the genre always seeks.


The plot surrounding the emotional core is convoluted. I have faith that were I to map all its parts it would make perfect sense but I would genuinely need to sit down with a paper and pencil, and possibly a cartographer, to do so.


But it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that along the way we meet a plethora of picaresque characters (special mention to Nichola McAuliffe as the murderous Black Eyed Mog) who evoke the pitilessness of the old west and illustrate Blick’s consideration of how many of us would remain sane, and morally sound, in a lawless land where – for hundreds of miles at a time – no one could hear you, or anyone who got in your way, scream.


What matters is that the dehumanisation and massacres of the Native Americans, upon whose suffering the New World was built, is not forgotten but ever present, in Eli’s story, in the charred remains of encampments, in the cruelty of old soldiers they meet, in the stories of the people they seek shelter with. It’s not the wholesale corrective some will want, but you could say the frontier is being moved.


What matters is that although you might lose track of the details, the plot never becomes impenetrable or the performances less than compelling. Spencer, best known for playing the werewolf Sam Uley in the Twilight movies, is a revelation – strong and silent, but also seething with frustration, intelligence, grief and the rage of a good man forced into terrible compromises. Blunt is at her best yet, giving us a woman made brave and undauntable by resolve, powered by a secret whose late reveal ties much of what was beginning to feel like sprawl back tightly together again.


And then there’s Rafe Spall as David Melmont, with a performance just this side of demented, and quite perfect as a truly diabolic villain – the kind who can reach across the open plains to master the lesser fiends, the willing weak and the good men with no choice and cast the net around an approaching nemesis and bring her down.


Blick’s script is as spare and gorgeous as the landscape. If he could have spent some of the time afforded the plot machinations on interrogating more intensively the myths of the Old West, the colonial impulse, the difference between retribution and justice and the other questions his western raises, the ambition that is everywhere in it would have been even more gloriously realised. But it remains a sweepingly wonderful thing.


The English is screening on BBC Two in the UK and streaming on Amazon Prime Video in Australia.

Monday 21 November 2022

The Rebel's Wardrobe, by THOMAS STEGE BOJER and BRYAN SZABO


By Gestalten (Editor), Bryan Szabo (Editor), Thomas Stege Bojer (Editor)

Comprising THOMAS STEGE BOJER and BRYAN SZABO, Denimhunters is one of the internet's premier denim and heritage menswear authorities. It was founded in 2012 by Stege Bojer, who now serves as the editor-in-chief. Experienced writer and editor Szabo is a contributor to the site, and notably spearheads the writing and research for the Well Made Essentials rugged menswear buying guide.


Immersing readers in the world of men’s fashion, The Rebel's Wardrobe explores the surprising origins of our everyday staple items and how they became timeless classics.

From the plain white T-shirt developing into the everyday hero, to the leather jacket cementing its place as a global icon or the chino being originally produced for military purposes, this modern menswear lexicon uses fashion to look at pop culture over the last 100 years, making links between seemingly disparate groups from military to sports.

Sunday 20 November 2022

Made in England | The Iconic Landowner John Partridge’s Wax Jacket

John Partridge’s authentic heritage and strong brand values started half a century ago in 1969. Originally called ‘Landowner’ our company grew out of a farm market supplies business; farmers past and present can attest that John Partridge means value for money, well made, great fabrics, comfortable fit and made for the long term.

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Thursday 17 November 2022

BBC Documentary - Land of Hope and Glory British Country Life / 22 things you probably never knew about Country Life

22 things you probably never knew about Country Life

Agnes Stamp

January 7, 2022


  125 years of Country Life

I never knew that about Country Life…


Country Life launched on 8 January 1897, and incorporated Racing Illustrated, a sports paper that analysed the form of horses and jockeys prior to big races and supplied the results to races that had already been run.

It’s been published without interruption since that date, even through two World Wars.

The founder Edward Hudson, a shy Londoner who was passionate about country houses, got the idea while driving his sick brother around the countryside.

The first Frontispiece page—now universally known as the ‘Girls in Pearls’ page—actually featured a man: the Earl of Suffolk and Berkshire.


facts about country life


  • Sir Winston Churchill has been a Frontispiece, as were Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall on the occasion of their engagement.
  • The first nude Frontispiece was restaurant owner Sophia Burrell, who was photographed in the style of Botticelli in 1999; the first body piercing to appear was that of Miss Eugenie Warre in 2001.
  • In 1904, Sir Edwin Lutyens, a renowned architect of English country houses, was commissioned to build Hudson House, 8 Tavistock Street, London WC2 as the headquarters of Country Life. We are sadly no longer located there.
  • The chairs Lutyens designed for Hudson were in the present Editor’s office until the office — located in Farnborough — closed for good in early 2021. The team now works largely remotely, meeting a day or two per week in Reading or London… as well as the various teams sometimes getting together in Surrey, Sussex, Hampshire, Dorset, Yorkshire, or beyond.
  • In the 1900s, Country Life observed that the most fashionable flowers were rambling roses and roses planted with lavender—a century on, and they are still the romantic ideal.
  • Knight Frank & Rutley appropriated page 3 of Country Life in 1912 and have remained there ever since.
  • In 1913, Lord Runciman described Country Life as the ‘keeper of the architectural conscience of the nation’.
  • The first gardens editor was the renowned plantswoman Gertrude Jekyll, whose waves of colour are, for many, still the horticultural ideal.
  • During the First World War, readers were encouraged to take their old copies of Country Life to the Post Office, where they would be sent, at no charge, to troops in the trenches.
  • In 1914 Country Life ran a competition to design a golf hole. The competition was won by a Yorkshire GP – Dr Alister MacKenzie – a former Army surgeon who used ideas he had learnt in the Boer War about camouflage in his design. The hole was built at a golf course in America, kick-starting a career in golf course architecture which ultimately led to Mackenzie creating the iconic Augusta National golf course.
  • During the First World War, Country Life published special issues about the allies. America’s entry into the war prompted the first ever colour photograph published by the magazine.
  • Founded in the year of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, Country Life has observed the comings and goings of six monarchs and 22 Prime Ministers.
  • The then Editor, Christopher Hussey, had a seat in Westminster Abbey when Queen Elizabeth II was crowned. He wrote: ‘She is looking radiantly young and beautiful … I can feel the tremor as thousands catch their breath’.
  • The magazine has a distinguished history of campaigning journalism. In the 1920s, it saw off a threat to Stonehenge, which was to become the site of a new aerodrome and garage. More recently, a reader in New York sent a cheque for £130,000 to help red squirrel conservation efforts.
  • Former National Trust chairman Simon Jenkins was once a junior sub at Country Life, where his duties included giving the good news to successful Frontispieces. His own fiancée, Hannah Kaye, appeared as a Frontispiece in the September 10, 2014 issue.
  • Today, the average value of houses advertised in Country Life is £2.25m (UK average £240K).
  • The current Archbishop of Canterbury wrote the Easter leader in 2013.
  • Prince Charles acted as Guest Editor for the November 13, 2013 issue on the occasion of his 65th birthday, and again in 2018 to mark his 70th birthday. Princess Anne followed suit in 2021 and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, will take the reins of the magazine in July 2022.

Monday 14 November 2022

FACT CHECKING THE CROWN SEASON 5: separating fact from fiction


The Crown, season 5: separating fact from fiction


Did Diana tell the late Queen about her Bashir interview? Did Prince Charles breakdance? Fact-checking the Netflix drama, episode by episode



Alexander Larman

9 November 2022 • 9:39am


“Fiction should not be paraded as fact.” “Complete and utter rubbish.” “Full of nonsense, but this is nonsense on stilts.” “An inaccurate and hurtful account of history.”


Usually, when a high-profile new television series is launched, its makers fall over themselves to get laudatory quotes to promote it with. However, in the case of the new series of the royal drama The Crown – its fifth – there has been a chorus of criticism from those portrayed in the show itself.


Previous series took advantage of the fact that most of the major characters depicted in it were either unlikely to make any public statements – the Royal Family sticking to its old motto of “never complain, never explain” – or were no longer alive. However, as the new instalment moves into the Nineties, most of the people who appear are very much here, and often deeply unhappy about how they are presented.


The Crown’s screenwriter Peter Morgan – who has written all of the episodes for the new season himself – has always been upfront about the necessity of creating fictitious scenarios for the characters. In 2018, he stated that “we have to make some sort of leaps of the imagination, about how people were”, and conceded “maybe sometimes I get it wrong, because they aren't friends of mine.”


Yet as pressure grows on the show’s financiers Netflix for each episode to carry a disclaimer saying that it is a work of fiction – as yet resisted – how far is each episode “nonsense on stilts”, as Jonathan Dimbleby put it, and to what extent do Morgan’s inventions and elaborations illuminate a story that we might think we know, but which has never been told in quite so dramatic – or exaggerated – a fashion before?


Episode one: Queen Victoria Syndrome

Did Prince Charles meet with John Major at St James’s Palace and ask him for his help in facilitating the Queen’s abdication?



In what is already the most controversial scene of the new series, there is a clandestine meeting between Prince Charles and the-then Prime Minister John Major, presented with maximum secrecy for fears that word might get back to the Queen about their encounter. Charles even asks: “Did your office tell anyone at Buckingham Palace we were meeting today?” He then implicitly compares his mother’s situation to that of Margaret Thatcher’s, suggests that Major has revived the Conservative party, and offers the PM the chance to ask whether “this institution that we all care about so deeply is in safe hands”.


It is an engaging, provocative scene, well acted by both Dominic West (as Charles) and Jonny Lee Miller (as Major), but bears no relation to the truth. It would have been seen as constitutionally improper for the prime minister to meet with the heir to the throne privately, as his audiences were with the monarch, and the idea that a subject so explosive as this might be discussed openly is highly implausible, to say the least. No wonder Major’s spokesperson commented that “there was never any discussion between Sir John and the then Prince of Wales about any possible abdication of the late Queen Elizabeth II – nor was such an improbable and improper subject ever raised by the then Prince of Wales (or Sir John)”.


Did the Queen ask John Major to pay for HMY Britannia to be replaced at public expense?

Partly true


In one of their weekly meetings around 1992, Major and Imelda Staunton’s Queen Elizabeth disagree about the proposed refurbishment or replacement of the Royal Yacht, HMY Britannia. Major argues that, at a time of national belt-tightening, it would be difficult to ask for the public to pay for Britannia’s refurbishment, suggesting “it might backfire on us both”. The Queen is having none of it and says: “Only Britannia have I solely been able to make my own…she is a floating, sea-going expression of me.” She then goes on to add: “As sovereign, I have made few requests, let alone demands…people should do as I ask, without question…I want the government’s reassurance that the costs for the refurbishment will be met.”


In secret documents dating from 1996, it was made clear that Major was uncertain about paying for the Royal Yacht. His private secretary Alex Allan wrote: “In the light of the current debate about the Royal Family and the Monarchy, the Prime Minister did not feel it was the right time to take a decision on a new Royal Yacht.” Yet this was in the wake of several high-profile royal divorces and a growing feeling that the monarchy was, if not unfit for purpose, worthy of debate; it was also notable that the government decided that Britannia should be paid for in January 1997, only for the incoming Labour government to scrap this upon election. Britannia accordingly sailed her last voyage in 1997.


Episode two: The System

Did the doctor James Colthurst act as a go-between for Princess Diana and Andrew Morton?



Andrew Morton’s infamous book, Diana: Her True Story, In Her Own Words, was put together using tape-recorded confessions by the Princess, which were then surreptitiously passed to Morton by a third party. The identity of this man or woman is, if not quite a secret, certainly less well-known, but, as played by Prince William look-alike Oliver Chris, the dashing and charming doctor James Colthurst is shown acting as a conduit between Elizabeth Debicki’s Princess and Morton. Colthurst emerges from the series as a close platonic friend of Diana who cares about her – “I feel protective of her, as a friend…she’s like a sister to me” – and who acts out of principle and a desire for her to be allowed to present her story to the world.


Were Morton and Colthurst threatened during the writing of Morton’s book about Princess Diana?



Colthurst is shown being run off the road by a white van; Morton returns home one day to find that his study has been ransacked, presumably by interested parties searching for documents. Neither of these things bear any relation to reality, but give an indication of the mounting paranoia that Diana, and those in her circle, felt at this time. It’s telling, though, that another royal biographer, Anthony Holden, claimed that, while he was writing a hostile (or at least unauthorised) biography of Prince Charles, his home was burgled several times. As he said: “When we called the police, the local constabulary looked round carefully before declaring that this was out of their league. They could do nothing more. In other words, as indeed they spelt out in so many words, it looked to them like the expert work of intelligence operatives.”


Was Prince Philip an aficionado of carriage driving?



Jonathan Pryce’s Prince Philip is depicted as saying that he gave up polo at 50 due to being injured repeatedly; he describes the sport in a television interview as “the love of my life”, before correcting himself and calling it “the big sporting love of my life”. He then takes up the decidedly niche sport of carriage driving, with the aid of his new-found friend Lady Penny Mountbatten; this friendship will have dramatic consequences before too long.


Episode three: Mou Mou

Did Mohamed Al-Fayed see the Duke and Duchess of Windsor in Alexandria in 1946?



The opening scene of the third episode shows a young Mohamed Al-Fayed (or “Mohamed Fayed”, as he then styled himself) playing a game of football in post-war Alexandria and seeing a well-dressed, middle-aged Englishman and his wife emerging from a chauffeur-driven car: the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, once again played by Alex Jennings and Lia Williams. The implication is that the Duke’s style and taste influence the young Fayed, and eventually lead him to hire the Duke’s former valet, Sydney Johnson, in his quest to be regarded as an English gentleman. As so often with The Crown, the scene is thematically relevant but bears no relation to fact: in 1946, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were mainly living in France, with occasional visits to Britain and America, and there is no record of their visiting Alexandria that year, let alone their encountering the young Mohamed Al-Fayed.


Did Princess Diana first meet Dodi Fayed at a polo match?

Partly true


The episode concludes with a fateful meeting between the Princess of Wales and Mohamed Al-Fayed at a polo match in Windsor: Al-Fayed, serving as official sponsor to the event, has essentially paid to be introduced to the Queen, but she, finding more entertaining company, sends her daughter-in-law in her place, who self-deprecatingly says, “I realise I’m no substitute for the big chief” as Al-Fayed says, “the boss lady seems allergic to me”. In what might almost be an act of revenge, Al-Fayed then introduces Diana to his son Dodi, and the relationship is set in train.


In reality, it is believed that, while Dodi and Diana might first have met at a polo match, this would have been in 1986, during which Charles was also playing, and that, if the future lovers had encountered one another, it was nowhere near as auspicious as the show might suggest.


Episode four: Annus Horribilis

Did the Queen weep at a lunch at the Guildhall to celebrate her 40th anniversary on the throne?



The Queen famously described 1992 as her “annus horribilis” in a speech that she gave at the Guildhall on November 24 that year, referring to the partial destruction of Windsor Castle by fire and the separations or divorces of three of her children. It was undoubtedly an emotional occasion for her, but the monarch did not weep or become choked up, as she is shown being in the episode, nor did she say that she acknowledged “the errors of the past” – an invention of Morgan’s. Instead, she said: “I dare say that history will take a slightly more moderate view than that of some contemporary commentators. Distance is well-known to lend enchantment, even to the less attractive views.” She may well have been proved correct in this.


Were Princess Margaret and Peter Townsend reunited shortly before his death?

Partly true


The show features a big emotional pay-off for one of the major storylines from season one, namely the way that Princess Margaret was not allowed to marry the love of her life, the royal equerry Peter Townsend. As depicted in the show, Timothy Dalton’s Townsend, now a married man living in France, heard her appearance on Desert Island Discs, during which one of the songs that she chooses was Hoagy Carmichael’s Smile, which was their mutual favourite. Deeply affected, he writes to her, now played by Lesley Manville, and they resume a version of their former relationship, sharing a tender kiss after Townsend tells Margaret that he is dying of cancer, as well as having a reunion at a boisterous party at the Caledonian Club.


Virtually every detail of this is incorrect. Margaret’s appearance on Desert Island Discs came in 1981, not 1992, and she did not pick Smile as one of her chosen tracks then, preferring the likes of Rule Britannia and Swan Lake. It is believed that Margaret and Townsend had already reunited, courtesy of Margaret’s lady-in-waiting Lady Glenconner, but that this took place in 1978, shortly after Margaret’s divorce from Lord Snowdon. Lady Glenconner described the encounter as “very touching”, and said that “in Margaret’s eyes, [Townsend] hadn’t changed at all”. It has been suggested that the two did meet for tea in 1992, when Townsend attended a reunion of those who had travelled with the Royal Family in 1947 – an event Margaret eschewed, fearing publicity – but no details of such a meeting have ever emerged publicly.


Did Princess Margaret have a dog called Rum?



A lighter moment comes in the episode’s conclusion when Margaret expresses her intention of getting drunk “with Rum”, and the Queen queries this, saying, “getting drunk on rum? Like a pirate?” In fact, Rum was the name of a dachshund-corgi cross owned by Margaret – a dorgi – and others in the family’s possession were called Cider, Brandy, Tinker, Vulcan and Candy, amongst others.


Episode five: The Way Ahead

Was Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles’ “Tampongate” conversation recorded by accident?



One of the most excruciating episodes in the new season of The Crown – and, by extension, Prince Charles’s own life – is when an intimate conversation between him and Camilla Parker-Bowles, the so-called “Tampongate” scandal, is shown being stumbled across by an amateur radio operator, who, realising the value of what he has come across, sells the tape to the Daily Mirror, which then splashes it across the front pages. Surprisingly, these details are presented more or less accurately. As the series shows, the fact that this conversation was obtained by chance, rather than through phone-hacking – presumably the method of choice, had it taken place a few years later – meant that it was fair game both to be recorded, and, later, used to sell papers.


The shocked and horrified reaction of both Prince Philip – “You’ve alienated the Church and politicians, and you’ve pressed the self-destruct button” – and the Prime Minister feels accurate, as does Princess Anne’s more human summation that “it’s all a bit gynaecological for my taste”, but also she believed  the tape showed Charles and Camilla as “gloriously human and entirely in love”.


Did Prince Charles confess to adultery in an interview with Jonathan Dimbleby?



In an interview that Prince Charles gave to the broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby in June 1994, he was explicitly asked whether he had been faithful to Diana. His response was to say, “Yes, until it was clear that the marriage had irretrievably broken down.” Arguably this confession – the first time that such a thing had ever been publicly admitted to by a member of the Royal Family – led to everything that followed, from Diana’s so-called “revenge dress” that she wore to a party at the Serpentine Gallery immediately afterwards to her own, fateful decision to give a score-settling interview to Martin Bashir and Panorama the following year.


Did Prince Charles breakdance?

Partly true


The episode’s conclusion shows the unlikely spectacle of the heir to the throne semi-reluctantly breakdancing at an event for his charity, the Prince’s Trust. It seems like an invention too far, even by The Crown’s standards, but in fact, it’s true, even if the only footage in existence of the then-heir to the throne breakdancing comes from 1985, rather than the mid-Nineties that the show implies.


Episode six: Ipatiev House

Was the British Royal Family indirectly responsible for the deaths of the Romanovs?

Partly true


Most series of The Crown feature an episode that is as much history lesson as insight into the monarchy, and the sixth episode, Ipatiev House, is no exception to this. It depicts the brutal murder of the Romanovs, the Russian royal family, and the attempts by the present-day monarchy, the government and the new Russian president Boris Yeltsin to find and inter their remains, after nearly a century: a task that is eventually successful, after some disagreements between Yeltsin and the Royal Family. However, the detail that most viewers will find provocative is the suggestion that George V and Queen Mary were offered the opportunity to give the Romanovs asylum in Britain after the Russian Revolution and declined to do so, whether on the grounds that there was a rivalry between Queen Mary and the Russian monarch Alexandra, or that it was felt that the Czarina was pro-German and offering her special treatment would spark a diplomatic crisis.


It was long believed that the British royal family, especially George V, were deeply upset at the treatment of the Romanovs – given that they were cousins - and would have offered them a home in Britain, but were overruled by the government of the time, who feared that the matter would have established an unfortunate constitutional precedent. However, government papers released in the 1980s suggest that it was King George – rather than Queen Mary, as the episode implies – who would not allow his relatives to come to his country, fearing reputational damage. The Tsar was by no means a popular figure, being viewed by many in Britain as no better than a tyrant, and so family loyalty had to be subsumed to national considerations, once again.


Did Prince Philip enjoy a close friendship with Penny Mountbatten?

Partly true


The Crown has previously hinted at Prince Philip’s “friendships” with other women while never suggesting that he committed adultery. This episode shows Philip and Penny Mountbatten’s friendship going far beyond that of two enthusiastic participants in carriage riding together, with Lady Mountbatten sitting in the front row of Duke of Edinburgh award ceremonies and acting as a confidante to the Duke. This eventually leads to a furious row between Philip and the Queen, in which she says, “She’s half your age…she’s a married woman…it does compromise me, me as your soulmate”, and suggests that he should have found a pliable secretary instead if he wished to pursue that kind of relationship.


While the show never explicitly suggests that there was anything between the two other than a friendship of shared ideals and interests, the depiction of such a close relationship between such high-profile people is obviously laden with difficulty. It is little surprise that the Queen’s former press secretary, the magnificently named Dickie Arbiter, commented: “This is very distasteful and, quite frankly, cruel rubbish. The truth is that Penny was a long-time friend of the whole family. Netflix are not interested in people’s feelings.” He may well be correct.


Episode seven: No Woman’s Land

Did Martin Bashir lie to Princess Diana in order to persuade her to participate in a Panorama interview?

(Mostly) true


For many years, Martin Bashir’s incendiary Panorama interview with Princess Diana, in which she revealed “there were three of us in this marriage”, along with discussing her suicide attempts and eating disorders, was thought to have been obtained through traditional, if unorthodox, journalistic methods, However – fortunately for Morgan as a dramatist – it emerged in 2020 that Bashir had falsified several documents, including bank statements, and used them to dupe Diana and her brother Earl Spencer into giving him the interview: the implication was that the Royal Family were actively working against her, using her private secretary, amongst others, as a spy, and that the interview became a form of both protection and revenge.


The episode makes the build-up to the interview seem highly dramatic – with clandestine meetings in underground car parks and Bashir telling more and more lies in order to obtain his goal – but also portrays Bashir as duplicitous and manipulative, flattering a suspicious Earl Spencer (“You’ve served as an inspiration to me for my own reporting”), even as he seeks to suggest that the fictitious “Penfolds Consultants”, which was supposedly paying her private secretary, was a front for MI5. There may well be exaggeration and dramatic licence employed, but the kernel of truth in this incident is undeniable.


Did Princess Diana go on the cinema on a date with the surgeon Hasnat Khan to see Apollo 13 in disguise?

Partly true


The episode depicts Diana seeing Apollo 13 on a date with the heart surgeon Hasnat Khan, and wearing an elaborate disguise to do so. Although it’s not true that they saw Apollo 13 together – Diana attended the premiere in September 1995, and met the film’s director Ron Howard, amongst others – and it remains uncertain as to whether they ever went to the cinema, it has been suggested that Diana’s attire of trench coat and wig was in fact what she had to wear in order to go out to her local cinema, the Odeon Kensington. Her friend and biographer Stewart Pearce described seeing such films as Jerry Maguire with her, and how “nobody else knew that she was her because she'd be wearing a long blonde wig [and] sunglasses with a black trench coat… we would walk very briskly down the street to the movie theatre and go and see a movie”.


Episode eight: Gunpowder

Did the BBC’s chairman Marmaduke Hussey clash with its Director-General John Birt over the Panorama interview?



Marmaduke “Duke” Hussey, the BBC’s Chairman of the Board of Governors, is depicted in the series as the ultimate establishment figure, even down to a wife who is on joking terms with the Queen, and so it comes as no surprise that his view of a suitable show to pay tribute to Her Majesty would be something to celebrate her 70th birthday. The Director-General of the BBC, John Birt, has other ideas, and is shown giving the final go-ahead to the Panorama interview after a difficult meeting with Hussey, almost out of pique, leading Hussey to shout, “You will be on the wrong side of the history”. Birt, who is depicted as having strongly republican sympathies – “more and more people see the monarchy as part of the furniture, something that can be thrown out, if needs be” – is depicted as loathing the patrician Hussey, with the two men opposed to one another on grounds of both competence and, it is implied, class.


There was certainly no love lost between them. Hussey, who resigned in 1996, stated in a 2001 interview that Birt was an “arse-licker”, and that “I wouldn't have reappointed him if I'd had the chance. I would have got rid of him”. He criticised him further as “dogmatic and difficult and slow to take decisions” and said, “He did have some fine qualities, but admitting that others on occasion might be right was not one of them.” The revelations about Panorama and Bashir, meanwhile, have irreparably tarnished Birt’s reputation, and have turned the man who has been described as “perhaps the most consequential Director-General since Reith” into a discredited figure.


Did Diana tell the Queen about the Panorama interview in advance?



The episode features a scene in which Princess Diana warns the Queen about the incendiary Panorama interview, leading to a confrontation in which the monarch sneers that her daughter-in-law is “like a broken record”, claims that she has consistently defended her “loyally, emphatically, to the hilt” – and says that she has imagined the hostility, stating, “All that any of us want, Diana, is for you to be happy.” The Queen concludes by asking, vainly, “I suppose it’s already too late to stop this?”


The incident is, of course, dramatic invention, and there is no cause to believe that Diana did warn her mother-in-law about the interview, which blindsided the Royal Family when it was broadcast. But the Queen’s attitude towards her appearance can be gleaned from her comment to the National Theatre’s artistic director Sir Richard Eyre that it was a “frightful thing to do, a frightful thing that my daughter-in-law did”, and that “frightful” was regal code for “utterly appalling beyond measure”.


Episode nine: Couple 31

Did Princess Diana ask for an initial divorce settlement of £35 million, Kensington Palace and an office in St James? And did John Major act as a go-between?



Princess Diana’s divorce settlement, although never made public, was widely believed to have been around £17 million, plus around £400,000 a year for her to maintain staffing costs for her private office. The episode revolving around the divorce negotiations not only portrays the Prime Minister as an active go-between, being one of the few public figures who enjoyed amicable relations with both camps. It also shows him attempting to convince Prince Charles to give his former wife as large a settlement as he can, as “that speaks to a generosity of spirit that you possess”, and stresses to Diana that a condition of this divorce settlement must be that things be kept “private” and “dignified”, and that she does not bad-mouth the monarchy in the future.


The eventual settlement between Charles and Diana was one of the largest in British legal history at the time, and was widely rumoured to come with the codicil that, should she remarry, she would lose Kensington Palace, her ongoing payments and the title of Princess of Wales. But there is no concrete evidence for the suggestion that Diana initially asked for a sum of nearly double what she eventually received, and so it has to be regarded as a piece of dramatic licence, along with Major’s interventionist role in the divorce negotiations. 


Did Prince Charles and Princess Diana meet privately after the divorce was finalised?



A scene that will surely be one of the season’s most talked-about imagines a meeting between Prince Charles and Diana at Kensington Palace, which begins with philosophical musings about times that they were happy, continues as the two of them share a (badly made) omelette courtesy of Diana, and then end in recriminations and arguments as they discuss Charles’s fitness (or lack of it) to be king, as Diana says, “Everyone would prefer to see William as king, not you” and Charles responds, “I leave here liberated […] with you out of this family and out of my life, we can find the happiness and the stability that has eluded us.”


The scene is testament to how even-handed the treatment of Charles and Diana is throughout the season – both are portrayed as flawed but fundamentally decent people, and the central tragedy between them is their essential incompatibility – but it is entirely fictitious. There is no record of the two of them ever meeting again after their divorce, and the only reunion that they would have had came, tragically enough, after the Princess died on August 31 1997 and Charles visited the Paris hospital in which her body lay.


Episode 10: Decommissioned

Did Prince Charles and Tony Blair have a private meeting shortly after Blair became Prime Minister?

Partly true


The new series bookends itself with two meetings between Charles and the Prime Ministers John Major and Tony Blair, in both of which the future king seems to suggest that it is time for change, namely his accelerated accession. In the case of Major, the Prime Minister is guarded and largely unsympathetic, later suggesting to his wife Norma that “the Prince of Wales is impatient for a bigger role in public life, but he fails to appreciate that his one great asset in public life is his wife”.


Blair, however, is non-committal in conversation, but later says to Cherie that he feels that, while the conversation was “gobsmacking”, he was impressed by Charles, talking of his “energy, brain, conscience and beating heart”, and felt sympathy for his situation, saying, “It’s a bit like being trapped for eternity in opposition.”


Again, this scene is a pure invention of Morgan’s, as is a subsequent encounter between the Prince of Wales and the Queen in which he virtually demands that she abdicate in his favour. As she remarks: “The only person to have a direct relationship with the sovereign is me.” But it is true that Charles and the Prime Minister were both present for the Hong Kong handover ceremony in June 1997, and that the Prince of Wales subsequently wrote in his diary that Blair was “most enjoyable” to speak to, even if he was “always in a hurry”. Charles even suggested that “he also gives the impression of listening to what one says, which I find astonishing”, which implies that a private meeting did take place, even if it may have been less seismic than the show suggests.


Did Prince Charles fly Business Class to Hong Kong to mark its handover to the Chinese while the politicians and Blair flew first class?



It might seem an excessively on-the-nose detail, in a series that largely explores the growing obsolescence of the Royal Family in modern Britain, that Prince Charles is compelled to fly business class to Hong Kong, while politicians such as Blair and Edward Heath were flown first class. But it’s entirely true; Charles wrote in his diary, “It took me some time to realise that this was not first class (!) although it puzzled me as to why the seat seemed so uncomfortable”, and, when he did, he sighed to himself, “Such is the end of Empire”.