JAN MOIR: Since the Queen died, I've struggled to see what the point of the Royal Family is any more. Is that wrong?

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Since the Queen died, I’ve struggled to see what the point is of the Royal Family any more. Is that wrong?

Once this dignified, dutiful, much-loved matriarch left us for the great palace in the sky, she took the last drop of regal charisma with her, along with my devotion. All we are left with now is the well-meaning but essentially ho-hum next generation, the second tier on the crumbling cake, the monarchical subs’ bench.

If questions are raised about the value of their individual and collective roles within the UK, then the issue of their significance gets even more crucial when they venture abroad.

Look at the King and Queen in France this week. All very marvellous, all very entente cordiale, all very let’s-not-mention-the-small-boats as they shuffled around Paris with the weirdo Macrons.

Queen Elizabeth II visits the British Airways headquarters to mark their centenary year at Heathrow Airport on May 23, 2019 in London, England

Queen Elizabeth II visits the British Airways headquarters to mark their centenary year at Heathrow Airport on May 23, 2019 in London, England

French President Emmanuel Macron (R) toasts with Britain's King Charles III (L) during a state banquet at the Palace of Versailles, west of Paris, on September 20, 2023

French President Emmanuel Macron (R) toasts with Britain’s King Charles III (L) during a state banquet at the Palace of Versailles, west of Paris, on September 20, 2023

There was a fabulous banquet at Versailles, although it was a bit much of King Charles to demand he was not served foie gras nor out-of-season vegetables such as asparagus, particularly as salmon and asparagus fishcakes are still on the menu at the Pavilion Tea Room in Kensington Palace. (I hope you are hungry, Your Majesty, because this piping hot hypocrisy is delicious.)

After dinner, Charles made a speech about the significance of Britain working with France to tackle climate change and honouring the asparagus season mere hours after Rishi Sunak announced he was putting the brakes on Britain’s financially ruinous — not to say crazy — rush to net-zero emissions.

There was further embarrassment when, in a historic address to the French parliament, the King called global warming an ‘existential challenge’ and called for a ‘sustainability agreement’ with France. Fine words, but after the British Government U-turned on green targets, Charles must have been feeling very green indeed. And this was more than just unfortunate timing, it perfectly emphasised increasing royal irrelevance.

And then, of course, there is Queen Camilla. What I am thinking is, do we really have to put the 76-year-old through all this torture?

Camilla trundled through Paris like a woman expecting to face a guillotine at the end of every day. She looked terrified most of the time, and when she wasn’t looking terrified she was battling to keep her hat on, fighting to keep her hems down and avoiding being patronised by Madame Macron.

The First Lady of France fussed with Camilla’s evening cape on Wednesday and then — unforgivably — made her play ping-pong during a cringeworthy publicity event yesterday. Camilla does her best, of course she does, but she always has the air of someone who ponged her ping a very long time ago. Someone who would always rather be somewhere else: preferably at home, feet up, ciggie lit, dog on lap, stiff gin to hand as she riffles through the latest issue of Horse & Hound.

And if all that wasn’t bad enough, Prince William in America was even worse.

He was speaking in New York as the finalists were announced for his flagship environmental project, the Earthshot Prize.

The Prince appeared in front of an audience that included Bill Gates, UN climate envoy Mike Bloomberg and former New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern — or as I like to call them, people with nothing better to do.

They certainly must have wished they were on an earthshot the hell outta there when William began speaking.

‘I think if we remark on how pessimistic and doom and gloom everything is, even though there is a healthy dose of that needed… it doesn’t provoke the reaction from us humans that we would like,’ he blithered.

Honestly. Who writes this banal guff for him?

Then he went to inspect some oyster beds — don’t ask me why.

My final royal snapshot of the week was the fright-sight of Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie sprinting up the red carpet at a Vogue fashion event, with the certitude of two women who know there is a free frock in it for them somewhere.

Is this the shallows to which they have all sunk? I’m afraid so, and it has only been a year since the Queen died. RIP.

 

How Brand fooled a fool’s gallery of worshippers 

Like everyone in Fleet Street, I’ve been reviewing what I have written about Russell Brand over the years.

I’ve always been appalled by him, so I don’t have to issue any embarrassing apologies, like some.

What is interesting, then and now, was the reaction of others to negative words; a telling indication of the astonishing sway Brand held over certain sections of the media.

On the BBC’s Paper Monitor website I was mocked for calling Brand ‘totally toxic’ and for using ‘purple prose’ to describe him. ‘He is like a combine harvester in a ripe field of gorgeous girls, pedal to the metal, never stopping to think about the future or the past,’ I wrote. Oh dear, combine harvester? Fair enough, Paper Monitor, can’t argue with that. I do go on, don’t I?

Russell Brand at the MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles in September 2008. The comedian has denied all allegations

Russell Brand at the MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles in September 2008. The comedian has denied all allegations

However, its suggestion that it was me and not Brand who ‘needed some Bach Rescue Remedy’ is indicative of the exalted status conferred upon him by his fans in the media. In fact, the certitude of the righteousness over Russell Brand would be laughable were it not so serious.

In the Independent, a journalist called Felicity Morse sneered at my ‘perplexity’ over Brand, whom I described as ‘toxic, nasty, heinous and dirty’. She called this ‘vigorous muckraking’ and ‘outraged bile’ which was written with an ‘acid quill’. Au contraire, said Felicity. Brand was actually ‘extremely clever and funny,’ not to mention being ‘an attractive confection of contradictions’, and that despite Sachsgate it was ‘impossible to dislike him completely’. This was partly due to his ‘delicious yet confusing allure’ along with his ‘piercing and engaging’ insights.

Felicity later left journalism and, because she is such a keen observer of human nature, retrained as a life coach and wrote a self‑help book called Give A F**k.

I note, with my acid quill, that it is now sadly out of print.

Rather like Felicity herself.

 

Bon appetit, Mick! The Pol Roger’s Ab Fab

Mick Jagger and his girlfriend Melanie Hamrick were at the royal reception at the Palace of Versailles, where they dined on blue lobster and crab with ‘a veil of fresh almonds’, followed by a main course of Bresse chicken with a cep gratin, then the finest Comte cheese and afterwards macaroons with raspberries, lychees and a rose sorbet.

Wines costing more than £400 a bottle were served, including a Pol Roger Cuvée Winston Churchill 2013 champagne. It was Winston’s favourite and it is mine, too, if anyone is interested.

God bless the French! They sure know how to put on a marvellous spread.

Mick Jagger (right) and his girlfriend Melanie Hamrick (left) were at the royal reception at the Palace of Versailles. The state dinner was the first state visit to France by the King and Queen

Mick Jagger (right) and his girlfriend Melanie Hamrick (left) were at the royal reception at the Palace of Versailles. The state dinner was the first state visit to France by the King and Queen

I do hope Mick enjoyed himself, nibbling on the gourmet treats and knocking back the finest wines available to humanity.

All this made me think about the hospitality Mick and his then partner Jerry Hall once served up to comedian Ade Edmondson and his wife Jennifer Saunders.

In his new autobiography, Berserker!, Ade recounts how they were invited to dinner chez Jagger because Jerry wanted a part in the touted U.S. remake of Jennifer’s hit TV comedy series, Absolutely Fabulous.

The food was terrible, Mick was in a sulk and the only ‘wine’ produced was a half-empty bottle stoppered with a bit of cling film.

‘It turned out to be cooking sherry,’ writes Ade. ‘Come on Mick, there are standards.’ Should I add that Jerry didn’t get the part? No need.

 

Our Friends In The North was originally broadcast by the BBC in 1996. Written by Peter Flannery, this tale of four friends from Newcastle, told over a period of 31 years, was a critical and ratings smash. No wonder; it was quite brilliant.

Now all episodes are available on iPlayer, and watching it again has been a joy — and a toothy revelation. Not only did the series launch the careers of the four unknowns playing the lead parts, it shows how our attitude to dentistry has changed so fundamentally in such a short space of time.

Daniel Craig, Gina McKee, Christopher Eccleston and Mark Strong all went on to become big stars, but not before they all had their teeth fixed.

The kind of very British gnashers they all naturally sported in 1996 are simply unacceptable today, for actors or anyone else.

 

Supers’ story is all gloss but no grit 

Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington were the four original supermodels from the 1990s. They are back in the news because a four-part documentary on Apple TV+ tells the story of their fabulous heyday — but was it really so great? 

The Super Models is so light and bright you could never imagine that this glam quad of gorgeousness entered an industry that is notorious for its bad treatment of models. There is barely a whiff of the darkness that can lurk beneath the glamour.

Naomi (pictured at the Cannes film festival in May) brushes off her behaviour by claiming her emotional and addiction problems were because of abandonment issues when she was a child

Naomi (pictured at the Cannes film festival in May) brushes off her behaviour by claiming her emotional and addiction problems were because of abandonment issues when she was a child

The only hint that anything bad ever happened was when Linda got emotional while talking about escaping from her marriage to Gerald Marie, the former head of Elite Model Management in Paris. She left him when she was 27 years old. 

Later, multiple women claimed that he had raped and assaulted them, all of which he denies. Naomi brushes off her notoriously bad behaviour by claiming her emotional and addiction problems were because of abandonment issues when she was a child.

Meanwhile, Cindy makes a big fuss about Oprah treating her badly on her show, by making her stand up to show off her shape. But is Cindy making too much of it? 

The Supers were indeed super, but one suspects only half the story is being told here.




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