Queen says Duke of Edinburgh’s death ‘has left a huge void’ in her life

“The Queen has said that the death of her beloved husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, has “left a huge void in her life”. In the monarch’s first reported comments on Prince Philip’s death, she was also said to have described her husband’s passing as a “miracle”. The Queen’s words were relayed by the Duke of York, as he left a church service in Windsor. Her Majesty is understood to have taken huge comfort in the warm tributes that have flooded in from across the globe. Prince Andrew, 61, described the depth of his mother’s grief as he spoke of how she had been coping in recent days. “The Queen, as you would expect, is an incredibly stoic person,” he said. “And she described his passing as a miracle. “She’s contemplating, I think is the way that I would put it. She described it as having left a huge void in her life, but we, the family, the ones that are closer, are rallying around to make sure that we’re there to support her.”” – Daily Telegraph

  • ‘It was like somebody took him by the hand and off he went,’ says Countess of Wessex of Prince Philip’s last moments – Daily Telegraph
  • My father, my teacher, my critic: Anne leads children’s tributes to Prince Philip – The Times
  • Shared grief over Prince Philip ‘could help bring royal family back together’, says Major – The Times
  • Prince Charles steps up to fill father’s shoes as male head of family – The Times


Coronavirus 1) April 12 – Revellers rush to the pubs while others get minute-past-midnight haircuts and spray tans as rules are eased

“Thirsty drinkers have already been queuing for pubs while others got minute-past-minute haircuts and spray tans as Covid rules were relaxed. Today has been dubbed the ‘Glorious Twelfth’ – when beer gardens, shops, hairdressers and gyms will join libraries, zoos and nail salons in reopening. Some eager patrons even rushed to the pubs at midnight as they flocked to the beer gardens the minute restrictions were eased. A long queue was seen outside The Oak Inn in Coventry which is open until 6am, offering pizzas and kebabs throughout the night to the thirsty revellers. Meanwhile at the Kentish Belle in Bexley Heath, groups of six flocked to its 12am opening to make the most of the latest easing in restrictions. Others had different priorities and headed straight to the hairdressers to fix their lockdown hair after months of isolation.” – Daily Mail

  • Johnson welcomes the chance to return to “doing some of the things we love” as outdoor hospitality and non-essential shops reopen today – The Times
  • Calls for ‘pavement pragmatism’ as pubs and restaurants told outdoor space counts as ‘indoors’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Johnson urges people to be responsible as pub gardens reopen on Monday in next step of lockdown easing – The Sun
  • Optimism among UK business leaders hits record high – The Guardian


Coronavirus 2) Strong support for vaccine passports

“Most Britons back vaccine passports if they mean the end of social distancing, polling for The Times suggests. A survey showed strong support for Covid status certificates in every setting except shops, though a significant minority would be reluctant to visit pubs and restaurants if they had to show one, suggesting a threat to hospitality revenues if they were introduced. The government said last week that Covid certificates “could play a role in reducing social-distancing requirements”. Any final decision is months off, so pubs and restaurants will initially open with distancing rules in place such as people from different groups staying at least one metre apart. Polling by YouGov last week found that 61 per cent said they backed certificates being introduced if it allowed venues to lift social distancing, compared with 29 per cent who did not.” – The Times

  • Covid-status certificates could lead to deliberate infections, scientists warn – The Guardian
  • Covid third wave no longer expected in the summer, government advisers admit – Daily Telegraph
  • Risk of two vaccinated people catching Covid from meeting indoors is ‘tiny’ – Daily Telegraph


Coronavirus 3) People in their forties are next in line as vaccine rollout hits target

“People in their forties are due to be invited for vaccinations from tomorrow after the government reached its target to offer jabs to everyone in the nine priority groups. Only the late forties are expected to be called first in what sources described as an “easing into” the second phase of the vaccination programme. Government scientists are also considering whether offering priority vaccination to regular travellers who are exempt from quarantine rules would help to reduce the risk of importing dangerous variants. Premier League footballers, hauliers and diplomats are among those who could be vaccinated earlier, in a plan that is understood to be at an early stage of discussion. Ministers promised that 32 million people in the priority groups, which includes everyone over 50 and younger people with chronic conditions, would be offered vaccination by April 15.” – The Times

  • Coronavirus deaths fall to single figures for first time in seven months – Daily Telegraph
  • Top Beijing official admits efficacy of China’s Covid vaccines is low – The Guardian

I didn’t break any rules over Greensill Capital, insists Cameron

“David Cameron has broken his silence to concede that it was a mistake to lobby ministers informally on behalf of the financier Lex Greensill. The former prime minister insisted, however, that he had not broken any rules. He also said the value of his shares in Greensill’s collapsed company was “nowhere near” the figures of $30 million and $60 million that have been reported. He said he had “very little to do” with Greensill while in No 10 and met him only twice when prime minister, despite the financier describing himself as a “senior adviser”. The former Conservative leader began working for the Greensill Capital in 2018. It emerged last month that he had directly lobbied Rishi Sunak to give the company a role in the government’s Covid-19 loan scheme.” – The Times

  • Cameron’s statement on Lex Greensill lobbying in full – The i Paper


Britain may seek Republic’s help to tackle sectarian violence in Northern Ireland

“Downing Street is considering intergovernmental talks over rising tensions in Northern Ireland despite concerns that involving Dublin would further inflame unionist anger. Boris Johnson has not ruled out travelling to the province if the disorder continues but any visit might be delayed until the official mourning period for the Duke of Edinburgh has concluded. It comes amid increasing concern in government at the spectre of sectarian violence after more rioting on Friday led to 14 officers being injured. Mary McAleese, the former president of Ireland, said yesterday that young people were still being “taught to hate”. Northern Ireland’s children’s commissioner said that adults coercing and encouraging young people to commit violence was tantamount to child abuse.” – The Times


Sturgeon interview: No 10 cannot stand in the way of independence

“It is the norm on the Scottish National party campaign trail to have to fight one’s way towards Nicola Sturgeon through streets packed with admirers and selfie-hunters, some even brought to tears by her proximity. But this is an election like no other. So, on Friday morning – before the death of Prince Philip was announced and political campaigning suspended – Sturgeon arrived at the deserted Whitelee windfarm in East Ayrshire to set out new climate targets in front of a handful of masked reporters and photographers, as the turbines rotated silently behind her. It is less than three weeks since the first minister and SNP leader was cleared of breaching the ministerial code in her meetings with her predecessor, Alex Salmond, following allegations of sexual harassment made against him by two civil servants. A day later, the Holyrood committee investigating the handling of those complaints by her government published a highly critical report that concluded Sturgeon had misled the Scottish parliament, though not knowingly.” – The Guardian

  • Union in peril as PM ‘speaks for England alone’, former civil servant warns – The Guardian

Alex Massie – Johnson must resist this very English unionism

“Pierre Trudeau, the former prime minister of Canada, once noted that his country’s relationship with the United States was akin to finding oneself in bed with an elephant. This might be a strange arrangement but so long as the elephant behaved itself, it need not be an uncomfortable one. If the elephant starts to thrash around, however, everyone else risks being squashed. Well, England is the United Kingdom’s elephant and Brexit is the moment it chose to remind its bedmates that even pachyderms must from time to time be permitted to exercise their prerogatives. If that made life less comfortable for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, then so be it. The littler nations would just have to lump it. There is a logic there but while certain choices may be made on a UK-wide basis their consequences are not necessarily shared equitably. Brexit set new constitutional fires blazing in Scotland and Northern Ireland while also introducing fresh tensions between London and Cardiff. Many of these problems had a common origin: the sense that the voices of the smaller nations were ignored.” – The Times

Charity sought criticism of race report in advance

“A charity has been accused of “pursuing an aggressive political agenda” after it emerged that it had solicited a critical response to the Sewell report on racism before it was published. In an email to supporters of the Runnymede Trust, a race equality think tank, Halima Begum, its director, asked them to make short videos “outlining either a racist experience you personally have had, a family member/friend has had, or a statistic outlining the prevalence of racism in the UK”. More than a week before the report’s release, the charity said that it was expected to “downplay the role of structural and institutional racism”. The report said that racism was a problem, but played a relatively marginal role in disparities of outcome among racial groups when compared with other economic and social forces.” – The Times

China launches hotline to report ‘illegal’ comments about Communist party

“China’s cyber regulator has launched a hotline to report online criticism of the ruling Communist party and its history, vowing to crack down on “historical nihilists” ahead of the party’s 100th anniversary in July. The tip line allows people to report fellow internet users who “distort” the party’s history, attack its leadership and policies, defame national heroes and “deny the excellence of advanced socialist culture” online, said a notice posted by an arm of the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) on Friday. “Some with ulterior motives … have been spreading historical nihilistic misrepresentations online, maliciously distorting, denigrating and negating the history of the party,” said the notice. “We hope that the majority of internet users will actively play their part in supervising society … and enthusiastically report harmful information,” it said.” – The Guardian

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