Artist DENIES he orchestrated theft of Blenheim gold toilet

Notorious prankster artist who installed £4m solid-gold toilet in Blenheim Palace DENIES he orchestrated its theft as a Banksy-style PR stunt

  • Toilet titled ‘America’ was created in 2016 by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan and placed in New York museum
  • Thames Valley Police confirmed the artwork was stolen from Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, on Saturday 
  • Cattelan has now denied claims he orchestrated the theft of the golden toilet, worth £4 million, in a PR stunt 
  • Pictures show the bathroom where visitors were going to use the toilet in tatters after thieves ripped it out 

The artist who created the £4million 18-karat gold toilet stolen from Blenheim Palace has denied that he orchestrated its theft in a Banksy-style PR stunt.  

The golden toilet, entitled ‘America’, was taken from the stately Oxfordshire home in the early hours of Saturday, leaving Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan and Blenheim bosses devastated and the bathroom in tatters.

Now, Cattelan, a serial prankster, has denied arranging the theft in attempt to drum up publicity. 

He said: ‘I wish it was a prank. Who’s so stupid to steal a toilet? America was the one per cent for the 99 per cent, and I hope it still is. I want to be positive and think the robbery is a kind of Robin Hood-inspired action.’ 

The toilet had been installed at Blenheim for visitors to use after an exhibition by Cattelan opened there on Friday.   

The sculpture was the centre piece of the show.

Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan has denied orchestrating the theft of his golden toilet from Blenheim Palace in a Banksy-style publicity stunt

Cattelan, known for his provocative sculptures, arranged for the toilet to be moved to the palace, which is also the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, in the same way he did at the Guggenheim Museum in New York in 2016, when 100,000 people queued to use it. 

He has faced accusations of arranging for the toilet to be stolen in a PR stunt, drawing parallels to Banksy’s infamous shredding of his iconic painting Girl With Balloon last year.

Chief executive Dominic Hare said he hopes the ‘stupid and pointless’ act of stealing the toilet will ‘immortalise’ the work of the artist – as he defended the stately home’s ‘sophisticated security system’ and insisted it was insured. 

He added: ‘When you show the finest art to everyone, to the audience it was made for, you take a risk. Almost always that risk is worth taking. We say that even today.

Cattelan, a serial prankster, has denied arranging the theft in attempt to drum up publicity

‘We hope against hope that we can recover this precious work of art. It is deeply ironic that a work of art portraying the American Dream and the idea of an elite object made available to all should be almost instantly snatched away and hidden from view.’

Earlier today, Mr Hare told the BBC that a gang ‘mounted a very fast’ raid on the Oxfordshire palace overnight, stealing the fully functional loo before security could respond. 

In the early hours police were called to the stately home and found the solid gold toilet gone and water gushing over the floor, causing extensive damage.

Thames Valley Police confirmed a 66-year-old man had been arrested in connection with the theft on Saturday. 

Speaking on BBC 5 Live, Blenheim boss Mr Hare said this was the ‘first theft of its type in living memory’ from the palace, and confirmed the home has a ‘sophisticated security system’.

He said: ‘We have a sophisticated security system and we have not had a theft of this type in living memory. But what’s happened has happened and so we clearly need to challenge ourselves on that.

‘We have security on site. A group of men in two vehicles mounted a very fast smash and grab raid before security could respond.

‘The sadness is that unlike most art, its constituent parts are valuable anyway so it’s not out of the question it will be melted down’.

Police confirmed this morning that they are making ‘every effort’ to locate the thieves and the stolen toilet – and will remain ‘in and around’ Blenheim Palace as investigations continue.

Investigating officer Detective Inspector Jess Milne said: ‘We are following a number of lines of enquiry and there will continue to be a police presence in and around the area of Blenheim Palace while our investigations continue.

‘We are making every effort to locate the offenders and the toilet that was stolen.’

Dominic Hare said a gang ‘mounted a very fast smash-and-grab raid’ on Blenheim Palace overnight, stealing a fully functional loo worth $5million

Crime scene: The bathroom at Blenheim Palace is pictured in tatters after thieves stole the golden toilet over the weekend 


The golden lavatory titled ‘America’ was created by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan. The toilet was created for the Guggenheim Museum in New York (pictured), where more than 100,000 people queued to use the security-guarded loo

The bathroom has been cordoned off and is not accessible to visitors today (pictured) 

Splinters of wood are pictured littered across the bathroom floor today after the toilet was stolen 

Sources at the estate, near Woodstock, said the gang used a heavy vehicle, believed to be a 4×4, to break down a large metal gate on the estate and drive to the palace. Several broken window panes near the Great Court suggested one possible entry point, but police refused to comment.

However, quite how thieves moved the hefty item remains a mystery. A palace source said there was a ‘lot of consternation’ about how they had been able to get inside and spend so long at their task.

‘There’s a lot of serious art in the palace,’ said the source, ‘but these guys were clearly highly professional and knew what they were about.

‘They could have studied the palace on the internet, or as made as many visits as they needed to, familiarising themselves with the layout. 

‘We can only assume they took the gold purely for its intrinsic value to be melted down, because a gold loo is not going to be easy to conceal for very long.’

Thames Valley Police (pictured at Blenheim Palace yesterday) confirmed a 66-year-old man had been arrested in connection with the theft

Chief executive for Blenheim Palace Dominic Hare (pictured) said this was the ‘first theft of its type in living memory’, and confirmed the home has a ‘sophisticated security system’

Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire tweeted that the palace would be closed on Saturday ‘due to an unforeseen incident’ but it opened its gates on Sunday

In what now seems a remarkable display of hubris, Lord Edward Spencer-Churchill last month said he had no plans to guard the valuable WC, which was part of an exhibition from the Italian ‘prankster of the art world’, Maurizio Cattelan.

‘It’s not going to be the easiest thing to nick,’ said the Duke of Marlborough’s half-brother. ‘Firstly it’s plumbed in, and secondly a potential thief will have no idea who last used the toilet or what they ate. So no, I don’t plan on guarding it.’

The Cattelan exhibition – which also includes lifelike models of a praying Hitler and Pope John Paul II being hit by a meteorite – was launched with a glittering dinner on Friday night. It is believed to have been attended by the artist himself.

Once open, visitors would have been able to book a three-minute slot to use the gold toilet as part of the £27 admission price. The piece, entitled America, was placed opposite the room where Churchill was born in 1874.

Blenheim Palace tweeted that the palace would be closed ‘due to an unforeseen incident’ and apologised for any inconvenience caused 

Him, is a realistic model of a schoolboy version of Adolf Hitler on his knees praying. It has been placed in the organ room at Blenheim for visitors to see for themselves. The controversial work is one of many on show at Blenheim this autumn 

It had previously been on display at the Guggenheim in New York during Donald Trump’s election campaign, when more than 100,000 people used it. 

The museum subsequently offered to lend it to the White House – rather than a Van Gogh Trump’s staff originally asked for – but officials declined the offer. 

Speaking to the The Mail on Sunday last night, Mr Hare said: ‘We are saddened by this extraordinary event, but also relieved no one was hurt and that nothing else was stolen.

‘This would have taken some planning. I’m not exactly sure how much the toilet weighs, but it’s certainly a lot – two grown men would struggle to lift it.

‘Even apart from the artwork that was taken, which is worth around £4.8 million, there are many other valuable pieces, both in the exhibition and on display in the palace’s own collection.

‘La Nona Ora’, translated as ‘the ninth hour’ is the name given to Cattelan’s realistic model of Pope John Paul II being hit by a meteorite. It is one of many controversial pieces placed in and around Blenheim Palace this autumn 

However, he promised it would be ‘business as usual’ for visitors and the exhibition as the investigation continues. 

Detective Inspector Jess Milne, of Thames Valley Police, said on Saturday: ‘The piece of art that has been stolen is a high-value toilet made out of gold that was on display at the palace.

‘Due to the toilet being plumbed in to the building, this has caused significant damage and flooding. We believe a group of offenders used at least two vehicles during the offence.’

Detectives believe the gang left the estate just before 5am. Yesterday, the five-bar gate they smashed to enter the 120,000-acre estate was being guarded.

Mr Hare added: ‘We are very grateful to our staff and to Thames Valley Police for their rapid and brave reactions.

‘We knew there was huge interest in the Maurizio Cattelan contemporary art exhibition, with many set to come and enjoy the installations. But we still have so many fascinating treasures in the palace and the remaining items of the exhibition to share.’

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Antiques Roadshow guest ‘gobsmacked’ as 100-year-old diamonds get whopping valuation

Antiques Roadshow returns to television screens this evening as Fiona Bruce presented from Salisbury Cathedral. Minutes into the episode, viewers saw Joanna Hardy take a closer look at an exquisite set of diamonds and the valuation left the owner utterly “gobsmacked”. The expert kicked off the inspection by stating: “I opened this box and my goodness, what beautiful diamonds! So, tell me how you got these?” 

“My grandmother left them to my mother and my mother left them to me,” the lady explained as a crowd began to gather. 

“Where do you think your grandmother got them from?” Joanna enquired and the guest revealed: “My grandfather was Dutch, so they could’ve come from England or they could’ve come from Holland or Belgium.” 

“That’s quite interesting that you say that, because I think they’ve been made in Holland where the diamonds would’ve been traded,” the expert commented. 

“I was once a diamond dealer and I lived in Antwerp. So this for me is going back to my career roots and looking at the stones, the stones were cut in about 1920, 1915,” Joanna added. 

The jewellery specialist then explained the details of the crystals, discussing the four C’s on the grading chart; Carat Weight, Cut, Colour and Clarity. 

“To get the measurement of the diamonds, obviously its in the setting so it’s an approximate weight,” Joanna said. “I have gaged that the larger stone is just under four carats in weight.

“It’s all made in platinum, but we don’t know the make, there are no marks on it.” 

As for their colour, Joanna discussed how she grades the tones found within the diamonds: “Now I think you saw me turning it over on a white card, I’m gaging the whiteness of the diamond against the witness of the card.

As for how much the jewels would collect should they go up at an auction, Joanne revealed: “You’re going to be in the region of £20,000-£25,000”. 

Naturally, with this incredible price tag came a gasp from the audience. 

As for the reaction of the owner, she stated: “Wow! I’m quite gobsmacked!” 

Elsewhere in the show, the audience goes wild when a sightly scruffy rare “moon watch”, which also got Richard Price extremely excited. 

It comes after last weekend’s episode when another item of jewellery received a staggering valuation. 

A beautiful tear drop shaped diamond which originated from 1820 and Joanna described”the craftsmanship” as “faultless”. 

The item was originally part of a set, a pair of earrings, as as an entirety is would get £30,000 to £40,000.

“Wow, I’m rarely speechless!” The guest commented. 

Antiques Roadshow airs every Sunday night at 8pm on BBC One. 

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Steve Smith sends fans into overdrive with incredible ‘Superman’ catch

‘You freak… best in the world’: Steve Smith sends cricket fans into overdrive with incredible ‘Superman’ catch as Australia chases England in The Ashes

  • Steve Smith was fielding in the second slip when he took a stunning catch 
  • His one-handed effort sent English batsman Chris Woakes back to the pavilion 
  • England is leading in the fifth and final Ashes Test with 382-run on day three

Steve Smith has sent cricket fans into overdrive with an incredible ‘Superman’ catch on day three of the fifth and final Ashes Test at The Oval.

The former Australian skipper, 30, was fielding in the second slip when he flung sideways and caught the ball fully outstretched to dismiss Chris Woakes. 

He took a total of four catches in England’s second innings at the London cricket ground, resulting in the dismissals of Joe Denly, Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow. 

But it was his one-handed effort that sent Woakes back to the pavilion that left fans in awe. 

Steve Smith, 30, was fielding in the second slip when he flung sideways and caught the ball one-handed to dismiss Chris Woakes on day three of the fifth and final Ashes Test at The Oval

‘To wake up to Steve Smith one handed screamer just shows he is the best cricketer in the world. Can do it all. Superstar!!,’ one person wrote. 

‘Wow, wow, wow!’ – Smith takes ‘a beauty’ to dismiss Woakes,’ added another.

‘Superman Who?? STEVE SMITH Takes a Blinder,’ wrote a third. 

Not everyone was impressed with Smith’s heroics, with scores of English fans taking to social media to slam the former skipper. 

‘Just seen Steve Smith make that 2nd catch after dropping the first. Did you see the smug grin on his stupid face,’ wrote one person.

‘Rubbish. Just like his batting. He makes everything more difficult than it actually is,’ wrote another. 

Smith took a total of four catches in the England’s second inning. Social media lit up with admiration for the former skipper 

It was his one-handed effort that sent Woakes back to the pavilion left fans in awe

Fans praised Smith for his incredible catch – fully outstretched and with one hand  

The English crowd has been particularly hostile to Smith since the sandpaper scandal.  

Smith was banned along with David Warner for a year after batsman Cameron Bancroft illegally used sandpaper to rough up a side of the ball during a Test against South Africa in March 2018.

Smith was stripped of his captaincy after the ball-tampering scandal.

Having served the suspension, Smith returned to the side in brilliant style, scoring more than 671 runs in five innings at an average of 134 as Australia took an unbeatable 2-1 lead in the series to ensure it retained the Ashes.

Smith scored a half century in the first innings of the fifth Test, and fans are hoping the star batsman will guide the team to victory as England has gained a massive 382-run lead with a loss of eight wickets in the second innings. 

Smith scored a half century in the first innings of the fifth Test, and fans are hoping the star batsman will guide the team to victory as England has gained a massive 382-run lead with a loss of eight wickets in the second innings

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Ellen DeGeneres Said She Dated One of Brad Pitt’s Ex-Girlfriends

Looks like Brad Pitt and Ellen DeGeneres have an ex in common — but they’re keeping their lips sealed on who it is.

The actor, 55, made a surprise appearance on Friday’s episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, jokingly trying to blend in as an audience member and Ellen superfan before being brought onstage for an interview.

As the two started talking, DeGeneres, 61, asked if Pitt remembered where they met.

 

 

“I remember a Melissa Etheridge pool party, where I think you were hitting on my girlfriend,” Pitt recalled, adding that it was in the “late ’80s, early ’90s.”

“Was I hitting on your girlfriend, really?” DeGeneres responded, laughing.

“I think so. I was flattered,” Pitt replied.

“I actually sense that I have dated another one of your girlfriends,” DeGeneres revealed, though she didn’t disclose the identity of the special someone onstage. “We’ll talk about that later.”

“After the show,” Pitt agreed.

Though DeGeneres didn’t reveal the identity of her ex-girlfriend, the talk show host recently celebrated her 11th wedding anniversary with wife Portia de Rossi, and in December, the two will mark their 16-year dating anniversary.

In tribute of their special day last month, the TV star shared a sweet black-and-white throwback photo from their wedding day.

“Happy anniversary, Portia. 11 years,” DeGeneres wrote alongside the smiling snap, captured at their nuptials.

“My favorite number with my favorite person,” she added.

Pitt, meanwhile, married Angelina Jolie in 2014, following his divorce years prior from Jennifer Aniston. Jolie and Pitt split two years later, and share six children.

Since the breakup, the actor has “worked very hard on himself to be a better, healthier person and to be the best dad possible,” a source recently told PEOPLE.

“These were always his priorities. That his career is going well is a happy bonus that he is thrilled about,” the source continued.

Pitt is having a busy year, with rave reviews for his performance in this summer’s Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood and the upcoming space drama Ad Astra. 

Between his latest movie’s box office success and Pitt’s personal strides, he’s “really found his happiness again,” the source added. “He is back and very excited about life. And it’s well-deserved.”

Pitt can next be seen in Ad Astra, which hits theaters Sept. 20.

This article originally appeared on People. For more stories like this, visit people.com.

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Spain holds crisis meetings as Brit tourist numbers plummet over no-deal Brexit

Spain has seen a drop in British holidaymakers amid Brexit fears and worried authorities are holding crisis meetings over the cost of a no-deal to the tourism sector.

Britain has provided the largest number of tourists to Spain for over half a century with around a quarter of all visitors coming from the UK.

Spanish businesses were already worried about the impact of Brexit but they are now quaking over a potential no-deal.

In 2018 there were over 18.5 million Brits heading to Spain but the figure was down by 300,000 on the previous year and the trend is continuing.

  • Love Island villa targeted by tornadoes as Majorca battered by extreme storms

During June and July this year there were 163,900 fewer tourists to Spain, which included a drop by 5.3% in June from the previous year.

There is major concern that fewer Brits will come if the economy falters, if the pound is further devalued and even in a worse case scenario of visas to enter the country.

The Spanish government is “preparing itself for the worst” and working urgently to dilute the impact of the UK crashing out of the EU.

Prime minister Pedro Sanchez has been holding talks this week.

Economy minister Nadia Calvino said: “We have to be prepared for the worst.

“The prime minister has arranged a special meeting with ministers most directly related with the subject so that they are right up-to-date with what’s happening, can analyse the situation and put in extra measures if necessary.”

Mr Sanchez has brought in an extra 875 civil servants to deal with the extra work expected with a no-deal.

  • Love Island's India stars in sizzling first lingerie shoot since leaving villa

  • No-deal Brexit docs show government fears of disease outbreaks and rising prices

The roles are mainly involved in customs services, trade in goods and border controls.

The southern Spanish region of Andalusia that borders Gibraltar is preparing for financial losses due to Brexit.

The local government has estimated that UK’s departure from the EU whether through a no-deal or not will cost the region between 500 and 1,200 million euros.

They are also putting together a plan to help the almost 10,000 Spaniards who cross into Gibraltar to work each day and have an uncertain future.

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Sir Ian Botham and David Gower’s best bits on Sky Sports Cricket

They are cricketing legends who became commentary icons!

After over two decades of service to Sky Sports, we’re saying goodbye to Sir Ian Botham and David Gower at the end of the fifth Ashes Test.

To mark the occasion, a farewell gift if you like, we’ve put together some of our favourite moments from their time in the commentary box.

Click on the video above to relive some classic clips – including Beefy’s commentary on England’s famous 2005 Ashes win at Edgbaston and Gower’s description of England’s unforgettable victory in the dark in Karachi in 2000.

If we’re honest, there have been some bloopers along the way too – and naturally, they’re included in the video!

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Texas Democrat switches endorsement to Biden from Julian Castro

​WASHINGTON – Former HUD head and 2020 candidate Julian Castro lost a key Congressional endorsement Sunday to former Vice President Joe Biden.

Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, a Democrat from Castro’s home state of Texas, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that the Democrats large field of 20 candidates needed to be culled.

“I think at this point in time we need to narrow the field and unite as Democrats to defeat Trump in November 2020. And that’s why I believe I’m moving my support to Vice President Joe Biden,” Gonzalez told CNN’s Jake Tapper​.

In a subsequent statement, Gonzalez said Biden “demonstrated statesmanship and leadership” during Thursday night’s debate in Houston, Texas.

Meanwhile, Castro has taken heat for a cheap shot at Biden during the debate.

“Are you forgetting what you said two minutes ago?” the 44-year-old Castro said to the 76-year-old Biden at one point, producing audible gasps in the audience.

When South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg chimed in saying “this is why presidential debates are becoming unwatchable,” Castro shot back, “That’s called an election.” ​

Castro also boasted, “I’m fulfilling the legacy of Barack Obama and you’re not,” accusing the ex-vice president of leaving 10 million American uninsured in his proposed healthcare plan.

“That’ll be a surprise to him,” Biden responded.

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Hamilton Tiger-Cats lose 15th straight game at Calgary’s McMahon Stadium

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats suffered another heartbreaking defeat in Calgary Saturday afternoon.

With 32 seconds left in the game, Stampeders defensive back Tre Roberson blocked a 42-yard field goal attempt by Hamilton kicker Lirim Hajrullahu to preserve a 19-18 win for Calgary.

The Stamps trailed for the entire contest until quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell fired a 15-yard touchdown strike into the hands of receiver Eric Rogers with 6:52 remaining.

Roberson also made five defensive tackles and intercepted Ticats QB Dane Evans at the Calgary seven-yard line late in the first half with Hamilton leading 14-3.

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It was Hamilton’s 15th-consecutive loss at McMahon Stadium. The last time the Ticats beat the Stamps in Calgary was July 4, 2004, when QB Danny McManus threw for 358 yards and four touchdowns as Hamilton raced out to a 25-0 lead and topped Calgary 41-34.

Calgary’s third-straight victory boosted their record to 8-4 and pushed the Stampeders to within two points of the West Division-leading Winnipeg Blue Bombers through a dozen games.

Rene Paredes converted four of his five field-goal attempts while Hajrullahu went 3-for-5, missing his last two kicks.

Evans completed 34 of his 43 pass attempts for 360 yards and threw a 30-yard TD to Brandon Banks early in the second quarter.

The loss halted the Tiger-Cats’ winning streak at a season-high four.

Hamilton (9-3) next plays in Edmonton against the 6-6 Eskimos on Sept. 20.


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Inside Prince Harry's Unusually Crazy Year

PA Wire/Getty Images/Shutterstock; E! Illustration

On the bright side, Prince Harry probably doesn’t know just how tumultuous a year he’s had.

For the 35-year-old royal, who’s celebrating his birthday Sunday, it’s simply been the most transformative year of his life, 2019 being the year in which he and wife Meghan Markle started their family, welcoming son Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor in April.

But then the Duke of Sussex happened to mention that he and Duchess Meghan were probably just going to have a small family—not because he only has one brother and it’s been great for him, or because a lot sounds like too many, but because it was the ecologically responsible thing to do.

And all hell broke loose, as it has countless times over the course of the year since Harry’s 34th birthday, the last birthday he spent as a resident of Kensington Palace, part of the Royal Foundation and a man able to enjoy a full night’s sleep.

As has happened with even more frequency since Meghan joined the family, Harry was lambasted by the usual suspects for what was perceived as a high-and-mighty (or low-and-hypocritical) comment—made to primatologist and conservationist Jane Goodall in a Q&A for British Vogue—about thinking two children, “maximum,” was enough.

The Daily Mail was quick to run down the handful of times since the previous September that he and Meghan had flown by private jet, air travel not exactly the world’s leading cause of climate preservation. (And that was before it was reported that Harry had traveled via private jet to Sicily for the exclusive Google Summit, where’s said to have given a speech while barefoot about the drastic measures needed to combat climate change.)

But first, the whole British Vogue thing had the local press in a tizzy in the first place, with Meghan’s loyal critics further digging into their position that the Duchess of Sussex allocates her platform as a member of the royal family in exactly the wrong way—paying far more lip service to the outside world and not devoting enough of herself to Britain and, incidentally, the royals themselves and those who have always expected a certain level of U.K.-first fealty from the family.

Ian West/PA Wire

“A guest editorship of Vogue featuring a list of inspirational women, half of whom no one’s ever heard of,” columnist Sarah Vine wrote in the Daily Mail when the issue was revealed. “You fail to nominate the one truly inspirational woman in your life, the Queen, whose years of selfless devotion to this country knock all of the others into a cocked hat.”

The September 2019 issue’s cover touting the theme “Forces for Change” showed 15 women of all ages who have been influencing culture and working to effect change for years with their art and activism, such as Jane Fonda, or who are poised to have a major impact. 

“I don’t know who is advising you, but I suggest you ask them to stop,” Vine wrote. “Because it’s clear they have very little understanding of the way the relationship between royalty and public works in this country.”

Not surprisingly, Vine also found Meghan’s quick trip to New York (flying commercially) to watch Serena Williams play in the U.S. Open Women’s Singles Championship rather scandalous, questioning the duchess’ priorities both as a royal and, even less palatably, as a mother.

So obviously there’s no line the more hawkish Meghan watchers won’t cross in criticizing her, as if 4-month-old Archie wasn’t with his father and the best help the pound sterling can employ while she was gone for barely 48 hours.

But what wasn’t picked at this year, from the fancy baby shower Meghan’s friends threw for her in New York, the birth plan that was too private, the christening that was too private, the withholding of Archie’s godparents’ names, the birthday wishes that weren’t mushy enough, and security asking Wimbledon goers not to snap surreptitious photos of Meghan while she wasn’t in the Royal Box (a request the duchess was apparently unaware was being made on her behalf and was distressed to hear about), to the recent decision not to join some of the other royals at Balmoral last weekend—which according to the Mail on Sunday, left the queen disappointed.

Sources insisted to the Mail, meanwhile, that skipping the weekend in Scotland was not a snub, that Harry sees his grandmother more often than most, now that he and Meghan live near Windsor Castle.

Tim Rooke/Shutterstock

Really, it’s impressive that Meghan and Harry, who spoke at the Invictus Games Foundation’s 5th anniversary event on Thursday and visited Lealands High School in Luton to check out the Rugby Football Union All Schools program on Friday, have time to get anything done what with all those perceived stumbles and missteps.

But once again, unless Harry and Meghan are consumed with reading their press clippings, it’s nice to think they don’t know such columns exist; or that Piers Morgan is over her because he feels Meghan snubbed him once and then doubled (or quadrupled) down when he felt she snubbed President Trump; or that Elton John‘s word doesn’t hold much sway among Internet trolls. 

Really, so long as the external grievances don’t reach the queen, they don’t have to worry much about them at all. It’s been the summer of discontent for the press, not proud new parents Harry and Meghan, who are also looking forward to a trip to Africa this fall with Archie and have countless other projects on their plates.

Alas.

The palace has had, not quite an annus horribilis yet, but a busier time than the 93-year-old Queen Elizabeth II may have wished. They’ve had to issue multiple statements in defense of Prince Andrew, who remains in the hot seat for his past friendship with disgraced businessman and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who committed suicide in jail in August. Then MP and House of Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg was dispatched to Balmoral, where the queen was trying to enjoy a little R&R, to ask for her permission for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to suspend Parliament ahead of the looming Brexit deadline.

And she said yes, as expected, because asking is really just a formality—because the queen otherwise doesn’t get involved in politics. But that certainly landed her face on the cover of a few newspapers.

Niklas Halle’n/PA Wire

Then Harry and Meghan came under fire (again) for flying with Archie on a private jet—after the hullabaloo over their two-kids-max plan, and after roughly $3 million of public money was spent to renovate their house in Windsor—to visit Elton John’s vacation home in the south of France and then to Ibiza.

Buckingham Palace usually doesn’t concern itself with everyday tabloid speculation, unless an especially pernicious rumor just won’t quit, but it will get involved occasionally to help the greater good. For instance, in March they issued social media guidelines for followers of the royal accounts in an attempt to cut down on vicious trolling, and in May the palace “acknowledge[d] and welcome[d] the formal apology from Splash News and Picture Agency” after Harry successfully went after them in court for supplying aerial photographs of a cottage in the Cotswalds that he and Meghan rented that were published by The Times

The Mail on Sunday reported that the queen, prior to Meghan’s trip to the U.S. Open (instead of going to Balmoral), was already “‘baffled’ by Meghan and Harry’s inability to steer clear of PR calamities, and is concerned that her beloved grandson and his new wife are failing to listen to their team of advisers.” (Sarah Vine, on the other hands, had guessed that they were being advised, just badly.) 

John, who was a close friend of Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, spoke up for the couple, explaining that he paid for their trip and made a donation to offset the carbon emissions from the journey.

“I feel a profound sense of obligation to protect Harry and his family from the unnecessary press intrusion that contributed to Diana’s likely death,” the singer, tired of the “untrue assassinations on their character that are spuriously crafted on an almost daily basis,” also wrote. 

Obviously well intended, but some folks were not having the Diana mention, accusing John of missing the point entirely with a shameless namedrop.

Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

“We can all do better,” Harry acknowledged in bowing to pressure for a response to the backlash while giving a speech on Sept. 3 in Amsterdam to announce the launch of Travalyst, the first Sussex Royal Foundation initiative.

 

Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

“And while no is perfect, we are all responsible for our individual impact. The question is what we do to balance it out,” he continued. Noting that he flew commercial to the Netherlands and traveled that was “99 percent” of the time, “occasionally there needs to be an opportunity based on a unique circumstance to ensure my family are safe and it’s genuinely as simple as that. But as I said in my speech, for me, it’s about balance.”

“Let’s be clear, all members of the Royal Family use private jets, they all use helicopters,” Chris Ship, ITV Royal News Editor, said on Yahoo UK’s The Royal Box, noting that sometimes it does come down to security matters for the family.

The Sun‘s former royal editor Duncan Larcombe, however, thinks the couple should be more mindful of how their actions make them look.

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“A couple that have put themselves out there to lecture us all on needing to do our little bit to save the environment are going on holiday on private jets all summer,” he said on The Royal Box last month. “Do they think that we’re all mad?” (In addition to the trip to Nice and Ibiza and Harry’s Google Summit, they each took a private round trip in February, Meghan to New York and Harry to the Arctic Circle.)

Larcombe also insists that Harry and William hardly ever flew privately back in the day, and he remembered Harry even taking a no-frills easyJet flight with mates on a ski trip.

“[Harry] was a people’s prince,” he lamented, “and he’s now become some hypocritical, preachy, detached, slightly confused young prince and he’ll lose his popularity because of that and I think that’s a tragedy because I think he’s a great guy.”

But let’s not lower the flag to half-mast for Harry just yet.

Read

Team Wales or Brothers Grim? The Truth About Prince William’s Relationship With Prince Harry Through the Years

True, William and Kate Middleton‘s budget flight to Scotland last month did make bigger headlines than usual simply because it wasn’t a private jet (though the real question is, did William make the 70-minute trip with a bag of his own blood?). But the pitting of these two couples against each other is nothing new.

Royal fans were rocked this year by the diverging of Harry and Prince William’s household and charitable endeavors, with Harry and Meghan breaking off from the Royal Foundation, established by the brothers in 2009, to plot their own course. William and Kate Middleton now preside over the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

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Harry and Meghan also moved out of Nottingham Cottage, their perch at Kensington Palace, where William and Kate live in the grand Apartment 1A, and relocated to Frogmore Cottage near Windsor Castle, where the aforementioned pricey renovation took place to update the 19th-century home for the present day.

Wow, it has been a jam-packed year.

As the Sussexes prepared to establish themselves as a duo instead of perennially part of a foursome, no matter how fab, the drummed-up Kate vs. Meghan feud was almost (almost) swept under the rug by rumors that William and Harry were through, or at least navigating over a major bump in the road that had been fulminating at least since William didn’t have the desired reaction to Harry’s intent to marry Meghan that the younger sibling wanted him to have, if not before.

All of which was speculation, of course.

More measured royal experts observed that it was perfectly natural for Harry, now a married man, to want to do his own thing—both out of his brother’s shadow and, in a way, out of his light.

William is the future king, after all, and while all falls under the queen’s umbrella, that leaves Harry with substantially more freedom. (Besides, who’s supposed to hang out with their brother all the time?)

After lots of speculation that predated Meghan that the younger son of Princess Diana and Prince Charlesmay choose to distance himself from the monarchy, at least for awhile, he ultimately became a full-time royal, meaning his appearances and engagements will be counted accordingly and the end-of-year tally—Who went out the most?! Princess Anne again?!—will be duly reported on year after year.

Meghan, who first met the prince on a blind (on his end, anyway) date in 2016, has enthusiastically joined him as a full-timer—one who, unlike her sister-in-law, a future queen, also has the freedom to be choosier about the causes she devotes her energy to. 

Though she joined the family at the Trooping of the Colour in June, her first public appearance since giving birth (minus the requisite “meet Archie” photo op in April), her maternity leave officially concluded on Thursday when she appeared in London at the launch of her Smart Set capsule collection, a collaboration with Smart Works, one of her patronages, which provides job-seeking women with free work-appropriate clothing and interview training.

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And from the other end of the spectrum, you can hear the applause.

Because while the criticism is louder, and utilizes many more words, a lot of people just love Meghan and appreciate everything that she’s doing expressly because it’s different from what has always been done. Her work with British Vogue? Inspiring. Her quest for a tad more privacy than has been customary? Justified. Still wanting to see the friends she had before she was royal? You go, Duchess.

Fashion designer and longtime Meghan friend Misha Nanoo called the barrage of nastiness that’s been directed at Meghan “unjust,” saying on Today, “I think that people should really focus on the good work they do. A good example of that is this is her first official engagement after having had her baby, it’s all about empowering women, all about what she has essentially always sought to do.”

At the Smart Set launch Thursday, wearing Jigsaw black trousers and a crisp white Misha Nanoo shirt, both pieces from the collection, Meghan “looked beautiful and relaxed and comfortable, and I think it’s really essentially who she is,” the designer said.

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“As women, it is 100 percent our responsibility, I think, to support and uplift each other,” Meghan said at the launch, held at John Lewis on Oxford Street, “to champion each other so we aim to succeed, to not set each other up for failure, but instead to really be there rallying round each other and say ‘I want to help you.'”

She also said, “It’s also the same vein of work my husband and I will continue doing—really strong community-based projects, and this is something we will be excited to share more about next year when we launch our foundation Sussex Royal in 2020.”

But she could only give so much of herself to the cause that day.

“I’ve got to get back to the baby,” Meghan concluded. “It’s feed time!” 

So while Prince Harry’s year leading up to his 35th birthday looked especially zany from the outside, he’s hardly going to remember 2019 as anything more than the year his first child was born.

The whole family is off to Africa soon, as well, “a region of the world that over the past two decades has been a second home to me,” Harry shared on Instagram in August. “Our team has helped create a meaningful program that we’re so excited to share with you. On a personal note, I can’t wait to introduce my wife and son to South Africa! We’ll see all of you very soon.”

Just not today. It’s the prince’s birthday, after all.

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Logan Paul hires Shannon Briggs to help ‘kill’ KSI as YouTubers’ rivalry gets nasty – The Sun

YOUTUBE STAR Logan Paul has turned up the heat on rival KSI by hiring heavyweight champion Shannon Briggs to help 'kill' his rival in the ring.

The pair are facing off for the second time after the first fight finished as a draw in Manchester back in August last year.

When talking about the work that Paul has been putting in with Briggs, best friend Mike Majlak said: "Things are completely different this time around – the camp…it's like a death camp right now. There's absolutely no distractions, the entire team is ready to die for this victory.

"He's got one goal and that's to go in the ring and kill his opponent. There's no distractions, no bull****, no 'I've got to make up for Tokyo', or 'I've got to make up for YouTube'.

"I've never seen him as focused on one goal which is to walk in the ring and make sure there's absolutely nothing left for KSI after he's finished with him."

The pair's feud has grown even more in the 13 months since the first bout – with juvenile barbs like 'JJ(KSI) has no d***' and "Go and ask your mum" having been exchanged in the pre-fight press conference in Vegas on Saturday night.

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Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn was quick to step in and halt the embarrassing exchange.

According to Majlak, however, Paul has been taking the quality of his boxing more seriously than that of his trash talk ahead of November's rematch: "Logan doesn't plan on there being one punch he feels. He is going into that ring to eat – literally eat – KSI is a meal for him. He is not planning on being hit, he's not planning on being attacked…he's planning on going there and eating a meal."

When asked about the specifics of Paul's training with Briggs, Majlak continued: "It's 8000 calories of meat, and Shannon wants him literally eating the brains of animals. there's stuff we won't do that Shannon wants us to do. The guy is a monster.

"There are no distractions, there are no girls at the house, which is obviously a problem for me and Logan, but it's really a great thing. He's in bed by 10, no questions asked."

Unlike the first fight, this time around Paul and KSI will be boxing as fully licensed professionals – meaning no head guards will need to be worn.

Some have questioned whether KSI and Logan Paul undermine the sport and are bad for boxing – but Anthony Joshua disagrees.

Joshua, who is also represented by Matchroom, said of the fight: "I think it's sick. He (Hearn) could have promoted it from a point of view that's non-boxing, but getting their licenses, no head guards, rounds of boxing.

"What people have to realise is, you have to put all eyes on boxing for us all to thrive.

"So KSI and Logan Paul have a bigger following than me and most of the heavyweights combined.

"If all those eyes are now going to watch me and watch my competitors and watch the sport of boxing, it's going to rise."

The rematch takes place on November 9 at the Staples Center, Los Angeles.


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