Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

Article excerpt


The engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton was announced.

The Prince proposed last month in Kenya and gave his fiancee the engagement ring belonging to his late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales. The wedding is to take place next year. Britain must 'sort out' its economy if it wants to 'carry weight in the world', David Cameron, the Prime Minister, said in his speech at the Lord Mayor's banquet. Mr Cameron decided after all against employing a personal photographer at public expense.

Legal aid will no longer be available in divorce, welfare benefit and school exclusion appeals, Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary, announced, in plans to save £350 million. The Early Learning Centre toy shop reinstated the pig it had banished from the Happy Land Goosefeather Farm set lest it upset Muslims or Jews.

The government paid out-of-court compensation to 16 men, British citizens and residents in Britain, detained by US forces at Guantanamo Bay, 12 of whom had sued government departments and MI5 and MI6, claiming complicity in their mistreatment. General Sir David Richards, the Chief of the Defence Staff, said that a clear-cut victory over Islamist militancy was 'unnecessary and would never be achieved'.

In Kensington, west London, an Islamic group called Muslims Against Crusades burnt poppies during the two-minute silence on Armistice Day and chanted: 'British soldiers burn in hell.' The British Legion reported distributing a record 46 million poppies in return for donations.

Demonstrators surged into the Conservative party headquarters in Millbank, London, during a demonstration against university tuition fees. Windows were smashed, fires lit and missiles hurled at police; 56 were arrested, including 10 children. Greater Manchester Police plans to cut a quarter of its officers, although none may by law be declared redundant. British banks conferred on ways to cut bonuses for staff this year, perhaps from £7 billion to £4 billion. In October the inflation rate hardly changed and unemployment remained almost static. Gerry Adams, the president of Sinn Fein, is to step down as MP for West Belfast and as a member of the Stormont assembly in order to stand for Louth when the Republic of Ireland holds a general election. St Blazey and Lostwithiel in Cornwall were flooded. …

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