Much as I love the Queen, it was Lady Bracknell who sprang to mind when I heard the news of yet another Royal divorce this week. ‘To lose one daughter-in-law, your Majesty, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.’
Yes, I know. Neither Autumn Phillips (splitting from HM’s grandson, Peter) nor Serena Armstrong-Jones (parting from her nephew, David) are daughters-in-law. But you get my drift.
The two separations must be body blows to the Queen, who has not had the easiest few months, what with all the Harry and Meghan hoo-ha, not to mention the ongoing saga over Prince Andrew.
The separations must be body blows to the Queen, who has not had the easiest few months… divorces seem to tear through the Royal Family like Storm Dennis, writes SARAH VINE (David, Earl of Snowdon and wife Serena, who recently announced they are divorcing, are pictured)
But I can’t imagine it has been as much of a surprise. It is reasonable to assume that she had some inkling of what was to come.
Not just because David Linley, now the Earl of Snowdon following the death of his father in 2017, is a close member of the inner royal circle. But because divorces seem to tear through the Royal Family like Storm Dennis.
Extraordinary, isn’t it, that, despite the fact the Queen and Prince Philip have been married for 72 years, three of their children’s marriages broke down?
Only Prince Edward, married to Sophie Wessex, has never divorced. To put that in perspective, around 42 per cent of marriages end in divorce nationally. In the case of the Queen’s children, it’s 75 per cent. And now the curse seems to be afflicting the next generation.
Extraordinary, isn’t it, that, despite the fact the Queen and Prince Philip have been married for 72 years, three of their children’s marriages broke down? (The Earl and Countess of Snowdon leaving St Margaret’s Church, Westminster, after their wedding in 1993)
For an institution which is supposed to provide the nation with a sense of stability and decorum, it’s not ideal. So why do so many royals divorce?
For me, the answer is simple: it’s because they can. The royals — and the aristocracy in general — have both the money and the social status to do what they want, while many ordinary couples don’t.
There is a reason divorce is on the decline among the middle class — the same reason they don’t tend to have more than two children. It’s not because everyone is deliriously happy — although, of course, plenty are.
It’s because many who are not have to stick together in the current climate of austerity. Such couples can’t afford to split their assets, and they certainly can’t afford the lawyers’ fees. And so they live out their lives in an atmosphere of low-level dissatisfaction, trapped in unfulfilling relationships.
For the royals… There are always enough houses to go around, and the accumulated wealth ensures there’s no shortage of cash for either party to pursue an independent lifestyle (Peter and Autumn Phillips, who also announced they are separating last week, are pictured)
Everyone deserves to be happy, be they prince or pauper. But when it comes to love and life in general, it’s one rule for the royals — and another for the rest of us. (Autumn and Peter are pictured at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, on their wedding day in 2008)
For the royals — and their relatives — this is simply not an issue. There are always enough houses to go around, and the accumulated wealth ensures there’s no shortage of cash for either party to pursue an independent lifestyle.
In the case of Serena and David, they have to choose between homes in Kensington, Gloucester and Provence — and her father, landowner the Earl of Harrington, is said to be worth up to £250 million.
It’s also, as ever, a question of class. A lot of couples stay together for fear of becoming ostracised or lonely, for fear of what their friends and colleagues might think.
Being a royal insulates you from such things. It doesn’t matter what you do, someone’s always willing to befriend you for your title. And when push comes to shove, the Establishment always closes ranks to protect itself.
Everyone deserves to be happy, be they prince or pauper. But when it comes to love and life in general, it’s one rule for the royals — and another for the rest of us.
Thanks to the dedicated work of J-Lo & Co, 50 is the new 30
J-Low’s slim pickings
J-Lo in a tiny bikini so low slung it offers a glimpse of her Caesarean scar is the latest reminder of how amazing she looks for her age.
But it’s also a stark reminder of the fact that, in some ways, ageing is more of a taboo now than it ever was.
Thanks to the dedicated work of J-Lo & Co, 50 is the new 30.
Which is all very well if you have armies of personal chefs and trainers to keep you in shape.
But if you’re less Jenny from the Block and more Joanie from Bolton, you could be forgiven for thinking it all seems so exhausting.
Once again, I look at the flood devastation caused in places including South Wales and Ross-on-Wye by Storm Dennis and I have only one question: why are we sending millions of taxpayers’ money in foreign aid to countries such as China when the people who contributed those taxes are themselves in desperate need? I’m sorry, but it seems perverse.
Billie Eilish, the green-haired 18-year-old responsible for hits such as Ocean Eyes and the new James Bond theme tune, No Time To Die, may look like just another flaky Gen-Z pixie. But she could also be the saviour of the human race.
‘The internet is ruining my life, so I turned it off,’ she told a BBC interviewer recently. And, in so doing, probably inspired more kids her age (she has squillions of fans) to switch off social media than any army of finger-wagging commentators. I wonder if, while she’s at it, she could maybe tell them all to tidy their rooms, too.
Blaming doesn’t help
I do think Caroline Flack’s ex-fiance, Andrew Brady, is on a sticky wicket when he blames her management, ITV, the media, the paparazzi and others — all in all ‘a disgusting industry filled with complete users, fakes and frauds’ — for her death.
Let’s not forget that when Flack was arrested for allegedly assaulting her boyfriend in December, it was Brady who posted screenshots of a heavily redacted non-disclosure agreement preventing him from discussing their relationship — along with the message ‘abuse has no gender’.
The implication was that she had done this sort of thing before. Who can say whether his actions had any bearing on the CPS’s decision to prosecute, but I think it’s fair to say what he did was not entirely helpful.
Let’s not forget that when Flack was arrested for allegedly assaulting her boyfriend, it was Brady (pictured together) who posted screenshots of a heavily redacted non-disclosure agreement along with the message ‘abuse has no gender’
Take it easy, Elton
Poor Elton John, hauled off stage with walking pneumonia. I had walking pneumonia — so called because the infection is low level — a few years ago, and it’s no joke.
Part of the problem was that, with two small children and a full-time job, I could never find time to rest. It took me ages to shake it off, and I was barely in my 40s.
Sir Elton is 72 — so he really needs to pay attention, even if it means letting down his fans. He is, after all, one of our few Remaining National Treasures.
Sir Elton is 72 — so he really needs to pay attention, even if it means letting down his fans. He is, after all, one of our few remaining national treasures
Alexa, it’s time to turn yourself off
Having resisted my family’s requests for an Alexa device on the grounds that I don’t need, want or trust another woman to run my home (and also because, given my husband’s job, it didn’t seem wise to have a machine that listens in), I find myself somewhat vindicated.
Robert Frederick, a former senior executive at Amazon, told Monday night’s Panorama programme that he often switches off his Alexa device because ‘I don’t want certain conversations to be heard by humans’.
It reminds me of the time a friend who worked for Google told me the founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, refused to have wi-fi in the house — too dangerous, apparently. It struck me as the same sort of self-preservation principle practised by drug dealers who don’t touch the stuff themselves.
The truth is these technologies are insidious. They present themselves as a way to make life easier — but at what price? In the case of Alexa, it is data-harvesting and loss of privacy. Why do we go along with it?
I understand Imelda Staunton’s frustrations when it comes to people who eat noisily in the cinema — especially in the case of Doritos, which as well as being uncommonly loud also smell like stale socks.
But the truth is that for quite a lot of us — me included — a trip to the cinema is also an excuse to enjoy an illicit culinary adventure.
I would never dream of eating a packet of Revels in real life — but in the cinema: yum! Much like the Swedish meatballs in the Ikea canteen, it’s all part of the experience.