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20 September

In the headlines

Flags on British government buildings are “back at full mast”, says BBC News, as the period of national mourning for the Queen’s death comes to an end. Yesterday’s state funeral was watched by an estimated four billion people, an all-time record audience, and greater than the population of the whole world at the time of the Queen’s coronation in 1953. Liz Truss is in New York for the United Nations general assembly, says The Times. On the plane over, she admitted that a UK-US free trade deal – “one of the most-heralded prizes of Brexit” – is still many years away. Donald Trump has mocked Joe Biden for being placed in the 14th row at the Queen’s funeral, behind representatives from Canada and Poland. The former president said he would have insisted on a more plum position, adding: “In Real Estate, like in Politics and in Life, LOCATION IS EVERYTHING!!!”


The greatest spectacle of our lifetime

Of all Britain’s great spectacles over the past 70 years, says Dominic Sandbrook in the Daily Mail, “there has never been one like the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II”. From the Mounties leading the procession to the “haunting, spine-tingling lament” of the Queen’s faithful bagpiper as the ceremony drew to a close, it was at once “Britain’s saddest day and our greatest”. But beyond the pomp was a profound message about a changing nation. The first lesson was read by Baroness Scotland, the daughter of Caribbean immigrants and our first female Attorney General since the post was created by King Henry III in the 13th century. Traditional 18th-century hymns were interspersed with modern compositions written especially for the occasion. This blend of old and new was “supremely fitting” for a Queen who constantly adapted over her 70-year reign, “cautiously, gently, to match her people’s mood”.

Quirk of history
On the money

Indian billionaire Gautam Adani has surpassed Jeff Bezos to become the world’s second-richest person (after Elon Musk), with a fortune of $146.8bn, just $19m ahead of the Amazon founder. Adani started the year as the 14th-richest person, says Bloomberg, but his business interests in ports, airports and coal have performed rather better than tech companies in recent months.

Love etc

Nature seems to have given its approval to the marriage of Alisa Hemming and Liam Duncan, says My Modern Met. After Duncan proposed on a mountaintop in Canada, and Hemming said yes, the couple embraced – and at that exact moment, the thundery weather erupted into lightning.


The Queen was never much of a football fan, says former FA chairman David Triesman. “There are no horses,” he says, “and, try as we might, we could never find a way of involving horses in football.” He did once get the Queen to a match at Wembley, which she seemed to enjoy. Afterwards, Triesman asked who she thought had played best. “The band of the Scots Guards,” she replied.


It’s a mirror-shelled scarab beetle known as Chrysina limbata. The rare insect was discovered by self-described “meteorite hunter” Michael Farmer on a guava tree in Costa Rica. I’m “not much of an insect person”, Farmer told news website The Dodo, but it was “truly one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen”.


quoted 20-09-2022

“The monarchy allows us to take a holiday from reason; and on that holiday we do no harm.”

Martin Amis