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King Philippe of Belgium meets half-sister Delphine for first time

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king philippe of belgium meets half sister delphine for first time

King Philippe of Belgium has met his half-sister Princess Delphine de Saxe-Cobourg Gotha for the first time – after she was finally recognised as former king Albert II’s daughter following a lengthy legal battle.

The monarch said it was a ‘warm meeting’ which took place at the Castle of Laeken on Friday October 9.

Artist Princess Delphine, 52, formerly known as Delphine Boël, is thought to be the result of an 18-year affair between the former monarch, 86, and Belgian aristocrat Sybille de Selys Longchamps, 79, that began in the 1960s. 

In a joint statement shared to the Belgian royal family‘s Facebook page, Philippe, 60, and Delphine – who shared a photograph of them socially distanced – said: ‘This extensive and special conversation gave us the opportunity to get to know each other. 

King Philippe of Belgium (right) has met his half-sister Princess Delphine de Saxe-Cobourg Gotha (left) for the first time - after she was finally recognised as former king Albert II's daughter following a lengthy legal battle

King Philippe of Belgium (right) has met his half-sister Princess Delphine de Saxe-Cobourg Gotha (left) for the first time – after she was finally recognised as former king Albert II’s daughter following a lengthy legal battle

In a joint statement shared to the Belgian royal family's Facebook page, Philippe and Delphine said: 'This extensive and special conversation gave us the opportunity to get to know each other'

In a joint statement shared to the Belgian royal family’s Facebook page, Philippe and Delphine said: ‘This extensive and special conversation gave us the opportunity to get to know each other’

‘We have spoken about our own lives and our common interests. This bond will develop further in family context.’

Their union was met with delight from royal fans, with many Belgians praising King Philippe for his ‘moving’ gesture.

One commented: ‘Great respect for King Filip for this deep human gesture to his half sister!! Beautiful!!’

‘Congratulations on this warm, human gesture!’ another wrote. ‘It truly is a strong signal. This is the attitude of an committed and confident Prince who also turns his social message into actions. An example. Congrats!’

And one gushed: ‘Fantastic! How good of the King! And what’s wrong with a nice new (half) sister? Exactly: nothing! Compliments.’ 

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Philippe and Delphine's union was met with delight from royal fans, with many praising King Philippe for his 'moving' gesture

Philippe and Delphine’s union was met with delight from royal fans, with many praising King Philippe for his ‘moving’ gesture

Speaking after a court officially recognised her as the love child of Belgium’s former king on October 1, Delphine said her battle to be recognised as a royal was not about money or status.

She explained that her mother’s husband, wealthy industrialist and aristocrat Jacques Boel, is ‘much richer than the royal family’. 

Delphine also revealed she will not be using the ‘Her Royal Highness’ prefix, adding: ‘I just wanted to be the same as my brother and my sister.’   

She told Belgian radio show Matin Premiere: ‘I feel like I have a right to exist. Not to exist in the royal family but as me.

Delphine, 52, formerly known as Delphine Boël, is thought to be the result of an 18-year affair between the former monarch (pictured in February last year) and Belgian aristocrat Sybille de Selys Longchamps that began in the 1960s

Delphine, 52, formerly known as Delphine Boël, is thought to be the result of an 18-year affair between the former monarch (pictured in February last year) and Belgian aristocrat Sybille de Selys Longchamps that began in the 1960s

‘My decision to call for help through the law, I feel today that it was the right thing to do… The judicial system said that I was right and that I had the right to exist.’

Speaking earlier this month, Delphine revealed she last spoke to Albert in 2001 and ‘expects nothing more’.

‘I tried to solve the problem behind the walls, in secret, for years,’ she added, but said Albert’s repeated denials forced her to go public.

Describing her life before the judgement, she called herself ‘a black sheep’ adding that her existence was ‘unpleasant and unlivable’.

She added that she now wants to go back to focusing on her art, while moving on from the scandal of her birth.

‘It is not [the child’s] fault, they do not ask to be born,’ she said. ‘The child who comes from a love affair outside of marriage should not be treated any differently.’

Delphine, pictured at a press conference in Brussels on October 5, a week after she won the legal battle to be confirmed as a princess, said her battle to be recognised as a royal was not about money or status

Delphine, pictured at a press conference in Brussels on October 5, a week after she won the legal battle to be confirmed as a princess, said her battle to be recognised as a royal was not about money or status

Speaking earlier this month, Delphine revealed she last spoke to Albert in 2001 and 'expects nothing more'. Pictured on October 5

Speaking earlier this month, Delphine revealed she last spoke to Albert in 2001 and ‘expects nothing more’. Pictured on October 5

The alleged affair between Albert II and Sybille de Selys Longchamps is believed to have begun in 1966 when Albert was not yet king but was married to Italian aristocrat and later queen Donna Paola Ruffo di Calabria, whom he wed in 1959.

The couple lived apart for a large part of their early marriage, amid rumours that she disliked living in Belgium, finding it too cold and rainy.

Delphine was born in 1968, and the affair is thought to have ended in 1984.

Albert’s other children – Philippe, who assumed the throne after Albert’s abdication, Princess Astrid and Prince Laurent – were born in 1960, 1962 and 1963 respectively.

Albert ascended the throne in 1993, following the death of his elder brother, King Baudouin, from heart failure.

Albert's admission comes after a court ruled that he has to submit to a DNA test and would fine him 5,000 euros for every day he refused to comply

Albert II, former King of Belgium, has admitted for the first time that 51-year-old artist is his love-child from an affair he is thought to have had in the 1960s

Albert (left) confirmed in January that he was no longer contesting Delphine’s claim of paternity, after taking a DNA test (pictured right, her mother Sybille de Selys Longchamps)

Delphine – an aristocrat in her own right and an artist – first said in 1999 that she believes she is Albert’s child.

Her statement was made shortly after the publication of an unofficial biography of Queen Paola which alluded to an affair the King had which produced a lovechild.

Albert acknowledged problems with his marriage in his Christmas speech the same year, referring to a ‘crisis’ which nearly ended his marriage 30 years before, but said he and his wife ‘surpassed those difficulties to find a deep understanding love’. 

But Albert never addressed the issue of a child, and for years the palace neither confirmed nor denied the reports, merely saying that it was a ‘private matter’.

Delphine (left, with her mother in 2000) first claimed to be Albert's lovechild in 1999, after an unofficial biography of the Queen claimed he had an affair and a child born out of wedlock

Delphine (left, with her mother in 2000) first claimed to be Albert’s lovechild in 1999, after an unofficial biography of the Queen claimed he had an affair and a child born out of wedlock

Despite years of private lobbying, Ms Boel was unable to get Albert to recognise her true identity.

After years of questions over her identity, which Delphine claimed stopped her from opening bank accounts, she went to the courts in 2013 in an attempt to prove her biological father was Albert.

The same year the legal case began, Albert abdicated for ‘health reasons’, passing the throne to son Philippe – Delphine’s half-brother.

After several early setbacks, the breakthrough for Ms Boel came in November last year when a court ruled that Albert must provide a DNA sample for testing.

Failure to comply would result in a €5,000 fine for each day the sample was missing. 

Albert is thought to have undergone the DNA test shortly afterwards, which proved he is the father.

Delphine Boel, now 52 (pictured in Paris in 1999) has been recognised as the illegitimate lovechild of Albert II, former King of Beligum, after a seven-year legal battle

Delphine Boel, now 52 (pictured in Paris in 1999) has been recognised as the illegitimate lovechild of Albert II, former King of Beligum, after a seven-year legal battle

In January, he issued a statement confirming that he is no longer contesting paternity.

The court ruled that Delphine should be recognised as part of the royal family, putting her 15th in line to the throne and entitling her to a share of Albert’s estate when he dies.  

A statement released by Delphine’s lawyers last week said: ‘Delphine de Saxe Cobourg has taken note of the judgment… which gives her full satisfaction.

‘Her other requests for it to be dealt with on the same footing as her brothers and sister have also been satisfied.

‘She is delighted by this court decision which ends a long process which is particularly painful for her and her family.

A legal victory will never replace the love of a father but offers a feeling of justice, further reinforced by the fact that many children who have gone through the same ordeals will find the strength to face them.’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Care homes are demanding mandatory testing of inspectors to prevent putting elderly ‘lives at risk’

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care homes are demanding mandatory testing of inspectors to prevent putting elderly lives at risk

Care homes are demanding mandatory testing of inspectors to prevent putting elderly ‘lives at risk’ after more than 100 reported coronavirus symptoms. 

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) had suspended inspections for five months in an attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus. 

But last month the watchdog took the decision, sanctioned by the Department of Health, to redeploy inspectors.

The CQC, which employs around 1,300 inspectors, is set to launch 500 inspections over the next six weeks – but testing for those visiting care homes is not currently compulsory.

Care provides have fiercely criticised the move after it was estimated that 16,000 care home residents died with Covid-19 during the first wave of coronavirus. 

Care homes are demanding mandatory testing of inspectors to prevent putting elderly 'lives at risk' after more than 100 reported coronavirus symptoms (stock image)

Care homes are demanding mandatory testing of inspectors to prevent putting elderly ‘lives at risk’ after more than 100 reported coronavirus symptoms (stock image)

Data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by The Sunday Telegraph revealed that more than 100 CQC inspectors reported Covid-19 symptoms or were forced to self-isolate.

It showed that during the period from March to October 20, 11 CQC staff tested positive for coronavirus which included six who were inspectors. 

A further 225 members of CQC staff, 103 of whom were inspectors, self-isolated as a precaution.

The report also showed that the watchdog had received one complaint in relation to its inspectors not wearing appropriate personal protective equipment during an inspection.

Care home managers have since called on the organisation to introduce mandatory testing for all inspectors as they insist that otherwise ‘lives will be put at risk’. 

The report also showed that the watchdog had received one complaint in relation to its inspectors not wearing appropriate personal protective equipment during an inspection (stock image)

The report also showed that the watchdog had received one complaint in relation to its inspectors not wearing appropriate personal protective equipment during an inspection (stock image)

Labour MP Barbara Keeley has since said that the data proved why it was now vital that inspectors were regularly tested in order to protect elderly lives.

She told The Independent: ‘On the basis of these numbers, inspectors may be potentially taking infections into care homes. Given the risk Covid-19 poses in care homes, this cannot be allowed to happen.

‘It’s just not acceptable that the inspectors are not being tested regularly… It is clear from these numbers that the only way for CQC inspections to resume in a safe manner is for all inspectors to have access to regular Covid-19 testing, even if they are asymptomatic.’

MailOnline has contacted the Care Quality Commission for comment. 

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Diary of political aide PETER CARDWELL reveals whats goes on in Westminster

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diary of political aide peter cardwell reveals whats goes on in westminster

Six decades ago, we didn’t exist. But we spads have become increasingly influential in Whitehall, playing a strange role for Ministers, somewhere between friend, gatekeeper, adviser and general dogsbody armed with a Snickers bar (in case of a meltdown needing a sugar hit).

As Housing Secretary James Brokenshire’s media spad, I had to advise him on the regular rounds of interviews – which could cover anything from NHS care beds to Love Island evictions – as well as reminding him to have a pee beforehand. And, of course, to be tuned into all the Westminster gossip.

The Coffey grinder

A colleague who got invited to the Brit Awards contacted me the morning after about the antics of the Work and Pensions Secretary: ‘The image that will be burned into the pinholes of my eyes – perhaps for ever – is that of Therese Coffey attempting to twerk to Stormzy.’ As a result, poor Therese has been nicknamed the ‘Twerk and Pensions Secretary’.

Theresa’s one unhappy camper

At one reception at No 10, a Tory MP brought the eccentric actress Su Pollard as his plus-one. The then PM, Theresa May, endured Pollard shouting, ‘Hi-de-hi, Theresa!’ at her. I’m sure, in that moment, Mrs May felt the decades at the grindstone of political life were all worth it.

At one reception at No 10, a Tory MP brought the eccentric actress Su Pollard as his plus-one. The then PM, Theresa May, endured Pollard shouting, ‘Hi-de-hi, Theresa!’ at her. I’m sure, in that moment, Mrs May felt the decades at the grindstone of political life were all worth it

At one reception at No 10, a Tory MP brought the eccentric actress Su Pollard as his plus-one. The then PM, Theresa May, endured Pollard shouting, ‘Hi-de-hi, Theresa!’ at her. I’m sure, in that moment, Mrs May felt the decades at the grindstone of political life were all worth it

The snarking of the Hunt

I asked Labour’s Tristram Hunt what he saw as his role as a constituency MP. He said: ‘It is to try to convince people that Stoke isn’t a s***hole.’ At least he was honest.

Take that, Barlow!

At the heart of No 10 is ‘Switch’ –- the switchboard – renowned for its calm, assured operators who connect Prime Ministers to anyone in the world. Switch has the number of almost anyone the PM could possibly want to contact. Very occasionally, though, it makes mistakes. Once, a No 10 official asked to be put through to the then Housing Minister Gavin Barwell, but the operator misheard. Take That frontman Gary Barlow was slightly baffled to receive a call about housing policy.

A smarter class of reader

James Brokenshire’s wife Cathy rang me about an interview James was about to do with the Daily Mail. Was it OK to wear jeans for the photo? No, I said quickly, it is better to go slightly smarter as the Mail’s readership would expect something a little dressier.

My text that cost £387m

One Friday morning, I was working at home in my jogging bottoms, happily tapping away at my laptop and two phones. Incidentally, two groups of people always work on two phones: spads and drug-dealers.

I was called by a journalist on The Times and asked about a rumour that housing giant Persimmon was about to post profits of £1 billion. After some digging, I texted a comment saying the company had not always acted entirely properly in regard to the Government’s Help To Buy scheme for first-time buyers.

This led to a story saying ‘Britain’s most profitable housebuilder faces being stripped of its right to sell Help To Buy homes after allegations of poor standards.’

On Monday morning, when the financial markets opened – and largely the result of my text – Persimmon’s worth fell by £387 million in just one day.

Ironing out the wrinkles

One Minister who sat around the Cabinet table told her diary secretary to block out an afternoon once a month so she could go to her doctor in Harley Street for Botox. ‘The problem,’ the spad told me, ‘is when she grins heavily, you can see the filler accumulate above her temples.’

Rebel without a pause

Some Downing Street spads had a sweepstake on how long Greg Clark, then Business Secretary, would speak continuously in Cabinet meetings. His record? Twenty-six minutes without a pause. In a 90-minute meeting.

Boris owes me a big debt

My first encounter with Boris Johnson was when I was on work experience at The Spectator and he was editor. He sent me to buy him a coffee, saying: ‘And get one for yourself, too.’

My first encounter with Boris Johnson was when I was on work experience at The Spectator and he was editor. He sent me to buy him a coffee, saying: ‘And get one for yourself, too’. The coins he gave me didn’t even cover the full cost of his latte. Boris still owes me £2.35, 15 years on

My first encounter with Boris Johnson was when I was on work experience at The Spectator and he was editor. He sent me to buy him a coffee, saying: ‘And get one for yourself, too’. The coins he gave me didn’t even cover the full cost of his latte. Boris still owes me £2.35, 15 years on

The coins he gave me didn’t even cover the full cost of his latte. Boris still owes me £2.35, 15 years on.

The rainbow warrior

While in the Northern Ireland Office, I worked with Junior Minister Kris Hopkins on advancing the cause of same-sex civil marriage there, against resistance from the Democratic Unionist Party. During one meeting, the blunt Yorkshireman said: ‘It’s probably about bloody time I got on my big rainbow underpants and told the DUP what’s what on equal marriage.’ When Kris left the department, I bought him such a pair on eBay for £2.99. I don’t know if he ever wore them.

The last Post-It

It is traditional for Treasury Ministers to leave a light-hearted Post-It note for their successors.

Liam Byrne’s message after the 2008 banking crash and subsequent recession infamously read: ‘Dear Chief Secretary, I am afraid there is no money. Kind regards and good luck.’

Previously, civil servants had spotted a series of other notes that Byrne (nicknamed ‘Baldemort’ in tribute to the Harry Potter villain) had left around his desk to motivate himself.

They included ‘Get Army fit’, ‘Have my own library (like Reagan)’ and ‘Buy ski chalet in France’.

Red Ed’s jibes are no joke

I was reliably informed two jokes were cut out of Ed Miliband’s first conference speech as Labour leader about the then Tory Communities Secretary Eric Pickles being overweight. The first – ‘the party never worries about losing Eric Pickles, because wherever he goes he always leaves a trail of crumbs’ – you could probably just about get away with. But ‘Eric Pickles – the only Cabinet Minister visible from space’ would have been a jibe too far.

Shocking behaviour

Protection officers get to know Ministers well, but personal relationships such as the one in the BBC1 drama Bodyguard are strictly prohibited. Saying that, one spad sent a cheeky Valentine’s Day card to a protection officer who had worked with their principal, including the line: ‘No need to fire your Taser to make me go weak at the knees.’

A whiff of offence

During the Election campaign of 2017, one volunteer worker had a particularly strong reaction around Theresa May’s chief of staff Fiona Hill – her perfume brought her out in hives, so she had to retreat every time Fiona came near. The volunteer never felt that she could explain to Fiona the reason she kept stepping away.

Oven-ready scandal

The eight-day media maelstrom that we called ‘Ovengate’ began when a small Sunday Times news item remarked that James and Cathy own two double ovens. By Tuesday, memes were flying thick and fast on Twitter, and James decided to lean into the ludicrous, and increasingly funny, reaction. He tweeted a picture of himself with a Victoria sponge cake with the line: ‘Amazing what you can rustle up! Maybe some more hot potatoes next! #TwoOvens.’

A very boor show

The key thing, in victory and defeat, is to be graceful and magnanimous with your opponents. Labour’s Emily Thornberry was neither. Despite the exit poll in 2017 which suggested the Tory Government was going to be re-elected, she strutted on to the set at Sky News, churlishly sneering at us. Cathy Brokenshire can’t stand Thornberry and, believe me, when you’ve lost Cathy you’re doing really badly.

Something’s brewing

Whenever Theresa May was on a factory visit, it was our job to check there was a supply of the correct tea bags (Earl Grey, since you ask).

Whenever Theresa May was on a factory visit, it was our job to check there was a supply of the correct tea bags (Earl Grey, since you ask)

 Whenever Theresa May was on a factory visit, it was our job to check there was a supply of the correct tea bags (Earl Grey, since you ask)

Conference pairs

At one Liberal Democrat party conference, I remember the drunken lover of a senior Lib Dem MP pitching up wearing just a vest and shorts, looking like some sort of relic from a Culture Club gig. I also remember a female friend, who would have been about 25 at the time, telling me about the difficult experience of extracting herself from a conversation with a famous broadcaster at least 40 years her senior whose intentions were not to discuss the contents of Nick Clegg’s speech.

Back to school, Minister

Suspecting that while being interviewed by sixth-formers, newly appointed Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley might be tested on some rudimentary general knowledge, I told her the FAT LAD acronym I’d learned in primary school to remember the six counties of Northern Ireland – Fermanagh, Armagh, Tyrone, Londonderry, Antrim, Down.

As you leak it

At a mandatory 7.55am gathering of all spads in Downing Street – one of the first of the Johnson administration – Dominic Cummings told us in no uncertain terms: ‘If you leak, you will be marched from your desk by the head of security at your department, your pass will be taken off you and you will be sacked. You have no rights.’ Of course, these sentiments were immediately leaked and appeared in The Times the very next day...

At a mandatory 7.55am gathering of all spads in Downing Street – one of the first of the Johnson administration – Dominic Cummings told us in no uncertain terms: ‘If you leak, you will be marched from your desk by the head of security at your department, your pass will be taken off you and you will be sacked. You have no rights.’ Of course, these sentiments were immediately leaked and appeared in The Times the very next day…

At a mandatory 7.55am gathering of all spads in Downing Street – one of the first of the Johnson administration – Dominic Cummings told us in no uncertain terms: ‘If you leak, you will be marched from your desk by the head of security at your department, your pass will be taken off you and you will be sacked. You have no rights.’

Of course, these sentiments were immediately leaked and appeared in The Times the very next day…

© Peter Cardwell, 2020

lThe Secret Life Of Special Advisers, by Peter Cardwell, is published by Biteback on Tuesday at £20. To order a copy for £17.60, including free UK delivery, go to mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3308 9193 before October 31.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Lily James’s character describes Dominic West’s character in upcoming movie

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lily jamess character describes dominic wests character in upcoming movie

Few who saw the photographs of them canoodling in Rome can doubt that Lily James looked impressed by Dominic West’s masculine charms.

Now the 31-year-old has spoken in glowing terms about the appeal of the character he plays in their new film.

The pair co-star in the BBC‘s upcoming adaptation of Nancy Mitford’s The Pursuit Of Love, which traces the romantic adventures of the free-spirited Linda Radlett between the two world wars. 

For his part, West appears as the bullying and eccentric Uncle Matthew.

Actress Lily James, 31 has spoken in glowing terms about the appeal of the character Dominic West plays in their new film

Actress Lily James, 31 has spoken in glowing terms about the appeal of the character Dominic West plays in their new film

In an interview with The Guardian published yesterday, but conducted before the dalliance in Rome, Ms James said she had known her co-star for ‘a really long time’ since they appeared together in a Shakespeare play a decade ago.

Speaking of his role in their latest venture, she added: ‘He’s a brilliant Uncle Matthew, another mad sort of character. 

I have a great line in it where I say, ‘Matthew is frightening and I disapprove of him, but I feel he sets the bar for English manhood.’ What a great line.’

When the photographs of their holiday antics first emerged, West staged an awkward photoshoot at his Wiltshire mansion with his wife, the Anglo-Irish aristocrat Catherine FitzGerald.

Lily James and Dominic West, 51, pictured together on a scooter in Rome earlier this month

Lily James and Dominic West, 51, pictured together on a scooter in Rome earlier this month 

The Wire actor, 51, later posted a handwritten note at the boundary of their property for photographers. It read: ‘Our marriage is strong and we’re very much still together. Thank you.’

Ms James, who last year split from former Doctor Who star Matt Smith, has since kept a low profile at her North London home.

In the interview, she says she spent the summer reading poetry and watching films.

Asked if she spent the time alone, she replied: ‘No comment.’

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