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More British workers are staying at home than in any other major European nations

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more british workers are staying at home than in any other major european nations

Fewer British office workers have returned to their workplace than in any other major European country, new figures reveal today.

Little more than a third (34 per cent) of UK staff are back at their desks, with the remainder continuing to work from home.

This contrasts with 83 per cent of French office staff and 70 per cent of Germans, according to a survey by researchers at investment bank Morgan Stanley.

However, their analysis found that Britons who have returned to their offices are doing so for more days a week than continental rivals.

Almost half (46 per cent) of UK workers who have returned are working at least five days a week from their office, far more than in France, Germany, Italy or Spain.

The figures come amid a high street bloodbath with retailers experiencing massively reduced footfall.

WH Smith and M&Co axed hundreds of posts today, meaning the number of workers facing redundancy as a result of the Covid crisis is now above 100,000. 

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One-in-20 shielding Brits not planning to return to work soon 

Around one in 20 people in England who had been shielding because of coronavirus are not planning on returning to work over the next few months.

Some 6 per cent of those classed as clinically extremely vulnerable, who had normally worked before receiving shielding advice, said they were not intending to go back to work in the near future.

A further 21 per cent said they planned to continue working from home, while 35 per cent indicated they would return to their previous place of work.

The figures are from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and are based on a survey conducted between July 9 and 16.

A total of 2.2 million people in England were identified by the Government earlier this year as being clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) to the impact of Covid-19, and had been advised to shield from others.

This advice was officially paused from August 1.

Tim Gibbs, from the ONS public services analysis team, said: “Before being advised to shield, almost a third of CEV people worked.

“Most are planning on returning to work or continuing to work from home in the next four months but around one in 20 CEV people are planning not to return to work.

“Of those who said they would return to work outside the home, 68 per cent reported they felt comfortable doing so, if either they or their employer put protective measures in place.”

The figures also show that, of those surveyed, 60 per cent reported completely following shielding guidance – the equivalent of an estimated 1.3 million people.

Some 65 per cent said they had received no visitors, except for support with personal care.

On July 6 the Government advised that CEV people could form a support bubble with another household, as well as be in open spaces for exercise and other reasons.

The ONS survey suggests that, of those who had received a visitor in the previous seven days not providing personal care, 36 per cent only had visitors from their support bubble, while 35 per cent had chosen not to form a bubble at all.

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WH Smith this morning announced 1,500 layoffs after a plunge in customers going into its stores during the coronavirus pandemic, saying it needed to reduce costs as its shops in airports and train stations are hit by low passenger numbers and its high street stores also suffer from low footfall. 

Just over half of its UK travel shops have reopened and 246 of its largest sites have started trading again.

All of its 575 high-street stores have opened, the business said, but footfall is strongly down compared to last year.

Revenue was 57 per cent lower last month compared to July 2019, even as sites started to welcome customers back, with most of this loss coming from the travel arm.

M&Co said it will shut 47 fashion shops, cutting 380 staff roles, while gambling giant William Hill reveals it is keeping 119 of its betting shops across the UK closed for good amid fears in-store customer levels will not return to pre-pandemic levels. 

Boris Johnson last month updated official guidance for people to work from home where possible, in an attempt to breathe fresh life into the economy.

But he was later forced to row back on some liberalisation of the lockdown regime amid fears of a second wave of coronavirus in coming weeks. 

Monday was meant to be the day many Britons returned to their workplaces, but many offices, factories and other workplaces have remained closed.

The cost of furloughing millions of British workers rose by more than £2billion in the last week of July.

Some 9.6 million jobs had been covered by the coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (JRS) up to August 2, Government figures show. This was an increase of 100,000 on the previous week.

The cumulative cost of the scheme rose from £31.7billion on July 26 to £33.8billion on Sunday, an increase of £2.1billion.

Last week the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said almost a fifth of workers – an estimated six million people – remained on furlough despite Government attempts to bring the economy back to life. 

Pizza Express was among the big names to announce cuts yesterday, as bosses revealed they could shut 67 of its UK restaurants with up to 1,100 jobs at risk.

The 55-year-old company, owned by Chinese private equity firm Hony Capital, has debts of £735million and has put itself up for sale after bringing in experts.

Bosses at the chain said they wanted to push down rents by closing about 15 per cent of its 449 restaurants in the UK, which would help protect 9,000 jobs.

The news came as Currys PC World owner Dixons Carphone also announced today that it is to cut 800 jobs as part of an overhaul of its store management structure.

In the last week alone, 1,800 roles have been lost at Pendragon, 651 at Byron, 1,700 put at risk at DW Sports, 878 lost at Hays Travel and 1,100 put at risk at Pizza Express (all pictured in graphic), with many wondering which of Britain's biggest businesses will be next to announce huge cuts

In the last week alone, 1,800 roles have been lost at Pendragon, 651 at Byron, 1,700 put at risk at DW Sports, 878 lost at Hays Travel and 1,100 put at risk at Pizza Express (all pictured in graphic), with many wondering which of Britain’s biggest businesses will be next to announce huge cuts

Major potential job losses announced since the start of lockdown 

August 5 – WH Smith – 1,500 

August 4 – Dixons Carphone – 800

August 4 – Pizza Express – 1,100 at risk

August 3 – Hays Travel – up to 878

August 3 – DW Sports – 1,700 at risk

July 31 – Byron – 651

July 30 – Pendragon – 1,800

July 29 – Waterstones – unknown number of head office roles

July 28 – Selfridges – 450

July 27 – Oak Furnitureland – 163 at risk

July 23 – Dyson – 600 in UK, 300 overseas

July 22 – Mears – fewer than 200

July 20 – Marks & Spencer – 950 at risk

July 17 – Azzurri Group (owns Zizzi and Ask Italian) – up to 1,200

July 16 – Genting – 1,642 at risk

July 16 – Burberry – 150 in UK, 350 overseas

July 15 – Banks Mining – 250 at risk

July 15 – Buzz Bingo – 573 at risk

July 14 – Vertu – 345

July 14 – DFS – up to 200 at risk

July 9 – General Electric – 369

July 9 – Eurostar – unknown number

July 9 – Boots – 4,000

July 9 – John Lewis – 1,300 at risk

July 9 – Burger King – 1,600 at risk

July 7 – Reach (owns Daily Mirror and Daily Express newspapers) – 550

July 6 – Pret a Manger – 1,000 at risk

July 2 – Casual Dining Group (owns Bella Italia and Cafe Rouge) – 1,909

July 1 – SSP (owns Upper Crust) – 5,000 at risk

July 1 – Arcadia (owns TopShop) – 500

July 1 – Harrods – 700

July 1 – Virgin Money – 300

June 30 – Airbus – 1,700

June 30 – TM Lewin – 600

June 30 – Smiths Group – ‘some job losses’

June 25 – Royal Mail – 2,000

June 24 – Jet2 – 102

June 24 – Swissport – 4,556

June 24 – Crest Nicholson – 130

June 23 – Shoe Zone – unknown number of jobs in head office

June 19 – Aer Lingus – 500

June 17 – HSBC – unknown number of jobs in UK, 35,000 worldwide 

June 15 – Jaguar Land Rover – 1,100

June 15 – Travis Perkins – 2,500

June 12 – Le Pain Quotidien – 200

June 11 – Heathrow – at least 500

June 11 – Bombardier – 600

June 11 – Johnson Matthey – 2,500

June 11 – Centrica – 5,000

June 10 – Quiz – 93

June 10 – The Restaurant Group (owns Frankie and Benny’s) – 3,000

June 10 – Monsoon Accessorise – 545

June 10 – Everest Windows – 188

June 8 – BP – 10,000 worldwide

June 8 – Mulberry – 375

June 5 – Victoria’s Secret – 800 at risk

June 5 – Bentley – 1,000

June 4 – Aston Martin – 500

June 4 – Lookers – 1,500

May 29 – Belfast International Airport – 45

May 28 – Debenhams (in second announcement) – ‘hundreds’ of jobs

May 28 – EasyJet – 4,500 worldwide

May 26 – McLaren – 1,200

May 22 – Carluccio’s – 1,000

May 21 – Clarks – 900

May 20 – Rolls-Royce – 9,000

May 20 – Bovis Homes – unknown number

May 19 – Ovo Energy – 2,600

May 19 – Antler – 164

May 15 – JCB – 950 at risk

May 13 – Tui – 8,000 worldwide

May 12 – Carnival UK (owns P&O Cruises and Cunard) – 450

May 11 – P&O Ferries – 1,100 worldwide

May 5 – Virgin Atlantic – 3,150

May 1 – Ryanair – 3,000 worldwide

April 30 – Oasis Warehouse – 1,800

April 29 – WPP – unknown number

April 28 – British Airways – 12,000

April 23 – Safran Seats – 400

April 23 – Meggitt – 1,800 worldwide

April 21 – Cath Kidston – 900

April 17 – Debenhams – 422

March 31 – Laura Ashley – 268

March 30 – BrightHouse – 2,400 at risk

March 27 – Chiquito – 1,500 at risk.

 

 

 

 

 

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Coronavirus UK: Entrepreneurs warn future of nation is under threat

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coronavirus uk entrepreneurs warn future of nation is under threat

The horrifying cost of Boris Johnson’s six-month Covid clampdown was dramatically laid bare last night.

Business chiefs and hospitality groups issued a string of dire warnings over the impact of the restrictions, saying millions of jobs were now on the line.

They said the Prime Minister’s U-turn on his ‘get back to work’ message could spell doom for struggling high streets, with footfall plummeting and shops boarded up.

In a passionate intervention, a prominent entrepreneur said the prosperity of the nation was at stake. 

In a passionate intervention to Boris Johnson¿s six-month Covid clampdown, Julian Metcalfe, who founded Pret A Manger and Itsu, says the prosperity of the nation is now at stake

In a passionate intervention to Boris Johnson’s six-month Covid clampdown, Julian Metcalfe, who founded Pret A Manger and Itsu, says the prosperity of the nation is now at stake

Julian Metcalfe, who founded Pret A Manger and Itsu, said: ‘The repercussions of this six months are going to be devastating to so many, to local councils, to industry, to people all over our country.

‘We have not begun to touch the seriousness of this. This talk of six months is criminal.’

Despite ballooning national debt, Rishi Sunak is preparing a multi-billion-pound ‘winter economy plan’ to try to protect jobs.

The Chancellor signalled the true extent of the crisis by cancelling plans for a full-scale Budget in November. Sources said he accepted the country could no longer make long-term financial decisions.

Despite ballooning national debt, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is preparing a multi-billion-pound ¿winter economy plan¿ to try to protect jobs

Despite ballooning national debt, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is preparing a multi-billion-pound ‘winter economy plan’ to try to protect jobs

As the Archbishops of Canterbury and York warned of the economic costs of Covid:

  • Hospitality groups said a quarter of pubs and restaurants could go bust this year;
  • HMRC and Goldman Sachs were among employers abandoning their drives to get people back to the office;
  • Pictures showed high streets boarded up as shops reacted to the clampdown;
  • The travel industry faced fresh despair when Downing Street warned of the risk of booking half-term holidays;
  • Upper Crust and Caffe Ritazza are keeping two thirds of outlets shut;
  • A major study warned countless patients were living with worsening heart disease, diabetes and mental health because of the lockdown;
  • MPs demanded extra help for theatre and music venues;
  • No 10 said a ban on household visits could be extended across large swathes of England;
  • A mobile tracing app is finally being rolled out today – four months late;
  • Matt Hancock’s target for half a million virus tests a day by the end of next month was under threat from equipment shortages;
  • Scientific advisers suggested that students could be told to remain on campus over Christmas.

In a dramatic television address to the nation on Tuesday, Mr Johnson announced he was abruptly dropping his call – made repeatedly since the end of lockdown – for workers to return to the office. He also told pubs and restaurants to shut their doors at 10pm, and doubled fines for not wearing a mask or failing to obey the rule of six.

He indicated the measures were likely to last for six months at least.

Mr Metcalfe led the backlash against the curbs on BBC Radio 4’s World at One, saying he did not know whether Itsu could survive the measures.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak (left) and Prime Minister Boris Johnson leave 10 Downing Street, for a Cabinet meeting to be held at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London, ahead of MPs returning to Westminster after the summer recess on September 1

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak (left) and Prime Minister Boris Johnson leave 10 Downing Street, for a Cabinet meeting to be held at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London, ahead of MPs returning to Westminster after the summer recess on September 1

He added: ‘People who work in hotels, restaurants, takeaways and in coffee shops are devastated. A great many are closing down – we’re losing thousands upon thousands of jobs. 

‘How long can this continue, this vague “work from home”, “don’t go on public transport”? The ramifications of this are just enormous.’

Mr Metcalfe accused the Prime Minister of ‘sitting down with his Union Jack talking utter nonsense’.

He said: ‘To turn to an entire nation and say “stay at home for six months”, and to spout off Churchillian nonsense about we’ll make it through – it’s terribly unhelpful. It should be “we will review the situation each week, each hour”.’

Tory MP Desmond Swayne said the Government had made the wrong call, adding: ‘I am concerned the cure could be worse than the disease.’

Tom Stainer, chief executive of the Campaign for Real Ale, warned the clampdown could see the closure of many pubs. 

‘Pub-goers and publicans alike want to stop the spread of Covid, but this curfew is an arbitrary restriction that unfairly targets the hospitality sector and will have a devastating impact on pubs, jobs and communities,’ he added.

Rob Pitcher of Revolution Bars said: ‘It’s beyond belief that they have brought in the 10pm curfew with no evidence to back it up.’

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Fashion mogul Sir Paul Smith warned the pandemic was proving devastating to his and other industries.

A former head of the civil service will today say Mr Johnson’s government has proved incapable of combating Covid.

Lord O’Donnell, a crossbench peer, will say in a lecture that ministers did not use adequate data and deferred too much to medical science at the expense of behavioural and economic experts. 

He will also allege there has been a lack of strong leadership and clear strategy. 

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The childhood diary of her friend revealed the Queen we’ve never known, writes RICHARD KAY

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the childhood diary of her friend revealed the queen weve never known writes richard kay

For eight decades she has been as intriguing as she has reassuring, from the schoolgirl Princess broadcasting out of Windsor in wartime Britain to steadfast monarch.

But what do we really know of the Queen and what makes her tick?

There is the public side, the unerring sense of duty and obligation, of course; and then there are the glimpses of the private Elizabeth, the countrywoman devoted to her horses and her dogs. Yet all we truly understand is what she chooses to let us see.

Then, occasionally, something unexpected about her emerges. Such a moment was reached with the serialisation in the Daily Mail this week of The Windsor Diaries, a compelling and revealing insight into the teenage life of the then Princess Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret.

The diaries — written by the sisters’ closest childhood friend Alathea Fitzalan Howard — provide a fascinating profile of the young woman destined to wear the crown, and the values which she formed and still follows.

For eight decades the Queen has been as intriguing as she has reassuring, from the schoolgirl Princess broadcasting out of Windsor in wartime Britain to steadfast monarch

For eight decades the Queen has been as intriguing as she has reassuring, from the schoolgirl Princess broadcasting out of Windsor in wartime Britain to steadfast monarch

These are not just standards of behaviour, but principles of integrity and decency which have governed her life. And underpinning it all, is the importance of family.

How perceptive a witness then was the young Alathea, a kinswoman of the Duke of Norfolk, who was three years older than the girl she knew as Lilibet.

After one ‘blissful’ summer’s day in 1942 spent with the two Princesses and their parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother), she writes enviously of ‘four people who mean everything to each other, whose lives form one spiritual whole, independently of the aid of all outsiders, or even relations’.

In another entry, she notes almost forlornly of the royal sisters, ‘they are happier alone with their parents than with anyone else on earth’.

This was the template for Elizabeth’s life as both a Sovereign and a mother.

The Windsor Diaries is a compelling and revealing insight into the teenage life of the then Princess Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret written by the sisters’ closest childhood friend Alathea Fitzalan Howard

The Windsor Diaries is a compelling and revealing insight into the teenage life of the then Princess Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret written by the sisters’ closest childhood friend Alathea Fitzalan Howard

For someone whose own life experiences were, in many ways, as narrow as the Princesses, Alathea’s judgments about the future Queen’s character are remarkable.

She is, she declares of the young Elizabeth, the ‘most ungossipy person I know’, adding: ‘Placid and unemotional, she never desires what doesn’t come her way; always happy in her own family, she never needs the companionship of outsiders; she never suffers, therefore she never strongly desires. If only she could be drawn out of her shell, she who has so much at her feet, who can be so gay and amusing.’

Later she writes that Lilibet ‘doesn’t seem to need friends and is careless with the ones she has, though quite unconsciously’.

This is Alathea almost uncannily describing the scrupulousness Elizabeth has employed as monarch. Surely this has been as much about self-protection, while also respecting that tradition of not allowing too much daylight on royal magic — something that subsequent generations senselessly ignored.

Yet, despairing of the terms of their friendship, Alathea complains to her diary: ‘I love her and miss her when I don’t see her — but she doesn’t miss me. Why should she? She has PM (Princess Margaret) — she doesn’t need me.’

At times Elizabeth had her sister’s very happiness in her hands, from the fallout over Margaret’s love for the divorced Group Captain Peter Townsend, to her divorce from the serially unfaithful Earl of Snowdon. But the affection and loyalty between the two never faltered.

More than once Alathea wonders about the competing qualities of the two sisters: ‘Margaret is far and away more the type I would like for the future Queen, she has the frivolity and irresponsibility that Lilibet lacks, though one couldn’t call either of them dull.’

She is at her most observant with those astute asides about Elizabeth’s reserve, shyness almost, which is still so recognisable today. Here, she is describing a function at Windsor Castle, where 14-year old Elizabeth had to receive a company of RAF officers, shaking hands with them all.

‘Lilibet finds making conversation very difficult, like me, but she did very well as she had to stand by herself for over an hour talking to each one in turn. She insisted on bringing the dogs in because she said they were the greatest save to the conversation when it dropped.’

That childhood reticence never departed. As royal portrait painter Michael Noakes told me at the time of the Queen’s 90th birthday: ‘Sometimes she has to gather herself together before she can face going into a room where she knows everyone will be looking at her. When Prince Philip has seen that happening, he has taken over and made sure everything is OK. He likes to say he can make people laugh within 15 seconds.’

For someone who has had to spend so much time on public display, she did, for many years, develop a way of hiding her true feelings and suppressing her emotions. In simple terms, this was often a way of avoiding an issue.

This is exactly what she did with the domestic crises of the 1990s involving Diana and Fergie — to Philip’s frustration, who was often urging her to come off the fence and do something.

There is the public side, the unerring sense of duty and obligation, of course; and then there are the glimpses of the private Elizabeth (pictured with her father King George VI, mother Queen Elizabeth, and sister Princess Margaret), the countrywoman devoted to her horses and her dogs

There is the public side, the unerring sense of duty and obligation, of course; and then there are the glimpses of the private Elizabeth (pictured with her father King George VI, mother Queen Elizabeth, and sister Princess Margaret), the countrywoman devoted to her horses and her dogs

Now, for the first time, we know that this trait was visible all those years ago. After a night at Windsor Castle, Alathea writes: ‘Lilibet is funny in some ways — v. matter of fact and uncurious and above all untemperamental. But one can’t have everything.’ Later she observes: ‘Lilibet is unusually set in her ideas for 15; none of her friends could ever influence her. For one thing she never lets herself come to know them enough.

‘If she were not so placid and unimpressionable, no doubt I would have at least interested her with my thoughts, so vastly different from her own.’

The diaries also reveal other qualities that have shaped the Queen’s life, notably thrift: ‘They [the Princesses] make a point now of having hardly any [new] clothes, which I think is ridiculous.’

Crawfie, the royal nanny Marion Crawford, regrets that Elizabeth has ‘no taste’, Alathea writes. Another friend says it is a shame that the Princess is not encouraged ‘to read more cultured books’, complaining that Royal Family conversation revolves ‘round the dogs and the latest radio joke’.

   

More from Richard Kay for the Daily Mail…

On the childhood crush the young Elizabeth had for Philip, one delightful entry describes her dancing round the room with a photo the young naval officer sent her for Christmas 1944.

But what emerges is that Lilibet was not the one-man woman she is so often painted as. At least two other men caught her eye: Guards officer Hugh Euston — later the Duke of Grafton — and (at least according to Alathea’s mother) the Marquess of Milford Haven, who was to be Philip’s best man.

After a castle dance with young commissioned officers, including Euston, the two friends vied for the attention of the handsome soldier. ‘PE [Princess Elizabeth] asked me how many times I danced with him and said she was rather hurt because he only had

the first one with her because he was asked to and then not again,’ Alathea wrote. The following day Lilibet discloses that she’d ‘stolen’ a letter of thanks the officer had written ‘and was going to keep it!’.

Only once did these two credulous young women talk frankly about affairs of the heart. In an entry from June 1942, Alathea writes: ‘She wondered if she’d ever marry, and I assured her she would, and she said if she really wanted to marry someone she’d run away, but I know she wouldn’t really — her sense of duty is too strong, though she’s suited to a simpler life.’

Alathea regrets that Elizabeth does not have her sister’s charm, ‘chattering and telling the latest jokes’, but writes of the thoughtful Princess: ‘I fell to wondering what fate awaited this girl, who was in character and tastes so much simpler than I. Will she stand out in history as another great Elizabeth, or will she merely be a commonplace puppet in a rapidly degenerating monarchy? She seems to have no desire to win fame for herself.’

How observant — and how lucky we got the right sister as Queen.

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Prue Leith advises young women not to leave it too long to have children 

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prue leith advises young women not to leave it too long to have children

Never one to mince her words as a judge on The Great British Bake Off, now Prue Leith has some advice for Britain’s young women: get a bun in the oven as soon as possible.

‘What I would be saying is: “Yes, independence is important, but don’t leave it too late,” ’ she advises the younger generation.

Prue, 80, had a son, Danny Kruger (now a Tory MP), with her first husband, the late author Rayne Kruger. They also adopted a daughter from Cambodia, Li-Da Kruger.

The cook has been moved to make her comments because Li-Da was unable to have children herself.

Prue Leith (pictured), 80, had a son, Danny Kruger (now a Tory MP), with her first husband, the late author Rayne Kruger. They also adopted a daughter from Cambodia, Li-Da Kruger

Prue Leith (pictured), 80, had a son, Danny Kruger (now a Tory MP), with her first husband, the late author Rayne Kruger. They also adopted a daughter from Cambodia, Li-Da Kruger

‘So many young women I know have been so focused on their career and so confident that you don’t have to have your babies early,’ says Prue (pictured). 

‘Then they are heading for 25, and then what happened to Li-Da is that she got breast cancer the moment she wanted to get pregnant. 

‘It takes five years for those drugs to get out of your system. And in that five years, you can’t have babies because the body rejects them.

‘There is no such thing as having it all. You can have 90 per cent of it, but something has to give.

‘You do live with a bit of guilt if you work a lot. You definitely lose a lot of independence and you lose a lot of sleep. 

‘There is a lot wrong with it, but if you want children, it is easier to do it in your 30s than it is in your 40s. And probably easier in your 20s.’

Prue has also admitted that she initially disliked her son Daniel’s wife, Emma, a former teacher. 

‘Daniel has only had two serious long-term affairs,’ she says. ‘The first was with a woman who was perfect for him. 

‘When he met Emma I did not think she was perfect for him. I was convinced Emma was too scatter-brained. I was her enemy, really. But it is a lesson that you can be so wrong. It sounds ridiculous now, as I so adore her.’

Hit ITV crime drama Des, starring David Tennant as Dennis Nilsen, brought back unwelcome memories for writer Toby Young. 

He claims the serial killer tried to lure him back to his flat when they met at West London pub The Boltons when Toby was a teenager. 

‘One of my friends introduced me to someone he described as the “civil servant”, a slightly awkward, bespectacled man with dark hair who invited me back to his flat,’ Young recalls. 

Luckily, he didn’t go. ‘When I read later that one of his hunting grounds was The Boltons, I thought: “Oh, my God, that was the guy!” ’

Model Nat mucks in then tucks in

Just hours after marrying French billionaire’s son Antoine Arnault in Paris, Natalia Vodianova came back down to earth.

The top model joined her friend Camilla Fayed (near left with Nat) in getting her hands dirty on a Kent farm. 

They visited the farm (which supplies Farmacy, Camilla’s vegan restaurant in London’s Notting Hill) for the launch of a community app, Locals. 

Mother-of-five Natalia, who worked on a fruit stand as a child to help make ends meet, said: ‘We learned so much and had a beautiful morning that culminated in a delicious lunch.’

Natalia Vodianova joined her friend Camilla Fayed (left with Nat) in getting her hands dirty on a Kent farm

Natalia Vodianova joined her friend Camilla Fayed (left with Nat) in getting her hands dirty on a Kent farm

One-time scourge of the Establishment, Elvis Costello says he accepted his OBE only to settle a score at Buckingham Palace. 

‘Playing there in the late 1950s with Joe Loss, my dad (jazz singer Ross McManus) used to go in through the service entrance. I went in the front door.’ 

After Costello, now 66, received his gong, the band struck up the number from musical Oliver! that goes: ‘Consider yourself at home/Consider yourself one of the family.’ The rocker muses: ‘Somebody there has a sense of humour.’

A kind word let grieving Harry know he was loved 

Prince Harry suffered loneliness and isolation at school after the death of Princess Diana, one of her friends has revealed.

Publicist Gerry Agar Fennell tells me: ‘Diana and I struck up a valuable relationship through Harry and my son Tom being at the same school.

‘After Diana died, I’d see Harry kicking a football against the wall on his own, looking miserable. But we were all told we couldn’t go up to him and say, “So sorry, how are you?” which I think is the most natural thing to do. They sent a letter to the parents about it: “Don’t mention Diana.” ’

Harry was a boarder at Ludgrove, the Berkshire prep school, at the time of his mother’s death. ‘I was aghast,’ Gerry says. 

‘This boy should have been in therapy, but he was back at school just a few days after she died. He was so young, and very different to William. It was so isolating for him.

‘My aunt came to see a school play with me, and I said we’d been told to leave him alone. She said: “What nonsense!” She saw him in the hall and grabbed him — he already knew her as it was such a small school — and she said: “I am sorry for your mother, we all adored her.”

‘He smiled and was grateful for the touch.’

With 10pm closing time starting tonight, Claudia Winkleman was determined to have a good night out first.

The Strictly Come Dancing host headed to Annabel’s nightclub in Mayfair with her film producer husband Kris Thykier. ‘The atmosphere’s been crazy this week,’ a regular at the private members’ club tells me. ‘From Thursday it’s going to be pipe-and-slippers time, so everyone’s been making the most of it.’

Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie were also at the club, which will remain open despite members being sent home at 10pm as part of the new coronavirus restrictions.

‘Everything’s going to change,’ a source says. ‘Six o’clock for dinner will be the new 8 o’clock. We’d better get used to it.’

Claudia Winkleman headed to Annabel¿s nightclub in Mayfair with her film producer husband Kris Thykier

Claudia Winkleman headed to Annabel’s nightclub in Mayfair with her film producer husband Kris Thykier

Nanny state saves sam cam’s bacon 

Samantha Cameron’s tip for surviving lockdown? Employ a supernanny.

‘I was extremely lucky as our nanny locked down with us,’ says the wife of former Prime Minister David Cameron. ‘She was nervous of going back to her father in Glasgow and bringing Covid with her.’

Sam Cam, who set up the women’s clothes label Cefinn after her husband left Downing Street, makes the comments in Storcx, an online magazine set up by her sister-in-law Lohralee Astor.

About her nanny, Samantha adds: ‘She was amazing at home-schooling my youngest daughter, Florence. I was so busy coping with the business I don’t think I could have done both without her help; I might well have had to give the business up.’

Vanessa Redgrave has travelled to far-flung corners of the globe, but never to Stonehenge.

So historian Dame Mary Beard took the 83-year-old Oscar-winner to the prehistoric monument in Wiltshire and filmed the experience for her BBC2 series Inside Culture, which starts tonight.

‘She came to Stonehenge and performed a speech from Shakespeare’s Antony And Cleopatra in the middle of the Stone Circle,’ the Cambridge classics professor tells me. ‘It was absolutely epic. She captivated us in this extraordinary location.’

Zeinab’s star rises by royal appointment 

Just as Prince Harry and Meghan are looking to hire a big-hitter PR chief for their new charitable foundation, Prince William and Kate have made a superstar appointment of their own: BBC newsreader Zeinab Badawi.

I can reveal that William was so impressed with her work as chair of the Royal African Society, of which he’s patron, that she’s been appointed as a director of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s own charity, the Royal Foundation. 

Prince William and Kate have made a superstar appointment of their own: BBC newsreader Zeinab Badawi (pictured)

Prince William and Kate have made a superstar appointment of their own: BBC newsreader Zeinab Badawi (pictured)

He invited Badawi, 60, to Kensington Palace on Tuesday to discuss her new role. She will replace Simon Case, who left his role as William’s private secretary to be Boris Johnson’s Cabinet Secretary and head of the Civil Service.

Spare a thought for lingerie tycoon Michelle Mone who has had to cancel her wedding for the third time following the new Covid restrictions.

Baroness Mone of Mayfair, who was due to wed Doug Barrowman, says: ‘It’s frustrating that you can walk into a restaurant and have dinner surrounded by a room full of people, but you can’t have more than 15 attendees at a wedding.’ 

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