The Telegraph 2024-02-28 04:30:25

Britain rejects Macron’s plan to send Nato troops to Ukraine

Britain has rejected a French plan to send Nato troops into Ukraine, warning that it would be a “major escalation” in the war.

Emmanuel Macron had suggested that several EU and Nato countries were considering deploying soldiers to the battlefield.

The French president, speaking after a meeting of EU leaders in Paris intended to galvanise support for Ukraine, said boots on the ground should “not be ruled out” as he urged the West to do “everything needed so Russia cannot win the war”.

In parliament on Tuesday, Stéphane Séjourné, France’s foreign minister, stressed that troops could be sent to Ukraine on training missions or to build weapons without breaching a “belligerence threshold”.

However, the Kremlin warned that any deployment would “inevitably” lead to all-out war between Russia and Nato.

And on Tuesday, Britain, Germany and several other EU nations rebuffed Mr Macron’s proposal. The US also said it would not be sending troops into Ukraine.

Mr Macron’s proposal broke one of the last remaining taboos in the Nato alliance, which has sought to avoid direct conflict with Moscow for fear of escalation.

With a $60 billion US aid package stalled in Congress, the French president was seeking to cast himself as the most aggressive leader in the Nato alliance, analysts said.

The UK has previously positioned itself as Ukraine’s most vocal backer, often leading the way on donations, such as tanks and long-range missiles, to pressure Western allies to follow suit.

Responding to Mr Macron’s proposal on Tuesday, Downing Street said there were no plans for a deployment of British personnel.

“Beyond the small number of personnel in-country supporting the armed forces, we do not have any plans to make large-scale deployments,” Rishi Sunak’s spokesman said. A small number of troops currently support Kyiv’s military, including in medical training.

British defence sources told The Telegraph a Nato deployment would mark a “major escalation” with Russia.

Tobias Ellwood, the former chairman of the Commons defence committee, said: “The idea that you put boots on the ground, which is so totemic and so symbolic, but is completely unnecessary rattling of Putin when there are other ways to test his long-term commitment to seeing this through.”

Mr Macron’s comments come as the British military is under increasing pressure. The Ministry of Defence will not get extra funding in the Budget next week, The Telegraph has learned, despite military figures warning about the poor state of the Armed Forces.

Mr Macron’s comments were met with a particularly sharp rebuke from Berlin. Olaf Scholz, the German Chancellor, said Western governments had agreed “that there would be no ground troops on Ukrainian soil, no soldiers sent there from European states or Nato states”, in a sharp rebuttal of the French president.

Italy, Poland, the Czech Republic and the head of Nato also rejected the idea.

Robert Haebeck, Germany’s deputy chancellor, later said France should focus on stepping up weapons deliveries, where it lags behind Berlin.

“I’m pleased that France is thinking about how to increase its support for Ukraine, but if I could give it a word of advice – supply more weapons,” he said.

Lithuania emerged as a lone voice in support of France, confirming it was in discussions to send troops to train Ukrainian personnel.

Gabrielius Landsbergis, the country’s foreign minister, said: “Times like these require political leadership, ambition and courage to think out of the box. The initiative behind the Paris meeting yesterday is well worth considering.”

It came as Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, the head of Britain’s armed forces, warned Moscow that it would face an “overwhelming response” from Nato if it attacked the alliance.

Nato’s air forces, which outnumber Russia’s three to one, “would quickly establish air superiority”, he said.

The alliance’s navies, which have four times as many ships as Moscow, “would bottle up the Russian Navy in the Barents and the Baltic,” he added.

“Britain is safe,” Sir Tony stressed, confirming that there were no current plans to construct a citizen’s army.

On Tuesday, Paris did not back down on its call to send troops to Ukraine despite the international resistance.

Mr Séjourné said: “We must consider new actions to support Ukraine. These must meet very specific needs, and I’m thinking in particular of mine clearance, cyber, and the production of weapons on the spot, on Ukrainian territory.”

“Some of these actions may require a presence on Ukrainian territory, without crossing the threshold of belligerence. Nothing can be ruled out.“

Officials said the French president’s comments were intended to cement Paris’s commitment to defending Ukraine and start a debate over what is needed from Kyiv’s backers to prevent a Russian victory.

An Elysée Palace source said: “The aim is to send a strong strategic message to the Russians to say: ‘Don’t do anything stupid.’”

But Berlin’s sharp rebuke underscored a growing divide between the EU’s most powerful capitals in the race to arm Ukraine.

Germany, Europe’s largest provider of military support to Ukraine, has been long-critical of France’s refusal to match its deliveries, despite the two countries’ comparable defence budgets.

The French argue that they have taken more risks by delivering deadlier weapons, such as Scalp-EG cruise missiles, because its military does not maintain huge stockpiles of ageing kit.

On Tuesday, Mr Macron established a “coalition” to provide long-range missiles and bombs to Ukraine, in a thinly veiled swipe at Mr Scholz, who is still refusing to donate Germany’s Taurus missiles.

On Monday, the German leader said his country would find itself a “participant in the war” if it sent the Taurus.

“German soldiers must at no point and in no place be linked to targets this system reaches,” he said.

German diplomats have previously suggested that France and Britain have troops pre-programming Storm Shadow missiles on behalf of Ukrainian forces.

In a further barb, Mr Macron mocked Germany’s donation of 5,000 helmets instead of weapons to Kyiv as the war broke out, in an attempt to convince Western governments to go further.

“I remind you that two years ago, many around this table said: ‘We will offer sleeping bags and helmets’,” he said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in Albania late onTuesday ahead of a security conference, his first visit to the Balkan nation since Russia’s invasion.

In a post on social media, Albania’s Foreign Minister Igli Hasani called the Ukrainian leader’s arrival in Tirana “a pivotal moment for fostering bilateral ties, and standing in solidarity with Ukraine in its heroic fight against Russia’s aggression”.

Macron has lobbed a grenade into the status quo

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Lady Gabriella Windsor’s husband found dead aged 45

Thomas Kingston, the husband of Lady Gabriella Windsor, has died aged 45, Buckingham Palace has announced.

Lady Gabriella, the daughter of Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, paid tribute to the financier, who she wed in 2019, saying he was “an exceptional man who lit up the lives of all who knew him”. She said his death had come as a “great shock to the whole family”.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: “The King and The Queen have been informed of Thomas’s death and join Prince and Princess Michael of Kent and all those who knew him in grieving a much-loved member of the family. In particular, Their Majesties send their most heartfelt thoughts and prayers to Gabriella and to all the Kingston family.”

Mr Kingston, a committed Christian who once worked as a hostage negotiator in Baghdad, was found dead at an address in Gloucestershire on Sunday evening. Emergency services were called to the scene shortly after 6pm. 

A police spokesman said: “The death is not being treated as suspicious and a file will be prepared for the coroner.”

Prince and Michael of Kent and Princess Michael both attended a memorial service on Tuesday for King Constantine of Greece. 

The service was held at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, where Lady Gabriella and Mr Kingston married in May 2019 before an array of senior royals including Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.

 The bride was pictured bending down to clasp the late Queen’s hand as they exchanged a few words ahead of the wedding breakfast at Frogmore House. 

The Prince of Wales’s absence from Tuesday’s memorial service was not connected to Mr Kingston’s death, The Telegraph understands.

A statement issued on behalf of Lady Gabriella, Mr Kingston’s parents Martin and Jill Kingston, and his sisters, Joanna Connolly and Emma Murray, at 6pm Tuesday said: “It is with the deepest sorrow that we announce the death of Thomas Kingston, our beloved husband, son and brother. Tom was an exceptional man who lit up the lives of all who knew him. His death has come as a great shock to the whole family and we ask you to respect our privacy as we mourn his passing.”

Lady Gabriella, known as Ella, and her elder brother, Lord Frederick Windsor, grew up in an apartment in Kensington Palace. Currently 56th in line to the throne, Lady Gabriella studied comparative literature and Hispanic studies at Brown University in Rhode Island, in the United States before returning to the UK to continue her education at Oxford University, earning a master’s in social anthropology in 2012.

A talented singer, she released two songs in 2020 to raise money for the Playing for Change Foundation, a charity that promotes positive change through music. Mr Kingston, who was born on June 22, 1978, came from more humble beginnings. His father, Martin, was educated at a secondary modern before enjoying a hugely successful career as a KC, specialising in planning law. The barrister, who lives in Kemble, Glos, announced his retirement from No5 Chambers in January 2020. 

Mr Kingston Snr was elected to the General Synod in 2016. His wife, Jill, is also heavily involved in the church, and is a trustee of the Harnhill Centre of Christian Healing. Mrs Kingston also runs the Nadezhda Charitable Trust, which supports “a wide range of projects but with a particular emphasis on Zimbabwe”. She has written of being very involved in Russia and Ukraine, making church links and working with Christian drug rehabilitation centres, as well as running conferences for women in Ethiopia.

Lady Gabriella’s engagement to Mr Kingston was announced by the palace in September 2018. The couple maintained a relatively low profile, although they were no strangers to the society pages of glossy magazines.

The couple were last pictured together on Feb 14, when they joined the Queen at Grosvenor House for an event celebrating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s first folio.

Mr Kingston, known as Tom, read economic history at Bristol University before his work as a hostage negotiator in Baghdad, where he is said to have cheated death in a suicide bombing that killed 22 people in 2004. 

The Rev Canon Andrew White, who was based in Baghdad at the same time, described him as “an exceptional young man”. He told the Daily Mail in 2019: “Tom is one of the most remarkable people I have ever worked with and I would have him back at my side tomorrow, if he would come.”

Mr Kingston was seconded as a project manager for the International Centre for Reconciliation, based at Coventry Cathedral, to mediate in disputes between political, religious and tribal leaders and negotiate hostage releases. Like his parents, he had a strong faith and helped Canon White maintain the church in Baghdad.

“Tom has a fierce determination to make things succeed and great insight into what makes humans tick, both good and bad,” Canon White said. “He uses those to see beyond the impossible and get through to the other side. 

“We built up a huge following, hundreds of whom I baptised as children and who have relocated to Jordan. Tom helped me.”

In a twist of fate, Canon White said that while Mr Kingston was in Baghdad, before he met Lady Gabriella, they helped Prince Michael of Kent locate a relative’s grave on the Mount of Olives and ensured it was properly tended. 

Close to Middletons

After three years in Iraq, Mr Kingston returned to the UK to work for Schroders, the global asset management firm, as an equity analyst before becoming managing director of Voltan Capital Management and later, a director of Devonport Capital, specialising in frontier market investment.

He is said to have dated Pippa Middleton in 2011 and appears to have remained close to the family. Both he and Lady Gabriella attended Ms Middleton’s wedding to James Matthews in 2017 and Pippa, Carole and Michael Middleton attended his own wedding in Windsor two years later. Mr Kingston proposed on the Channel Island of Sark, where his parents have a holiday home.

On their wedding day, Lady Gabriella, a first cousin once removed to the late Queen, wore a pale-pink-hued dress by Italian couturier Luisa Beccaria. She told Hello! magazine that she had feared her tiara would fall off in front of their guests. 

She said: “Suddenly I could feel my tiara start to pull back and in those few unnerving moments I thought it would come crashing down with an almighty clunk … Fortunately my hairdresser had pinned the tiara in place and it stood firm.”

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JK Rowling says ‘I’m sick of this s—’ after transgender cat killer is called a woman

JK Rowling has criticised a transgender cat killer who murdered a stranger being described as a woman as it emerged judges have been told to refer to defendants by the pronouns they want.

Scarlet Blake, a 26-year-old who was born male but identifies as female, was sentenced to life in prison with a 24-year minimum term at Oxford Crown Court on Monday for murdering a stranger.

Blake was referred to as a woman throughout the trial and in some media reports. 

Rowling, who has been vocal about her gender-critical beliefs and views on transgender issues, spoke out after Sky News described Blake as a woman.

Sharing a video on Twitter, the Harry Potter author wrote: “I’m sick of this s—. This is not a woman. These are #NotOurCrimes.”

It comes as it emerged that guidance for judges tells them to “respect” the gender identity of those who appear in the courts.

The guidance, which features in the Equal Treatment Bench Book produced by the Judicial College, says: “It should be possible to respect a person’s gender identity and their present name for nearly all court and tribunal purposes, regardless of whether they have obtained legal recognition of their gender by way of a Gender Recognition Certificate.”

It also tells judges that a person’s gender status should not be disclosed unless it is necessary and relevant to the legal proceedings.

The Judicial College is facing a backlash over the “dangerous” guidelines and lawyers and MPs have called for them to be reviewed. 

Campaigners have warned that the advice could lead to public perceptions and the statistics on women’s crime being skewed.

‘Ideological and dangerous’

Naomi Cunningham KC, a barrister in discrimination law at Outer Temple Chambers, told The Telegraph: “This advice on personal pronouns and identity in the Benchbook is ideological, dangerous and anti-women. 

“The Judicial College should review it or risk members of the public losing confidence in our judicial system.”

She added: “The Equal Treatment Benchbook asserts that it is ‘a matter of common courtesy’ to use the personal pronoun and name preferred by people with a trans identity, and implies that this should only rarely give way to the rights of witnesses to tell the truth.

“No legal authority is given for this claim which, if you made it in court, you’d expect any competent judge to poke hard with pointed questions. 

“But because it features in official guidance for judges, the risk is it slips past their natural scepticism, and becomes something those in court ‘just know’.”

Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg, the former business secretary, also called for court guidance to be rewritten.

He said: “I don’t mind guidance during a trial saying this before they are proved guilty. 

“But when guilt has been established, you don’t owe them that level of courtesy.

“I agree with JK Rowling that this person is a man.”

Richard Garside, director of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, said: “If what we are saying is in order to maintain the dignity of the courtroom by using pronouns that make people feel more comfortable, that’s justifiable.

“But this gets complicated when it is suggested that witnesses and victims also use these pronouns. 

“There have been notorious cases of rape victims being forced to refer to rapists as ‘she’. 

“What they are doing is compelling people to ascribe to a belief system they may not agree with.”

Lawyers and campaigners have also said Blake’s crime must not be recorded as committed by a woman.

The Ministry of Justice relies on data from the police as to whether to record the crime in official statistics as male or female. 

Gender box left blank

Neither the MoJ nor Thames Valley Police could confirm on Tuesday night how it has been recorded. 

In the Law Pages, a record of court listings, the conviction was noted with the gender box left blank.

Rowling said that “crime statistics are rendered useless if violent and sexual attacks committed by men are recorded as female crimes”.

Throughout the trial, the killer was referred to as “she” by Judge Chamberlain, who told jurors to consider the defendant’s “stature”, but insisted that “the fact she is trans on its own has no particular relevance to this case”.

Blake had live-streamed a video in which a cat was strangled, skinned and dissected before its body was put in a blender.

After the dissection, Blake tells the camera in a monosyllabic tone: “One day I want to learn how to do this to a person.”

Months later, Blake hit Jorge Martin Carreno over the back of the head with a vodka bottle in July 2021 and choked him before pushing him into the River Cherwell, where he drowned. Blake will be sent to a men’s prison for the murder.

But Jane Fae, a transgender activist, told BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine Show that prisons should be divided “by seriousness of crime so all the murderers, male and female, go to a particular prison”, rather than by gender.

Dr Jane Hamlin, president emeritus of the Beaumont Society which is Britain’s longest-standing transgender support group, said: “I don’t suppose anyone would want to be associated with the horrific crimes committed by Scarlet Blake, which are deplored by everyone whoever they are – particularly in the trans community.

“We are all shocked by the news, but her gender is irrelevant to the situation. It is unfortunate – but not surprising – that some in the media use Blake’s crimes as a means of justifying their prejudice against trans people in general.”

A spokesman for the judiciary said: “The Equal Treatment Bench Book is created by judges for judges, providing important information, context and advice to support them. 

“It is regularly updated and amended as necessary to reflect changing circumstances and to incorporate the most up-to-date societal knowledge.”

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Britain’s wonkiest pub must be rebuilt ‘brick by brick’

The owners of Britain’s wonkiest pub have been ordered to rebuild Crooked House after it was unlawfully demolished.

South Staffordshire Council served an enforcement notice to the owners of the pub after a fire and subsequent demolition of the building in August last year.

Despite engaging with the owners since the demolition, the council said formal action was deemed necessary.

The notice requires Crooked House to be restored to its original state within three years. Its owners have 30 days to appeal.

The building was demolished, with just the foundations and segments of a wall remaining intact, following a fire at the 18th-century pub in Himley, near Dudley in the West Midlands.

Police previously said the fire was being treated as suspected arson, with five men and one woman arrested in connection with the incident.

A request for listed status for the Crooked House was submitted a week before it burnt down and Andy Street, the West Midlands mayor, called it to be rebuilt “brick by brick” after the destruction.

Historic England previously said it was keen to “consider all possible avenues”, with the local council hoping to see the pub reconstructed.

Marco Longhi, the MP for Dudley North, said: “The demolition of the Crooked House shook our community here in Dudley and across the Black Country, so it’s fantastic news that an enforcement notice has been served on the owners for demolition without consent.

“The Crooked House owners are now required to rebuild the site back to its former glory and I will not rest until the Crooked House is built back brick by brick.”

The enforcement notice was served on Adam and Carly Taylor and the company secretary of Warwickshire-based ATE Farms Ltd, which bought the inn from pub operator Marston’s. 

Issued by South Staffordshire District Council, the notice said the demolition of the building constituted a breach of planning controls.

The notice reads: “The unauthorised demolition of the building resulted in the loss of a community facility of local historic significance and interest.

“At the time of demolition, Historic England was in receipt of an application to list the Crooked House. However, due to its demolition, Historic England did not have the opportunity to assess it and determine if it was suitable for listing.”

The order also specifies the pub should be rebuilt “so as to recreate it as similar as possible to the demolished building” before it was razed by a digger on August 5 last year.

The fire came two weeks after the brewer Marston’s sold the pub to ATE Farms.

Mr Taylor is a former director and current shareholder of Himley Environmental, a waste management company.

He also owns another pub called the Sarah Mansfield Country Inn, in Warwickshire. Mr Taylor was issued with a “stop notice” by the council after he started gutting the property which he bought in 2020. The establishment has remained closed since.

Roger Lees, the council leader, said: “A huge amount of time and resources have been put into investigating the unauthorised demolition of the Crooked House.

“We have had great support from the local community, our MPs and the Mayor of the West Midlands, and from the campaign group whose aim is to see the Crooked House back to its former glory, which is the key objective of the enforcement notice.

“We have not taken this action lightly but we believe that it is right to bring the owners, who demolished the building without consent, to account and we are committed to do what we can to get the Crooked House rebuilt.”

A Staffordshire Police investigation into the circumstances around the blaze continues, and anyone with information is being urged to contact the force.

Mr Street welcomed the order for the 18th-century pub to be restored in a tweet.

In a message posted on the Save The Crooked House (Let’s Get It Re-Built) Facebook page, Mr Street thanked the group’s 35,000 members for their “tireless” campaign.

He wrote: “Hi everyone, today is obviously a monumental day in the campaign to get the Crooked House rebuilt.

“South Staffordshire District Council deserve enormous credit for holding their nerve and pursuing this enforcement action.

“However it would never have happened if it wasn’t for the tireless work of each and everyone one of you in this group. What you have done to keep the Crooked House at the forefront of people’s minds has been exceptional, and as Mayor I want to personally thank you all.

“I said at the time of the tragedy that the owners had messed with the wrong community, and you haven’t half proved that right. Thank you.”

Sir Gavin Williamson, whose South Staffordshire constituency includes the pub, said: “I strongly welcome South Staffordshire Council’s decision to serve an enforcement notice on the owners of the Crooked House. This is an important step towards restoring an iconic piece of Black Country heritage and holding those responsible for its unlawful destruction to account. I know how much today’s decision means to the local community and I applaud the efforts of those who have fought long and hard to ensure justice is served.”

The last landlord of the pub has also welcomed the decision for it to be rebuilt.

Lee Goodchild, 46, ran the establishment from September 2022 until it shut down in June 2023.

Mr Goodchild said: “I think it’s excellent news. Whether it will ever open as a trading pub remains to be seen, but at least people are going to get to see the Crooked House rise again.”

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Prince Andrew takes centre stage as King and Prince William miss memorial service

With 23 members of the extended British Royal family and 37 European, it was the largest gathering of royalty on British shores since the Coronation.

But the memorial service for King Constantine of Greece, held at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, in recognition of his close relationship with the British royals, was missing both King and Prince – and saw Prince Andrew take a central position.

King Charles III, always expected to be absent as he undergoes treatment for cancer, was represented by the Queen, who led the congregation alongside Constantine’s widow, Queen Anne-Marie.

The Prince of Wales pulled out at the last minute citing personal reasons. As the late king’s godson, he had been expected to give a reading, and was named as such in the printed order of service.

His missing status did not relate to any change in the condition of the Princess of Wales,who was “doing well”, it was said. Aides were quick to point out that there was no reason to panic, but would not elaborate on the “personal matter” in hand.

However, it did serve to highlight the remaining members of the Royal family and gave the unfortunate impression of the officially not-working Duke of York leading the family.

Photographs of the senior members of the family walking to the Windsor chapel showed the Duke in front, smiling confidently as he stepped out next to his ex-wife Sarah, Duchess of York, and their daughter Princess Beatrice. Zara and Mike Tindall arrived at the chapel by coach.

In the chapel, Prince Andrew was literally front and centre: placed in a seat in the front row with the Queen and Princess Royal to his left, and Princess Alexandra to his right.

Sources insisted that the order of precedence was in reverse – that the most junior members of the family walked first, with the Prince of Wales supposed to walk behind and the Queen taking the most senior position last. Prince Andrew was there in a private capacity, in what is classed as a family occasion.

But the images did not go unnoticed among royal watchers, who commented on the seeming fragility of an ageing Royal family in which the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, Princess Alexandra in a wheelchair, and the Duke of Kent represented the British side with their customary dedication to duty.

They were joined by a grieving Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, who were later revealed to be processing the news of the sudden death of their son-in-law Thomas Kingston, who was married to their daughter Lady Gabriella Windsor, at the age of 45 on Sunday.

The Prince of Wales’s absence was not related to Mr Kingston, it was confirmed.

The Prince is expected to attend two planned engagements later this week, including a visit to a synagogue, where he will discuss the rise of anti-Semitism with young campaigners.

Due to give a reading at the service at St George’s Chapel, he called the Greek royal family on Tuesday morning to inform them he would no longer be attending.

The decision was so late that a eulogy from Lord Soames, published in its entirety online by the Greek royal family, showed that he had planned to mention how “touched and proud” King Constantine would have been that his godson, Prince William, was giving the second reading.

The bible reading, Revelation 21. 1–7, that Prince William was due to give was instead given by the late king’s elder son, Crown Prince Pavlos.

King Charles, a great friend and second cousin of King Constantine, had been staying at Windsor Castle but left by helicopter before the service began. He was not expected to meet any members of the Greek royal family privately as he continues his cancer treatment.

Dozens of foreign royals travelled to Windsor to attend the service, flying in from Spain, Jordan, Denmark, Bulgaria, Serbia and the Netherlands. They included King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain.

The Princess Royal, 73, who has just returned from Namibia where she attended a memorial for late president Hage Geingob on behalf of the King, was also present with her husband, Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence.

Other guests at the hour-long service included Sir Jackie Stewart, the former Formula One world champion, and Penny Knatchbull, Countess Mountbatten of Burma, both close friends of the Royal family, as well as Dame Susan Hussey, Sir John Major and US politician John Kerry.

The Queen, 76, smiled as she arrived at the entrance to the chapel shortly before 11am in a navy wide-brimmed hat, a matching pinstripe blazer and skirt.

As she took her seat inside, she had a brief conversation with Princess Anne, who was sitting next to her.

The Dean, who gave the bidding, said King Constantine, who was forced into exile following a military coup, had “lived through times of great change and challenge”.

He added: “We give thanks for his unwavering commitment to the good of his people, his steadfast love of his wife and family, his ability to face the future with hope and faith even in the face of adversity.”

The first reading, Ithaka by C P Cavafy, was read by King Constantine’s children: Princess Theodora, Prince Nikolaos, Princess Alexía and Prince Philippos.

The service ended with the Russian Orthodox chant known as the Kontakion of the Departed, which was also sung at the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral in April 2021.

The Queen later hosted a private reception for guests including Queen Anne-Marie, former Queen of the Hellenes, at Windsor Castle, just a stone’s throw from Adelaide Cottage, home to the Prince and Princess of Wales and their children.

King Constantine, Greece’s final king, who reigned from 1964 until 1973, died on January 10 last year, aged 82.

He was godfather to both Prince William and Lady Gabriella Windsor.

He was a first cousin once removed and sailing partner of the late Duke of Edinburgh and enjoyed a close friendship with the King.

It was at his 60th birthday party at Highgrove in 2000 that the then Prince Charles finally introduced Camilla Parker Bowles to his mother, Queen Elizabeth II.

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BBC apologises over Huw Edwards sex scandal

The BBC has apologised to the family of the young man at the centre of the sex scandal involving Huw Edwards, after a review found that the corporation mishandled their complaint.

Edwards, who was the BBC’s highest-earning newsreader, was suspended in July last year over a claim that he had paid £35,000 to the man, who was 17 when the alleged relationship began, in exchange for sexually explicit images.

The family contacted the BBC in May to raise their concerns but the complaint was not escalated to senior management.

An independent review, conducted by Deloitte and published on Tuesday, found that “the potential wider significance of this issue for the BBC was not recognised” by the corporate investigations team that received the complaint.

The mother contacted a tabloid newspaper with her claims once her attempts to speak to the BBC failed. The resulting scandal led to Edwards being taken off air in July, and he has not appeared since.

Leigh Tavaziva, the BBC’s group chief operating officer, said: “Although our existing processes and systems are, on the whole, working effectively, this review shows that we need to join them up better to ensure no matter how a non-editorial complaint comes into the BBC it is escalated swiftly, when needed, and dealt with by the right people.

“Where the review identifies process improvements we accept those in full, and we are delivering on an action plan with a number of enhancements already in place.

“The report identifies specific process shortcomings in the presenter case. The initial complaint in this case was not escalated quickly enough to senior management and we have apologised to the complainant for this.”

Failings of the system

The review found that the complaint was not logged on the case management system contemporaneously, “meaning that there was no opportunity for wider visibility of the case within the BBC”.

It also found “insufficient” documentation recording what internal inquiries or searches were carried out at the time by the corporation investigations unit, which tried and failed to contact the family.

The review stated: “There was no documented process for contact with the complainant and/or follow up, such that when initial attempts to contact the complainant were unsuccessful, the steps to be taken were not sufficiently clear and the process followed was not documented.”

When the story of the alleged sex scandal was initially reported, the presenter’s identity was not disclosed, leading to days of speculation.

But Edwards’s wife, Vicky Flind, finally named him in a statement, revealing that he was being treated in hospital for “serious mental health issues”.

The BBC is conducting a second investigation into Edwards’s behaviour. Two police forces concluded that the presenter had no criminal case to answer.

The mother’s husband made the first contact with the BBC on May 18 2023, at the corporation’s Cardiff offices, and was directed to Audience Services.

Audience Services escalated the complaint to corporate investigations on May 19 but it was only referred to the “Specialist Case Management Framework” reserved for serious matters on July 6. The Sun approached the BBC to say it planned to publish the family’s allegations.

A lawyer for the young person at the centre of the allegations told the BBC last year that the mother’s claims to The Sun were “totally wrong and there was no truth in it”. The lawyer added that “nothing inappropriate or unlawful has taken place between our client and the BBC personality”.

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‘Marksmen’ in the firing line in RAF cadets woke rebrand

The Royal Air Force Air Cadets (Rafac) have been branded “over-sensitive” after ordering members to stop using the word marksman as part of a “gender-neutral” rebrand.

Teenage cadets and adult instructors have been ordered to stop using the centuries-old term as part of an overhaul of shooting badges that members can earn.

An internal Rafac document issued this month and seen by The Telegraph says: “The new nomenclature is gender-neutral; the terms ‘marksman’ and ‘marksmanship’ must not feature when referring to the new shooting badges.”

It comes as part of a row within the Ministry of Defence over diversity policies that have led the Defence Secretary to intervene amid fears about combat effectiveness.

Grant Shapps has said that time and resources are being “squandered to promote a political agenda” within his department.

Last year, General Sir Patrick Sanders, the Chief of the General Staff, said he was “deadly serious” about changing military rank names to be more gender inclusive.

The RAF dropped the terms airman and airwoman in 2021 in favour of aviator and renamed the rank “aircraftman” to “air specialist”.

The year before, the Royal Navy said it was moving away from “gendered language” by replacing the term “unmanned” with “uncrewed”.

The term marksman is defined in the Cambridge Dictionary as “someone skilled at shooting accurately”.

‘PR stunt’ 

An Air Cadet instructor with years of marksmanship training experience said he thought the rebranding exercise was being carried out to make certain senior staff look good.

“What gets me is that they’re putting these new changes on social media, which to me looks like they’re doing it as a PR stunt as they never normally publish badge amendments on socials,” said the instructor.

A leading shooting organisation said the move did not appear to be based on any complaints about language used in shooting training.

Tim Bonner, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, said: “Great women shots like Annie Oakley have always been complimented on their marksmanship.

“In the absence of anyone actually being upset by the description, it looks as though the Air Cadets are being over-sensitive.”

The Rafac is a Ministry of Defence-sponsored organisation for those aged between 12 and 19. Shooting training is carried out with air rifles, precision target rifles that fire live ammunition, and a cadet-specific version of the military-issue SA80 rifle.

The cadet forces use military training methods to teach young people how to safely handle potentially dangerous equipment in a structured environment.

Last year it emerged that transgender Air Cadets were being allowed to wear “chest binders” under rules that prevented local squadron commanders from telling their parents about their children’s desire to transition to another gender unless given permission by the child.

Cadets who have begun transitioning are “permitted to use facilities, such as toilets and ablutions” of the gender of their choosing, the policy also said.

The Telegraph has disclosed that the military has 111 diversity champions and advocates, and 93 separate “diversity networks” for personnel to discuss issues including race, gender and mental health.

‘Woke culture poisons discourse’

Earlier this month, Mr Shapps said there was a “woke culture that has seeped into public life over time and is poisoning the discourse”. He has commissioned a formal review into how widespread the MoD’s diversity policies are.

Maj Gen Julian Thompson, commander of 3 Commando Brigade in the Falklands War, previously said: “The setting up of multiple roles to champion diversity in the Armed Forces will only deplete the combat effectiveness of our troops. We did not win in the Falklands by waving the LGBT flag, or talking to each other about diversity.”

A spokesperson for the Air Cadets said: “Our priority is providing safe and effective training to support the development of our Air Cadets. Any change in language has had no impact on this training.”

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