Saturday, 25 Mar 2023

EPHRAIM HARDCASTLE: Were Queen and Philip irked by Portillo?

EPHRAIM HARDCASTLE: Were Queen and Philip irked by Portillo?

Tory defence secretary Michael Portillo annoyed the Queen and Prince Philip by promising that their beloved Royal Yacht Britannia would be replaced. At the time they were publicly accepting the decommissioning while secretly lobbying for a replacement, claims Channel 5’s Secrets Of The Royal Palaces. ‘They didn’t want this to come out as they knew it would be a PR disaster,’ it states. ‘They were pretty annoyed about Portillo getting involved and making it a political issue.’ Prince Philip said that Portillo’s intervention had made a complete ‘bleep [for a swear word] of the whole thing!’ Michael, nicknamed Choo Choo by Andrew Neil for his TV train hopping, must have been changing at Clapham when Channel 5 sought his view.

Former MP Michael Portillo reportedly annoyed the Queen and Prince Philip

And the latest of Royal biographer Gyles Brandreth’s seemingly inexhaustible supply of anecdotes about the late Queen? ‘She once performed George Formby’s When I’m Cleaning Windows for me while strumming an imaginary ukulele.’ Is it possible that Gyles has now amused us sufficiently about HM’s multi-talented secret life?

Boris seems to have interpreted as a challenge Amber Rudd’s famous TV remark that he was ‘not the man you want driving you home at the end of the evening’. The former home secretary reveals that when she and the ex-PM were in government and leaving a meeting Boris offered: ‘“Come on Amber, I’m going to give you a lift home.” And I said, “No, I’m sorry, I have not changed my mind, Boris”.’ Amber, pictured, added: ‘And all the protection officers were just in a row howling with laughter. He’d obviously told them he was going to say “Come on, get into my car”, hamming it up.’

The former Home Secretary Amber Rudd refused Boris Johnson’s offer to give her a lift home when they were in government together

Talking lovingly about his rescue dog Maggie, well-nourished broadcaster Eamonn Holmes, married to presenter wife Ruth Langsford, says: ‘Her [Maggie’s] tongue’s out constantly.’ Adding lasciviously: ‘If I came in and Ruth rolled around on her back like that with her tongue hanging out, life would be perfect.’ Surely you’d call a medic, Holmesy!

Irish Theatre director Oisin Moyne has had to cancel his production of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot at the University of Groningen after the Netherlands venue discovered that he only auditioned men for the five male roles of the impenetrable classic. This was in contravention of the university’s inclusivity policy. ‘I would wholeheartedly say,’ wails Oisin, ‘that my life in the past few weeks has become utterly absurd.’

Valerie Pakenham, who has died aged 83, would have been the Countess of Longford had her socialist husband Thomas not disclaimed the title on the death of his father Frank. In her Oxford youth, returning from a date with future Tory minister Kenneth Baker he crashed his car and she was hospitalised with concussion. Notes her Times Obituary: ‘Baker rang the hospital to assure her that he was all right.’

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