Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...
The Guardian's Patrick Strudwick puts the kibosh on the Mail on Sunday's weekend headline that started a snowball of proclamations (here, included) that Queen Elizabeth II was coming out for gay rights:
Fighting for gay rights? The Queen won't even mention them. She dare not speak our name – that is, if you believe she is even referring to gay people; if you buy the newspaper's inference that "other grounds" denotes an "implicit support of gay rights".
Let us assume it does mean that, and that Stonewall's assumption is correct. How does keeping ma'am about a minority help? Jesus never mentioned homosexuality – has that dissuaded many of his followers that "love thy neighbour" does not in fact mean: "as long as his partner's not called Steve"?
No, to refrain from specification is to collude with silence, the Grand Pause that keeps lesbians and gay men invisible, suffocating in marriages of inconvenience or trapped in police cells...
...The Mail on Sunday's splash is to be applauded, given its apparent heralding of a more liberal stance for the paper, an intriguing contrast to the Daily Mail. But this charter isn't a fight for gay rights, it's a vague whisper muffled by the screams of gay people awaiting the noose.
If only the alleged intention were expressed explicitly, unequivocally. Most Commonwealth nations, injected by our colonial laws and Old Testament homophobia in the first place, need it. Desperately.
Longtime activist Peter Tatchell agrees:
She's made no such explicit commitment and not used any such words.
Indeed, in her 61 years on the throne, the Queen has never publicly uttered the words lesbian or gay. She is a patron of hundreds of charities but none of them are gay ones. Not once has she visited or supported a gay charity.
For the last four years, I've been pressing Buckingham Palace over the Queen's failure to acknowledge the existence of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people - and got nowhere.
Not surprisingly, the Commonwealth Charter does not include any specific rejection of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. This was vetoed by the homophobic majority of member states. They blocked its inclusion.
This makes the Queen's charter signing even less of a big deal. It is certainly not the breakthrough for LGBT rights that some people are claiming.
Nevertheless, it is true that some Commonwealth Secretariat officials interpret the charter wording that rejects discrimination on 'other grounds' as including a rejection of anti-gay discrimination. It is claimed that this catch-all phrase was inserted to circumvent the objections of homophobic Commonwealth countries. Possibly.
Queen Elizabeth II to Sign Historic Pledge Against Discrimination Seen As Signal of Gay Rights Support
Queen Elizabeth II will sign an historic pledge against discrimination that does not explicitly mention gay people but is being seen as a powerful gesture on gay and women's rights, the Daily Mail reports:
In a live television broadcast, she will sign a new charter designed to stamp out discrimination against homosexual people and promote the ‘empowerment’ of women – a key part of a new drive to boost human rights and living standards across the Commonwealth.
In her first public appearance since she had hospital treatment for a stomach bug, the Queen will sign the new Commonwealth Charter and make a speech explaining her passionate commitment to it.
Insiders say her decision to highlight the event is a ‘watershed’ moment – the first time she has clearly signalled her support for gay rights in her 61-year reign.
The charter, dubbed a ‘21st Century Commonwealth Magna Carta’ declares: ‘We are implacably opposed to all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief or other grounds.’
The ‘other grounds’ is intended to refer to sexuality – but specific reference to ‘gays and lesbians’ was omitted in deference to Commonwealth countries with draconian anti-gay laws.
The Queen is expected to say that the rights must "include everyone", according to the paper.
With the Duchess of Cambridge about five months’ pregnant, the change in the law could have a crucial effect. At present, if, as is rumoured, the Duchess and Prince William have a daughter, but go on to have a son, the son would become King when William dies. However, under the law change, due to be approved in the next few months, the girl would become Monarch.
The remains of King Richard III, who died in 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth, have been identified. They were discovered under a car park in Leicester, UK.
Tests have established that a skeleton found under a car park in Leicester is that of Richard III, king of England from 1483-85. Richard Buckley, the lead archaeologist on the project at the University of Leicester, said that his team had proved “beyond reasonable doubt” that the bones were those of the last Plantagenet king.
DNA evidence from the skeleton matches with that from Michael Ibsen, a Canadian who is a direct descendent of Richard’s sister Anne of York. In addition, evidence of battle wounds on the skeleton, and features of the remains such as their curved spine, provide a “highly convincing case” for this being Richard, Leicester’s Dr Jo Appleby said.
His death was probably caused by one of two injuries to the base of the skull, both inflicted with a bladed weapon, Appleby said.
Richard’s body will be reinterred in Leicester Cathedral, probably early next year. A temporary exhibition will open there on 8 February, followed by a permanent visitors’ centre telling the story of Richard’s life and death. A £10,000 donation for a new tomb for the monarch has already been received by the Richard III Society.
A candid interview with Prince Harry by the UK's Channel 4 is making waves in Britain. In the interview, Harry talks about killing Taliban militants, comparing operating his helicopter's gunner to playing video games, the NYT reports:
At one stage in the interview, Prince Harry said that he was not troubled by killing militants. “Take a life to save a life,” he said. “If there’s people trying to do bad stuff to our guys, then we’ll take them out of the game.”
In another edit of the footage, posted online by The Guardian, Prince Harry, who is known as Captain Wales in the army, explained that he was glad to have been “pushed forward to the front seat,” the one reserved for the attack helicopter’s gunner. That was, he said, “a joy for me because I’m one of those people that loves playing PlayStation and Xbox, so with my thumbs I like to think I’m probably quite useful — if you ask the guys I thrash them at FIFA the whole time,” referring to a popular video game series.
The Taliban are not pleased.
He also says that Prince William is jealous of his military career, and comments on the nude photos of him partying in Las Vegas:
"I probably let myself down, I let my family down, I let other people down...but at the end of the day, I was in a private area and there should be a certain amount of privacy that one should expect...It was probably a classic example of me probably being too much army, and not enough prince. It's a simple case of that."
Watch the clips, AFTER THE JUMP...
Believe it or not, this is not some provocative project cooked up by an attention seeking art student (or Morrissey) aiming to show us what Kate would look like if she was twenty years older, smoked, never washed her hair and ate junk food, but her first official portrait.
The Telegraph called it 'an aesthetic disaster":
For the Duchess of Cambridge, however, he has produced what looks like a piece of mawkish book illustration, a work that could be read as an almost comical pastiche of a certain kind of ‘sensitive’ painting – that might pass muster on the cover of a Catherine Cookson novel, but will hardly bear sustained scrutiny in a major art gallery. If Kim Jong un, Supreme Leader of North Korea, had a portrait painted of himself in a similar idiom, we’d all be crowing from the rafters about the pitiful taste of foreign despots.
And Twitter appears not to be on board.
The Royal Channel released a video about it. Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...