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Illness, scandal and discord leave UK royal family looking depleted

Illness, scandal and discord leave UK royal family looking depleted

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Illness, scandal and discord leave UK royal family looking depleted

King Charles is due to make his first public appearance at a royal event since his cancer diagnosis on Sunday, but the likely absence of son Prince William and the heir’s wife Kate will spotlight how depleted the monarchy has become.

Buckingham Palace said the 75-year-old monarch would attend the traditional Easter Sunday church service at Windsor Castle alongside his wife Queen Camilla, one of the annual engagements usually attended by all the senior royals.

However, William, Kate, and their children George, 10, Charlotte, 8, and Louis, 5, will not attend after the Princess of Wales revealed last week that she had begun preventative chemotherapy for cancer following abdominal surgery in January.

“King Charles really wanted to have a slimmed-down monarchy when he took on the throne but he never could have anticipated slimming down to where it is now,” said Erin Hill, People magazine’s senior royal editor. “This is going to definitely be a complicated time for the royal family.”

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Charles’ desire for a ‘slimmed-down’ institution was designed to counter accusations it was bloated, with distant relatives living off taxpayer-funded handouts.

But there are now gaping holes in his immediate circle – most dramatically, with the departure of his younger son Prince Harry, 39, and wife Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, to the US three years ago.

Meanwhile, Charles’ younger brother Prince Andrew, 64, was banished from public life in 2019 over his friendship with the late US sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

NOT A GOOD IDEA
“Well, I think the ‘slimmed-down’ was said in a day when there were a few more people around to make that seem like a justifiable comment,” the king’s younger sister Princess Anne said in an interview last year.

“It doesn’t sound like a good idea from where I’m standing, I have to say. I’m not quite sure what else … we can do.”

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Of the remaining official working royals – those that carry out duties for the king, such as opening new buildings, giving out honours and meeting foreign dignitaries – many are now from the late Queen Elizabeth’s generation.

Princess Alexandra, 87, her cousin and long-time friend, is rarely seen in public nowadays, while Elizabeth’s other cousins Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent, and Prince Richard, the Duke of Gloucester, are 88 and 79 respectively.

Princess Anne often tops the list for being the hardest-working royal but she herself will turn 74 this year. Her son Peter Phillips said this week she was probably working a lot harder than she had expected.

“She’s still doing overseas trips and turning around in 24 hours which is pretty hard on most people … but when you’re in your 70s and doing that it’s pretty remarkable,” he told Sky News in Australia.

He said there was “definitely a short-term pressure on certain members of the family to continue to be out and about”. As well as his mother, he noted the amount being done by Camilla and Charles’ younger brother Prince Edward and wife Sophie, now the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh.

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Royal biographer Claudia Joseph said while Camilla and William had done a “sterling job” in the absence of Charles, it would not have been easy.

“On a personal level, it’s going to be awful for the royals,” she said. “Obviously, on a practical level, it makes things difficult.”

Although polls show most Britons remain generally supportive of the monarchy, they also suggest that majority is shrinking, with a growing gap between enthusiastic older people and indifferent younger generations.

Apart from William and Kate, the next youngest working royals are Edward, who this month turned 60, and Sophie who will reach that same milestone next year.

It will then be at least a decade until the ranks are swelled by the children of William and Kate.

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Royal author Tina Brown said the monarchy was looking very lean indeed, putting “unmanageable pressure” on William and Kate.

“Catherine is the most popular member of the royal family after William,” she wrote in the New York Times this week. “The future of the monarchy hangs by a thread, and that thread is her.”

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British jets shot down Iranian drones, PM Sunak says

British jets shot down Iranian drones, PM Sunak says

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British jets shot down Iranian drones, PM Sunak says

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Sunday that British military jets shot down drones launched by Iran in its attack on Israel and called for “calm heads to prevail” to avoid an escalation of the conflict.

“I can confirm that our planes did shoot down a number of Iranian attack drones,” Sunak told broadcasters.

“If this attack had been successful, the fallout for regional stability would be hard to overstate. We stand by the security of Israel and the wider region, which is of course important for our security here at home, too. What we now need is for calm heads to prevail.”

Sunak was due to join discussions between Group of Seven leaders later on Sunday.

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“It’s important that we coordinate with allies and we’ll be discussing next steps at that moment,” he said

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Hezbollah source says Israel struck position in east Lebanon

Hezbollah source says Israel struck position in east Lebanon

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Hezbollah source says Israel struck position in east Lebanon

A Hezbollah source said Israel struck Sunday one of the Iran-backed group’s buildings in Lebanon’s east, close to the Syrian border, as tensions soared after Iran directly attacked Israel.

“The Israeli strike targeted an area… near Baalbek and targeted a two-storey building belonging to Hezbollah,” a source within the Lebanese group told AFP, adding there were no casualties.

Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency reported that “an enemy air strike targeted a building” in the village of Nabi Sheet and “destroyed it”.

An AFP photographer at the site saw the concrete and steel wreckage of the building, levelled in the attack.

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Earlier on Sunday, Hezbollah said it had twice launched barrages of rockets towards the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights, after it joined in the major Iranian drone and missile attack against Israel.

The Iranian attack was in response to an April 1 air strike widely blamed on Israel that destroyed an Iranian consulate building in Damascus, killing seven Revolutionary Guards, including two generals.

Hamas ally Hezbollah has exchanged near-daily cross-border fire with Israel since the Palestinian militant group attacked southern Israel on October 7 triggering the war in the Gaza Strip.

The violence, which has largely been contained to the border area, has so far killed at least 363 people in Lebanon, mostly Hezbollah fighters but also including at least 70 civilians, according to an AFP tally.

In Israel, the military says 10 soldiers and eight civilians have been killed.

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Tens of thousands of civilians have fled their homes on both sides of the border. 

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Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon reopen airspace after Iran attacks

Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon reopen airspace after Iran attacks

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Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon reopen airspace after Iran attacks

Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon have reopened their airspace after closing it late on Saturday as Iran launched drone and missile attacks against Israel, the three countries said on Sunday.

Jordan’s state TV said the country had resumed air traffic operations, citing aviation authorities. The opening of its airspace came more than three hours earlier than scheduled.

Iraq’s aviation authority said security risks had now been overcome.

Lebanon said its airport will resume its activities after the overnight closure, state TV reported.

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Iran launched explosive drones and fired missiles at Israel late on Saturday – its first direct attack on Israeli territory in a retaliatory strike that raises the threat of wider regional conflict.

Jordan, which lies between Iran and Israel, had readied air defences to intercept any drones or missiles that violated its territory, two regional security sources said.

US and British warplanes were involved in shooting down some Israel-bound drones over the Iraq-Syria border area, Israel’s Channel 12 reported. 

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