prInCe William reenergises his search for a private secretary after Boris elevates Dr Simon Case to Cabinet Secretaryship. The prince has compiled a shortlist and could break royal precedent opting for a woman. Outsider Samantha Cohen ticks all the boxes. She was the Queen’s assistant private secretary (2010-18), passed over for promotion to the top job when Lord Geidt resigned in 2017, and spent 18 months looking after the newly wed Harry and Meghan before fronting eco-charity Cool earth. So will Samantha, nicknamed The panther for her fierceness and feistiness, break through the royal glass ceiling?
ABSOLUTELY no manifestation that the pandemic-enforced absence of mental stimulus provided by audiences and receptions has had a detrimental effect on the Queen’s memory. But she discussed it with her vet Philip Ayrton-Grime shortly before his death in June aged 93. ‘Philip,’ she asked, ‘do you find that you are forgetting names and faces when you meet people?’ ‘Yes I do ma’am,’ he admitted. With a sigh, HM responded: ‘Fortunately everybody seems to know me.’
AnTHOnY Mcpartlin, recalling his stay as prince Charles’ guest at Dumfries House while making 2015’s Ant & Dec documentary on HrH, says: ‘His room was opposite mine. I put my robe on and thought I’d nip down and have a smoke. So I got to the top of the stairs and he was there with a pair of secateurs!’ Charles explained: ‘I’ve just been out pruning the roses.’ He could have quipped that it wasn’t the season for gelding Geordies.
MELANIA Trump’s former best friend Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, in a tell-all memoir published yesterday, explains why the First Lady, pictured, grimaced during her husband’s inauguration. Her son Barron had accidentally kicked her ankle. When Wolkoff suggested Melania set the record straight to quell chatter about marital discord, she replied: ‘I don’t owe them an explanation.’
GrAHAM Greene’s claim that he played russian roulette with a revolver as an adolescent is questioned by new biographer richard Greene, who reveals that one of the novelist’s early poems suggests the teenage Graham never actually loaded the revolver. Thankfully Fidel Castro is not around to hear the truth. When Greene boasted of his suicidal exploits, Fidel exclaimed: ‘You are lucky to be alive.’
VAN Morrison receives a curious 75th birthday greeting from Irish President Michael D Higgins: a YouTube recording of Michael recitating Van’s song Rave On, John Donne. Is there a clue in the first verse? Rave on thy Holy fool? prInCe Harry, keen to introduce baby Archie to rugby, says: ‘I’ve got a little space outside, which I’m fortunate enough to have.’ A little? His £11.1m nine-bedroom, 16-bathroom Santa Barbara spread covers 5.4 acres. Is Harry having a giraffe?