Daily Mail

Ephraim Hardcastle

- Email: john.mcentee@dailymail.co.uk

MIGHT one of Nicola Sturgeon’s last acts as Scottish First Minister be the return of the Stone of Scone from Edinburgh for the Coronation? A potent symbol of Scottish Nationalis­m, it was stolen in 1950 from under King Edward’s chair after 800 years in Westminste­r Abbey and placed on the altar of Arbroath Abbey before being returned for the Queen’s Coronation. Gifted to the clamouring Scots in 1996, they promised to give it back for the coming coronation. If Sturgeon or her successor renege, Charles and Camilla have some consolatio­n. Embedded in the Diamond Jubilee state coach which takes them to the Abbey is a fragment of the Stone.

APROPOS the coach: it has hydraulic stabiliser­s, heating, bullet-proof windows with each door handle set with 24 diamonds, and 130 sapphires. The interior has a digital version of Magna Carta, elements from Big Ben and a Spitfire as well as a musket ball from the Battle of Waterloo.

THE King has already road tested St Edward’s Crown after it was removed from the Tower of London for titivation. Unfortunat­ely there is little the Crown Jeweller can do to make the solid gold, ornately jewelled headgear fit perfectly. But in advance of the Coronation, Charles is determined to be prepared. Emulating his mother’s practice 70 years ago, bags of flour have been taped together for the King to wear from time to time to get used to the weight. Presumably Duchy Organic wholemeal rather than Waitrose Essentials is being used.

THAMES houseboat dweller Imogen Stubbs should have river pollution campaigner Feargal Sharkey on speed dial. For Imogen, pictured, who spent an idyllic childhood on a wooden sailing barge moored at Chiswick, says she is ‘heartbroke­n’ with the current filth of London’s river. ‘It’s always had rubbish in it, but now there are days when it’s just an open sewer,’ she wails. ‘And I’m utterly mystified by how this has happened. You really see it when you’re on a boat because the portholes are on the level of the river. And you’re just looking at – and smelling – sewage.’

CURRENTLY writing the controvers­ially rebooted Fawlty Towers with her father John Cleese, 83, comedian Camilla Cleese reports she’s already finding him a challenge. ‘I almost bought John hearing aids so he’d hear me better,’ Camilla now announces. ‘But, knowing him, he’d wear them turned off, which would make them really expensive ear plugs.’

WILL the current Lord Rayleigh be invited to the Coronation? His predecesso­r John Arthur Strutt was barred from the Abbey after declaring himself King. Royal biographer Hugo Vickers says he was banished to the west of Ireland for fear he’d disrupt the Queen’s crowning: ‘His family made sure that he just missed every possible train that might reach a boat from Dublin so that there was no chance of him getting to the church on time.’

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