Friday, April 09, 2021




I had just got back from my solitary walk around the garden, at midday, and put my head around the mosaic workroom door to let them know that I had safely completed the circuit, and isn’t April wonderful? Helen followed me back down the passage to say that the Duke of Edinburgh was dead; I got back into the workroom with her in time to hear the national anthem – a graver and more solemn version than the one they play in the middle of the night, when Radio Four hands over to the World Service. Both of us were surprised at how sad we felt, and feel.


Various thoughts:


n  By now, 4 pm British Summer Time, Biden’s silence has become conspicuous. We heard from the Taoiseach hours ago, in case bloody Irishness is the problem. And also from George W. Bush, in case it’s a matter of the time difference. One has responsibilities as a head of state, and I think Biden has flubbed this one.

n  I remember the wedding. The time difference meant that I could listen to a bit of it, towards the end, before setting out towards Asbury Park High School.

n  The Duke’s famous “slitty-eyed” remark is a family legend. James was the UPI Beijing correspondent at the time, very junior. The Duke’s remark was made to British students at a private session. James got wind of it, and talked to various people who had been there, and put it at the head of his story. A very grand reporter walked through the press room at the end of the day and said to James, who was still laboriously tapping out his story, “What are you leading with, Sonny?” [I don’t suppose he actually said “Sonny”, but it was implied.]

James told him.


None of us know whether the story was James’s scoop, but we all like to think so.


  1. Anonymous5:13 PM

    You - just now, in my morning's reading - were the first to bring news of the Duke's death to me, whereupon I read the BBC website's coverage, which quotes Biden's letter of condolence. I hope he has made amends with you.

    Well done to James on his scoop.
    -- Gretchen (aka stashdragon)

    1. Yes, Biden must have been typing his condolences as I was writing. I think he could have been quicker.

  2. Shock and sadness. Not unexpected but still........ Great sympathy for the Queen especially.

  3. The wedding - three days before I was born. It is going to be a lonely world for her. It has been anyway, because of the position she is in, but he was the one person who could keep her company.

  4. I had the great good fortune to meet the Duke twice - both times by accident. I've blogged about it today but I did it through a tear or two because he really was a far from ordinary man. I hope this brings young Harry to his senses. His grandmother is going to need a lot of support. The Queen must be feeling very, very lonely right now.

  5. In a way the pandemic must have made things easier for them - the Queen and the Duke. After all, they were basically living apart, and the lockdown meant that they could live together at Windsor. Let's hope that was what they enjoyed their last year together.