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CHRISTMAS is a time for peace and goodwill.
Which is the only possible, rational, explanation for Prince Andrew’s return to the royal fold on Christmas Day.
Granted, he looked sheepish.
As he well should.
This past year has seen the Pizza Express-loving prince put the an[n]us into yet another annus horriblis for his long- suffering family.
In March he settled out of court with Virginia Giuffre, a woman who’d sued him for sexual abuse, claiming Andrew had sex with her when she was 17.
And that she’d been trafficked by his good pal, the billionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
In the “Stipulation of Dismissal” court documents, Andrew made no admission of liability and has always denied the allegations that he sexually assaulted her on three occasions.
Despite having absolutely “no recollection of” meeting Ms Giuffre, generous Andrew nonetheless found it in his heart to give her £12million.
As one commentator wryly observed on Twitter: “I will head to Sandringham and grab a selfie with Prince Andrew, which he will later deny and give me £12million.”
As Andrew, cheeks puffed out and head down, shuffled around the grounds of the Sandringham estate (stopping only to tell a woman to stand on a newspaper to insulate her feet) this was clearly a case of his older brother, King Charles, putting family before duty.
With all the fuss and upset about Harry and Meghan, the couple — and their two beautiful children — were notably absent.
Love them or loathe them, they deserved to be in the line-up far, far more than the disgraced, entitled and unapologetic Prince Andrew.
So it was left to adorable Prince Louis, dressed like an Edwardian doll, to charm the crowds and remind the public some royals are still faultless.
Andrew’s presence was the only duff note in the new King’s first Christmas Day at the helm.
But it also plays into Charles’s very MO — he is surely the wokest, most right-on monarch in British history.
While Henry VIII would have had Andy’s head — or quite possibly willy — lopped off by now, and Richard III would have whacked him in the Tower with nothing but Fergie for entertainment, Charles is far, far more forgiving.
Last week, though, he showed he isn’t afraid to get tough — barring his sibling from using Buckingham Palace as an office space.
The move, one overwhelmingly backed by his subjects (us), effectively severing his final tie to Andy’s old, cushty life as a working royal.
To have kicked Andrew when he was down though, and banned him from the royal procession on December 25, isn’t Charles’s style.
In short, he put ancestry before optics.
Many a family can relate. There’s always a black sheep somewhere down the genetic line.
King Charles’s inaugural 3pm speech was pitch perfect.
In touch with his people
He delivered it with the poise and sincerity of a man who has grown up with cameras trailing his every move.
And, in it, he paid tribute to care-givers: Doctors, nurses, paramedics.
In one of the most controversial times in NHS history — with strikes brewing and moral debates intensifying — he gave his backing to the backbone of our society.
He may never have to choose heating over eating, but Charles showed himself in touch with his people when he acknowledged the cost-of-living crisis.
There was not a scintilla of “let them eat cake”.
He championed community and, above all, kindness.
And, in so doing, King Charles proved that, just maybe, he is the man to guide us out of this merry hell.
SO I have officially commenced my least impressive six days of the year.
Six days when I live like some sort of swamp donkey, eating absolutely anything and everything I can get my mucky little hooves on, living in athleisurewear (with absolutely no athletics going on) and achieve absolutely nothing.
As blissful as it is shameful.
Linear TV is not dead
THE cult, word-of-mouth success of Claudia Winkleman’s new show The Traitors, right, is proof that linear TV is not dead.
The BBC1 series – featuring 22 strangers battling it out in a Scottish castle – has just been recommissioned for a second run.
If you haven’t yet, give it a go.
Shame of Pep talk
IMAGINE the outrage if the Lionesses’ manager, Sarina Wiegman, fat-shamed one of her players.
But, well, it just wouldn’t happen because women – who already have it bad enough in the self-loathing stakes – simply wouldn’t do this to one another.
So shame on Man City boss Pep Guardiola for doing exactly that to poor Kalvin Phillips.
A lad who maybe got a bit over-excited in the build-up to Christmas and apparently put on a few pounds.
Said Pep of the England star: “He’s not injured. He arrived overweight. I don’t know [why]. He didn’t arrive in the condition to do training sessions and to play.”
When asked if it was disappointing, he added: “It’s a private conversation with Kalvin.”
So private that Pep used a press conference to tell the world.
WELL it’s one way to keep the royalties going.
Cliff Richard admits the majority of his CD collection is made up of, er, Cliff Richard.
“The funny thing is the artist I have bought most is me.”
Every little helps, eh Cliff?
TO anyone getting through Christmas without a loved one for the first time, I’m so very sorry.
Speaking about his first Christmas, in 2021, without late wife Joan Washington, Richard E Grant shares the pain of millions: “That first Christmas without her was a blessing, knowing that she was finally released from any further suffering, but utterly brutal as ours had only just properly begun.
“After 38 years together, the prospect of Yuletide alone seemed unimaginable.”
Four days before she died of cancer, Joan gave him one instruction: “Try and find a pocketful of happiness in each day.”
Advice we would all do well to heed.
Putin’s sinful strikes
WHAT, exactly, does it take to turn someone from a really, really bad man to an out-and-out evil one?
A Christmas Eve invasion.
Vladimir Putin’s crazed forces bombarded the city of Kherson in southern Ukraine with the intention – solely, it appears – to kill civilians (16 so far).
Not only did the Russian monster also ignore President Zelensky’s offer of an olive branch – “This is the time when normal people think about peace, not about aggression” – it is also a complete violation of the Geneva conventions, distinguishing between civilians and combatants.
Putin’s latest war crime must not go unpunished.
It’s also a stark reminder of why we must continue leading the West in helping Ukraine – cost-of-living crisis, or no cost-of-living crisis.
Humanity must come first.
Nothing less appealing
I LITERALLY cannot think of anything less appealing.
Yet research shows that, inexplicably, more babies are born on September 26 – exactly nine months on from Boxing Day – than on any other day.
Why ANYONE would want to get naked with another human being after eating and drinking like Henry VIII on a binge day utterly baffles me.
And, in my case at least, certainly gives a whole new meaning to “pigs in blankets”.
Yule catch your death Liz
BECAUSE nothing says Christmas Day like . . .
Once again Liz Hurley ditched the novelty reindeer jumper, and presumably didn’t single-handedly Hoover up seven roast potatoes and half a festive Colin The Caterpillar.
Here she is, then, doing her bit (for the lads) in festive green.
And probably somewhere here there’s a mildly misogynistic gag about getting her baubles out.
Bring it on, IPO
ACCORDING to the Intellectual Property Office, password sharing for streaming accounts may amount to “secondary copyright infringement”.
Millions of us are breaking the law by giving our loved ones access to our Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video apps.
For months after we split, my ex regularly hacked into my Netflix account and helpfully updated my profile picture.
So, at varying times, I’d log in to watch The Crown, only to see I’d been changed into a warthog, Cruella De Vil, Peppa Pig and Hades, God of the underworld.
Bring it on, IPO.
Kind King Charles has what it takes to guide us out of this merry hell
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