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he Queen has frequently remarked that if she were to celebrate every anniversary in every year she would never stop. She has also said birthdays are strictly for those years that end with a nought and wedding anniversaries the same. The Duke of Edinburgh almost certainly agrees with her, as he hates a fuss being made of anything – especially when it is to do with him.

   Their discreet attitude makes it difficult for the family when it comes to their 70th wedding anniversary on 20 November. On their Golden Wedding anniversary, they were not allowed to get away with a low-key celebration, but then they were 20 years younger. There was a service of thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey, where the turnout of Europe’s royal families made it the largest gathering of royalty since the Coronation in 1953. There was a poignant moment when Prince Charles arrived at the abbey with Princes William, 15, and Harry, 13, who had last been there for the funeral of their mother only two months earlier.

   At a lunch in their honour at Guildhall, Philip spoke movingly about the Queen’s qualities of tolerance; the next day, at a Banqueting House lunch, the Queen famously referred to her husband as ‘her strength and stay’. But 70 years of marriage cannot be ignored and celebrate they must. Even if the festivities are within the family, many people in Britain and the Commonwealth will want to pay tribute to the dutiful royal couple in their own way.

   It appears that Princes William and Harry have eventually grasped the art of public speaking and embraced it with almost as much gusto as their father. Harry spoke eloquently at the Invictus Games in Toronto, while the Duke of Cambridge, now a full-time working royal, is becoming accustomed to giving speeches on a regular basis. Having spent part of the summer in Scotland, he has been caring for his ailing, pregnant wife and dealing with his young son fussing about having to go to school every day.

   The Prince of Wales celebrates his 69th birthday on 14 November, soon after returning with the Duchess of Cornwall from a tour of Singapore, Malaysia and India. Once again he been speaking passionately about the environment – specifically the fragility of the oceans. At the high-level Our Ocean conference in Malta last month he reminded us about the eight million tonnes of plastic that end up in the sea every year. His speech pointed out that not only do we swim in waters filled with particles of plastic but fish absorb them, so that plastic is ‘even now on the menu’.

   Since their carefully orchestrated public appearance at the Invictus Games the rumours about an impending engagement between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have intensified. But Harry is still the free spirit he always was and he likes to do things his own way. So, until it happens – and the betting is it will be at the end of this year or the beginning of next – we will know nothing more.


 
 
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