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o mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War on 4 August the Queen and members of the royal family will cover as many of the vigils and commemorations being held around the United Kingdom as possible. As the court is in residence in Scotland the Queen herself will be at Crathie Kirk, the church on the Balmoral estate where Princess Anne became Mrs Timothy Laurence in December 1992. Crathie is also where Princes William and Harry said their prayers on the morning of their mother’s death, 17 years ago on the 31st of this month.

   The two Princes will be together in Mons, Belgium, on 4 August at Saint Symphorien, one of the most beautiful military cemeteries of the Western Front. Harry will fly in from an event in Kent, while the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will drive there after attending a service in Ličge.

   The Princess Royal is on the Isle of Wight for the beginning of the Cowes Week regatta and will attend a service in the World War One memorial chapel at Carisbrooke Castle. The Duke of Rothesay will be in Glasgow, while the Duchess of Cornwall, having spent time with her grandchildren, will be in London for a candlelit vigil of prayer at Westminster Abbey.

   To celebrate our Scottish-themed issue, this month’s cover shows a new portrait of the Queen taken by renowned Glasgow-born photographer Harry Benson for the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Her Majesty posed for the photograph by the window of the Audience Room in Buckingham Palace, where she holds her weekly meetings with her Prime Minister.

   Harry, my late husband’s uncle, has had an impressive career but despite photographing every American president since Eisenhower he has never had a formal sitting with the Queen until now. Besides choosing the colour of the dress she was to wear, Harry selected this particular shot of the monarch: he liked her ‘Mona Lisa’ smile, as she appears to be looking serenely through the window into the future.

   The future for Scotland is soon to be decided and the Queen will be in residence at Balmoral Castle when the referendum takes place on 18 September.

   In a recent radio programme government ministers revealed they had discussed various issues with Prince Charles and so the row over the heir to the throne’s ‘meddling’ resurfaced. The Guardian newspaper’s nine-year battle to publish some of his letters – initially blocked by the Attorney General – has won an appeal to be heard in the Supreme Court. If the letters are eventually published they will raise all kinds of questions about the Prince, his position and his influence with his mother’s government.

   I am delighted that he is prepared to say what he thinks, because when he becomes King his lips will in theory be sealed. As historian Walter Bagehot famously said: ‘The Queen reigns but she does not rule.’

   Prince Charles is clearly grooming his sons to support his hard-won issues and of late all three have been undertaking royal duties together. William and Harry might not always agree with their father, but as a trio they have immense pulling power.


 
 
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