• 16 Dec - 22 Dec, 2017
  • Shahed Sadullah
  • London Eye

To many minds, the British Royal Family is some sort of a symbol of the romantic ideal. Not in the sense that they cannot do any wrong, but more in the Bollywood sense of being looked up to as high-class celebrities. From that position of hero worship comes the idea that they, as all heroes, can do little wrong. If truth be told, they have not done an awful lot during the past three or four hundred years to justify that sort of status or affection. And most members of the Royal Family perhaps do not enjoy that status. But once in a while, when a really beautiful young woman comes along, she does enjoy that fairy tale image. Diana had that image, although it was perhaps more in evidence after her tragic death than during her life; more recently, the wife of Prince William, Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge has had something of that sort of status, although not quite to the same extent as Diana, for which there seem to be two reasons. Firstly, I do not think she is seen as quite as beautiful as her late mother-in-law – not a good position to be in – and secondly, her life does not have the tragic profile that Diana’s life had with an unsuccessful marriage and then a tragic death – definitely a good position to be in.

The image, obviously, begins to wear a bit thin with age, but the Duchess is not even nearly of the age when that begins to happen. But it perhaps took a small hit when it came out that an uncle of hers has admitted to felling his wife with a solid punch after a heavy night of drinking at a charity event. It appears that the couple had taken a taxi home after the night out together. Both were in a pretty advanced state of inebriation and as is the result in many such instances when two drunk people are travelling together in a taxi, a disagreement ensued which became louder and louder. As the taxi reached the couple’s central London home, Mr Goldsmith, Kate’s maternal uncle, hit his wife in the face with what the taxi driver described as a ‘left hook’. It was the sort of thing that Mike Tyson used to throw at his hapless opponents in the ring and it had quite the same effect as a Tyson left hook for it floored Mrs Goldsmith for the count. Seeing her thus, the taxi driver rushed to her aid at which Mr Goldsmith is said to have become aggressive towards him, although he did not try to give the taxi driver a dose of the same punch. The police were called in; Mr Goldsmith was arrested and later pleaded guilty to the charge of assault by beating. During the time the case went on, Mr Goldsmith was on bail, one of the terms of which reportedly was that he was not allowed to contact his wife. This, incidentally, is said to be his fourth wife, and one reason for that could be that Mr Goldsmith is a businessman who is said to have amassed a fortune of around £30 million in the Information Technology recruitment industry. Mr Goldsmith has had a colourful past, and there was an instance in 2009 when a tabloid newspaper showed him allegedly preparing cocaine in his villa in Spain. The story did not lead to any charges and Mr Goldsmith said that he had been manipulated and set up.

Meanwhile, the great British Empire on which the sun never set is shrinking at an alarming rate. In days to come, Brexit can be relied upon to complete the process and give the finishing touches to what is left. For the moment, it is the British Army, the mighty machine that played such a vital role in the creation of that Empire, that is wobbling at its knees. Cut after cut has reduced it to a mere shadow of its former self and a few days ago General Sir Richard Barrons, a former armed forces chief, said that Britain’s armed forces are 20 years out of date and that if the cuts continued, all that could be asked of this force would be to seize a middle-sized town somewhere accessible in Europe. To bring it up to scratch, he felt the armed forces needed another £2 billion a year which, at the moment of going to press, sounds a bit unlikely. The Defence Minister has reportedly threatened to resign if plans to impose deep cuts to army ranks are imposed and that would appear to be the best weapon he has. The cost saving plans that he is talking about envisage cutting the Army’s full time strength to 70,000, down from 82,000.

Not that Prime Minister Theresa May would have time to devote to such comparative ‘trivialities’. She has managed to get past the first Brexit hurdle by giving in writing the British Government’s undertaking to maintain the open Irish border, although she did not reveal where she has hidden the magic wand that will make this possible, while making sure that those hordes of nasty East Europeans are kept out of this land of milk and honey. As I write this, it is not milk and honey coming down from above, but buckets of snow.