Opinion Op Ed 25 Nov 2019 Andrew cut to size; ...
Kishwar Desai, is the chair of the Arts and Cultural Heritage Trust, which is setting up the Partition Museum at Town Hall, Amritsar.

Andrew cut to size; Coldplay won’t tour

Published Nov 25, 2019, 1:45 am IST
Updated Nov 25, 2019, 1:45 am IST
There is too much scrutiny and a hungry media that survives on sensationalism.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson
 British Prime Minister Boris Johnson

We are all used to sons letting down their mothers and not getting sacked from jobs which are held at the mother’s pleasure. In the UK, while the producers of The Crown are probably thrilled at getting a ready made episode with ongoing scandals of a very dysfunctional Royal family, the popularity of Royalty is plunging.

The fact that Prince Andrew remained a friend of Jeffrey Epstein who had been accused of child sex abuse, and may himself also had a relationship with an underage girl, has forced many charities that he supports to drop him like a hot potato. His role as a champion of trade is also likely to be hit. The problem with Royalty today is that it is an anachronism. What was acceptable even 50 years back can no longer be considered kosher. There is too much scrutiny and a hungry media that survives on sensationalism.


To feed the media, in order to placate it, was a tactic adopted by Princess Diana. She gave an interview just when things were getting bad for her and turned the tide. But for that you need a sympathetic interviewer, a few rehearsals, some tears, or better still, tearful remorse, and a touch of victimhood. Not everyone can do it.

Prince Andrew managed to do what Princess Diana avoided cleverly. He embarrassed himself and the Royal family by agreeing to a Newsnight interview with Emily Maitlis. His failure to show any remorse or apologise for his friendship with Epstein, has caused an absolute storm.

During his interview, Prince Andrew produced an alibi that on one of the nights mentioned among his liaisons with vulnerable friends of Epstein he was in fact with his daughters at the Pizza Express as was their usual family habit. This has benefited Pizza Express. But not Prince Andrew.

I was taken aback to know he is associated with around 200 charities. How did he juggle his commitment to them? But now he will have plenty of time but possibly very little work.

The first TV debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn was a draw with Boris ahead 51-49.

Opinion is that Boris's habit of making things up or telling fibs has been “priced in” by the voters who love him despite it all. On the other hand, Jeremy's honesty is causing him serious damage!

But one question sent by a viewer to be asked to the two leaders seems to have influenced the Queen's decision to dismiss (or shall we say retire?) Prince Andrew from all Royal duties funded from the public purse. The questioner asked, “Is the Monarchy fit for purpose?” Alarm bells rang in the Palace. Prince Charles visiting New Zealand was consulted and Prince Andrew was downgraded. The Royal Family puts its reputation above family ties .

Manifestoes of the political parties are coming out. Liberal Democrats want to legalise marijuana, Jo Swinson said she had inhaled and enjoyed it as a youngster! Labour Party has realised the folly of their Kashmir Resolution. Now they are promising a full apology for Jallianwala Bagh if they come to power. Let’s see if Boris comes up with further original ideas to boost his slim electoral lead.

There are some personalities who are perennially in the public eye, loved and loathed by large numbers of people. Jose Mourinho, the internationally famous soccer manager, is one of them. He has won prizes for each club he has managed but seldom lasts longer than three years at any club. After having managed clubs in Italy, Spain and Germany, he was enticed to Chelsea for whom he won trophies. He managed the iconic Manchester United where again he won but was sacked within three years.

After a brief period appearing on TV as expert commentator, he is back in business. Tottenham Spurs, another iconic London Club in the Premiere League sacked its manager Mauricio Pochettino one third way into the season and has hired Mourinho. It is vital for a club in the top division to be able to compete in European championship to earn a lot of money. That requires that the club be in the top four at the end of season. In total 38 games are played when the season ends in May. Spurs are down in tenth place. So Mourinho has promised big win next season. We shall see. But after managing one London Club, to manage a rival is always challenging. Note however that for the top English soccer clubs the managers are mostly foreigners.

(PS: Women’s football is becoming very popular after the US England final in the World Cup last year. At a recent match between two London clubs the audience was 38,000 which is higher than most men’s matches)

The latest sector to be affected by the climate change movement is live pop concert tours. Coldplay who are one of the most original, and very successful bands, have decided they should give up touring till they find a carbon-reduced way of travelling. Chris Martin, the lead player and former husband of Gwyneth Paltrow has been known to be a very idealistic person. If Coldplay’s decision influences others, music festivals will become impossible to manage. As will literature festivals... and all cultural tourism as well! Shall we all just stay where we are, and communicate via satellite link-ups? Why not, say the eco warriors!