JAN MOIR: Is Meghan’s aversion to hunting reason for Balmoral no-show?

JAN MOIR: Is Meghan’s aversion to hunting and bloodsports the real reason behind her surprise no-show at Balmoral?

Poor baby Archie. His parents, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, are said to have decided he is too small to travel to Balmoral and so they will not be accepting the Queen’s invitation to join her there this year.

So Archie, darling, thou shalt not go to the Highland ball after all. Thou shalt miss the drizzle and the midges and the slow glory of the green Scottish highlands rusting into the crisp embrace of autumn.

Thou shalt also miss the thunder of the guns out on the moors, as the shooting season gets into full swing and the downed game-birds rain upon the heather bam-bam-bam like some bloody apocalypse amid a howling torrent of guts and gore.

Up on the killing fields of Balmoral, if it flies it dies, if it hops it drops and if it’s brown it’s down, boom.

Well. Not quite. Not at all, really.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are said to have decided baby Archie is too small to travel to Balmoral

Yet I suspect this is how the Californian duchess imagines a gentle afternoon of grouse-shooting or deer-stalking might be like. And I wonder if it is her aversion to hunting and bloodsports that is the reason behind this surprising Scottish no show?

After all, Archie was big enough to travel to Nice to see Uncle Elton John recently.

The four-month-old was also not too teeny-weeny to fly to Ibiza for a lovely break to celebrate mummy’s birthday over the summer.

Need I add that both of those trips are much farther afield than the 500-mile trek from the Sussexes’ home in Windsor to the Queen’s Scottish castle?

Yet Balmoral is suddenly a no-go zone, for reasons that remain unclear.

Although ‘Palace sources’ have denied Archie’s age is the reason, if Prince Harry’s excuse is that his son is below some hitherto unknown age/size restriction, it is laughable. What is Archie, some bit of luggage they had hoped to stow in the hold of their non-private jet because they don’t do that sort of thing any more?

And anyway, what is more portable than a little bub in a basket?

On the scale of travel hassle, Baby Sussex is right up there with a yoga mat and he’s less bothersome than a kitten. After all, royal babes in arms have been travelling to and from Balmoral for decades, with no hint of trouble or stress.

Yet — and this is the real problem — Harry is now so caught up in his own righteous storm and so contemptuous of those who dare to criticise him that he no longer bothers to give reasons that might stand up to scrutiny or understanding. Instead, he just says the first thing that comes into his head and to hell with it.

‘I have to fly on private jets for family security! Ninety-nine per cent of my life is spent on commercial airlines! Archie is too titchy for Balmoral! Don’t do as I do, do as I say,’ is what he seems to be saying.

He cannot even accept that he might be in the wrong. ‘No one is perfect. We could all do better,’ he said earlier this week, launching a global project to make the tourist industry more sustainable.

No, Harry. You could do better. A lot better. Leave us out of this.

It might seem extraordinary that Harry would not want to visit his 93-year-old grandmother with his new baby, a Balmoral rite of passage that is a staunch tradition within the family.

It had been widely expected that this summer would mark Meghan’s first stay there. The Sussexes did not go last year as Meghan was in the early stages of pregnancy, but now we live in strange royal times.

how the Sussexes must seethe, when the perfect, immaculate Cambridges dutifully hop on their budget flight to Balmoral, then turn up looking like the picture-perfect family on Princess Charlotte’s first day at school

It is easy to understand the Sussexes’ desire to live a different kind of life, to want to rip up the royal rulebook and do things their way.

In many ways, their energy in this direction is admirable. Yet all it has resulted in is a rising crescendo of ill will as they clatter gormlessly from one PR disaster to the next.

One can only imagine how the Sussexes must seethe, when the perfect, immaculate Cambridges dutifully hop on their budget flight to Balmoral, then turn up looking like the picture-perfect family on Princess Charlotte’s first day at school.

Unlike their gaffe-prone younger counterparts, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge rarely put a foot wrong.

Yet William and Kate are a future king and queen, parents to three direct heirs to the British throne. Public expectation about their role in society is only matched by the greater responsibilities to the Crown they must bear — not to mention their sense of duty and destiny.

For them, the bar is set so much higher.

By comparison, the Sussexes have the freedom to live the kind of woke vegan lives they find attractive, to hang out with the celebrities they seem to adore and to make the kind of lifestyle choices that suit them.

Fine — but please, please don’t insult everyone by fobbing us off with these pathetic excuses for the choices you make.

If the Sussexes really want privacy and protection — which is Harry’s excuse for everything, from taking private jets to leading a cloak-and-dagger expedition about his son’s birth and subsequent christening — then where better than Balmoral?

After all, it is a fortress deep in a forest, in a 50,000-acre estate enclosed in a national park 50 miles from the nearest city.

But for reasons unknown, this is not the kind of privacy that the couple covet, so on with the show we go.

Cara Delevingne has become the highest paid model, earning £21.5 million last year.

Modelling might seem like a job which requires very little skill or ability, but that is only because the greatest models make it seem so easy. 

I think stunning Cara is probably worth every penny — but is hers the most amazing British face ever? More iconic than Twiggy or Kate Moss? 

Definitely. Greater than Jean Shrimpton, finest of them all? Almost, but not quite.

Oh the joy of a crazy little thing called love

No, I did not love the film, Bohemian Rhapsody. However, I do adore the lead actors, Rami Malek and Lucy Boynton, who played Freddie Mercury and his friend Mary Austin respectively.

After meeting on set, they fell for each other and have been dating since early last year. 

Theirs is a love story that could outdo any Hollywood film for its utter drenching romance. 

Not least because despite being young — he is 38, she is 24 — they are so thrillingly old school. Rami always pays tribute to Lucy when accepting any awards for the hit film.

Lucy Boynton and Rami Malik: Their love story could outdo any Hollywood film for its utter drenching romance

‘My ally, my confidante, my love. I appreciate you so much,’ he will say onstage. ‘You have captured my heart.’

Photos of the couple at the Venice Film Festival this week also captured some of their allure.

Look at them! I love Lucy’s dress. Her hair. Her shoes. Her darling handbag. But most of all, I love the way she is looking at Rami, her face radiant with that unmistakeable glow of love.

Imagine being a beautiful and talented 24-year-old film star in Venice with the man you love. Imagine being 24! It’s a crazy little thing called love, as Freddy once sang, and it is lovely to behold.

A friend is on a hiking holiday in Umbria. Yesterday, he rose at the crack of sparrow, walked 20 miles into a deeper wilderness than the wilderness he was already in and arrived at a remote taverna where he had booked his lunch.

The chef was turning rabbits on an open grill. There was no one else in the restaurant and neither man could speak the other’s language to any great purpose. But sometimes world events can forge an understanding between cultures that defies any linguistic hurdles.

‘Boris una disaster!’ cried the chef, uncorking something rough and red. ‘Si,’ sighed my friend, and took a deep gulp.

Ellie the extravagant ruins weddings for all

On the morning after the Brexit vote, Remainer pop star Ellie Goulding woke up and tweeted: ‘I felt a fear I’ve never felt this morning.’

I felt the same way after her wildly ostentatious wedding at York Minster last weekend. Now, thousands of young brides will all want what Ellie had, with a ruinous effect on their budgets.

As an example of grandiose bridal extravagance, Ellie has no peer. For her wedding to art dealer Caspar Jopling, she had not one but four wedding outfits, plus a bevy of bridesmaids, a barrel of pages and flower girls, plus royal guests, pop star guests, a service conducted by the Archbishop of York John Sentamu and a bill for flowers for the evening reception alone that was £20,000.

Ellie Goulding wore four dresses for her recent wedding

Did Ellie get carried away with herself? A breathless interview in Vogue seemed to suggest so. She talked of her bespoke Chloé silk crêpe gown which was inspired by Jane Seymour — the Tudor queen not the actress — complete with a veil embroidered with the bride and groom’s initials.

‘I have never felt more special than the moment I first stepped into the dress,’ she exhaled.

She wore Stella McCartney to greet guests at the Castle Howard reception.

She then changed into a Ralph & Russo bodice of pearls and silk ‘which I will be wearing with an evening skirt, then white tailored trousers for the reception’. 

This was followed by a Balmain frock, which she described as ‘the most fun dress to dance the night away in’.

Indeed! If I use my standard Moir Marriage Equation, in which the size and ostentation of the wedding is in direct proportion to the length of the marriage, Four-Dress Ellie should be divorced by now.

Is that too cynical? At least we should be grateful to Ellie for taking the time to plug the bridal beauty products that made her glow on her big day, including Capture Dreamskin by Dior, Exuviance’s deep hydration treatment, Rodial products and FaceGym. Who says you can’t buy class?

Three cheers for The Andrew Neil Show, which made its Wednesday early evening debut on television this week. The BBC’s arch interrogator started as he meant to continue, taking no nonsense from politicians from the Left or the Right. It was a terrific start, but surely it would work better if it were on for 60 minutes, not 30? And amid the current febrile chaos, we need Andrew at least three times a week, please.

Jen would go a gorgeous grey 

Jennifer Aniston, right, says she’s fine with turning 50 but won’t let her hair go grey. Is she right? Yes!

Lots of women are proud to go grey, embracing ageing as a badge of honour — and good for them.

Jennifer Aniston says she is happy to grow old but will not let her hair turn grey

Meanwhile, lots of us are most distinctly NOT. I’ve started greying at the temples like Grandpa Munster, a ruinous look for my autumn wardrobe of butter-yellow layered staples, which is apparently going to be all the rage come October . . . don’t ask.

One hairdresser suggested a semi-permanent dab of dark hues, the other suggested highlights. I don’t care — so long as my Munster streaks disappear pronto.

As Nora Ephron once said, there is a reason 40, 50 and 60-plus women don’t look old in the way we used to — and it has nothing to do with Pilates, kale smoothies, Botox and Nigella’s favourite cheap mascara.

Well, they might all play their parts, but the big change is because hair dye and highlights rescue millions of women from an early fade into the grisly clutches of greydom.

It succeeds in stopping the clock and, despite innovations in skin care and health, it is still the most powerful weapon we have against age. I suspect lovely Jen would still look sensational as a greyster — but most of us won’t take that chance.


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