Queen heartbreak: 'Upset' monarch forced to mount 'unusual' defence of Sophie Wessex

Former royal press secretary Dickie Arbiter told Channel 5’s ‘Edward&Sophie: The Reluctant Royals?’: “The family was upset.

“They were upset for Sophie, that she’d actually being caught in this sting, not upset by what had been said because these were allegations.

“I’m not sure we ever heard a tape recording so they were allegations. They had not been proven.”

In a statement from Buckingham Palace, the Queen said: “The Queen deplores the entrapment, subterfuge, innuendo and untruth to which the Earl and Countess have been subjected to in recent days.”

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Narrator Glynis Barber noted Sophie had not been the first member of the Royal Family to be caught up in a similar scam.

Ms Barber said: “Though reported to be upset by the incident, the Queen gave her full support to the Wessexes.

“Other royals had been caught out by the fake sheikh, mainly the Duchess of York and Princess Michael of Kent.”

Despite the full backing of the Queen, Sophie still suffered “terrible consequences” for her indiscretion.

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The Countess of Wessex has since emerged as one of the Queen’s most reliable allies within the Royal Family, often accompanying Her Majesty on official outings and acting as companion during Buckingham Palace receptions.

Sunday Times’ royal correspondent Roya Nikkhah said: “It was a painful lesson to her to learn but the fact she was able to be rehabilitated after that incident shows just how highly valued she was, and still is, in the Royal Family.”

And with the departure of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle earlier in the year, Prince Edward and Sophie Wessex have both been suggested as potential successors to fill the vacancy the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have created.



Mount Rushmore: How big is Mount Rushmore and which presidents are on it?

Donald Trump today suggested having his face on Mount Rushmore would be a “good idea”, via Twitter. The famed Presidential monument entered headlines in a New York Times report, which said the White House reached out to South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem about the possibility. Mr Trump’s remarks came as he denied the story, and it has ignited questions about the time-honoured monument.

How big is Mount Rushmore?

Mount Rushmore is officially known as Mount Rushmore National Memorial and resides in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

The memorial park covers a total of two square miles, and the mountain itself comes in at 1,745 metres above sea level.

Construction of the memorial began in 1927, with leadership from US sculptor Gutzon Borglum, and completed in 1941.

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George Washington’s part in leading the US fight for independence secured his place and third president Thomas Jefferson alongside him for his staunch defence of democracy.

To his left is 20th-century president Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th and youngest President of the US known for his progressive politics and effort to end the Russo-Japanese war.

Abraham Lincoln, located to the left of the monument, spearheaded the end of slavery in the US and led the Unionists through the following US Civil War in the mid-19th century.

The sculptors intended for Mount Rushmore to draw tourism by representing “not only the wild grandeur of its local geography but also the triumph of modern civilisation over that geography through its anthropomorphic representation.”

He tweeted a photo of himself next to the famed monument which put his face seemingly as a fifth constituent of the mountain.

His picture will never become a reality, according to Maureen McGee-Ballinger, Mount Rushmore National Memorial chief of interpretation and education.

She said: “The rock that surrounds the sculpted faces is not suitable for additional carving.

“When Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor of Mount Rushmore died in 1941, his son Lincoln Borglum closed down the project and stated that no more carvable rock existed.”



Trump Mount Rushmore: Did the White House really ask to get Trump's face on Mt Rushmore?

Donald Trump is known for his bizarre outbursts, claims and requests – but new allegations suggesting the White House requested to have his face added to Mount Rushmore over the weekend have been met with surprise and bewilderment. South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has said she was contacted by White House aides about getting the controversial President’s face carved into the side of the famous landmark Mount Rushmore.

According to the New York Times, the official, who was not named, last year approached the office of South Dakota governor to ask how an additional president could be added to the monument.

Mount Rushmore is a huge rock face carving bearing the faces of previous US presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.

According to a 2018 interview with Noem, the two struck up a conversation about the sculpture in the Oval Office during their first meeting, where she initially thought he was joking.

She said: “I started laughing. He wasn’t laughing, so he was totally serious.”

“He said, ‘Kristi, come on over here. Shake my hand, and so I shook his hand, and I said, ‘Mr. President, you should come to South Dakota sometime. We have Mount Rushmore.’

“And he goes, ‘Do you know it’s my dream to have my face on Mount Rushmore?'”

The South Dakota Governor did present Mr Trump with four-foot replica of Mount Rushmore – with his face added into the mix – when he visited the state early last month.

But Mr Trump has lashed out at the claims, responding by calling the allegations ‘fake news’ on Twitter.

In June, the President tried to diminish the accomplishments of Abraham Lincoln, while praising himself.

Mr Trump has also boasted that he’s a “far greater” president than Ronald Reagan was.

Located in South Dakota in the Midwestern region of the country, Mount Rushmore is one of the USA’s most recognisable landmarks.

Rushmore immortalises four of the USA’s most famous and most popular presidents – George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.



Trump embarrassment as US President confesses ‘dream’ of being on Mount Rushmore

The 45th US president made the remarks on Twitter where he posted a picture of himself next to the iconic monument. Mr Trump has openly floated the idea before in 2018, and last year a White House aide is said to have asked if there is space for another President on Mount Rushmore.

Mr Trump replied to a New York Times article about the White House aides inquiry into adding a president to the site.

He savaged the article in a post, by denying he ever requested to be added.

Mr Trump also branded CNN and the Times as “fake news” for publishing the claims.

But he added: “Never suggested it although, based on all of the many things accomplished during the first 3 1/2 years, perhaps more than any other Presidency, sounds like a good idea to me!”

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It’s not the only time Mr Trump has made the request, with the first time coming shortly after his inauguration in 2017.

Ms Noem recalled that Mr Trump inquired about adding his face to Mount Rushmore in their first meeting.

She said: “I shook his hand, and I said: ‘Mr President, you should come to South Dakota sometime. We have Mount Rushmore.’

“And he goes: ‘Do you know it’s my dream to have my face on Mount Rushmore?’“

“I started laughing. He wasn’t laughing, so he was totally serious.”

Mr Trump raised the concept again in an Ohio rally the same year.

He added: “’I’d ask whether or not you think I will someday be on Mount Rushmore, but here’s the problem: If I did it joking, totally joking, having fun, the fake news media will say ‘he

believes he should be on Mount Rushmore.

“So I won’t say it, OK? I won’t say it.”

Maureen McGee-Ballinger, public information officer at Mount Rushmore, told The Argus Leader that workers are asked daily whether any president can be added, with many people suggesting Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, among others.

A website was also set up advocating for Barack Obama to be added.

But in a major blow to Mr Trump’s dream, Ms McGee-Ballinger said it was impossible.

She said: “There is no more carvable space up on the sculpture.”



Indonesia volcano: Mount Sinabung spews 3 mile ash cloud in huge eruption – VIDEO

Earthquakes Time tweeted: “The explosion of #Sinabung reached a height of approximately 5 km above the top, it is accompanied by a pyroclastic flow that developed on one of its flanks.

“There are already reports of ash fall in areas surrounding.”

Dr Devy Kamil Syahbana added the volcano was currently at alert level 3.

He tweeted: “Eruption of Mount Sinabung, North Sumatra 10 August 2020 at 10:16 WIB with an ash column height of 5,000 m above the peak ” 7,460 m above sea level). Currently Mount Sinabung is at Level III (Alert) Status.”

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UFO sighting: Cloaked 'alien ship' over Mount Fuji is '100% proof' aliens are here – claim

The UFO or unidentified flying object could be headed towards a secret base below the active volcano, a UFO hunter has claimed. The flying saucer-shaped anomaly was filmed by an eyewitness back in February. At first glance, the footage appears to show a lenticular cloud set aglow by the Sun.

But conspiracy theorist and UFO aficionado Scott C Waring believes an alien spaceship is hidden inside of the cloud.

Mr Waring said: “This is some still photography made into a video and its more than breathtaking, it’s 100 percent evidence that aliens hide ships inside clouds.

“This particular cloud actually glows from within itself.

“Dark on the top and dark on the bottom, the light emanates through its sides glowing a bright yellow.

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“Although it was recorded back in February, this is one remarkable sighting and extraordinary proof that alien ships form clouds around them.”

Mr Waring believes extraterrestrial visitors to Earth use volcanoes as bases.

In this case, he thinks the alien base sits some three to four miles below the surface.

The UFO hunter said: “Today its less easy for them to go unseen, since video recorders, live cams and cell phones exist.

The Met Office said: “They look a lot like the traditional shape of flying saucers in science fiction, and real lenticular clouds are believed to be one of the most common explanations for UFO sightings across the world.”

According to astronomer Deborah Byrd of EarthSky.org, the clouds can appear and disappear and reappear relatively quickly.

She said: “Plus they’re not familiar to people who live in low-lying or flat terrain.”

But why would anyone confuse the clouds for alien UFOs?

The most likely cause is pareidolia, which is a trick bizarre tick of the mind and a form of apophenia.

Pareidolia causes people to see shapes and patterns in inanimate objects, such as animals in clouds or faces in car bumpers.

The US space agency NASA said: “Pareidolia is the psychological phenomenon where people see recognizable shapes in clouds, rock formations, or otherwise unrelated objects or data.

“There are many examples of this phenomenon on Earth and in space.”



China crackdown: UK prepares BAN on Chinese state broadcaster as tensions mount

Ofcom is currently handling three investigations into the Chinese broadcaster, and previous complaints have involved impartiality and the airing of forced confessions. The broadcasting regulator has already received a complaint regarding CGTV’s ownership by a political party, according to reports, while human rights group Safeguard Defenders has called for its license to be revoked.

Complaints regarding forced confessions on CGTV have been upheld by Ofcom recently.

British journalist Peter Humphrey complained to Ofcom after the CGTV journalists recorded him appearing to admit he had obtained personal information illegally during his investigation into the Chinese wing of pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline.

The footage, aired by CGTV, showed Mr Humphrey and his wife Yu Yingzeng after their arrest in China due to the charges.

Mr Humphrey, face blurred, said in Mandarin: “We obtained personal information by illegal means. I regret what I did and apologise to the Chinese government.”

In a subsequent complained to Ofcom, the journalist claimed the broadcast falsely portrayed a voluntary confession, and said he had not been tried or convicted when it was broadcast.

Ofcom later ruled: “We have upheld Mr Peter Humphrey’s complaint about programmes broadcast on CCTV News, since renamed CGTN, after we found that he was unfairly treated, and his privacy was unwarrantably infringed.”

Mr Humphreys was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison on the charges, though he was released early for health reasons.

It is not the first time CGTN has run into difficulties with Ofcom.

READ: China launches first independent rocket to Mars in space race with US

CGTN issued a statement three days after Ofcom’s ruling in May this year, in which it said it was “disappointed”.

CGTN said: “CGTN is committed to providing accurate, timely and objective news and information with diverse and balanced views for our global audience.

“As a Chinese media network that has been broadcasting in the UK for over 17 years, we have responsibility to present Chinese viewpoints and perspectives in our news reporting, which is what our viewers expect.

If CGTV is banned in the UK, it would not be the only foreign English-language station to lose its British broadcasting license – Press TV, an Iranian station, lost its license in 2012.

It comes amid mounting tension between the UK and China on a number of issues including Beijing’s new security law on Hong Kong and the government’s decision to ban Chinese company Huawei from Britain’s 5G network.



South China Sea warning: US on collision course with 'emboldened' Beijing – tensions mount

Speaking at the end of a week which has seen Taiwanese air, sea and land forces conduct live-fire exercises simulating the repulsion of Chinese invasion, as well as the redeployment to the waterway of USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan, Richard McGregor, a China expert at the Lowy Institute in Sydney, offered a grim assessment of the situation. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has described most of China’s claims in the South China Sea, where it has fortified numerous uninhabited islands, as “completely unlawful”. However, Mr McGregor said China was nevertheless pushing ahead with its plans, undeterred by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

There will be no recalibration in Beijing. It’s full steam ahead

Richard McGregor, a China expert at the Lowy Institute in Sydney

He added: “The US feels it is late to the game, and is now looking at every option to push back against China.

“But China under Xi is not going to consider any backward step.

“There will be no recalibration in Beijing. It’s full steam ahead.

“Neither side is looking for an off-ramp. Don’t expect this to dial down anytime soon.”

Thunderbolt-2000

A Thunderbolt-2000 fire rockets during the exercises (Image: PA)

Taiwan jet

A Taiwan jet takes part in the drill (Image: PA)

Alexander Neill, an Asia-Pacific security consultant in Singapore Explaining China’s revitalised expansionist ambitions, added: “It’s basically a fait accompli.

“I would expect the US to challenge any fresh grabs, but China has already created the military bases and civilian infrastructure.

“They are saturating the South China Sea with their presence.

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OH-58D helicopters

OH-58D helicopters fire at simulated targets (Image: PA)

“Populating the islands is the clear objective.

“They have moved on to their second phase to make the waterway irreversibly Chinese.”

In Taiwan, the drills, known as “Han Kuang”, were held on a coastal strip near Taichung, involving F-16 and domestically made Ching-kuo fighter jets, plus about 8,000 personnel.

They follow recent wargames involving US vessels and those of Japan.

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President Tsai Ing Wen

President Tsai Ing Wen, dressed in military fatigues, watches the exercises (Image: PA)

M60A3 tanks

M60A3 tanks drive on the seashore (Image: PA)

Tory MP Tobias Ellwood, who advocates a “fundamental reset” of the UK’s policy towards China in the light of its belligerence.

Speaking at a meeting of the defence select committee of which he is chairman earlier this month, he said of China’s operations in the South China Sea: “It’s only a matter of time before they put in air limitations in addition to the marine one which is there already.

“Once they’ve done that it won’t be Hong Kong we are considering.

South China Sea

South China Sea (Image: Express)

“It will be Taiwan that’s under pressure there as well.”

China, led by President Xi Jinping, regards Taiwan part of “one China” and has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control.

Speaking to Express.co.uk earlier this week after the publication of a new Policy Institute report entitled The Future Strategic Direction of NATO which he co-authored, former National Security Adviser Lord Ricketts emphasised the danger of war being triggered by accident in the region, stressing the importance of keeping lines of communication open between different members of the alliance and with China.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (Image: GETTY)

He said: “It’s mainly a risk in places like the South China Sea, and it is mostly the Americans which are the Western country which is most active there.

“So yes, that’s a risk and that is why you need ways of de-escalating if something is developing from an accident or some unplanned event.

“NATO in terms of its military side is limited to the area of its member states so it would not have a military role if there was conflict around Taiwan, for example.

“What we are suggesting in this paper is that NATO ought to be a place where the allies talk about China.”



South China Sea warning: US on collision course with 'emboldened' Beijing – tensions mount

Speaking at the end of a week which has seen Taiwanese air, sea and land forces conduct live-fire exercises simulating the repulsion of Chinese invasion, as well as the redeployment to the waterway of USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan, Richard McGregor, a China expert at the Lowy Institute in Sydney, offered a grim assessment of the situation. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has described most of China’s claims in the South China Sea, where it has fortified numerous uninhabited islands, as “completely unlawful”. However, Mr McGregor said China was nevertheless pushing ahead with its plans, undeterred by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

There will be no recalibration in Beijing. It’s full steam ahead

Richard McGregor, a China expert at the Lowy Institute in Sydney

He added: “The US feels it is late to the game, and is now looking at every option to push back against China.

“But China under Xi is not going to consider any backward step.

“There will be no recalibration in Beijing. It’s full steam ahead.

“Neither side is looking for an off-ramp. Don’t expect this to dial down anytime soon.”

Thunderbolt-2000

A Thunderbolt-2000 fire rockets during the exercises (Image: PA)

Taiwan jet

A Taiwan jet takes part in the drill (Image: PA)

Alexander Neill, an Asia-Pacific security consultant in Singapore Explaining China’s revitalised expansionist ambitions, added: “It’s basically a fait accompli.

“I would expect the US to challenge any fresh grabs, but China has already created the military bases and civilian infrastructure.

“They are saturating the South China Sea with their presence.

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OH-58D helicopters

OH-58D helicopters fire at simulated targets (Image: PA)

“Populating the islands is the clear objective.

“They have moved on to their second phase to make the waterway irreversibly Chinese.”

In Taiwan, the drills, known as “Han Kuang”, were held on a coastal strip near Taichung, involving F-16 and domestically made Ching-kuo fighter jets, plus about 8,000 personnel.

They follow recent wargames involving US vessels and those of Japan.

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President Tsai Ing Wen

President Tsai Ing Wen, dressed in military fatigues, watches the exercises (Image: PA)

M60A3 tanks

M60A3 tanks drive on the seashore (Image: PA)

Tory MP Tobias Ellwood, who advocates a “fundamental reset” of the UK’s policy towards China in the light of its belligerence.

Speaking at a meeting of the defence select committee of which he is chairman earlier this month, he said of China’s operations in the South China Sea: “It’s only a matter of time before they put in air limitations in addition to the marine one which is there already.

“Once they’ve done that it won’t be Hong Kong we are considering.

South China Sea

South China Sea (Image: Express)

“It will be Taiwan that’s under pressure there as well.”

China, led by President Xi Jinping, regards Taiwan part of “one China” and has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control.

Speaking to Express.co.uk earlier this week after the publication of a new Policy Institute report entitled The Future Strategic Direction of NATO which he co-authored, former National Security Adviser Lord Ricketts emphasised the danger of war being triggered by accident in the region, stressing the importance of keeping lines of communication open between different members of the alliance and with China.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (Image: GETTY)

He said: “It’s mainly a risk in places like the South China Sea, and it is mostly the Americans which are the Western country which is most active there.

“So yes, that’s a risk and that is why you need ways of de-escalating if something is developing from an accident or some unplanned event.

“NATO in terms of its military side is limited to the area of its member states so it would not have a military role if there was conflict around Taiwan, for example.

“What we are suggesting in this paper is that NATO ought to be a place where the allies talk about China.”



South China Sea crisis: China tells 'bullying' US to back down as tensions mount

However, a senior State Department diplomat has issued an ominous warning to Beijing against pressing its claim to a key strategic island known as Scarborough Shoal – and added: “Nothing is off the table”. Meanwhile Britain and Japan are gearing up to join the US in key military exercises which are likely to further irritate China.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian was speaking after Mr Pompeo described China’s operations in the South China Sea, where it has fortified numerous uninhabited islands, as “completely unlawful”, adding: “The world will not allow Beijing to treat the South China Sea as its maritime empire.

Mr Lijian responded by accusing the US of “sailing through the world like a bully”.

He added: “The US statement ignores the history and objective facts of the South China Sea issue, violates the US government’s open commitment to the South China sea’s sovereignty issue, and violates and distorts international law.

“It intentionally stirs up controversy over maritime sovereignty claims, destroys regional peace and stability, and is an irresponsible act.”

He added: “The US will never succeed in its efforts at smearing.

“We express strong dissatisfaction towards the US’s mistakes.

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Washington regularly sends warships regularly through the strategic waterway, through which about £2.4trillion of trade passes annually, to demonstrate freedom of navigation.

However, Mr Pompeo’s statement was the first time the US has characterised China’s behaviour as illegal.

Speaking today, David Stilwell, who as assistant secretary of state for East Asia, is Washington’s top diplomat in the region, said Washington could respond with sanctions against Chinese officials and enterprises involved in what he termed coercion in the South China Sea.

Outlining the diplomatic tools at his disposal, he explained: “Nothing is off the table – there is room for that.

“This is a language the Chinese understand – demonstrative and tangible action.”

A US Navy destroyer carried out a freedom of navigation operation on Tuesday near the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, the military said.

Mr Stilwell added: “We are no longer going to say we are neutral on these maritime issues.

“When a Chinese drilling rig plants itself in Vietnamese or Malaysian waters, we’re going to be able to make a positive statement.

Mr Stilwell had a particular warning over the Scarborough Shoal, a strategic outcrop located 124 miles from the Philippines which is claimed by both Beijing and Manila, and which China seized in 2012.

He said: “Any move by China to physically occupy, reclaim or militarise Scarborough Shoal would be a dangerous move and would have lasting and severe consequences for China’s relationship with the United States, as well as the entire region.”

HMS Queen Elizabeth, the UK’s new aircraft carrier, will take part in exercises in the region with the US and Japan next year, The Times today reported.