Portrait of the week

Prince Harry announces his engagement to US actress Meghan Markle

2 December 2017

9:00 AM

2 December 2017

9:00 AM


The engagement was announced of Prince Henry of Wales, aged 33, and the Los Angeles-born Meghan Markle, an actress aged 36. They are to marry at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, in May. Ms Markle scotched rumours that she might be a Catholic, declaring herself a Protestant preparing to be baptised into the Church of England and receive Confirmation before the wedding. Though Ms Markle is divorced, she has been allowed to marry in a church service. The couple told the broadcaster Mishal Husain in a televised interview that they were attempting to cook a chicken one day last month when the prince went down on one knee to propose. During the interview, Prince Harry said: ‘The corgis took to you straight away.’

Britain agreed to a formula to decide the sum that it must pay to leave the European Union; the result would be up to £50 billion. On 4 December Theresa May, the Prime Minister, was to have lunch with Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission. It was hoped that the EU might this month allow talks to progress to questions of trade. In the meantime the Irish border remained a baffling obstacle, although Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary, said that there could be no final decisions on the issue until Britain and the EU reached a trade agreement. The Bank of England reported that the British financial system was strong enough to withstand a ‘disorderly Brexit’. The UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency allowed Viagra to be sold over the counter in chemists’ shops.

Dame Professor Glynis Breakwell resigned as vice-chancellor of the University of Bath, where she had been paid £468,000 a year, attracting some criticism; but first she would take a year’s sabbatical on full pay. Six British former soldiers, who had been guarding a ship against piracy in the Indian Ocean, were released from an Indian prison four years after being held on weapons charges. The government published a White paper on industrial strategy. Palmer and Harvey, the wholesalers that supplied 90,000 shops, went into administration, with the immediate loss of 2,500 jobs. Two big pharmaceutical companies, Qiagen and MSD, undertook to establish research centres in London and Manchester. Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, declared a plan to make new public lavatories gender-neutral: ‘We need a range of toilets that reflect the incredible diversity of this city.’


North Korea fired another intercontinental ballistic missile, which flew for about 1,000 kilometres and fell into the Sea of Japan. On the island of Bali, Mount Agung erupted; 100,000 people were told to move, a seven-mile exclusion zone was set up and hundreds of flights cancelled. The Pope made a four-day visit to Burma. President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the new head of state in Zimbabwe, offered an amnesty until the end of February for the surrender of public funds illegally stashed abroad. Frances Fitzgerald resigned as the deputy prime minister —or tánaiste — of Ireland, to avoid a snap general election. The EU approved the use of glyphosate weedkiller for another five years after Germany changed its position from abstention to approval.

An attack by supporters of Isis on a Sufi mosque in northern Sinai in Egypt killed more than 300 people. Ahmed Abu Khattala, accused of being behind the attack in 2012 on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in which the US ambassador and three US guards died, was found guilty of terrorist charges but not guilty of murder. A coalition of Islamic countries would ‘pursue terrorism until it is eradicated completely’, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia told a meeting of its 40 members, which exclude Iran, Syria and Iraq. A Saudi-led coalition waging war on Shia rebels in Yemen eased a blockade to allow the docking of a UN ship which was loaded with thousands of tons of wheat, enough to feed 1.8 million people for a month.

Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency, teetered on the brink of a value of $10,000 to the bitcoin, against about $1,000 at the beginning of the year. A tribunal in Perth, Australia heard that an employee had frequently gone off to play golf, concealing his whereabouts by masking GPS signals from his personal digital device by putting it in an empty foil bag of Twisties, a cheese-based snack, acting as a Faraday cage. CSH

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