The Princess of Wales beat her husband at an endurance spin class during a visit to an Aberavon leisure centre – while donning her high-heeled boots.
The royal couple joined gym goers at the endurance cycling session in south Wales, and were challenged to see who could cycle the furthest in 45 seconds while riding a virtual race in the Italian mountains.
As they entered the room, the prince apologised to the class saying: “Sorry for ruining your spin class.”
He then pointed out to Kate that she was still wearing her high-heeled boots.
“Not sure I am dressed for this,” she responded.
Once under way, and clearly teasing her husband, Kate said: “Can I make it harder?”
At the conclusion, William said, while breathing heavily: “Talk to you in a minute.”
The event was part of a series of visits in south Wales to mark St David’s Day.
Away from their race, the pair toured the centre’s sports hall and swimming pool, and met children from the local Tywyn Primary School, who were taking part in various indoor sports.
Seven-year-old Rafael Vazquez, from Swansea, presented the couple with a set of Welsh leotards for their children.
His mother Jo Vazquez said: “It was wonderful to meet them. They are so genuine people and have a real interest in the community, children and sport.
“They said how interested they were in keeping leisure centres open, especially swimming, as it is such a key skill for life.”
William and Kate also visited a therapy garden in Pontyclun, where the princess planted a Sweet William – prompting a laugh from her husband.
They also met a therapy dog, seven-year-old Great Dane, Ragnar, with William commenting on the dog’s “big ears”, while Kate said: “He must be very popular.”
Kate was presented with a bunch of daffodils by two-year-old Cora Phillips, with her mother Michelle Phillips, from Llanharan, saying: “Oh my goodness, I did not expect that in a million years.”
Turning to her daughter, she said: “We just met a princess. We’re never going to forget that.”
A further 33,000 more civil servants have voted to strike next month – joining 100,000 already walking out.
The newly balloted members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union will join the other civil servants who are walking out on 15 March – the same day as the next budget announcement.
They are calling for a pay rise of at least 10%, protection to pensions, job security and no cuts to redundancy pay.
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The government has said the demands – which it says would cost £2.4bn – are unaffordable.
Ten groups of civil servants, previously balloted along with the others in November, failed to reach the 50% turnout threshold at the time but in a re-ballot, which ended yesterday, all of them reached the threshold and voted to strike.
The new groups who are joining the day of action include: the Care Commission, Companies House, HMRC, the Information Commissioner’s Office, the National Museum of Wales, Office of Rail & Road, UK Export Finance, UK SBS, the Valuation Office Agency and the Welsh Government.
They join the 124 groups, with 100,000 civil servants, who voted in November to strike.
Four other departments yesterday voted to take action short of a strike. They are the Rural Payments Agency, DEFRA, the Forestry Commission and the Marine Maritime Organisation.
Read more: Who is striking in 2023 and when?
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Today’s overwhelming result is an astonishing show of strength and intent from our members and sends a very strong message to the government that we will not stop this action until we get a fair pay rise.
“We have consistently demanded a pay rise to help our members through the cost-of-living crisis; ministers have consistently refused to put more money on the table.
“They might have hoped we’d go away if they buried their heads in the sand, but they’ve under-estimated the determination of our members, who were praised for keeping the country running during the pandemic but now taken for granted.
“As these results clearly demonstrate, our members have had enough. Unless ministers put more money on the table, our strikes will continue to escalate, beginning on 15 March.”
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UK faces fresh wave of winter strikes
PCS members at the Department for Work and Pensions, DVLA and Land Registry are already striking this week.
Next week, the union’s members at Ofsted and driving instructors are taking action.
Most PCS members who were balloted last year will vote again on 20 March as their six-month strike mandate expires in May.
UK grocery inflation continued to climb during February to reach a new record high of 17.1%, according to closely-watched industry data.
Kantar Worldpanel reported that the increase over the past 12 months meant that families faced a potential £811 annual rise in the cost of their regular shopping basket.
It had been hoped that a decline in the pace of grocery prices during December would mark a turning point in that element of the cost of living crisis.
But Kantar later revealed that temporary Christmas discounting had been largely responsible, as the big four chains fight to maintain market share amid the challenge posed by discounters and other cheaper rivals.
Its latest report showed that while all of the major stores, with the exception of Morrisons, had expanded sales during the 12 weeks to 19 February, Aldi, Lidl and Iceland had grown their market shares at their expense.
The lure of cheaper own-label groceries saw Aldi achieve a record market share of 9.4% over the period, Kantar said.
Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons have expanded their own value offerings given the shift in consumer behaviour driven by the wider cost of living crisis.
Food, along with the cost of many other everyday products, has become more expensive largely due to the surge in energy prices seen since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The war can also be blamed for many commodity costs, such as wheat, rising markedly.
While the main rate of inflation has eased from its 11.1% peak seen in October last year, food and other grocery costs have been a major factor behind the CPI measure remaining stubbornly above 10%.
Unilever, which is behind a host of everyday products including Marmite and Magnum ice creams, has been among manufacturers warning that price increases are yet to end.
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Unilever boss warns of more price hikes to come
Producers – just one element of a complicated supply chain – are still grappling rising energy bills and other costs.
It also remains to be seen whether the shortage of salad items, which has forced most supermarkets to limit sales, will become a significant inflationary headwind ahead.
Kantar said that the issue came outside of its reporting window but that it expected to reveal a hit when its next report is published.
Its head of retail and consumer insight, Fraser McKevitt, said: “Shoppers have been facing sustained price rises for some time now and this February marks a full year since monthly grocery inflation climbed above 4%.
“This is having a big impact on people’s lives.
“Our latest research shows that grocery price inflation is the second most important financial issue for the public behind energy costs, with two-thirds of people concerned by food and drink prices, above public sector strikes and climate change.
“One quarter say they’re struggling financially, versus one in five this time last year.
The first female Speaker of the House of Commons, Betty Boothroyd, has died aged 93.
Current Speaker of the House Sir Lindsay Hoyle, said: “Not only was Betty Boothroyd an inspiring woman, but she was also an inspirational politician, and someone I was proud to call my friend.
“To be the first woman Speaker was truly ground-breaking and Betty certainly broke that glass ceiling with panache.”
“Betty was one of a kind. A sharp, witty and formidable woman – and I will miss her,” he added.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said she was a “remarkable woman” and an “inspiration” who brought “passion, wit and sense of fairness” to politics. “My thoughts go out to her family,” he said.
Former PM Theresa May said she was “saddened” to hear of the baroness’ death, adding: “Betty was formidable in the chair, but earned the respect and admiration of the whole House. I will always remember her inimitable style, but also her immense personal warmth and kindness.”
Born into a working-class family in Dewsbury in 1929, Baroness Boothroyd was introduced to politics at an early age through her mother’s membership of the women’s section of the Labour Party.
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Often taken to rallies where Labour giants including Clement Attlee and Nye Bevan would address large crowds, Baroness Boothroyd would later follow in their footsteps.
But not before the talented dancer’s dreams of taking the West End by storm with dance group the Tiller Girls were cruelly put to an end by just the age of 25 due to a foot infection.
The political stage would soon follow, the journey beginning with a move to London in the early 1950s after getting a job as secretary to two Labour MPs – Barbara Castle and Geoffrey de Freitas.
Baroness Boothroyd twice unsuccessfully stood to become an MP during this decade – finishing fewer than 7,000 votes behind the Conservative candidate in her first attempt in the Leicester South East by-election in 1957.
Following the two knock-backs, Baroness Boothroyd travelled to the United States in 1960 where she worked on John F Kennedy’s campaign after he was elected as the Democratic candidate for president.
Baroness Boothroyd travelled across America with Democratic senator Estes Kefauver before moving on to work for left-wing Republican congressman Silvio Conte.
After two years across the pond, she returned to the UK where she worked as a political assistant to Labour minister Lord Harry Walston.
In 1973, Baroness Boothroyd became an MP herself at the fifth attempt, successfully securing the seat of West Bromwich for the Labour Party.
She is believed to have said this would have been her final attempt at entering Parliament – but won the contest with a majority of more than 8,000 votes.
She became one of 27 female MPs in the House of Commons at the time.
Baroness Boothroyd went on to become an assistant government whip for the Labour Party and kept a keen eye on ensuring MPs were in the Commons to vote on key pieces of legislation.
In 1975, she was elected a member of the European Parliament and became a vocal advocate of the common market.
Read more: Has Sunak got the politics right on Northern Ireland’s Brexit deal? Why Brexit deal is the biggest gamble of Sunak’s premiership
Baroness Boothroyd’s political influence continued to grow after she was appointed to both the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Speaker’s Panel of Chairmen in 1979.
In 1987, the Labour MP was appointed deputy Speaker of the Commons – a position she would hold until 1992 when Bernard “Jack” Weatherill announced he was stepping down as Speaker.
By this time, Baroness Boothroyd had proven herself to hold great authority and conviction and was persuaded by some Labour colleagues to run to replace him.
Her appointment was contested by Conservative MP John Brooke, but Baroness Boothroyd won a vote by 372 votes to 238.
With the result, Baroness Boothroyd became the first female Speaker of the Commons and the first opposition MP to be elected to the role, having secured overwhelming support from both sides of the House.
“Elect me for what I am, and not for what I was born,” she said in her acceptance speech.
During her first time in the chair as Speaker, she was asked by then Burnley MP Peter Pike: “What do we call you?”
“Call me Madam,” she replied – to a packed Commons chamber.
Baroness Boothroyd modernised the role of Speaker, refusing to wear the traditional wig – a decision which was approved by MPs – and closing Prime Minister’s Questions every week with her catchphrase: “Time’s up!”
She stuck to the rules and had a no-nonsense style, quickly becoming a household name as rolling television coverage of the Commons began.
Baroness Boothroyd once reminded MPs that her role was “to ensure that the holders of an opinion, however unpopular, are allowed to put across their points of view”.
But she only ever ejected one MP during her time in the role – then DUP leader Ian Paisley who had accused a minister of lying and was subsequently suspended for 10 days.
She also controversially banned women from breastfeeding during select committee hearings.
Baroness Boothroyd presided over fiery debates on the European Union but described Nelson Mandela’s state visit and parliament address in 1996 as “the most memorable moment of my time as Speaker”.
Mr Mandela had taken her hand before they entered Westminster Hall together for a ceremony.
Baroness Boothroyd’s term of office coincided with Conservative prime minister Sir John Major’s attempts to defend his slim majority and Labour’s landslide election win in 1997.
Her 1997 re-election was unopposed.
Baroness Boothroyd stood down from her position as Speaker in 2000 after eight years in the chair presiding over MPs with a firm manner and sense of humour.
During this time, she spoke twice in the Indian Lok Sabha, once in the Russian Duma and in most European parliaments.
She also welcomed numerous political figures to Parliament, including former French president Jacques Chirac.
Ahead of delivering her farewell speech in the Commons, parliamentary staff lined up in a row to clap her out.
Her personal motto as Speaker was “I speak to serve” and she was insistent that it is the task of parliament to control the government of the day.
Baroness Boothroyd had been critical of moves towards a more presidential style, warning in her farewell speech on 26 July that prime ministers “can easily be toppled” and that parliament “is the chief forum of the nation – today, tomorrow and, I hope, for ever”.
In 2001, she was created a life peer, taking as her title Baroness Boothroyd of Sandwell in the West Midlands.
She published her autobiography in the same year.
In 2005, she was given an Order of Merit by Queen Elizabeth II – given to those “who have provided especially eminent service in the armed forces or particularly distinguished themselves in science, art, literature, or the promotion of culture”.
Baroness Boothroyd was not afraid to speak her mind on political matters after her retirement.
In 2018, she dramatically increased pressure on then Speaker John Bercow to honour a pledge to quit later that year.
She said he should step down in mid-parliament as a “courtesy” to MPs and not wait until the next general election.
In April 2019, Baroness Boothroyd spoke during a rally held by The People’s Vote, calling for another Brexit referendum
While in an interview in 2021, she said PMQs had “deteriorated a great deal in the last few years”, adding: “It’s not the quality that it used to be.”
Speaking as the partygate scandal unfolded, she added: “The prime minister is there to answer questions about what the government is doing, why it is not doing it.
“I don’t say prime ministers have got the answer to every question. Of course, they haven’t. But at least they’ve got to have a stab at it and make an attempt and it is not [happening] these days.”
On her retirement as Speaker, then Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy stated: “As the first woman Speaker, her place in the history books is assured.”
On Baroness Boothroyd’s 90th birthday, Tony Blair said he had been “somewhat in awe” of the former Speaker after she had told him off when, as a young MP, he had entered Parliament’s terrace wearing a sweatshirt and jeans.
While Sir John Major said the Dewsbury-born politician had entered “the Pantheon of National Treasures”.
Baroness Boothroyd died unmarried and with no children, having prioritised her work.
To this day, she remains the only female Speaker of the House of Commons in over 700 years.
Ofgem is expected to announce that it will drop its cap on the amount energy suppliers can charge by around £1,000 – but bills could still rise by an average of £500.
According to the latest forecast from energy consultancy Cornwall Insight, the energy regulator is expected to announce a fall in the cap to around £3,295 for a typical household from April.
But customers are likely to pay 20% more – around £500 – because the government’s additional support (the energy price guarantee) only partially protects them from paying the full price cap.
Read more: Profits triple to record levels at British Gas owners Cost of food still at record levels
Dr Craig Lowrey, principal consultant at Cornwall Insight, said: “Regrettably, the forecast for April looks set to leave the price cap above the increased energy price guarantee level, meaning average annual consumer bills will effectively jump by 20% (£500).
“However, this is before we take into account the end of the £400 energy rebate scheme in March, meaning that the cost of energy for households will increase by even more.
“While tumbling cap projections are a positive, unfortunately already-stretched households will be seeing little benefit before July.
“While prices under the cap remain considerably higher than historic norms, the combination of falling wholesale prices and an increase in the EPG could see the return of competitive tariffs, and with it the chance for consumers to take back some control over their energy bills.”
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UK energy crisis
The government’s energy price guarantee limits the amount paid by domestic customers to 34p per kWh for electricity and 10.3p per kWh for gas – £2,500 a year for a typical household, although the exact total depends on your usage.
The government picks up the difference between Ofgem’s price cap and the guarantee but this support will be cut back from April, meaning the average bill rises to £3,000.
Ofgem’s price cap is currently £4,279 per year for the average household, meaning the government has been paying an average of about £1,779 per year to energy suppliers for every household between September and March.
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The predicted fall of the price cap to £3,295, and the rise of the energy price guarantee level to £3,000, means the government will be paying just £295 per household per year from April to June.
Cornwall Insight said it expects the price cap to fall further later in the year – to £2,153 in July and then £2,161 from October.
The life of TV presenter and journalist Paula Yates will be the focus of a new two-part documentary.
The Channel 4 programme will centre on four “extraordinarily compelling” previously-unheard interviews with Yates, which were recorded in 1998 and 1999, shortly before she died of an accidental heroin overdose at the age of 41.
Yates was known for her presenting roles on The Tube and The Big Breakfast but she also attracted a lot of press attention as a result of her marriage to singer-songwriter Bob Geldof and her relationship with singer Michael Hutchence.
Head of specialist factual at Channel 4 Shaminder Nahal said: “Paula Yates exploded onto our screens in the very first week that Channel 4 came on air in 1982, a whirlwind of wit, verve and charisma – a totally unique style.
“Looking at what she achieved now, it feels like no one has ever quite matched her as a TV presenter.
“So as Channel 4 reflects on 40 years, it feels right to look at her life and career, and what an impact she made.
“As ever, (documentary producers) Curious Films has made a riveting and sensitive series that will, I hope, introduce Paula to a new generation.”
The documentary will also include testimonies from close friends and former colleagues of Yates’s, as well as footage from a number of other interviews and the programmes she presented.
‘A powerful lesson for today’s world’
Yates made her TV debut on Channel 4 on 5 November 1982 on music programme The Tube.
She went on to become a presenter of the channel’s breakfast show The Big Breakfast in 1992, where she became known for her On The Bed interviews, which included the likes of Kylie Minogue, Take That and Robin Williams.
Charlene Chika Osuagwu, producer at Curious Films, said: “Paula’s battle to ‘have it all’, torn between the duties of family life and her own personal career and happiness in the magnifying glare of a world determined to judge her, provide a powerful lesson for today’s world and women fighting the same issues 40 years later.”
It is understood that the documentary will air next month.
Yates married Geldof in 1986, and they had three daughters – Fifi, Peaches and Pixi.
Peaches Geldof also died of a heroin overdose at the age of 25 in 2014.
After their divorce in 1996, Yates went on to have a child, Tiger Lily, with Hutchence, the lead singer of Australian rock band INXS.
Almost two-thirds of drivers have said they believe aggressive cyclists are a threat to their safety.
Around 2,000 motorists in the UK were polled by road safety charity IAM RoadSmart for a survey, which also revealed that 60% of drivers believe aggressive cyclists are now a bigger problem, compared with three years ago.
A similar percentage of people said they would not support a law assuming drivers are always responsible for collisions with cyclists or pedestrians in urban areas.
“The government has introduced a range of laws in recent years in an effort to fix the daily conflicts we see between motorists and cyclists,” IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research Neil Greig said.
“However, if our research is anything to go by, this has largely been to no avail, with the majority of respondents still reporting aggression and conflict among road users.”
Mr Greig added that there was “no quick-fix” to this issue, but that the research revealed an urgent need for the government to continue to educate people on the new Highway Code.
The charity director also advised the government to invest in safe road markings for those who are “vulnerable road users,” in order to minimise the chance of “conflict”.
“In the meantime, all road users, whether on two or four wheels, should exercise calmness and restraint to help us all use Britain’s roads safely.”
Read more: Cyclists could face speed limits and may need number plates, reports say Cyclists given priority in new rules as drivers ordered to keep distance
Some 108 people were killed in 2021 in crashes where aggressive driving was a contributory factor.
Cyclists can also cause ‘real harm’ when there’s ‘lack of care’
A “death by dangerous cycling” law was proposed in 2022, by then transport secretary Grant Shapps.
Under this plan, cyclists who kill other road users would be treated the same as motorists.
Mr Shapps said the law is needed “to impress on cyclists the real harm they can cause when speed is combined with lack of care,” he said in the Mail last year.
“We need to crack down on this disregard for road safety. Relatives of victims have waited too long for this straightforward measure,” he added.
Nearly four out of five (78%) respondents to the IAM RoadSmart survey said people driving motor vehicles aggressively are putting their safety at risk.