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Kate’s cancer diagnosis: Business as usual outside Windsor – despite a test of resilience for the royals | UK News

At Windsor this morning, crowds lined the streets to watch the Irish Guards pipe and drum their way into the castle grounds to change duties with the Welsh guards.

It was business as usual.

At Windsor this morning, crowds lined the streets to watch the Irish Guards pipe and drum their way into the castle grounds to change duties with the Welsh guards.
Crowds lined the streets to watch the Welsh guards change duties with the Irish Guards

The palace says constitutionally the same is true for the senior royals, even if there is a temporary changing of the guard.

The King is still holding audiences with dignitaries, but he has stepped back from public-facing engagements, and there is a sense of frailty in the royal household.

Kate cancer latest: Celebrities apologise and share words of support

Mbelwa Kairuki, High Commissioner for the United Republic of Tanzania, presents his credentials to King Charles III.
Pic: PA
Mbelwa Kairuki, Tanzania’s high commissioner (right), with the King on Thursday. Pic: PA

Former press secretary to the late Queen, Ailsa Anderson, says: “This is not a crisis, it’s a bump in the road.”

But she added: “It’s very, very difficult obviously, and unsettling, because this is an institution based on stability and continuity, and you have two key players who are going to be out of action for some time.”

The late Queen had to step up her duties when her father was diagnosed with cancer in the late 1940s. The disease accelerated her accession to the throne when he died aged just 56.

She famously said: “I need to be seen to be believed.”

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Kate’s message: Diagnosis ‘came as huge shock’

How true that was of Princess Catherine – whose disappearance from the public eye sparked a frenzy of conspiracy theories.

And although she’s addressed those with her sobering reality, she won’t be back in the public gaze until medics say she’s fit to go.

For now, she can expect public curiosity has been replaced with sympathy, but clearly there is a lot on Prince William’s shoulders.

He will want to spend as much time as possible with Catherine and their three children, and will be with them at least for the Easter break.

But with his brother abroad and to some degree estranged, and his uncle Prince Andrew relieved of duties, there’s a dwindling pool of royal big-hitters available to hold the fort.

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Constitutional expert Craig Prescott said: “There has been a slimming down.

“There has been more emphasis on a small number of royals. So when two are out of action, that is perhaps a bigger issue.”

Constitutional expert Craig Prescott
Constitutional expert Craig Prescott

Queen Camilla has become a key player.

She delivered a speech written by the King on his behalf, on the Isle of Man this week, and next week she’ll play his role at the Maundy Thursday service in Worcester; a key royal fixture.

The remaining support team, Princess Anne, and the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh are likely to have more focus on them too.

Queen Camilla meets members of the public during a visit to Belfast. Pic: PA
The Queen meets members of the public during a visit to Belfast. Pic: PA

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Even Prince Andrew was leading the family at a recent memorial service in Windsor when William needed to be with Catherine.

This isn’t quite a crisis, but it is a test of resilience for the royals.

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They hope this is only a temporary situation, but what we’ve learned in recent weeks is that while they crave privacy in illness, the public craves information.

Finding that balance is just one of many challenges ahead.

Trident missile misfired and crashed into ocean during rare test launch | UK News

A Trident missile has misfired and crashed into the ocean off the coast of Florida during a rare test launch by a British nuclear submarine in an embarrassing blow for the Royal Navy.

The Ministry of Defence on Tuesday night confirmed an “anomaly” had occurred with the drill involving HMS Vanguard, but a spokesperson insisted that the nuclear deterrent – the cornerstone of the UK‘s defences – “remains safe, secure and effective”.

The fault had something to do with it being a test-firing, with a source saying that the launch would have been successful had it been carried out for real with a nuclear warhead.

The Sun newspaper first revealed the drama, which happened on 30 January, saying that Defence Secretary Grant Shapps had been onboard the submerged submarine at the time.

It is the second Trident missile failure in a row for the Royal Navy‘s ageing nuclear weapons fleet after a problem with another test-firing in 2016.

The UK has four nuclear-armed submarines that are charged with ensuring one boat is continuously at sea to deter nuclear threats from enemies such as Russia and to be ready to respond should the worst happen and the UK or its allies face a nuclear attack.

Outlining what happened, The Sun said the Trident 2 missile was propelled successfully from under the water into the air by compressed gas in the launch tube.

But its first stage boosters did not ignite and the 60-tonne missile – fitted with dummy warheads – splashed into the Atlantic Ocean and sank.

A source told the newspaper: “It left the submarine but it just went plop, right next to them.”

A search was immediately initiated to recover the highly sensitive munition.

Indicating the gravity of the event, a written ministerial statement is due to be released to parliament at around midday on Wednesday.

Rishi Sunak will also likely be asked about what happened when he faces Prime Minister’s Questions.

HMS Vanguard, which has just completed a £500m overhaul, was undergoing a final round of tests before it returns to nuclear patrols.

The Ministry of Defence spokesperson said, despite the glitch, the submarine and her crew “have been proven fully capable of operating the UK’s Continuous At-Sea Deterrent, passing all tests during a recent demonstration and shakedown operation (DASO) – a routine test to confirm that the submarine can return to service following deep maintenance work”.

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The spokesperson said: “The test has reaffirmed the effectiveness of the UK’s nuclear deterrent, in which we have absolute confidence.

“During the test an anomaly occurred.

“As a matter of national security, we cannot provide further information on this, however we are confident that the anomaly was event specific, and therefore there are no implications for the reliability of the wider Trident missile systems and stockpile.”

Ahead of the launch last month, the US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency had issued a warning to shipping that plotted the missile’s expected course to an impact in the mid-Atlantic.

The “hazardous operations” warning said that the missile was expected to travel some 3,700 miles before crashing into the sea between Brazil and west Africa.

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The failed launch came eight years after the Royal Navy last test-fired an unarmed Trident II D5 ballistic missile.

Back in 2016, the missile was launched from HMS Vengeance and flew in the wrong direction.

Defence sources told The Guardian at the time that it did not veer off in the wrong direction because it was faulty but because the information relayed to it was incorrect.

The Trident system has completed more than 190 successful tests during its time in service.

Blood test for Alzheimer’s disease could be as accurate as painful lumbar puncture, study suggests | Science & Tech News

A blood test could be just as good at detecting the signs of Alzheimer’s disease as painful and invasive lumbar punctures, research suggests.

Measuring levels of a protein called p-tau217 in the blood could be just as accurate at detecting signs of the progressive condition, experts say.

The protein is a marker for biological changes in the brain for people with Alzheimer’s disease, which is a form of dementia.

The new findings have the potential to “revolutionise” diagnosis for people who are suspected to have Alzheimer’s, experts say.

It could also be better than a range of other tests currently under development.

In the study of 786 people, the researchers were able to use the ALZpath p-tau217 test to identify patients as likely, intermediate and unlikely to have Alzheimer’s disease.

** HOLD FOR RELEASE/PUBLICATION DATE TBD FOR MEDICAL WRITER MARILYNN MARCHIONE STORY ** Dr. William Burke goes over PET brain scan Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018 at Banner Alzheimers Institute in Phoenix. It may be too late to stop Alzheimer's in people who already have some mental decline but Banner is conducting two studies that target the very earliest brain changes while memory and thinking skills are still intact in hope of preventing the disease. (AP Photo/Matt York).
Images from an Alzheimer’s brain scan. File pic: AP

“This study is a hugely welcome step in the right direction as it shows that blood tests can be just as accurate as more invasive and expensive tests at predicting if someone has features of Alzheimer’s disease in their brain,” said Dr Richard Oakley, associate director of research and innovation at the Alzheimer’s Society.

“Furthermore, it suggests results from these tests could be clear enough to not require further follow-up investigations for some people living with Alzheimer’s disease, which could speed up the diagnosis pathway significantly in future.

“However, we still need to see more research across different communities to understand how effective these blood tests are across everyone who lives with Alzheimer’s disease.”

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Test could turn tide on devastating disease

This is a significant step towards a screening test for Alzheimer’s.

It detects a protein in the blood that is also found in the brains of people with the disease.

And the Swedish researchers say it is as accurate as existing tests.

At the moment Alzheimer’s is diagnosed either with special PET brain scans or samples of spinal fluid. The NHS doesn’t have enough machines or specialist staff to do that at the scale required.

It means that even if people ever get a diagnosis, it often comes when the disease has significantly progressed.

That matters because there are drugs coming down the tracks that have been shown in clinical trials to significantly slow the decline in memory and brain function.

But they have to be given at an early stage to be effective. That’s why doctors are excited about this test.

It needs to be validated in bigger clinical trials and in a diverse population.

But the hope is that in the near future it could be offered every few years to everyone over 50 to turn the tide on a devastating disease.

‘Huge potential’

Currently the only way to prove someone has a build-up of the proteins in the brain is to have a lumbar puncture or amyloid PET scan, which are available in only about one in 20 NHS memory clinics.

A lumbar puncture involves a needle being inserted into the lower back, between the bones in the spine.

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November 2022: New Alzheimer’s drug may be too late for some

Dr Sheona Scales, director of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “This study suggests that measuring levels of a protein called p-tau217 in the blood could be as accurate as currently used lumbar punctures for detecting the biological hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease, and superior to a range of other tests currently under development.

“This adds to a growing body of evidence that this particular test has huge potential to revolutionise diagnosis for people with suspected Alzheimer’s.”

However, she said a better picture is needed of how these types of blood tests perform day-to-day in real-world healthcare systems.

The study from Dr Nicholas Ashton at the University of Gothenburg, and colleagues, is published in the Jama Neurology journal.

Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff’s Top Gear co-host ‘proud’ show team ‘kept everything quiet’ after test track crash | Ents & Arts News

Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff’s Top Gear co-host has praised the team behind the programme for keeping the details of the cricket star’s test track crash out of the public eye.

Chris Harris said on BBC Breakfast today that the former England cricket captain is still recovering from his injuries but is “healing”.

Flintoff, 45, was taken to hospital after he was hurt while filming Top Gear at its test track at Dunsfold Aerodrome last December.

He had facial injuries when he appeared in public for the first time with England’s cricket team in September, nine months afterwards.

Harris, who joined Top Gear in 2016, said of his co-star: “I think he’s healing.

“It was a serious incident. I’m not going to say any more than that.

“As I’ve said in the book and in the few interviews I’ve given, I’m so proud of the fact that team Top Gear kept everything quiet and we were dignified.

“There is nothing out there about what happened and there won’t be. There’s no mole in the organisation. I’m really, really proud of that.

“As long as he’s healing, it’s great to see him out and about being passionate about cricket.

“I’m sad I’m not doing Top Gear with him at the moment, but that’s life.

“It’s the best thing for him right now.”

Top Gear presenters Freddie Flintoff, Paddy McGuinness and Chris Harris. PA Photo/BBC/Lee Brimble.
Chris Harris (pictured, right) said: ‘I think he’s healing. It was a serious incident’

Filming on the series was halted following the incident.

Flintoff’s son, Corey, said at the time that he was “lucky to be alive” and described it as a “pretty nasty crash”.

The BBC said in October it had agreed a financial settlement with the injured presenter following his crash – reported to be worth £9m.

Both Flintoff and the BBC were “satisfied” with the agreement, according to The Sun, which also quoted a “show insider” who said there was “no way it [Top Gear] could continue”.

A BBC spokesperson said last month: “A decision on the timing of future Top Gear shows will be made in due course with BBC Content.”

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Flintoff in September

‘I had nothing to do’ – Harris

Discussing the impact the crash had on his own life, Harris told the BBC: “I suddenly had nothing to do.

“I have got another business, which is an online car platform which is great. I do stuff there.

“But my day job went and you can imagine your muscle memory of working life is really important – you guys have your routines – if that suddenly stops and suddenly you don’t talk to those people, you don’t see those people, then you go into a slightly dark place. I think I really missed it.”

He added: “It does make you reflect on the times that it might have gone wrong, maybe.

“And that made me think I’ve got responsibilities. I’ve got children. Have I been reckless?

“The answer is I don’t think I have. But I did have moments I thought ‘have I pushed this too far’?

“Also, I’m old and I don’t bounce the way I used to. When you’re 25, you bounce nicely. Later you don’t bounce so well. It’s all about bouncing.”

Met Police commander Julian Bennett sacked for failing to provide a sample for drug test | UK News

A Metropolitan Police commander has been sacked after refusing to provide a sample for a drugs test when he was accused of smoking cannabis.

Julian Bennett, who joined the force in 1976, was cleared by a disciplinary panel of using the drug at home in late 2019.

However, he was found to have committed gross misconduct by failing to provide a urine sample for a drugs test on 21 July 2020.

Mr Bennett’s former flatmate Sheila Gomes claimed he had used the substance daily before breakfast and leaving for work at New Scotland Yard, but the three-person panel rejected that allegation.

The panel also rejected an allegation that he had given an explanation for refusing a sample which he “knew to be untrue”.

After Ms Gomes reported Mr Bennett in July 2020, he was called in and, in the presence of an assistant commissioner, was asked to provide a sample.

He offered to resign on the spot instead, and asked for a meeting with then-commissioner Dame Cressida Dick.

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Mark Ley-Morgan KC, representing the Metropolitan Police, said it would have smacked of “organised corruption at the highest level” and compromised her integrity if Mr Bennett had been allowed to resign on the spot.

Mr Bennett said he had been taking CBD (cannabidiol) to treat facial palsy and was worried the sample would come up positive for an innocent reason.

Panel chairman Akbar Khan said: “It is highly improbable the officer believed he had a good reason for failing to comply with a lawful order.

“Harm has undoubtedly been caused to the reputation of the Metropolitan Police Service.”

He added that Mr Bennett most likely decided to involve the ex-commissioner “to secure for himself high-level cover to deflect inevitable criticism and embarrassment that would come his way”.

The chairman also said that “if the goal of resignation was to avoid embarrassing” the Met this was “unlikely to be achieved”.

Outlining the panel’s reasons for sacking Mr Bennett, Mr Khan said he had “shown limited insight regarding the proven conduct”.

He said this may lead the public to be “concerned his mindset demonstrates an attitude of one rule for senior officers and a different rule for a lower rank officer”.

By failing to provide the sample, Mr Bennett was found to have breached force standards for honesty and integrity, orders and instructions and discreditable conduct.

Mr Bennett will appeal against the panel’s decision.

His solicitors said in a statement: “The panel found that Cdr Bennett did not take any drugs, cannabis or otherwise.

“The panel found Cdr Bennett guilty of refusing to take a drug test, something he had always admitted.

“The panel also found Cdr Bennett guilty of misconduct that he had not been charged with: this concerns an alleged lack of integrity.

“This finding was despite the prosecution agreeing with the defence that this was not a permissible finding.

“Since Cdr Bennett has been found guilty of a lack of integrity that he had not been charged with, Cdr Bennett has no choice but to appeal so that the sanction decision is retaken on a proper rather than improper basis.”

Met Police Assistant Commissioner Barbara Gray said: “Julian Bennett’s actions were deplorable. He was a senior officer and showed complete disregard and disrespect for the standards we must all uphold.

“His actions have further damaged not only the public’s trust in us as an organisation, but also the confidence of our own officers and staff in those who lead them.”

UK emergency alert system launched to warn of life-threatening events – with test set for next month | UK News

A UK-wide emergency alert service is being launched today, ahead of a test on Sunday 23 April.

The alerts will be sent directly to mobile phones across the UK to warn people about life-threatening events such as wildfires and severe flooding, the government has said.

They will only come from the government or emergency services and will include details of the area impacted along with instructions about how to respond.

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Oliver Dowden said: “We are strengthening our national resilience with a new emergency alerts system, to deal with a wide range of threats – from flooding to wildfires.

“It will revolutionise our ability to warn and inform people who are in immediate danger, and help us keep people safe.

“As we’ve seen in the US and elsewhere, the buzz of a phone can save a life.”

Successfully tested in East Suffolk and Reading, the alerts will only be sent when there is an immediate risk to life, so it may be a period of weeks, months or even years between them.

The government said that the alerts will be secure, free to receive, and will not reveal anyone’s location or collect personal data.

It is already possible to sign up to have flood warnings sent directly to your mobile from the Environment Agency in England, and its equivalents in Scotland and Wales.

What will the alert look and sound like?

The alert will appear on your device and you will hear a loud siren-like sound and vibration for up to 10 seconds.

You will have to acknowledge the alert before you can use your phone’s other features.

The alert will appear as a notification and may include phone numbers or website links with further information.

You can see what they look and sound like at

If you don’t want to receive the alerts you can opt out in your device settings.

Chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council, Mark Hardingham, said: “We’ve seen this type of system in action elsewhere across the world and we look forward to having the facility here in the UK.

“By working together with fire services and partners we want this system to help us to help you be as safe as you can if a crisis does hit.”

Executive director for flood and coastal erosion risk management at the Environment Agency, Caroline Douglass, said: “Being able to communicate warnings in a timely and accurate manner during incidents is really important to help people take action to protect themselves, their families, and their neighbours.”