“He was one of those ducks who never dropped his guard. I looked at him half a dozen times, and he stood there like a soldier. ”
Said Garry Phillips, the Sydney Royal Poultry Show judge who awarded Ferdinand the Indian Runner duck ‘best in show’ – the first time a duck has taken out the glittering prize in its 199-year history. Let’s just say some feathers were ruffled by the decision…
VALE PRINCE PHILIP
As you would likely be well acquainted with by now, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and consort of Queen Elizabeth for 73 years, died on Friday morning local time. A cause of death has not been announced, but the 99yo recently spent a month in hospital after an infection led to heart surgery. Returning to Windsor Castle on 16 March “in good spirits”, reports say the Queen spent as much time with him as she could before his death. Overnight, Prince Andrew said his mother “described it as having left a huge void in her life”.
WHEN’S HIS FUNERAL?
Geez, you’re right down to business… Philip’s funeral will start at 3pm local time on Saturday, 17 April (aka midnight Sunday AEST), and it will be televised. Each member of the Royal family has a funeral plan named after a bridge – for Philip, it’s named after the Forth Bridge in Edinburgh, the city of his dukedom. In line with his wishes, it will not be a state funeral – he didn’t want the fuss. Instead, there will be a ceremonial royal funeral at St George’s Chapel, in Windsor Castle’s grounds, with just 30 mourners in attendance due to COVID restrictions. Numbers are so tight that UK PM Boris Johnson will not attend, but Prince Harry will, sans Meghan. After that, Philip’s remains will be kept in the chapel’s royal vault until the Queen dies, when they will be buried together in the George VI Memorial Chapel within St George’s.
TELL ME SOMETHING ABOUT PHILIP THAT I MIGHT NOT KNOW…
Well, there’s a challenge…
• He was the first member of the Royal family to do a TV interview. That happened in 1961 when he appeared on BBC’s Panorama current affairs program to talk about his work in promoting apprenticeships.
• Philip described himself as “the world’s most experienced plaque unveiler“. When he retired from public life in mid-2017 at 96yo, he’d completed more than 300 official appointments in the preceding 12 months and was involved with more than 780 organisations.
• And he was worshipped as a god by those living on the Vanuatu island of Tanna. It’s expected they will transfer their spiritual allegiance to Charles. [Insert shrugging lady emoji…]
Want to know more about Philip’s background, his life with Queen Elizabeth, and what’s next for the Royal family? We got to work over the weekend to bring you a Squiz Shortcut to the life and death of Prince Philip. Go on, be that person who’s all over it…
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CYCLONE SEROJA MAKES LANDFALL IN WESTERN OZ
Some cyclones take their time – and then there’s Tropical Cyclone Seroja that raced towards Western Australia’s mid-west coast yesterday… Seroja crossed the coast at 8pm last night local time at Kalbarri as a Category 3 storm with wind speeds of 170km/hour recorded and heavy rain. Three hours later, it was downgraded to a Category 2 storm as it moved inland, heading southeast past Geraldton, where 120km/hour winds were recorded. We’ll find out this morning the extent of the damage so far, but there are reports of homes being damaged. Wheat Belt communities are expected to bear the brunt of Seroja this morning with high winds and heavy rains, and there are storm warnings issued for the region. Premier Mark McGowan yesterday said Seroja would be “like nothing we have seen in decades”.
VACCINE END DATE BLOWIN’ IN THE WIND
PM Scott Morrison says he won’t commit to a date when all Aussies who want to be immunised will have had at least their first shot. In a Sunday arvo Facebook post, Morrison said “While we would like to see these doses completed before the end of the year, it is not possible to set such targets given the many uncertainties involved.” Those uncertainties increased last week after advice from the government’s vaccines experts that the Pfizer shot was preferable for the under 50yos over the one produced by AstraZeneca over rare blood clot concerns. On Friday, the Morrison Government announced it had secured an extra 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Yesterday, it was confirmed those shipments would be delivered in the final quarter of this year. Labor’s Health spokesman Mark Butler yesterday said Team Morrison should have secured vaccines from more producers to avoid the current problems.
MORE PROTESTER DEATHS IN MYANMAR
Reports say another 80 people were killed by Myanmar’s security forces firing rifle grenades at pro-democracy protesters in Bago, near the major city of Yangon, on Saturday. It brings the death toll of demonstrators to at least 620 people since the February military coup. During a UN Security Council meeting on Friday, Myanmar’s rogue ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun called for more action, proposing a no-fly zone, an arms embargo and more targeted sanctions against military members and their families. “Time is of the essence for us,” he said. Myanmar’s military has received strong condemnation and sanctions by Western powers – including the US and the European Union – but China’s response has been more muted. Speaking of China… it locked down its border with Myanmar amid fears refugees could stream in to escape fighting and growing coronavirus cases.
ALIBABA COPS RECORD FINE FROM CHINESE REGULATORS
E-commerce giant Alibaba has been in the Chinese Government’s sights for some months, which is why there wasn’t much surprise that it’s been hit with a record A$3.7 billion fine for anti-competitive tactics. Some analysts, however, believe it’s more to do with the state’s concerns about the tech sector’s growing influence over Chinese citizens. Last month, 12 companies including Tencent (the world’s largest games publisher), Baidu (one of the largest AI and Internet companies in the world) and SoftBank (owner of the world’s largest technology-focused venture capital fund) were fined over deals that China says violated anti-monopoly rules. It’s the latest move targeting Alibaba and co-founder/former CEO Jack Ma, who last year told a gathering of regulators that they were stifling innovation. Alibaba has accepted the ruling and says it will “ensure its compliance”. #SquizShortcut
TWO NIGHTS OF BAFTA AWARDS
Like most award ceremonies over the past few months, this year’s BAFTA film awards look different. Split over 2 nights, the acting/production awards will be announced this morning. Also different – its president Prince William isn’t there, and he also pulled a recorded address following his grandfather’s death. The winners of the big awards have started trickling in, but the most important element has already landed – the red carpet gallery… The BAFTAs are pretty much the last stop before the big one – the Oscars are on 26 April Oz time.
APROPOS OF NOTHING
It wasn’t just Ferdinand making a mark this weekend – jockey Rachel Blackmore defied 182 years of history to become the first woman to win the Grand National in the UK. With 40 horses and 30 jumps over 6.4km, her horse Minella Times carried her to glory. “I don’t feel male or female. I don’t even feel human. I feel unbelievable,” she said.
Speaking of winners… Djibouti’s President Ismail Omar Guelleh won a fifth 5-year term in Saturday’s election securing over 97% of the vote. Yeah right, said observers…
And if winning hard isn’t your thing today, Camille Coelho could be more your pace. She became a national hero in the US last week for… getting stuck in the mud. “I guess I just had my 15 minutes of fame,” she said.
SQUIZ THE DAY
This evening – the start of Ramadan
Birthdays for David Letterman (1947), Magda Szubanski (1961), Shannen Doherty (1971), Clare Danes (1979) and Saoirse Ronan (1994)
• the publication of Gustave Flaubert’s novel Madame Bovary (1857)
• the beginning of the US Civil War with the Battle of Fort Sumter (1861)
• the divorce of Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet (1993)
• US President Bill Clinton cited for contempt of court for giving “intentionally false statements” in a sexual harassment civil lawsuit (1999)
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