EPHRAIM HARDCASTLE: Has Liz Truss’s Taiwan visit brought forward King Charles’s date with Beijing?
Has Liz Truss’s touchpaper-lighting visit to Taiwan, antagonising China, brought forward plans for King Charles to visit Beijing? Behind the scenes, says a source, Foreign Office officials had been examining the possibility of what would be a potentially controversial royal visit to China despite the King’s lack of enthusiasm for China’s leaders since 1997’s Hong Kong handover. But despite three state visits by Chinese presidents to London (1999, 2005 and President Xi in 2015) the Queen made only one to Beijing (1986). Beijing believes it has played nicely on the diplomatic front by sending new vice-president Han Zheng to represent Xi at the Coronation. His predecessor, Wang Qishan, attended the Queen’s state funeral. And Xi expects King Charles to return the favours.
Has Liz Truss’s touchpaper-lighting visit to Taiwan, antagonising China, brought forward plans for King Charles to visit Beijing?
Should the King’s antipathy towards China prove insurmountable, might William go instead? He made his only visit in 2015 when he saw the premiere of Paddington and lectured on the evils of the ivory trade. A slimmed-down monarchy means there are few royals of sufficient status to choose from for such a high-powered visit. Maybe Andrew could be wheeled out of retirement? When his Pitch at Palace was active, the duke was regularly feted on his annual visits to China. A source says he exercised a lot of royal soft power, something now missing in Sino-British relations. Wouldn’t disgraced Andrew relish the call!
Publicity-prone Tory MP Alicia Kearns attacks Ms Truss’s trip to Taiwan as ‘performative, not substantive, the worst sort of Instagram diplomacy’. Only last November Alicia spent three days in Taiwan with the Commons foreign affairs committee. She even put pictures of herself in Taiwan all over her social media accounts. Instagram diplomacy or pot and kettle faux pas?!
Dame Helen Mirren defends her promotional Cannes Film Festival fan bearing L’Oreal’s slogan ‘Worth It’, explaining: ‘I am a L’Oreal ambassador, they are a sponsor of the festival… I picked up a fan because I was hot.’ Helen, pictured, has certainly cooled down since her 2017 outburst suggesting the beauty giant’s moisturiser ‘probably does ‘f*** all’.
Helen Mirren is seen leaving the 76th annual Cannes film festival at Nice Airport
Reflecting on ITV’S Schofield-Willoughby shenanigans, Nick Robinson mischievously remarks to Radio 4 Today colleague Mishal Husain: ‘Endless coverage of Holly and Phil… I’m not going to join in with this because they might start watching how we’re behaving towards each other, Mishal!’ Eyebrow-raising interjection considering Robinson’s ‘uncollegiate’ behaviour on the show. Cocksure Nick was accused of having ‘sharp elbows’ when it came to nabbing the plum interviews.
Sky’s crime aficionado Martin Brunt, currently alarming literary festival bibliophiles with tales of Fred and Rose West from his book No One Got Cracked Over the Head… is tickled by the menu for the Association of Ex-CID Officers of the Metropolitan Police. ‘Glaring misprint,’ he notes. ‘It states: “1923 Spring Lunch.” The crusty old ’tecs love to look backwards to the good old days and rail against today’s woke policing methods, but even so…’
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