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Kate hops into a flight simulator while William holds her handbag

The Duchess of Cambridge reconnected with her family’s long history in aviation today as she tried her hand on a flight simulator during a visit to a cadet centre while Prince William held her handbag. 

William, who learnt to fly with the RAF and piloted the service’s search and rescue helicopters, watched as Kate took the controls of the light aircraft simulator during a visit in east London. 

Kate’s father, Michael, 71, worked as a commercial pilot and flight dispatcher British Airways while her mother Carole, 66, was a BA flight attendant. 

Meanwhile, in a striking coincidence, the Duchess of Cambridge’s paternal grandfather, Peter, accompanied the Duke of Edinburgh during his royal flying tour of South America in 1962.

One image from the time showed, Prince Philip, then 41, seen disembarking a plane at Heathrow Airport, while Peter, then 42, stands at the bottom of the plane stairs in RAF uniform.  

Kate, 39, wearing a black Dolce & Gabbana coat, was guided through a flight on the Grob Tutor – which is used by the RAF for elementary training – during the tour of the 282 East Ham Squadron Air Training Corps.     

During today’s visit to an air cadet centre Kate tried her hand at a flight simulator – a Grob Tutor used by the RAF for elementary flying training – while William held her handbag

Kate, 39, wearing a black Dolce & Gabbana coat, was guided through a flight on the Grob Tutor - which is used by the RAF for elementary training - during the tour of the 282 East Ham Squadron Air Training Corps

Kate, 39, wearing a black Dolce & Gabbana coat, was guided through a flight on the Grob Tutor – which is used by the RAF for elementary training – during the tour of the 282 East Ham Squadron Air Training Corps

The Cambridges were both wearing black as a mark of respect following the recent death of the Duke of Edinburgh

The Cambridges were both wearing black as a mark of respect following the recent death of the Duke of Edinburgh

In 1962, the Duchess of Cambridge's paternal grandfather accompanied the Duke of Edinburgh during his royal flying tour of South America. In a recently resurfaced image, Prince Philip, then 41, can be seen disembarking a plane at while Peter, then 42, is seen standing at the bottom of the plane stairs in RAF uniform

In 1962, the Duchess of Cambridge’s paternal grandfather accompanied the Duke of Edinburgh during his royal flying tour of South America. In a recently resurfaced image, Prince Philip, then 41, can be seen disembarking a plane at while Peter, then 42, is seen standing at the bottom of the plane stairs in RAF uniform

Kate grandfather (left) received a thank you letter and a pair of gold cufflinks from Philip (right) after their trip

Kate grandfather (left) received a thank you letter and a pair of gold cufflinks from Philip (right) after their trip

The couple, who are officially still in royal mourning, had been given special permission by the Queen to visit the centre in honour of her husband, who served as Air Commodore-in-Chief of the Air Training Corps for 63 years.

The Duke passed the military patronage to The Duchess of Cambridge in 2015. She is known as Honorary Air Commandant because of her civilian background.

On the command ‘three cheers for His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh’, the cadets gave a rousing ‘hip, hip hooray’.

William and Kate’s visit was designed for them to hear more about how the Air Cadets supports young people to develop vital life skills.

Established in 1941, the Air Cadets is a UK-wide cadet force with more than 32,000 members aged between 12-19 years old.

Sponsored by the Royal Air Force, the Air Cadets provides hands-on experience that ‘challenge and develop skills amongst young people to help them succeed, encourage the spirit of adventure and develop qualities of leadership and good citizenship’.

282 (East Ham) Squadron supports more than 60 cadets to gain skills and qualifications across a variety of different disciplines from aviation, cyber and radio communications to adventure training, music, First Aid and air experience flying, gliding and a space syllabus.

The Squadron has also taken part in a number of international trips to undertake projects such as refurbishing schools, rainforest conservation and teaching English classes.

After the couple arrived they met cadets taking part in field craft exercises and leadership tasks.

William, who served in the RAF himself, was asked by Cadet Sergeant Roberto Afrasinei, 13, a cadet for three years, if he wanted to try on some of their kit.  

The Duchess of Cambridge was dressed in a black Dolce & Gabbana coat, which sells for around £2,349

The Duchess of Cambridge was dressed in a black Dolce & Gabbana coat, which sells for around £2,349

Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge visit 282 East Ham Squadron, Cornwell VC Cadet Centre, on Vicarage Lane, in London

Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge visit 282 East Ham Squadron, Cornwell VC Cadet Centre, on Vicarage Lane, in London

Prince Philip was Honorary Air Commodore-in-Chief of the squadron for 63 years before passing it down to Kate in 2015, who is now Commandant-in-Chief

Kate during today's visit

Prince Philip was Honorary Air Commodore-in-Chief of the squadron for 63 years before passing it down to Kate in 2015, who is now Commandant-in-Chief

Kate on a flight simulator during their visit to 282 (East Ham) Squadron Air Training Corps in east London

Kate on a flight simulator during their visit to 282 (East Ham) Squadron Air Training Corps in east London

‘Maybe not today. I’ve got enough webbing at home,’ joked William, who was wearing a black tie with his jacket and chinos.

Kate, who was wearing a black military-style coat with brass buttons – details of which were not given due to royal mourning – asked: ‘Is everyone responsible for their own kit?’

Watching cadet climb into a ‘Basher’ – a small tent – the prince joked ‘cosy!’

‘Are you new to cadets? Were you attracted by the camaraderie, meeting people? he asked.

The couple watched a team building and leadership exercise, as the cadets moved items including a fire extinguisher and a teddy bear with ropes.

‘Whose teddy bear is that?’ He laughed.

He added: ‘What did your friends think when you joined up? Do you guys see a career in the forces? Did you think of that when you joined cadets?’

When one young boy told him they hadn’t originally, but were now keen to do so, he remarked: ‘Interesting. Changes your mindset.’

Kate added: Do you enjoy getting the leadership skills? Do you think you would have got these leadership skills outside of cadets. Gives you a bit of a head start, doesn’t it?’ said William. ‘There’s a satisfaction there.

‘Do your friends and peers see the value the cadets offer? The hardest thing is joining up. You don’t know what to expect. I bet you have changed as people, I bet you have grown a lot.’  

Kate was William were seen talking to air cadets during the visit, which comes five days after they attended Prince Philip's funeral

Kate was William were seen talking to air cadets during the visit, which comes five days after they attended Prince Philip’s funeral 

The Cambridges' visit to the air cadet centre in East Ham coincides with the Queen's 95th birthday, which she celebrated at Windsor Castle

The Cambridges’ visit to the air cadet centre in East Ham coincides with the Queen’s 95th birthday, which she celebrated at Windsor Castle 

Inside their headquarters the couple donned black masks and spoke a group of cadets who are preparing for their Duke of Edinburgh Awards.

Each year, the Air Cadets receives approximately 3,000 Duke of Edinburgh Awards across the scheme’s Bronze, Silver and Gold levels, amounting to over 193,000 Awards since the programme began in 1956.

Royal aides said that the first time the duchess met the Duke of Edinburgh is when she received her own gold medal from him, presumably at Buckingham Palace.

The Air Cadets’ offer a Pre-Duke of Edinburgh’s Award ‘Blue Badge’ scheme which is aimed at cadets aged 12-14 years old, and allows them to begin to develop their skills and engage in activities before they are of age to take part in the Bronze, Silver and Gold levels.

Sergeant William Tano talked the couple through some of what he had done and told them: ‘It is one of then best experiences i have ever had.. ‘

The couple were also shown a Grob Tutor flight simulator and invited to have a go.

William, knowing it was his wife’s affiliation, chivalrously allowed Kate to try her hand and it, joking: ‘I’ll hold the handbag!’ He then stood leaning against a wall with Kate’s elegant clutch in his hand.

Kate struggled to fit her tall frame inside – particularly in her vertiginous heels – but managed to do it elegantly and was handed a headset to wear by Corporal Stephanie Andre, 16.

‘Flight safety in an age of covid,’ William smiled as she struggled to remove a protective covering from the headset.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited 282 East Ham Squadron Air Training Corps, where Prince Philip was Honorary Air Commodore-in-Chief for 63 years before passing it down to Kate in 2015, who is now Commandant-in-Chief

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited 282 East Ham Squadron Air Training Corps, where Prince Philip was Honorary Air Commodore-in-Chief for 63 years before passing it down to Kate in 2015, who is now Commandant-in-Chief

The couple - who both wore black out of respect for Prince Philip - were seen chatting with the assembled cadets

The couple – who both wore black out of respect for Prince Philip – were seen chatting with the assembled cadets 

The Duke of Cambridge is a former helicopter pilot, while in 1962, the Duchess of Cambridge's paternal grandfather accompanied the Duke of Edinburgh during his royal flying tour of South America

The Duke of Cambridge is a former helicopter pilot, while in 1962, the Duchess of Cambridge’s paternal grandfather accompanied the Duke of Edinburgh during his royal flying tour of South America

As his wife was put through her paces by Flight Sergeant Yasmin Fokerebacus, 29, he chatted with officers, saying he had learned on fly on a similar plane and still worked hard to keep up his flying hours.

‘This is where it all started,’ he smiled, looking at the Grob Tutor.

The Duke and Duchess also spoke with a group of serving RAF officers who were all previously cadets and heard more about how taking part in the Air Cadets and its core activities, including The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme, allowed them to gain important life and social skills which they have taken forward into their careers.

Many cadets go on to carry out roles in the Royal Air Force and other services, and around 40% of officers and 50% of all aircrew currently serving in the RAF are ex-cadets.

At the end of the visit, the Squadron took part in a Three Cheers Salute in honour of The Duke of Edinburgh.

The Duke was a talented pilot and gained his Royal Air Force wings in 1953.

Throughout his patronage His Royal Highness frequently met with cadets and took a keen interest in their activities and achievements.

In 1962, to mark the 21st anniversary of the Air Training Corps, The Duke presented the Corps with its own Banner during a service and parade at St Clement Danes.

Group Captain Al Lewis said of the visit: ‘It was a really unique experience and the cadets only found out an hour before they arrived. Given that we haven’t had much activity over the last years it was a real morale boost.

‘I was wonderful for them, too, to see the real legacy that the Duke of Edinburgh left.

‘I spoke to the duke about whether he was still flying and he said he was very keen to try to keep his flying hours up. He clearly misses flying professionally.

‘It was interesting to see the duchess get in the simulator instead of him. She did very well. He was goading her to say ‘well it’s not as easy as it seems’. ‘  

The Duke and Duchess are also shown some of the equipment used by the air cadets, including a ‘basher’ (a tent - seen bottom)

The Duke and Duchess are also shown some of the equipment used by the air cadets, including a ‘basher’ (a tent – seen bottom)

Prince Philip was Honorary Air Commodore-in-Chief of the squadron for 63 years before passing it down to Kate in 2015, who is now Commandant-in-Chief

Prince Philip was Honorary Air Commodore-in-Chief of the squadron for 63 years before passing it down to Kate in 2015, who is now Commandant-in-Chief

Kate's father, Michael, 71, worked British Airways as a pilot while her mother Carole, 66, was a flight attendant, as well a flight dispatcher for a time

Kate’s father, Michael, 71, worked British Airways as a pilot while her mother Carole, 66, was a flight attendant, as well a flight dispatcher for a time 

It came as the Queen said she was ‘deeply touched’ by the ‘support and kindness’ shown by the public following the death of the Duke of Edinburgh as she marked her 95th birthday without her ‘strength and stay’ of 73 years. 

In her first comments since Prince Philip’s death, the monarch thanked well-wishers across the globe for the tributes paid to her husband which have ‘deeply touched’ the royal family.

The Queen said she and her family were in a ‘period of great sadness’ but were comforted by words of praise for Philip, who died peacefully at Windsor aged 99.

Her Majesty said in a statement: ‘I have, on the occasion of my 95th birthday today, received many messages of good wishes, which I very much appreciate.

‘While as a family we are in a period of great sadness, it has been a comfort to us all to see and to hear the tributes paid to my husband, from those within the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and around the world.

‘My family and I would like to thank you all for the support and kindness shown to us in recent days. 

‘We have been deeply touched, and continue to be reminded that Philip had such an extraordinary impact on countless people throughout his life.’

Earlier today, Buckingham Palace shared a photo of the steadfast monarch at a royal engagement with a message wishing her happy birthday. Instead of sharing their own posts, Prince Charles and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s Instagram accounts re-posted the radiant photo of Her Majesty.

Celebrations will be a subdued this year with no traditional gun salutes while the Queen observes a two-week mourning period following the death of her husband the Duke of Edinburgh at the age of 99.

The Queen is expected to be visited by family today but grandson Prince Harry will not be among them. He returned home to California from London yesterday, just 24 hours before his grandmother’s birthday and two days after his grandfather’s funeral.

In her first comments since Prince Philip's death, the monarch thanked well-wishers across the globe for the tributes paid to her husband which have 'deeply touched' the royal family

In her first comments since Prince Philip’s death, the monarch thanked well-wishers across the globe for the tributes paid to her husband which have ‘deeply touched’ the royal family 

The photo, released on the official Royal Family Instagram account this morning, shows the Queen smiling in a burgundy ensemble at a royal engagement

The photo, released on the official Royal Family Instagram account this morning, shows the Queen smiling in a burgundy ensemble at a royal engagement

Prince Philip and the Queen pictured together in a photo released in 2007 to mark their Diamond Wedding Anniversary

Prince Philip and the Queen pictured together in a photo released in 2007 to mark their Diamond Wedding Anniversary

Prime Minister Boris Johnson today lead tributes to the Queen, saying: ‘I would like to send my warm wishes to Her Majesty The Queen on her 95th birthday.

‘I have always had the highest admiration for Her Majesty and her service to this country and the Commonwealth. I am proud to serve as her Prime Minister.’  

The Duke of Sussex, 36, is understood to have flown into Los Angeles on an American Airlines flight from London Heathrow shortly after 1.30pm local time yesterday.

His chauffeur-driven MPV was seen leaving the private terminal at LAX, reserved for celebrities and the super-rich, and was spotted again arriving at the Sussexes’ Montecito mansion at around 4pm.

After Saturday’s emotional funeral William and Harry took ‘baby steps’ towards healing their relationship after they walked back to Windsor Castle from St George’s Chapel together after being pushed together by peacemaker Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge.

Later there was a face-to-face meeting within the grounds of the castle between the brothers and their father Prince Charles, but, in an unprecedented development that lays bare the depth of their rift, Charles and William preferred to meet with Harry together so that nobody’s words could be misconstrued afterwards, MailOnline’s Dan Wootton revealed yesterday.  

The Queen will spend today quietly and is expected to go for a walk with her dogs, who have been a huge comfort in the days since Prince Philip’s death. 

In keeping with the pared back celebrations, the palace scrapped plans to release a new photo of the Queen to mark her birthday, as is customary, and instead release one from a previous royal engagement. 

The Queen has worn the outfit on a number of previous occasions including a visit to the MI5 headquarters last year and to the Commonwealth Day Service in 2018. 

Harry and William pictured together at Philip's funeral. They were later seen briefly chatting with each other

Harry and William pictured together at Philip’s funeral. They were later seen briefly chatting with each other  

The simple caption read: ‘Today is The Queen’s 95th birthday.

‘The Queen was born at 2.40am on 21 April 1926 at 17 Bruton Street in Mayfair, London. She was the first child of The Duke and Duchess of York, who later became King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. 

‘This year Her Majesty remains at Windsor Castle, during a period of Royal Mourning following the death of The Duke of Edinburgh.’ 

Hours later the account posted a message thanking royal fans for their birthday messages and condolences following the Duke of Edinburgh’s death. 

In a bid to keep Her Majesty company, the family have agreed a rota to visit the Queen over the coming days to ensure that she is not left alone.

Princess Anne and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, are reported to be among the Queen’s first visitors.   

‘The Queen will not be alone. She will have others who care about her deeply and want to be there to support her in her most pressing hour,’ a source told The Mirror

‘In typical fashion the Queen has insisted she is coping and despite the suggestion she had prepared herself for this day to come, everyone is well aware there is nothing like the experience when it comes.’  

Prince Harry's chauffeur-driven MPV was seen leaving the private terminal at LAX, reserved for celebrities and the super-rich, and was spotted again arriving at the Sussexes' Montecito mansion at around 4pm

Prince Harry’s chauffeur-driven MPV was seen leaving the private terminal at LAX, reserved for celebrities and the super-rich, and was spotted again arriving at the Sussexes’ Montecito mansion at around 4pm

Harry's car was seen arriving at his home in Montecito at around 4 pm to return to wife Meghan and son Archie

Harry’s car was seen arriving at his home in Montecito at around 4 pm to return to wife Meghan and son Archie 

The royal, 36, is understood to have flown into LAX on an American Airlines flight that arrived in Los Angeles shortly after 1.30pm local time

The royal, 36, is understood to have flown into LAX on an American Airlines flight that arrived in Los Angeles shortly after 1.30pm local time

William had joint meeting with Harry because they were too scared to meet him individually 

Charles and William preferred to meet with Harry together at Windsor so that nobody’s words could be misconstrued afterwards, MailOnline’s Dan Wootton revealed. 

A senior royal insider said: ‘Obviously after the worldwide fallout of the Oprah interview trust has to be rebuilt.

‘There was no official wake after the funeral, but Charles, William and Harry took the opportunity to speak and catch-up face to face after many months apart.

‘They were only able to spend a short time together outdoors given Covid restrictions and also without staff, including senior courtiers, overhearing what was being said.

‘It was important to Charles and William that they were both there together. It means nothing spoken about can be misconstrued in the future.’

Kate also attended parts of the talks, some of which took place at Frogmore Cottage, Harry’s home within the grounds of Windsor Castle, according to The Sun.

Given the tensions, sparked by claims of racism and uncaring behaviour by the Royal Family when Meghan says she was suffering from mental health issues, a full rapprochement did not occur.

Another senior royal insider said: ‘There is much pain and hurt on both sides, so this reconciliation will take place in baby steps.

‘First, they need to decide on some ground rules as to how they conduct business going forward in a way that makes all parties feel safe and protected.’

Crucially, Charles and William have the Queen’s support to deal with the situation.

The source explained: ‘The Queen has made it clear to senior advisers that she is united with Charles and William, and was disappointed with aspects of Harry and Meghan’s interview.’ 

Typically the Queen’s birthday is marked with a 21-gun salute fired by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery from either Hyde Park or Green Park, followed by a 62-gun salute at the Tower of London by the Honourable Artillery Company. 

This year it will not take place, marking the second year in a row the monarch has eschewed the tradition.   

The Queen last year decided the celebratory display of military firepower would not be ‘appropriate’ as the UK was in lockdown with thousands dead from the coronavirus outbreak. 

Trooping the Colour, which is usually held in June to mark the Queen’s ‘official’ birthday, will also not go ahead for the second year due to the Covid pandemic. 

Instead, courtiers are considering an ‘alternative parade’ in the quadrangle at Windsor Castle, similar to an event dubbed ‘mini Trooping’ that was held last summer. 

Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary was born at 2.40am on April 21 1926. 

She was the first child of the then-Duke and Duchess of York, later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.

Elizabeth was born by caesarean section at 17 Bruton Street, the Mayfair home of her mother’s parents, the Earl and Countess of Strathmore.

The Queen never expected to be a monarch when she was born, but the abdication of her uncle Edward VIII in 1936 put her father on the throne, and changed her destiny.

She wed Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten in 1947, and became Queen at the age of 25 when George VI died from lung cancer in 1952.

Elizabeth II, who has been monarch for more than 68 years, is Head of State, the Armed Forces and the Commonwealth.

She will celebrate her platinum jubilee of 70 years on the throne in 2022.   

Harry had been widely reported to have been planning to stay for the Queen’s birthday, although sources said he was ‘conflicted’ about the decision and wanted to get home to Meghan.

Celebrations will be a subdued affair this year with no traditional gun salutes, as the Queen remains in mourning for her husband of 73 years, the Duke of Edinburgh, who she has called her 'strength and stay'. Pictured, the couple in 2003

Celebrations will be a subdued affair this year with no traditional gun salutes, as the Queen remains in mourning for her husband of 73 years, the Duke of Edinburgh, who she has called her ‘strength and stay’. Pictured, the couple in 2003

The Queen has worn today's outfit on a number of occasions, including a 2020 visit to the MI5 headquarters (pictured) and the 2018 Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey

The Queen has worn today’s outfit on a number of occasions, including a 2020 visit to the MI5 headquarters (pictured) and the 2018 Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey

Prince Andrew’s gift for the Queen: Royal ‘was behind present of two new corgi puppies to help monarch cope when Philip was ill in hospital’ 

Prince Andrew gifted his mother two puppies to help her cope when her late husband was in hospital, reports suggest today.

Her Majesty was given the dogs in February to keep her company in Windsor while the Duke of Edinburgh was recovering from heart surgery.

The Queen named her new puppies Fergus and Muick after her war hero uncle and her favourite beauty spot in Balmoral. These two pooches were posted on the Pets4Home site and match the description and how much the Queen reportedly paid for one

The Queen named her new puppies Fergus and Muick after her war hero uncle and her favourite beauty spot in Balmoral. These two pooches were posted on the Pets4Home site and match the description and how much the Queen reportedly paid for one

It has now emerged that the pups were ‘bought by Prince Andrew’ in a bid to cheer his 94-year-old mother up.

This comes as royal experts predict the Duke of York is ‘trying to rehabilitate himself’ and get back into the royal fold – despite his brother Charles and Prince William pushing plans for a slimmed-down monarchy.

The Queen has turned to her dogs for comfort in the aftermath of her husband’s death. 

The Duke of Sussex had flown into the UK on an American Airlines flight just over a week ago and spent most of his British trip in quarantine at Frogmore Cottage in Windsor.

Father-of-one Harry will now begin a second 10-day quarantine – a requirement for international travelers journeying to the US, although it is not mandatory unlike in the UK.

CDC guidelines recommend travelers get a Covid-19 test prior to departure and self-isolate for 10 days after they return.

California also has its own travel advisory, with visitors and residents required to fill in a form that includes their contact details on arrival at LAX. 

The LA guidelines also say travelers should quarantine, although that advice includes exemptions for those traveling for work or for urgent family matters.

Harry’s brief visit to the UK for the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh was his first trip back to Britain in a year.

Pregnant Meghan, who is expecting a baby girl in the summer, was told not to travel with him but did send a handwritten note and a wreath.

The trip also marked the first time he has seen his family since making explosive allegations about royal racism during an interview with Oprah last month and claiming his father and brother are ‘trapped in the system’.

Sources told the Mail on Sunday Harry received a frosty reception when he appeared at Philip’s funeral on Saturday and was largely ignored by senior royals, among them Princess Anne and the Earl and Countess of Wessex.

His presence also caused problems for courtiers – although the Duke of Edinburgh had wanted military uniform to be worn for his funeral, Harry is not entitled to wear it having given up his military roles as part of the Megxit deal.

Instead, the Queen decided to spare Harry’s blushes by having the royal party wear morning suits to the funeral. 

He reportedly texted with his father and brother beforehand but didn’t see them in person until shortly before the service began.

Although William and Harry’s interactions initially looked frosty, they were pictured chatting together after the service as they made their way back to the castle.

Prince Charles and his two sons are then reported to have spent three hours ‘clearing the air’ immediately after the funeral.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson today lead tributes to the Queen, writing a message on Twitter

Prime Minister Boris Johnson today lead tributes to the Queen, writing a message on Twitter

But Page Six and The Telegraph both reported that Harry and Charles did not have a one-on-one due to fears of a misunderstanding.

The pair were said to be unlikely to meet again before the Duke of Sussex headed back to the US, reported The Times.

Sources told the outlets that both Charles and William wanted each other present for any meeting for fear that a ‘twisted version of events’ would leak out from Harry’s camp.

Harry is due to return to the UK again at the end of July for the unveiling of a memorial to his mother Princess Diana.     

Poignant images of Her Majesty bowing her head and watching the Duke of Edinburgh's coffin from behind a mask in St George's Chapel moved millions in Britain and around the world

Poignant images of Her Majesty bowing her head and watching the Duke of Edinburgh’s coffin from behind a mask in St George’s Chapel moved millions in Britain and around the world 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk