Pippa and Prince Harry sparkle in sun and snow

Pippa Middleton is kissed by race steward Erik Smedhs moments after crossing the finish line of the 88th Vasaloppet cross country ski marathon in Mora. The Duchess of Cambridge's sister finished the 90-kilometre event in 412th place. (AFP/Getty Images)

They played supporting players at the royal wedding, but Prince Harry and Pippa Middleton both had the royal spotlight on Sunday -- despite being half a world apart.

140651466While one was raising money for charity in the snow, the other was basking in the sun and putting a shine on the Queen's Diamond Jubilee year.

For Pippa, it turns out that  despite the ups and downs of her love life, she has been keeping herself in tip-top physical condition. Her Royal Hotness finished the gruelling 90-kilometre Vasaloppet cross-country ski race in Sweden on Sunday in seven hours, 13 minutes and 36 seconds -- and earned a kiss from race official Erik Smedhs at the finish line.

She was in 412th place among 1,734 women in the race, quite a respectable finish. There were a total of 15,800 competitors in the world-class event. Her brother James finished in in the middle of the men's pack, 10 minutes behind Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, who clocked 6:36:32.

"It was incredible and it was faster than I thought I would manage," Pippa told the Swedish-language Aftonbladet daily. "Now I'm going to rest and put my feet up."

Pippa and her brother were in the race to raise money for the children's charity Magic Breakfast.

509370881As for that kiss, Smedhs told the Telegraph: "I didn't really plan it, it was just a spontaneous thing. It's traditional to kiss the winner of the race, but I thought it would be funny to kiss Pippa when she finished.

"She just said 'thank you' and smiled."

Harry, meanwhile, has been in the Caribbean, representing the Queen in his first solo foreign tour. He was cheered by Bahamian crowds gathered outside a cathedral in Nassau on Sunday, a striking presence in the Tropical No. 1 uniform of the Blues & Royals.

Among the gushing admirers was the reigning Miss Bahamas, 23-year-old Anastagia Pierre.

She told the Daily Telegraph: “I came here to fall in love with Prince Harry ... he's hot! He is single now, so would I marry him? Yes!”

Harry arrived in the Bahamas from Belize, where he set an informal tone for his tour with dancing and drinking at a street party. He spent Sunday with more formal ceremonies and a visit with the Royal Bahamian Defence Force.

In a speech, he passed along the Queen's good wishes and added that he'll be taking back to England many good memories of his first visit to the nation: "I’ll certainly be showing off about it to my brother and sister-in-law when I return home."

Jamaica is his next stop on Monday, where he's expected to meet the world's top sprinter, Usain Bolt, as well as visit a children's hospital.

Back in Sweden, the winner of the world-class race for the second straight year was Jorgen Brink, trimming 16 seconds off the course record with a time of 3:38:41.

The women's winner was Vibeke Skofterud of Norway with a time of 4:08:24.

The competition has been run since 1922 between the villages of Salen near the Norwegian border to the town of Mora. It has its roots in Gustav Vasa's attempt to gather support for a revolt against occupying Danes in 1522.

Vasa fled Mora, but then the locals had a change of heart and sent sent a team of skiers to bring him back.

There were 15,800 skiers taking part in the 88th Vasaloppet  cross country ski marathon in Mora on Sunday.  The annual long distance (90 km) cross-country ski marathon held on the first Sunday of March in northwestern Dalarna, Sweden between the village of Salen and town of Mora. (AFP/Getty Images)
Pippa Middleton keeps up the pace in the Vasaloppet marathon in Sweden. (AFP/Getty Images)

Prince Harry talks to Boy Scouts after attending a church service at Christ Church Cathedral in Nassau. (Reuters)
 Prince Harry accepts a portrait from artist Jamaal Rolle at a reception in Rawson Square in Nassau, Bahamas. (Reuters)

2012-03-04T201410Z_01_SLP11  Right, Prince Harry unveils a portrait of his grandmother Queen Elizabeth at a reception in Rawson Square in Nassau, Bahamas on Sunday. (Reuters)

Prince Harry   smiles to the crowds as he sits in a specially decorated golf buggy during a tour of Harbour Island in Nassau on Sunday. (Reuters)


Prince Harry finds love among the ruins

 Prince Harry tours the OAS (Organisation of American States) Art School in the adjacency zone on the Belize-Guatemalan borderon Saturday. (Reuters)

Prince Harry worked off any lingering effects from his welcoming party in Belize with a hike among the ruins of an ancient Mayan city in Belize.

After an opening night of the seven-day royal tour partying with the locals, the prince returned to nature on Saturday, touring Xunantunich, a city of stone pyramids, palaces and temples that was the centre of the Mayan universe from 300 to 900 AD.

The Prince climbed the highest pyramid, El Castillo, while many of the current locals gathered to catch a glimpse of the royal, some carrying signs saying 'We love you.' There were also some perfomers dressed as deer and Harry wasn't shy about exchanging hugs with them.

He also visited a school run by the Organization of American States (OAS) on Belize's border with Guatemala. Later, there was a trip the military barracks at Ladyville, before he departed for The Bahamas. During the week, he'll also be hitting Jamaica, then he takes off for Brazil.

Prince Harry hugs a girl amongst some deer dancers as he visits Xunantunich Mayan Temple on in Benque Viejo del Carmen, Belize. Belize is a Commonwealth realm with a population of around 350,000 and boasts the second longest barrier reef in the world. (Getty Images)


Right, Prince Harry walks down the stone steps of the     Xunantunich Mayan temple near Benque Viejo. Most of the structures on the Xunantunich site date from 200 AD. (Reuters)

















Prince Harry climbs up the Xunantunich Mayan Temple in Benque Viejo del Carmen. (Getty)

Prince Harry checks out some of the work of students of the art school at the OAS at the Belize-Guatemalan border of the OAS Adjacency zone. (Getty Images)

Locals try to catch a glimpse as Prince Harry   visits the Xunantunich Mayan Temple. With much of the country covered in tropical jungle and a diversity of wildlife, Belize relies heavily on tourism. (Getty Images)


Prince Harry joins in the party for first solo royal tour

Prince Harry is quick to get in the party mood for his royal tour as he dances  at a street party in Belmopan, Belize on Friday. (Reuters)

Prince Harry took his first giant step in royal life on Friday, landing in Belize to kick off his first solo foreign tour as a representative of his grandmother Queen Elizabeth.

2012-03-03T030502Z_01_SLP11There's no working with a net on this trip to mark the Diamond Jubilee; no other family member to fill in the awkward pauses at dinner parties, or to shake all the hands on the parade stand. This is Harry's one-man show (well, with four royal aides).

Harry was quick to get the party mood after landing in Belize as he attended a street party (right) in the company of Governor General Sir Coleville Young. He was taught a local folk dance and then sampled some local rums, fruit wines and beers.

By the end of the night, the prince had worn off any jet lag and had worked up a good sweat.

Earlier, he liberally diverted from a speech to urge the 2,000-strong crowd to make "a bit more noise." He passed on good wishes from the Queen, adding "I'm only sorry she can't make it and you're stuck with me."

The prince has a full day in the Central American country on Saturday, visiting a Myan pyramid, launching a canoe at the Macal River, visiting the Belizean Defence Force and laying a wreath at a British WWII memorial.

074e2eb188ec4849bfe2Then it's on a plane for the two-hour flight across the Caribbean to The Bahamas, where he will spend two days and deliver his first speech, extolling the history of the Queen and her connection to the islands. She first visited the islands in 1966 and has been back three times.

Harry's final official Caribbean stop is Jamaica, where he'll stay until Thursday. This may prove the most diplomatically sensitive area of the trip. Earlier this year, the new prime minister, Portia Simpson Miller, announced her intention of turning the country into a republic. She repeated that intention this week, saying "it's time for us to sever the ties."

Harry will be breaking bread with Simpson Miller at a state dinner. Talking about dumping your guest's grandmother is probably not a great conversation-starter.

Then it's off to Brazil for several days of sporty-type engagements, including a polo match, before a few more days of 'private' time in the country's interior.

Harry isn't the only royal kicking around the Caribbean. His uncle, Prince Edward, and Sophie, Countess of Wessex have been on a 15-day tour of the West Indies, though it has not drawn much attention in the UK press.

Harry, on the other hand, has more than 40 international media following him on his freshman tour for the Queen's Jubilee.

Prince Harry drinks a hibiscus rum punch at a street party in Belmopan, Belize. (Reuters)

Prince Harry meets enthusiastic local people during a walkabout at a "block party" in the newly named Queen Elizabeth II Boulevard, in the capital Belmopan, Belize on Friday night. (AP)


Witches and warlocks: Royals in disguise?

It’s not all serious business, being a royal and all. There are indeed moments of humour, unintended or otherwise.

A couple of examples today:

Telegraph front pageThis was the front page of London’s Daily Telegraph today. The Twitter world was immediately all a-tweeter, taking glee in drawing the obvious connection between the day’s main headline – ‘Witchcraft threat to children’ and the three royal ladies (dubbed “the witches of Windsor” by one tweeter).

The royals – Queen Elizabeth, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge -- were posing during their tour Thursday of the Fortnum & Mason department store in central London. The upscale store is known for its fine food, but as far as we know, the royals didn’t stop to stir up any potions.

The story itself was quite a serious one, exploring the UK’s “faith-based” child abuse cases.

Prince charles

‘GO AHEAD … MAKE HIS DAY’: Okay, he’s not quite Dirty Harry when he has a Welsh Guards uniform on, but Prince Charles shows he hasn’t totally stored away his sense of fun.

Charles, who is colonel in chief of the Guards, marked St. David’s Day (he’s the patron saint of Wales) by visiting with the troops in London and presenting service medals to the troops that have served in Afghanistan.

He then joined in a little fun on the training ground, picking up a paintball gun while noting that his own children (William and Harry) had once “dragged” him on a paintball adventure.

He showed some true marksmanship with the weapon, scoring 20 hits on targets.

The question now is: How is Harry going to top this photo-op? The fun-loving son of Charles is on his first solo royal tour for the next week, visiting Belize, The Bahamas and Jamaica before a few days in Brazil. Parties have been planned ....


Queen, Kate and Camilla team up in royal blues


Queen Elizabeth, Camilla, Duchess  of Cornwall and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge look at their hampers filled with champagne truffles and treats each of the women's dogs, courtesy of Fortnum & Mason food store in London on Thursday. (Reuters)

Three generations of royal women went shopping on Thursday, but this was no ordinary bargain-hunting excursion.

Store kidsIn a rare summit of Royal Family females, Queen Elizabeth was joined by Duchesses Cornwall and Cambridge (otherwise known as Camilla and Kate), for a tour of the luxury department store Fortnum & Mason.

Dressed in shades of blue, the trio toured the store's famous food hall, met with military personnel and unveiled a plaque marking the regeneration of the Picadilly area for the Diamond Jubilee.

Kate and Camilla followed the Queen's lead, but the Duchess of Cambridge's presence clearly made this trip an occasion that brought out larger crowds. In a departure from her normal British-made wear, Kate wore a wool coat from the Italian fashion house Missoni, though her shoes came from the UK's Rupert Sanderson. All the ladies sported daffodils in honour of St. David's Day, recognizing the patron saint of Wales. (see video of their arrival below).

Their tour included a stop at the store's restaurant, which has been renamed The Diamond Jubilee Tea Station in honour of the Queen's 60th year on the throne. Part of the reason for the visit was to acknowledge the contribution of Diamond Jubilee United Services Tins that are filled with tea and biscuits sent to 18,000 members of the British armed forces.

About 150 current and former staff were in attendance for a tea party with the royals. 

Store arrive
Kate steps out of the car that brough her, Queen Elizabeth and Camilla to the posh Fortnum & Mason in Piccadilly. (Getty Images)

Kate, Camilla and Queen Elizabeth await a plaque unveiling, as London Mayor Boris Johnson (between Camilla and the Queen) looks on outside the Fortnum & Mason store. (AFP/Getty Images)

Store cake Store military

Kate admires a Diamond Jubilee-themed iced cake while visiting Fortnum & Mason, then greeted some members of the military. (Getty Images) 
Store food
Camilla tries out one of the sweets on display while Kates chats up the staff at Fortnum & Mason. Paul Grover/AFP/Getty Images)
Store 2
Catherine and Camilla watch as Queen Elizabeth unveils a plaque commemorating the regeneration of the local Piccadilly. (Getty Images)
Store queen Store queen wave
Queen Elizabeth talks preserves with one of the store's staff during her visit to Fortnum & Mason store. Later, she waved to the onlookers as she made her exit with a posy of daffodils. (Getty Images)

Cancer teens who met royals die within days of each other

Beth Ansell and Kate
The Duchess of Cambridge meets patient Beth Ansell, 18, during a visit to the new children's cancer clinic at the Royal Marsden Hospital last September. (Getty Images)

Kate and William could only spent a few minutes with some cancer patients at the Royal Marsden hospital last September, but lasting impressions seemed to be left on both sides.

That visit resonated once again for the royals this week when they learned that two of the teens they met at the new children's cancer clinic had died.

Beth Ansell, 19 and Amanda Slann, 17, died days apart at the hospital, in the same clinic where they had met and chatted with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Prince William is president of the Royal Marsden, a torch he picked up from his mother, the late Princess Diana.

William and Kate came to the hospital to open the Oak Centre for Children and Young People, dedicated to cancer treatment and research.

“The couple are very saddened by this news and pass on their condolences to the families,” the royal couple's spokesman said.

Ansell had Ewings Sarcoma. Slann had leukemia.

June Slann, Amanda's mother, told the Daily Mirror of the impact the royal visit had on her daughter.

"Amanda was absolutely ecstatic at meeting the Duke and Duchess," she said. "Rubbing shoulders with royalty was the highlight of her life and it gave her a huge boost."

Beth Ansell had become an advocate for cancer research during her stay at the hospital as an ambassador for the Teenage Cancer Trust. Her family will now carry on her fundraising efforts.  

"She fought her illness bravely right until the end," said her father David, who was at the hospital when the royals visited. "The most I will miss about her was the openness we shared and her dry sense of humour. I am very proud of her."


Kate pays a secret visit to her wedding dress stitchers

In one of the official wedding photos, some of the intricate work on Kate's dress can be seen. Joining her in the photo (besides the groom Prince William) are Margarita Armstrong-Jones, Eliza Lopes, Grace van Cutsem, Lady Louise Windsor, Tom Pettifer and William Lowther-Pinkerton. (AP Photo/Hugo Burnand, Clarence House)

It’s been 10 months since the royal wedding, but Kate Middleton hasn’t forgotten about the frenzy of preparation that was going on this time last year.

This week, she paid a special -- and secret -- visit to a group of women who toiled more than most to make sure her day went off without a hitch. Or the slip of a stitch.

NeedleworkAbout 30 staff from the Royal School of Needlework met the Duchess of Cambridge, who dropped by their quarters at Hampton Court Palace to say thanks to the embroiderers who worked on her wedding gown.

“Catherine was keen to express her gratitude in person to the women who worked so hard on her dress,” one royal insider told the Telegraph. “She was very conscious of the pressure that they were under.”

The school, whose mandate is to teach and spread the art of hand embroidery, were responsible for the lace appliqué. Using an old Irish lace-making technique, Chantilly lace and English Cluny lace were used to create designs of rose, thistle, daffodil and shamrock, which were hand-cut and individually sewn on the ivory silk tulle.

It was pain-staking work. The women had to wash their hands every half hour to keep the material clean and needles were changed every three hours to ensure they were clean and sharp. Even then, they were kept in the dark about who was actually designing the dress (Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen), until the dress was unveiled to the world on April 29.

“It was lovely to meet the Duchess of Cambridge and to show her what the Royal School of Needlework does,” said Susan Kay-Williams, the school’s chief executive.

The cost of the dress was been estimated at about $62,000.

Susan Kay-Williams, left, with some of the embroiderers from the Royal School of Needlework who worked on Kate Middleton's wedding dress at Hampton Court Palace. (Getty Images)


The last time Queen Elizabeth opened an Olympic Games, Montreal got stuck with stadium that took taxpayers about 30 years to pay off.

Queen 1976Not that we're blaming her, or suggesting it might happen again for London's Olympic extravaganza this summer. But with a budget that has ballooned to about $15 billion, it would be wise to keep an eye on the bottom line.

As expected, it has been announced that the Queen and Prince Philip will officially open the London Games on July 27 at the 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium. The Queen's last brush with the Games was opening the 1976 Games in Montreal (right), where her daughter Anne was competing in equestrian events. 

The last time the Games were held in London, in 1948, it was Elizabeth's father, King George VI, who performed the opening day honours.

Queen elizabeth
Queen Elizabeth II kisses her cousin Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester on Tuesday as she and Prince Philip arrive at the central gates of Buckingham Palace. As part of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations, she  unveiled the first commemorative Jubilee Greenway Disc on a 60km walking and cyling route linking the West End of London with the East End. (Getty Images)




Kate has her pick of Cinderella slippers


De Montford University students (from left) Mei Chun Lai, Kay Yeng Cheng, Summer Spencer, Sam Sawkill, Tabatha Duffield and Becka Hunt show off their designs that will be judged by the Duchess of Cambridge. (Facebook)

The students of De Montfort University are definitely putting their best foot forward for a royal visit next week.

Design1And their best shoes.

Queen Elizabeth and her newest sidekick, granddaughter-in-law Catherine, will be visiting the university in Leicester as part of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee visits.

One of the highlights is expected to be Kate judging the work of six students from the footwear design program, whose task -- on a suggestion from the university -- was to design Design 2a pair of shoes fit for a duchess. The winner will have their shoes transformed into a real pair that will become part of the shoe tree from which the Duchess of Cambridge plucks her footwear.

Sort of "Cinderella," in reverse.

After more than 100 submissions, the school has whittled down the list to six finalists. The students' designs seem to Design 3draw on several themes, from flowers, to dragons, to tartan plaid. (Pick your favourite at right).

“When asked who their first commission was for at their first job interview, they will be able to reply: ‘The Duchess of Cambridge, the world’s leading fashion icon,’” said Dominic Shellard, the university’s vice-chancellor.

The visit will be significant, too, for the fact that it marks the first Design 4time Kate and the Queen will be sharing the public stage at the same time (post-wedding). You can expect that the Duchess will keep a respectable distance.

"The excitement and anticipation felt around our campus since this visit was announced is a measure of the great affection our students and staff have for the Queen," said Shellard.

The visit to Leicester will be full of presents for their royal visitors.

The Queen will be leaving with a picture of a Corgi -- her favourite dog breed -- judged to be the best from among primary school students, as well as a scarf designed by De Mongtfort textiles student. The Duke of Edinburgh will be given a 3D image of himself driving a horse and carriage.

Design 5











Design 6


Coma-stricken Dutch Prince can't be treated in homeland

The continuing tragic story of Prince Friso has another sad, ironic twist.

FrisoAs attention turns to the long-term care of the Dutch royal — who remains in a coma after being buried in an avalanche Feb. 17 — it has been revealed that there is no facility in his native Netherlands that can even take care of him.

There is only one facility in The Netherlands for coma patients and it only takes patients under the age of 25. The Prince is 43.

“Brains develop until one is 25. After then there is no further renewal of the brain cells,” Vincent Buitendijk, director of the Libra care group in Tilburg, told the ANP news agency.

There is no facility for older coma patients because there is no health insurance to cover them, said Buitendijk. He said there could be an exception made, but limited government funding means it would be for only a short duration.

Dutch familyThe Dutch Royal Family (at right, Prince Constantijn, Queen Beatrix, her sister Margriet Van Vollenhoven, his wife Princess Mabel and Prince Willlem-Alexander) have begun the process of how to ensure long-term care for the father of two young daughters. It has been speculated that the Prince would be moved from a hospital in Innsbruck, Austria, to a rehabilitation clinic in the UK – where he has been living for eight years while working as a financier. Another possibility is a clinic in Liege, Belgium.

Dr. Andy Eynon, a consultant in neurosciences intensive care at Southampton Universities NHS Trust in the UK, told London’s Sunday Telegraph that it could take months to determine how well a patient with a severe brain injury might recover.

"You can't say somebody is in a persistent vegetative state until six months after an injury involving lack of oxygen to the brain, or 12 months after a trauma injury to the brain,” said Dr. Eynon.

 However, doctors in Austria were not optimistic last week.

“At the moment, it can’t be predicted whether he’ll ever regain consciousness,” said Dr. Wolfgang Koller, head of the trauma unit at the Innsbruck Medical University hospital.  

Friso was skiing with a companion in the Austrian resort of Lech when he was buried by an avalanche for about 25 minutes before rescue.

“Due to the length of time he was covered under the snow, his brain was deprived of oxygen,” said Dr. Koller. “This led to cardiac arrest, which lasted about 50 minutes. The patient had to be reanimated during this entire period. Fifty minutes of reanimation is a very long time, one could say, too long.”


Kate finds a perfect mate for her royal team

Duchess of Cambridge arrives for a visit to The Brink, an alcohol-free bar in Liverpool on Feb. 14. In the background, on the far left, is Rebecca Deacon, who is charged with making sure Kate's public appearances go smoothly. (Reuters)

Behind every royal woman is, well, another woman.

For the Duchess of Cambridge, that woman is Rebecca Deacon.

While Kate and Prince William have made it a point of personal pride to be independent and devoid of large swaths of assistants, a cold splash of reality has hit them this past year as they take on more public appearances.

They need help.

138942355Increasingly for the Duchess -- especially with Prince William on RAF duty in the Falklands for six weeks -- that has come from Deacon (right, with the the princes' private secretary Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton).  

She remains strategically and appropriately in the background on public stages, but reportedly has taken on an increasingly larger presence in Kate’s public life.

 “Nobody is suggesting Becca and Kate have girlie nights in with a bottle of wine and a chick flick,” a royal source is quoted in London’s Daily Mirror. “And of course (sister) Pippa is still Kate’s closest friend.

“But Becca is more than a secretary – Kate increasingly relies on her and trusts her advice.”

She may be as close as Kate gets to actually having the traditional lady-in-waiting.

Deacon, 29, is officially called assistant private secretary, one of 11 people in the office that takes care of the business surrounding Princes William and Harry. She has been in the royals business since 2007, when she had a hand in helping William and Harry pull off the Concert for Diana.

More recently, however, her main role has been to help Kate. She was there when the couple attended ‘The War Horse’ premiere in January, and again as the Duchess went solo for visits to the National Portrait Gallery and her charities in Liverpool and Oxford.

“She is a perfect companion because she is similar in age to Kate, is very organized and has lovely manners,” one royal aide told the Mirror.

“She knows when to stand back and let Kate meet the public and when to step forward and introduce herself.”

Kate chooses her own wardrobe, but Deacon is there to help with her hair and makeup, hold flowers and purses, make introductions, help Kate with research ... in short, pick up on any and all details in the public arena that may otherwise distract Kate from being Royal Kate.

Educated in private schools and an English graduate from Newcastle University, Deacon slid seamlessly into William and Harry's life with her organizational abilities, especially as they took on more work with charities.

When Kate entered the picture upon her engagement to Prince William, it was a seamless shift to have Deacon lend a hand with the newbie royal.

"(William) wants to surround Kate with people she can trust," said a source. “This has always been important to him, but even more so as they look to have ­children."

The Duchess of Cambridge waves to her fans at Rose Hill Primary School in Oxford on Feb. 21. Walking behind her on the left is her assistant, Rebecca Deacon. (Getty Images)

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