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#Megxit - what the papers won't tell youWill’s and Harry’s rivalry is tearing the royal family apart According to the most popular theory doing the rounds, it’s the two brothers’ fight to be top dog that’s caused all the trouble with Charles’s boys. The families couldn’t agree to disagree, so split their joint foundation. They couldn’t bare each other’s company, so split their joint households. Their wives didn’t see eye to eye, and briefed the press against each other. So, Harry and Meghan have had enough; they’re fed up of playing second fiddle; Kate’s coldness has frozen out Meghan’s protocol-breaking enthusiasm; the Sussexes are off. It's #Megxit.
And the taxpayers can sigh a deep sigh of relief, that at least they won’t be left footing the bills for the couple anymore; and once they’re no longer royals, the hoity-toity pair can jolly well put something back into society, instead of sponging off it.
The trouble with all of this is, it’s based on rumour, gossip and speculation – and in some cases is demonstrably false.
It’s all gossip and lies Firstly, the apparent “split” between the Cambridges and Sussexes. Both William and Harry have repeatedly scotched rumours that they or their wives had fallen out – they’ve gone so far as to speak of their brotherly love for each other, and issue outright denials of rumours of bullying. Against their words, we have unnamed “sources” who have allegedly briefed journalists. How can we possibly weigh up the trustworthiness of such sources? How do we know they’re anymore in the know than we are? How do we know all the unnamed sources actually exist in real life?
Then there’s the idea that Meghan hasn’t fitted in to the royal family – that as a commoner and outsider, she’s struggled to get to grips with royal protocol. Well, firstly, let’s see what the Queen herself had to say about the importance of protocol. In 2009, the tabloids erupted in fury, as then-First Lady Michelle Obama dared to not only touch but actually full-on hug the Queen. The trouble is, Her Majesty didn’t seem to visibly mind at the time – and writing later in her book, “The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, The Dresser and the Wardrobe”, royal dresser Angela Kelly says the Queen saw it as an instinctive gesture of affection and respect – going on to argue protocol is far less important than human instinct, and that “Anyone who is close to Her Majesty is not a threat and is certainly trusted.”1 The book, by the way, was published with the permission of the Queen.
The evidence is irrefutable So what evidence do we have that, far from viewing Meghan as a jumped-up protocol-breaker, the Queen sees her as one of the family, to be loved and cherished? How about the words of Her Majesty herself, will they do as evidence? Here’s two extracts from the statement she issued at the weekend:
“Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family.”
and then a sentence later:
“[I] am particularly proud of how Meghan has so quickly become one of the family.”2
The statement from Buckingham Palace, issued as an addendum, laid out the groundwork for the practical working relationship between the Sussexes and the rest of the royal family, in the future. It said that yes, they will step back from Royal duties, give up any official military appointments and lose the right to use their royal titles. And they’ll no longer receive public funds for royal duties. But, even in a straightforward business-style statement, the Palace still found space to include the personal warmth of the Queen’s feelings – highlighting that the Sussexes had the Queen’s blessing (not just permission) to continue with their private patronages and associations.
Is our love of scandal blinding us? When it comes to royal “news”, we run a high risk of being carried away on a wave of gossip, rumour and scandal. The tabloids, online headlines and social media threads know what we want – and hand it to us in shed-loads. Because the royals very rarely officially comment on stories, and because we regularly accept and trust (and where else would we do this?) unnamed sources, it’s almost impossible for us to know whether most stories about the royals are based on fact – or imagination. When the royals do speak out for themselves, our views are tarnished by the unsubstantiated rumour and gossip we’ve come to expect in the press. But we can change that – by focusing on the facts. Statements from the royals themselves, or from named sources; or documented facts and evidence not filtered through the gossip columns. And we can resist the urge to buy papers (or click on stories) based on their gossip content, scandal rating or click-bait stance.
But there’s more that needs to be done. As Christians, we are called to pray for all those going through tough times. No-one is too privileged, too wealthy or too much a celebrity to deserve our prayers. Or to need God’s help in life. Whatever reasons are behind Harry and Meghan’s decision, it will impact them and their extended family. They will struggle, spending significant amounts of time away from that family. And the two brothers, who’ve grown up together and suffered so much anguish over the death of their mother together, will find it a hard adjustment to be apart. God places us all in families – we should pray for theirs, and pray that God would be able to speak into and through the new family circumstances of Harry, Meghan and Archie.