EDEN CONFIDENTIAL: Plans for King Charles to drive across the Severn Bridge in his beloved Aston Martin were abandoned amid online backlash
With the Coronation barely a week away, there is understandable disbelief that invitations have been sent to IRA apologist and Sinn Fein leader Michelle O’Neill, and Han Zheng, vice-president of China’s murderous communist regime.
But, rest assured, the King is fully prepared – not least because of a previous event, also intended as a joyous public celebration, which saw him engulfed by ill-feeling and profoundest suspicion, none of it of his own making.
The extraordinary episode is recounted in a new book, Charles: The King and Wales, in which the author, Huw Thomas, discloses plans which would have seen Charles, as Prince of Wales, being filmed at the wheel of his Aston Martin, in footage which would have gone around the world.
That diverting image was envisaged as the highlight as the Severn bridge – officially, the Second Severn Crossing, which Charles had opened back in 1996 – was re-named the Prince of Wales Bridge in 2018, commemorating 60 years since the Queen made him the Prince of Wales.
The then Prince of Wales had plans to drive his beloved Aston Martin over the bridge dashed (pictured in 2020 at the new Aston Martin Lagonda factory in St Athan, Barry, South Wales)
The proposal to re-name the bridge (pictured) – first suggested by the then Secretary of State for Wales, Alun Cairns – needed the agreement of the Labour Welsh government
Officials at Clarence House were ‘really up for it’, records Thomas, Business Correspondent for BBC Wales, who explains that Charles would have been filmed crossing from England to Wales.
This was seen as ‘a golden opportunity’ by the government, not only to secure ‘global attention for Wales’, but also to highlight Aston Martin’s new factory at St Athan, eighteen miles from Cardiff.
But, Thomas explains, the proposal to re-name the bridge – first suggested by the then Secretary of State for Wales, Alun Cairns – needed the agreement of the Labour Welsh government, headed by Cairns’s longstanding political opponent, Carwyn Jones.
The re-naming ceremony was held three months later. There was no Aston Martin. Nor was Charles even at the bridge, but 25 miles west of it, in a sweltering marquee at a hotel off the M4 (pictured in 2018)
Eight months – and three letters from Cairns to Jones, and two rugby matches when they’d sat together at the Principality Stadium – later, Jones said he welcomed the idea, added that the Welsh Government would support the proposal and said he stood by to ‘be involved in the formal renaming ceremony’.
The name change was duly announced – inspiring a torrent of online outrage from Welsh nationalists, who took offence at the blue-tongued dragon which was to embellish the new signs on the bridge, as well as the new name.
The re-naming ceremony was held three months later. There was no Aston Martin. Nor was Charles even at the bridge, but 25 miles west of it, in a sweltering marquee at a hotel off the M4.
‘I am acutely aware that to bear this name is the greatest possible honour,’ he said, adding he was ‘mindful of how the title of Prince of Wales goes back to those great Welsh rulers, such as Llywelyn ap Gruffudd’ and that he was hopeful the Crossing’s new name would ‘bring to mind all those who, over these long centuries, have borne that ancient title ‘Tywysogion Cymru’ [Princes of Wales].’
The Coronation? Should be a doddle by comparison.
Top model Lily Cole reveals she had ‘incredible’ experience with psychic
Lily Cole is used to strutting down the catwalk but for her latest acting role the model had to consult a psychic to get the job done.
She stars in Oscar-nominated Lasse Hallstrom’s forthcoming film Hilma, based on the life of Swedish artist Hilma af Klint, who took part in seances to influence her work.
‘The first time I met with Lasse in Stockholm, I said, ‘What about us doing a séance – is that possible?’ Cambridge-educated Lily tells me at a screening at the Curzon Soho cinema in London.
‘He was, like, ‘Well, actually, I know an amazing one and I’m working with him already.’
Lily Cole stars in Oscar-nominated Lasse Hallstrom’s forthcoming film Hilma, based on the life of Swedish artist Hilma af Klint (pictured on April 26)
‘We organised a seance with this psychic in Stockholm and for me that was really powerful, both for the information it gave for the character but also for the journey it gave me for really allowing myself to believe.’
Lily – who has a seven-year-old daughter, Wylde, with her husband, entrepreneur Kwame Ferreira – adds: ‘I did a few sessions with him about the film. I then did a follow-up session about my life personally.
‘I found it incredible the amount of information he gave me about people I know who had passed and things going on with my life. It was very profound.’
Veteran DJ ‘Diddy’ David Hamilton had a pop at the BBC at the second birthday party for Boom Radio, at London’s Ivy Club.
Radio 2 has seen an exodus of older presenters and an influx of TV stars such as Vernon Kay and Rylan.
DJ David Hamilton said, ‘We’ve torn up all the rules of being broadcasting giants,’ talking about his new show on Boom
‘We’ve torn up all the rules of being broadcasting giants,’ says Hamilton, who has a show on Boom.
‘Playing the same records over and over because a panel says they’re safe. We say: B******s! Hiring television personalities and hoping they work on radio. Double b******s!’
Don’t tell Prince Harry, who’s sung the praises of hallucinogenic drugs, but the Duchess of Northumberland has welcomed 14 ‘magic mushrooms’ to her Alnwick estate.
But these 2.5ft mushrooms were made by a model-making company for an attraction there called Lilidorei.
Tim Wallers, who plays Prince Andrew in Channel 4’s over-the-top comedy about the Royal Family, The Windsors, won’t appear in the one-off edition due to be broadcast this weekend to mark King Charles’s crowning.
Tim Wallers (third from left, back row) plays Prince Andrew in Channel 4’s over-the-top comedy about the Royal Family, The Windsors
‘Sadly, I’m not in The Windsors Coronation Special,’ he tells me. ‘Prince Andrew considered inappropriate.’
Poor old Duke of York — too toxic even for a satire.
She is joyfully ensconced with her toy boy lover — the amusingly named personal trainer Tom Child, 32 — but actress Tamzin Outhwaite, 52, accepts the relationship is likely not to last for ever . . . and it will probably be her decision.
‘I was only looking for a fling when I met Tom five years ago,’ she admits.
‘At that point, I was happy being single and so was he. We have a wonderful life now, but he also knows I don’t believe you’re meant to be with one person for the rest of your life. My mum was a hippy and an adventurer and I take after her. Relationships work better if you take the pressure off and live in the now.’
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