British Queen celebrates

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Photo: The Queen and Zara Phillips by star1950


The Queen's granddaughter Zara Phillips has got engaged to long-term boyfriend Mike Tindall, Buckingham Palace has said.

Mr Tindall proposed to his partner on Monday night at their Gloucestershire home and the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh are said to be "delighted" by the news, a Palace spokeswoman said.

A Buckingham Palace statement said: "The Princess Royal and Captain Mark Phillips are pleased to announce the engagement of their daughter Zara Phillips to Mr Mike Tindall, son of Mr Phillip and Mrs Linda Tindall."

Photo by AndrewHA .


An independent inquiry into the alleged misuse of public funds by senior executives at Network Rail (NR) will begin in the New Year.

Sources said it will led by Antony White QC and will begin formal hearings in London in January.

The move has been agreed by NR and the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA), which represents senior staff at the publicly-funded rail firm.

The inquiry's terms of reference state "that an inquiry should be conducted to investigate any allegations of misuse of public funds and serious financial impropriety, potentially including fraud, presented to the inquiry by TSSA or present or former employees of Network Rail".


Thousands of extra deliveries have been made by postal workers as the Royal Mail made strenuous efforts to clear the huge Christmas postbag despite the snow.

Up to 14,000 extra delivery rounds are planned across the UK, weather permitting, over the next four evenings.

Around two million homes should receive an evening delivery this week.

The delivery programme follows £20 million investment by the Royal Mail in additional measures to deal with what is already the most severe December weather in almost 30 years.


More than 100 British veterans are considering handing back their medals to the Government to protest against their frozen pensions.

The veterans, who have more than 600 years of military service between them, have delivered a petition to Pensions Minister Steve Webb complaining that their state pension is not increased in line with inflation each year because they live outside the UK.

Britons who retire to a number of countries outside the UK, including Canada, Australia and South Africa, have their state pension frozen at the level at which it was when they left the country or retired, although those who retire to countries with which the UK has a reciprocal tax agreement, such as the US and EU countries, continue to receive an annual inflationary increase.

The veterans are calling on the Government to change the situation. They said they felt so outraged by the way they have been treated by the Government that they are prepared to hand back their medals in protest.

The International Consortium of British Pensioners estimates that around 500,000 people are affected by the freeze, with these pensioners receiving less than 60% of the income they would get if their state pension had been increased in line with inflation.


The number of council jobs cut or threatened with the axe in recent weeks is now almost 74,000, with unions fearing that services will now be "slashed" in the New Year, officials have said.

The GMB union said 79 local authorities in England, Wales and Scotland had now issued warnings of job losses as a result of the Government's Comprehensive Spending Review in October.

Union officials were now involved in the statutory 90-day consultations over job cuts in councils across the country, said the GMB.


Bookies' favourite Matt Cardle has been crowned the winner of this year's X Factor.

The 27-year-old former painter and decorator declared "I'm so proud" after his name was called out by host Dermot O'Leary.

Cardle, from Colchester, Essex, beat fellow finalist Liverpudlian Rebecca Ferguson to take the 2010 title of ITV's hugely popular show.

Earlier in the show, five-piece boy band One Direction were named as the third place runners up.


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The Prince of Wales may have to abandon his historic Rolls-Royce in the wake of the attack by tuition fee protesters, Home Secretary Theresa May hinted.

Mrs May suggested the Phantom VI might not be "appropriate" for transporting the Prince and his wife the Duchess of Cornwall.

She also confirmed that Camilla had come into contact with the mob who surrounded the car in the West End and poked sticks through the window.

The comments came as the inquest continued into the violent demonstrations over hikes in university charges that rocked central London last week.

Amid reports that Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson offered to resign after the chaotic scenes, Mrs May insisted she had not considered falling on her sword.


The coalition suffered three resignations and saw its majority slashed as the Liberal Democrats split three ways over moves to hike university tuition fees to up to £9,000.

Violence raged among protesters outside the Commons before and after the vote - and there are reports that a car containing the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall has been attacked.

In the vote, 21 Lib Dem MPs defied desperate pleas from leader Nick Clegg and voted against the controversial rise, while eight abstained. The Government won the vote with a majority of just 21, with 323 MPs in favour and 302 against.

The vote came after a tense five-hour debate in the Commons, which saw a number of Lib Dem MPs and a handful of Tories voice opposition to the plans.

Two Liberal Democrat MPs resigned as ministerial aides ahead of the vote.



The Mayor of London Boris Johnson will join representatives of London's Jewish community on Wednesday (December 8) when the final light is lit on the giant Menorah in Trafalgar Square as part of the capital's celebrations to mark the festival of Chanukah.

Organised by the London Menorah Council in association with the London Jewish Forum and Chabad House Hendon with support from the Mayor, business leader Gerald Ronson, who is sponsoring the event, will symbolically "flick the switch".

The Mayor said: 'Chanukah is a wonderful occasion. It embodies the universal message of the power of light over darkness, of freedom over oppression, of tolerance over tyranny. Recalling how  over 2,000 years ago the Maccabees secured the freedom of the Jewish people and the re-dedication of the Temple, it is the story of hope and faith in the future.



The sale of the Government's shares in Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) would be "a symbol of Britain's recovery", its chief executive has suggested.

Stephen Hester made clear he would welcome the move, saying it would help RBS - which is 83% state-owned - and provide a boost to the nation's finances.

The head of Lloyds Banking Group refused to say when the Government's 41% stake in his company should be sold off, but also held out the prospect of a windfall for the Treasury.

The taxpayer was "in the money", Eric Daniels told MPs.

Speaking to the Treasury Select Committee, Mr Hester acknowledged criticism that money invested in banks could be better spent on schools, hospitals and roads.