If anyone deserves a break, it's the Queen: JAN MOIR on how Her Majesty not laying a wreath at the Cenotaph is a significant moment

On the surface, it was just a quiet announcement from Buckingham Palace, a little notification of change in accepted practice.

The Queen will not be laying the wreath at the Cenotaph next month, as she has done for 65 years. Instead, Prince Charles will take over the pivotal duty that lies at the heart of Britain’s Remembrance Sunday commemorations.

Yet it was so much more than that.

To me, it was a moment of national melancholy. It was a cloud passing across the House of Windsor, a portent of what is to come, the mission creep of the end of the Queen’s reign. And what will come after that, God knows.

Perhaps the very first thing will be Charles rolling up at Balmoral with a dozen skips in tow, into which all the Queen’s frugal two-bar fires, china corgis, Tupperware containers and twee thistle-print curtains will be heaved.

HM The Queen is now 91 years old and despite her tweedy fortitude and inviolate sense of duty, she is simply no longer physically capable of enacting all the ceremonial rigours that are part of a monarch?s life

HM The Queen is now 91 years old and despite her tweedy fortitude and inviolate sense of duty, she is simply no longer physically capable of enacting all the ceremonial rigours that are part of a monarch’s life

To be replaced with organic oak log fires, giant silver urns brimming with caviar, rich brocades, six-star luxury and tasselled tassels on the silk tassels.

But I digress. The significance of the proclamation is clear.

HM The Queen is now 91 years old and despite her tweedy fortitude and inviolate sense of duty, she is simply no longer physically capable of enacting all the ceremonial rigours that are part of a monarch’s life. We can all see that, with our own eyes. She can’t go on for ever.

Remembrance Day involves standing outside on a cold November morning and the tricky laying of the wreath, which must be perfect. Then those little buckled Queen shoes must edge backwards down the Cenotaph steps, forever on the precipice of calamity. Over the past few years, I’ve barely been able to watch.

How much longer before a trip or a stumble? Yet there have been criticisms of her decision to watch from a balcony this year, alongside 96-year-old Prince Philip.

One royal commentator claimed: ‘She should walk or crawl there to honour our war dead.’ Another former royal aide took to social media to air his grievance. ‘Walking backwards? There will be people older than her that have had to go on the Underground to get there,’ he fumed.

Songbird Cara’s narrow escape?

So Harvey Weinstein is off to a sex addiction clinic, keen to the last to propagate the illusion that he is somehow the victim.

Even on his way to the airport, he was still under the delusion that he has done nothing wrong. ‘I am not doing OK. I need help. Second chance,’ he said.

His treatment for sex addiction is part of the narrative Hollywood demands of the fallen. I am sick, I need help, it wasn’t my fault, oh, mind my demons on the way out.

Actress Cara Delevingne (pictured with Weinstein?s wife Georgina Chapman) told how he tried to kiss her, but she dodged his advances and sang to distract his attention

Actress Cara Delevingne (pictured with Weinstein’s wife Georgina Chapman) told how he tried to kiss her, but she dodged his advances and sang to distract his attention

No matter what the wrongdoing might be — drugs, drink, that pesky addiction to prescription pain-killers — the bad person must seek a cure, and then forgiveness. It’s mostly humbug, of course. Does sex addiction even exist?

Weinstein seems addicted to power and control, if anything. And he used that to molest young women for 30 years.

Therapy is a good excuse to stay out of jail, for the time being.

Actress Cara Delevingne (pictured with Weinstein’s wife Georgina Chapman) told how he tried to kiss her, but she dodged his advances and sang to distract his attention. I admire her pluck!

Despite the rebuff, he still cast her in his film, and she was queasily grateful for the part — and her narrow escape.

Not all of the unfortunate women who crossed his path have been so lucky.

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Which seems — to put it mildly — unfair and unwarranted. Especially towards someone who has never shirked her duty. Off with their disloyal heads!

Instead of complaining that the Queen has perhaps laid a wreath at the Cenotaph for the last time, perhaps we should say a gracious thank-you for all the times that she did. (And understand her touching wish to stand next to now-retired Philip, the husband who has been at her side for all these years.)

For in royal life, as in ordinary life, the last time we do anything has a habit of creeping up unawares, the unacknowledged anniversary of the relentless march of time.

So much fuss is made about life’s firsts — the first birthday, the first deal, the first home. Yet surely what is much more important, and carries more emotional resonance is the last time you do something.

It’s not the first kiss but the last dance that really matters. It is not the first steps but the last ones you take that are so critical.

So sound the Last Post for the Queen’s last stand, although it is far from the dereliction of duty that some suggest.

She has always done us proud, and I am not sure that is something you can say of her children and grandchildren, who are now being increasingly asked to step forward in her place.

However, even as all good and sentimental things must come to an end, her being a Remembrance Day observer is still going to seem strange; a national spectacle without its star player.

The Queen understands there is no bigger, nor more important task for a monarch than to honour her nation’s war dead.

There is no way she would have retired from this, the most serious and sombre of all her ceremonial roles, unless there was a very good reason.

I think it behoves everyone to accept that with grace. Charles will do his best, of course. However, he didn’t live through the last war, like his mother and her generation did. He doesn’t have that visceral connection.

No one has ever doubted the sincerity of the Queen’s bowed head, or the sentiment in her heart. Can we say the same about Charles?

On ceremonial duty, he always has the air of a man who wishes he’d worn his cashmere long-johns after all, and can’t wait to get out of his wet bearskin and dive into a dry martini.

Anyway, on the big day, all eyes will be on the couple on the balcony. As long as they are still here, we’ve got to make the most of them. As I said, you never know when the last time is a-coming.?

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Once upon a time, kids' books weren't written by celebs

Is it time to ban actors and celebrities from writing children’s books? Too late!

The shameless horrors have noted the success of David Walliams, whose bestselling fiction for young readers is an established favourite, and stampeded into the lucrative arena like Gruffalo on heat.

Clare Balding has dashed off some old tosh about horses, while Dermot O’Leary, George Galloway, Frank Lampard, Julian Clary and Fearne Cotton are all in there, vying to be the next big thing on the little ones’ reading lists.

Of course, celebrity-penned children’s books are nothing new. From Madonna’s English Roses, Ricky Gervais and his Flanimals and Sarah Ferguson’s Budgie The Little Helicopter, celebs have been keen to become authors without having to bother with all that complicated nonsense about proper plots and grown-up writing.

Listen. You don’t have to be able to string two words together, so long as you can read the royalty cheque.

It’s so unfair on genuinely talented children’s authors, who are being edged out of the market by these upstarts. And the children are missing out, too.

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Who'll take care of Mad Old Jan??

In just over 20 years’ time, care homes will be the place where most people will die.

I suspect that will include me, if I make it that long.

No children, no dependants, who is going to look after Mad Old Jan in my dotage, except someone with a grudge from Outer Minsk who will certainly put ground glass in my poultices and hide my dentures?

It doesn’t bear thinking about, but think about it we must.

Just over a fifth of people now die in a care home, but the number will more than double to 230,000 a year by 2040, according to research by King’s College London.

With life-expectancy soaring, the ‘oldest old’ (over 85) make up almost half of people who die — and many do so with multiple illnesses including dementia, heart disease and cancer.

Researchers say there is an urgent need to ensure adequate bed capacity, resources and training of staff in palliative care in all care homes — and one can see why.

I don’t much look forward to being one of the oldest old. Cheerful types always say it is better than the alternative — sometimes I’m not so sure that it is.

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That's streching it, Green Goddess?

Last time I saw Diana Moran, she was thwacking across a television studio in her gynaecologically frank leotards, encouraging viewers to keep fit.

Known as the Green Goddess, Diana appeared on BBC Breakfast shows in the Eighties, teaching us all how to do the Monkey Stretch (don’t ask) and bunny-jumps before breakfast.

She was always absolutely jolly superduper; blonde and posh, all cut-glass vowels and effortless middle-class white privilege.

With her perfect grasp of the Queen’s English and faultless manners, Diana (right) would never get on the BBC now.

Miss Fonda (left) underwent a total hip replacement in 2005, just a few months after having a knee replacement
Last time I saw Diana Moran, she was thwacking across a television studio in her gynaecologically frank leotards, encouraging viewers to keep fit

Miss Fonda (left) underwent a total hip replacement in 2005, just a few months after having a knee replacement

Not in a million years! Unless she had a walk-on part in a Joanna Trollope drama, or Louis Theroux was despatched to make a slyly mocking documentary about her. Now aged 78, Diana has popped up to criticise her old keep-fit rival Jane Fonda, suggesting the actress’s punishing ‘going for the burn’ aerobic routines have more or less crippled her.

‘I’m somebody that just thinks of more natural things,’ she cooed at the Cheltenham Literature Festival. ‘I was doing moderate exercise. Jane Fonda was doing all the other stuff, and she’s had hips and all sorts of things done.’

Miss Fonda (left) underwent a total hip replacement in 2005, just a few months after having a knee replacement.

Diana! You are so naughty. You can’t blame Jane’s star-jumps for her rackety hips — surely some women are more prone to joint issues than others? Interesting to see that Diana still considers Jane a rival, even if Jane still thinks the Green Goddess is a brand of tinned sweetcorn.

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The Guardian newspaper is wondering if the death-by-drone attack of Sally Jones is legally justified. The woman known as the White Widow was an Isis member who, it is believed, was killed by a Predator missile drone strike in Syria.

A former punk rocker from Kent, she helped to recruit hundreds of women to fight jihad. It is impossible to say how many deaths Jones caused, or the depth of the wretchedness she wreaked on the world. Last year, she issued a series of specific terrorist threats, including calling on Muslim women to launch terrorist attacks in London, Glasgow and Wales during Ramadan.

If she is dead, then I am glad of it. Legally or otherwise.

She didn’t care about the legal rights of all the innocents who died because of her actions, so why should we care about hers?

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