Week Ahead: Flags unlikely to fly as Prince Andrew turns 60

Prince Andrew, Duke of York, turns 60 on Wednesday (Photo by Christopher Furlong - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Prince Andrew, Duke of York, turns 60 on Wednesday (Photo by Christopher Furlong - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
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BIRTHDAY BELLS

The Duke of York’s 60th birthday falls on Wednesday but after a disastrous few months for the Duke of York, the celebrations that would normally be expected for a senior Royal reaching such a landmark have been considerably toned down.

Prince Andrew stepped back from royal duties in November following a backlash over his past friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Among the roles he relinquished was that as Chancellor of Huddersfield University.

The bells at Westminster Abbey will be rung in celebration in line with tradition but local councils have been split on whether to fly the Union flag outside their offices to mark the occasion. His birthday is included on a list of “designated days” when the government advises the flag is flown at council buildings but it has told local authorities there is no requirement to do so on Wednesday.

Prince Andrew himself asked to defer an honorary Navy promotion he had been due to receive when he turned 60 as part of a policy that sees senior royals treated as serving military members.

But the Prince asked the Ministry of Defence to postpone it until a time when he returns to public duty.

LEADERSHIP CANDIDATES GRILLED

While the Labour leadership race still has - somehow - nearly two more months to run, the contest will move into its next phase this week as the ballot of members opens on Friday.

Before then, the three remaining contenders - Rebecca Long Bailey, Lisa Nandy and Sir Keir Starmer - will take part in a televised leadership debate on Channel 4 this evening where they will face questions from the audience.

On Tuesday, there will be a special education hustings hosted by the National Education Union in London featuring all of the candidates.

After the ballot opens on Friday, it will run until April 2, with the winner being announced two days later at a special conference.

ASSISTED DYING DEBATE

The debate around whether assisted dying should be made legal in some circumstances will be in the headlines later this week as the Royal College of General Practitioners reveals the results of a survey of its 53,000 members on the issue.

An announcement will be made on Friday on whether the College’s members think there should be a change in the law. It last consulted its members on the issue in 2013, with its stance that it is opposed to any change in the law on assisted dying being retained at that stage.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the RCGP, said last summer when the consultation was announced: “Assisted dying is an incredibly emotive issue that polarises opinions.

“It has been nearly six years since we asked our members as to whether we should support a change in the law on assisted dying – since then, it is possible that views within our membership have shifted.”

BRITS BATTLE

The Brit Awards takes place on Tuesday night at the O2 Arena in London and looks set to reignite the debate about the lack of female representation in the British music industry following controversy over the male-dominated line-up for this year’s Reading and Leeds Festivals which was announced last week.

For the first time in three years, no female artists have been short-listed in the flagship Best Album category, while only one woman - Mabel - has been nominated in categories where both women and men are eligible.

The show will be closed by Sir Rod Stewart as he celebrates his 50th year in the music industry.