Newspaper headlines: Queen's 'bumpy' year and Caroline Flack trial

By BBC News

  • Published

Most papers focus on the Queen's reference to a turbulent year in her Christmas message.

The "i" thinks her words will be seen in the context of her own family's tribulations during 2019. The Daily Mirror says that with the Duke of Edinburgh in hospital, the Duke of York rocked by scandal over his links to the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and the nation split over Brexit, the Queen has had a testing year.

The Daily Mail says understatement is an essential component of British life, and its greatest living exponent is the Queen. So, when she describes the past year as "bumpy", we know it must have been a tough one, the paper adds.

"Annus Horribilis Part Two, Ma'am?" the Sun asks, in a reference to a speech she made in 1992 - a year which saw the Prince of Wales separate from Diana, the Princess Royal's divorce and the near-destruction of Windsor Castle in a fire.

Image source, Steve Parsons/PA Media

The Queen is seen delivering her speech sitting at a desk adorned by family photographs - and there's just as much scrutiny of the choice of images as her choice of words.

There are pictures of Prince Philip; the Queen's father, King George VI; Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall; and Prince William and his family. However, the Daily Mirror points out there are no pictures of Prince Andrew or the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

The Times says, with the Queen, nothing ever happens by accident and it can be taken as read that the significance of each picture has been carefully considered. The lesson of this year's bumpy path is that the monarchy needs to continue to reform, it says, renewing its argument for a further slimming down of the institution.

The Daily Telegraph agrees the pictures offer a nod to the monarchy of the future.

'Travesty of justice'

The Guardian leads with the death sentences handed by a Saudi court to five people for the murder of the journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.

It says the ruling renews criticism that the alleged masterminds of Mr Khashoggi's death remain protected by an unrepentant royal court, which has offered up as sacrifices a team of underlings who were following their orders.

Image source, Osman Orsal

Mr Khashoggi's paper, the Washington Post, says Saudi Arabia has delivered a shameful travesty of justice.

The result is an insult to his family and to all those who have demanded genuine accountability in the case, it adds.

Love interest rates

It seems that the Bank of England's efforts to revive the economy by slashing interest rates following the financial crash had the unexpected effect of increasing Britain's birth rate.

The Daily Telegraph says researchers at the Bank set out to investigate whether its mortgage rates could affect couples' decisions on whether or not to have children.

According to the Daily Mail, the cut in interest rates led to a dramatic fall in the cost of mortgages - and so having children became more affordable.

It says the researchers estimate that with each percentage point drop in the base rate, birth rates increased by 2%.

A Christmas Grumble

Finally, a number of papers report that the BBC's TV adaptation of A Christmas Carol - which reaches its conclusion this evening - has been criticised by viewers because they can't understand the "mumbling" actors.

According to the Telegraph, fans of the Dickens classic have flocked to Twitter to express their frustration at not being able to hear lead actor Guy Pearce clearly.

"Scrooge Mumble Grumble," is the Sun's headline.