Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: Marks & Spencer to close 100 stores, Meghan and Harry marry, Trump says North Korea summit might not happen

26 May 2018

9:00 AM

26 May 2018

9:00 AM


Marks & Spencer announced plans to close 100 of its 1,035 shops by 2022, hoping to move a third of its sales online; the costs of the plans brought its annual profits down by almost two-thirds, to £66.8 million. Govia Thameslink Railway, which runs Great Northern, Thameslink and Southern, cancelled 160 trains, 7 per cent of the total, the day after it changed all its timetables. Northern trains were also affected. Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary, announced that, as expected, his department would run the East Coast Main Line until 2020, after the franchise holders, Stagecoach and Virgin, pulled out of their agreement. BP suspended work on a well in the Rhum field in the North Sea, co-owned by a subsidiary of the Iranian state oil company until the effect of United States sanctions was established. Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, said he would ban the sale of smoky wood-burning stoves.

Meghan Markle married Prince Harry and became the Duchess of Sussex when he was created Duke, and Earl of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel (a place in Co. Down) to boot. An estimated 100,000 flocked to Windsor to watch the newly-weds in an open landau driven in May sunshine from St George’s Chapel down the High Street and back up the Long Walk to the Castle. Tens of millions had watched the wedding on television, with the bride’s mother sitting quietly in a stall, the sermon by the Most Revd Michael Curry (the primate of the Episcopal Church in the United States) going on in a lively manner for 14 minutes, the Kingdom Choir singing ‘Stand by Me’ and the long veil being quite well marshalled by seven-year-old twins Brian and John Mulroney, followed by a clutch of bridesmaids. The nation, apart from some dissidents, enjoyed it all very much and the press was full of it for days.

Ken Livingstone said he was resigning from the Labour party, from which he had been suspended since 2016 in a row over allegations of anti-Semitism following comments he made about Hitler and Zionism. Roman Abramovich, the very rich Russian who owns Chelsea football club, was not present to see his team beat Manchester United to win the FA Cup because the renewal of his visa had been delayed. Manchester held events to commemorate the 22 people who died and the hundreds wounded when a bomb was set off inside the foyer of the Manchester Arena in 2017. Sergei Skripal, the former Russian spy poisoned with a nerve agent in Salisbury on 4 March, was discharged from hospital and taken to a safe location. Bernard Lewis, the eminent historian of Islam, who was born at Stoke Newington in London, died aged 101.


Steve Mnuchin, the United States Treasury Secretary, said that new tariffs on imports from China were suspended while negotiators tried to make an agreement under which China would buy more American agriculture and energy products. President Donald Trump of the United States said that there was a ‘very substantial chance’ that a summit with Kim Jong-un, the ruler of North Korea, planned for June 12, would not take place. Eight pupils and two teachers were shot dead at Santa Fe High School in Texas; a 17-year-old pupil was reported to have confessed to the crime. Philip Roth, the author of Portnoy’s Complaint, died aged 85. Kilauea volcano in Hawaii sent ash 30,000ft into the sky and continued to exude lava flows.

Nicolás Maduro declared himself the winner of the Venezuelan presidential election, which had been boycotted by the opposition amid claims of fraud; 14 countries withdrew their ambassadors. A Mexican charter plane crashed in Cuba, killing 111 people on board; only two survived. Since February, the Egyptian army has destroyed 3,000 houses and commercial properties in North Sinai in its war against Islamists, according to an analysis of satellite images by Human Rights Watch.

Demonstrators in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, protested against the killing of Christians by cattle herders in Benue state. Inger Stojberg, Denmark’s immigration minister, said: ‘I want to call on Muslims to take leave from work during the month of Ramadan,’ because she thought it risky for people like bus drivers to fast. A study of half a million Chinese people found that a daily egg reduced the risk of heart disease and strokes. Chinese giant salamanders were found to have all but disappeared from their natural habitat because people kept on eating them.                                                                     CSH

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10

Show comments