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While politicians agonise over the size of the Government’s debt, one of the most expensive publicly funded projects in recent years is quietly getting under way.

A passage from India: Anneika Rose and Ray Panthaki in rehearsals for Tanika Gupta’s play, ‘The Empress’

The Empress at the Swan Theatre: People's play tells a tale of pride and prejudice

Tanika Gupta reveals how she gave the Indians of Victorian London a voice

Beach activities during Beach Break Live festival at Pembrey Country Park last year

Festivals – but not as we know them: the next generation of music weekenders is here

Music in a muddy field? No, summer rock has changed

A senior security officer stands next to Dutch master Rembrandt's The Night Watch painting during a press preview of the renovated Rijkmuseum in Amsterdam

Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum to reopen after €375 million revamp with Rembrandt pride of place

The Rijksmuseum, the National Museum of the Netherlands, is finally set to reopen to the public, with Rembrandt van Rijn's masterpiece "The Night Watch" reclaiming its place of pride.

The Mikhailovsky Ballet’s Laurencia

Dance review: Laurencia, London Coliseum, London

Laurencia, which continues the Mikhailovsky Ballet’s London season, is a curious hybrid. The Spanish dances, castanets and local colour suggest the exotic ballets of the 19th century, with the addition of a Soviet-friendly tale of a peasant uprising. Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev make sensational rebel leaders, drawing the mix together.

Never mind the hunt for Richard III, what about Boudicca?

The search is on for warrior queen’s bones, once thought to lie beneath a McDonald’s

Is Pope Francis the most down-to-earth ever?

Just call me Frank: Is Pope Francis the most down-to-earth ever?

First he named himself Francis (of down-with-the-poor Assisi fame) offering an impression of humility only enhanced by his uncanny likeness to Jim Bowen.

African Odyssey: a horticultural tour of Marrakesh

Ancient royal palaces, fountained courtyards – and the splendour of Yves Saint Laurent's former home: Emma Townshend finds herself swept away by the majesty of Marrakesh's horticultural panorama

On the lookout: Skipton’s well-preserved medieval castle

Tales from the Trees: The Lord of the Rings comes to the Yorkshire woodlands

It's not often you can walk from a high street into the heart of an ancient woodland. One minute I am in a bustling Yorkshire market town, takeaway cappuccino in hand, the next I am ducking down stone steps to Eller Beck, a strip of canal and river that runs through a steep-sided gorge fringed with ash, oak, sycamore and pine. The buzzing repartee of stall owners is soon replaced by the songs of robins and chaffinches, shop awnings for a weeping willow in bud.

Super Mario takes the Tube: London Underground map gets the 8-bit Nintendo treatment

He's known for jumping into pipes and climbing up mysterious ladders to new and exciting lands, but Mario's next mission may take him underground.

The Pyramids of Giza in Egypt (left) and Machu Pichu in Peru

It lasts two years, costs nearly £1m and takes in 1,000 tourists sites - is this the most expensive holiday in the world?

'Ultimate package holiday' features 'bucket list' tour of almost 1,000 of the world’s most famous tourist sites

King Abdullah II at a press interview yesterday

Storm brewing as King Abdullah denies attacking the neighbours

Jordan's monarch hits out at US journalist as comments about several Arab leaders cause a stir

Wilfried Zaha has been watched several times by Arsenal’s chief scout

Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha banned for one match over offensive gesture

Future Manchester United player made gesture at Leeds fans

February 5, 2013: A facial reconstruction of King Richard III is displayed at a news conference in central London. The reconstruction is based on a CT scan of human remains found in a council car park in Leicester which are believed to belong to the last of the Plantagenet monarchs of Britain who was killed at the battle of Bosworth in 1485.

Poll: Where should Richard III be interred?

When the skeleton of the crooked-backed Plantagenet king Richard III was found under a car park in Leicester, a petty civil war broke between four British cities, all staking their claim as the rightful burial ground for the dead monarch.

The Queen in her private sitting room in Balmoral

TV review: Her Majesty’s door still remains firmly closed to behind-the-scenes film-makers of Our Queen

“This is supposed to be like a secret door” said a palace functionary, pulling open the panelling of a Buckingham Palace reception room to reveal an ante-chamber. The hint was obvious. Our Queen, ITV’s feature-length documentary about the Diamond Jubilee Year, was going to grant us special access to the back rooms of monarchy.

The Archbishop of Buenos Aires is the first non-European pope for 1,000 years
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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
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Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee