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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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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 15 May 2015
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map