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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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The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss