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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.

Princess Lilian of Sweden

Hejdå to Sweden's Welsh-born Princess Lilian, who has died aged 97

Sweden’s Princess Lilian captured the heart of a prince – and then an entire nation

Renters paid a total of £7.7 billion more in 2012 than in 2008

The number of private renters in England rose to 3.8 million in 2012, an increase of 23% since 2008, says new report

It's too hard to spend a penny these days. Let's follow Canada and scrap them

All the penny serves for is an unwanted reminder of our financial mess

Win a tailor-made trip to Graubünden, Switzerland’s No. 1 holiday destination

Discover Swiss alpine holidays - your way

Kim Jong-un is honoured to meet Dennis Rodman

The Last Word: Just a slam-dunk away from the goal of World Peace as Kim Jong-un becomes friends with Dennis Rodman

Some day we’ll see Terry at the Home Office, Beckham in the Elysée Palace

The Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona

What makes a cult building?

Every city in the world is commissioning architects to design iconic architecture – a production line of ever flashier-looking objects of grim bread-and-circuses banality. Why does it takes a tramp-like Catalonian vegetarian, and a young Italian with Mussolini on his mind to remind us that architecture – really engrossing architecture – is worthy of cult worship.

Philippe Charlier, a forensic medical examiner, addresses reporters during a news conference held near Versailles

'Brutal' Richard's I's 'lion' heart was soaked in holy balm to ease his passage into heaven

Autopsy of 12th-century monarchy reveals heart embalmed in purifying frankincense

Amsterdam plans sober party for Dutch inauguration

The Dutch capital is known for boozy stag nights and pot-smoking tourists. But for what could be the nation's party of the decade — the abdication of Queen Beatrix and accession to the throne of her son Willem-Alexander — Amsterdam wants to keep things low key.

January 31, 2013: A man holds a placard depicting Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and reading

Spain's crisis could not have come at a worse moment - for her and for Europe

If our Prime Minister thinks he's having a hard time, he should put himself in the position of his Spanish counterpart. That country's misery affects us all

6% of people want to be buried in their shed

New report reveals surprising shed statistics as 2013 Shed of the Year competition is officially launched

Katherine Manley as Creusa;

Medea, Coliseum, London

David McVicar’s production of Charpentier’s Médée – or Medea, in Christopher Cowell‘s felicitously idiomatic translation – is the most brilliant show to have graced the Coliseum in years. It’s by turns bold and brash – how could it not be, given the tabloid luridness of its subject matter? – and it’s also irresistibly seductive, as befits one of French Baroque music’s most ravishing scores which, after three centuries, is getting its first professional British staging.

Modern classic: New York’s NoMad hotel is the latest to mix traditional style with contemporary touches

Juliet Kinsman: Ancient and modern make the perfect bedfellows

Something to Declare

Snowdrop season: Can you tell your 'Primrose Warburg' from your 'Spindlestone Surprise'?

The craze for snowdrops continues, with more and more gardens opening in February to show off their collections. I like snowdrops en masse and some of the best are in old gardens where the flowers have been left to their own devices to spread, often in areas some little way from the house. That's how it is at Chippenham Park in Cambridgeshire, which I visited for the first time this month.

Doctor Who goes 3D for its 50th anniversary

Technology has finally caught up with Doctor Who, which is to be screened in 3D for its 50th anniversary later this year.

Pentillie Castle restoration: Archaeologist finds 'body of man who built it' during excavation

Human remains discovered at a stately home are believed to be those of the man that built it - ordering that he be buried in his best clothes with his pipe as he waited for the afterlife.

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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
3.	Provence 6 nights B&B by train from £599pp
Prices correct as of 20 February 2015
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003