News Britain's Queen Elizabeth delivers her speech during the State Opening of Parliament at the House of Lords, alongside Prince Charles

A bookmaker has stopped taking bets on the Queen announcing her abdication this year after a large wager was placed in Windsor.

According to experts, Prince Charles may be a more outspoken and controversial monarch than his mother

'Gentle succession' underway as Prince Charles prepares to assume some of his mother's royal duties - and maybe more of an activist role

Constitutional experts believe Charles could be preparing to become a more "controversial" monarch

Rising star: Sire De Grugy will contest the Queen Mother Champion Chase

Sire De Grugy leaps into Cheltenham contention

Faint praise has been Sire De Grugy’s lot so far this season, but surely it must be time to acknowledge that he is a two-mile chaser of the highest order, with or without the damning shadow of Sprinter Sacre.

Celebrities who supported the Independent's elephant appeal with Space for Giants

Who supports our elephant campaign?

From David Cameron to Stephen Fry to Damian Lewis, politicians, actors, musicians and artists have supported our elephant appeal. Check out our interactive graphic to see what they said.

Sir Derek Jacobi will sit for a live sculpture

Backstage: Busted! Sir Derek Jacobi to sit for live sculpture

One of the most interesting dates in the diary next week will see Frances Segelman bring theatre to the world of sculpture. The artist is due to sculpt a bust of Sir Derek Jacobi in front of a live audience, in just two hours.

Granted, the Queen probably isn’t the easiest to buy for. What would one bestow upon the monarch that has it all?

The bizarre presents gifted to the Royal Family in 2013: Including a gingerbread Cathedral, a gnome and an Oyster Card

Granted, the royals probably aren't the easiest to buy for. But a book called Your Arms Remind Me of Pork Luncheon Meat? Really?

Call of the wild: An international conference in London next month will address elephant poaching

Charity Appeal: A fantastic result – and the campaign will not stop here

This year's charity appeal has raised more than £300,000 for our partner charity, Space for Giants, exceeding last year's total of around £250,000. We are within sight of breaking the record for a charity appeal by this newspaper – £356,000. So more donations would be appreciated.

Prince William will study agricultural management at college

Helicopters to ploughshares: Prince William returns to student life

Prince will study agricultural management at Cambridge for 10 weeks

Prince William will study agricultural management at college

Prince William must mix with 'ordinary students' at Cambridge, insists Mary Beard

William set to spend 10 weeks at Cambridge studying agricultural management

Prince William recently established United for Wildlife, an alliance of seven leading conservation bodies, to try to end poaching

Prince William to return to college

Second in line to the throne will be studying agricultural management

Barry Geraghty aboard Sprinter Sacre before he was pulled up after the seventh of the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton

Sprinter Sacre pulled up with 'irregular heartbeat' as Sire De Grugy wins the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton

The favourite was pulled up by jockey Barry Geraghty after the seventh on his comeback

The Archbishop of Westminster, Justin Welby

Archbishop of Westminster prays for Middle East Christians 'who suffer for their faith'

For many going to church is an act of life-risking bravery, he tells Christmas worshippers

Lord Carey attacked Western governments for being “strangely and inexplicably reluctant to confront” the situation in the Middle East

Christians are under pressure to keep quiet about their faith, says former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey

Christians are under pressure to be “silent about their faith” and display “increasing timidity” about admitting they have a faith at work, according to Lord Carey.

Prince Charles in a right royal selfie

Photo features the Prince of Wales looking a tad confused by it all

The “Someone Like You” singer beamed as she received her Most Excellent Order of the British Empire from Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace this morning, making her full title Miss Adele Adkins MBE

Arise, Miss Adele Adkins MBE: singer honoured by Prince Charles

The 'Someone Like You' singer received Most Excellent Order of the British Empire at Buckingham Palace this morning

Christians face ‘organised persecution’ from Islamists in Middle East, says Prince Charles

Victims and family members of those being 'attacked' told the Prince about their experiences in the region

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Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'