Arts and Entertainment Showbiz royalty: Helen Mirren is ready to bring her Elizabeth II from cinema to stage

Actress Dame Helen Mirren has still not forgotten Michael Parkinson's line of questioning when he interviewed her on his chat show almost 40 years ago.

Dance Reviews: Wherefore art thou, Juliet? At Hammersmith, Romeo

Romeo and Juliet, Royal Ballet

Queen Mother's 97th birthday is a family affair

The Queen Mother celebrated her 97th birthday yesterday by going on an impromptu walkabout among a crowd of more than 1,000 well-wishers, some of whom had camped overnight at Clarence House.

Racing: Strong Papin party

Six British-trained juveniles are among the 11 acceptors for the Prix Robert Papin at Maisons-Laffitte on Saturday. The Group Two event, the most important race for two-year-olds run in France so far this season, has attracted Clive Brittain's Greenlander, Mark Johnston's Atlantic Viking, Brian Meehan's Dernier Croise, Paul Cole's Bodyguard, Godolphin's Asfurah and Simon Dow's Aurigny.

Not the best time to have a birthday

You don't get to choose your birthday, otherwise I guess the Royal Ballet School would have opted for another time - any other time - to celebrate its 50th. What with its parent company in the artistic doldrums, moving house, planning next week's closing-down party and dashing round and round Hammersmith flyover trailing balloons in an ill-conceived publicity stunt, it was a rum week to be having a gala.

Covent Garden plans people's opera

Under pressure from the Government to become "the people's opera house" Covent Garden executives are working on plans for Sunday opera and ballet performances.

Peter Pan and the princess

Sir James "JM" Barrie, author of Peter Pan, was revealed yesterday to have undertaken an unusual royal collaboration.

I'm not at liberty to divulge a word, of course, but...

The Agreeable World of Wallace Arnold

A man you can count on

The perfect man exists - and he's for hire. James Sherwood on a new professional 'walking' service

Thatcher toasts Dame Vera's 80th birthday

The belle of the Allied Forces in the Second World War, Dame Vera Lynn, celebrated her 80th birthday last night.

The princess and the pique

Susan Jeffreys wonders why an acid-tongued royal does her duty with so little grace

IN BRIEF: Books

Princess Margaret, A Biography by Theo Aronson (Michael O'Mara Books, pounds 16.99). It's such a strange tone, the one you get in these pulpy unauthorised biographies: the tongue dripping with honey on the outside, forked like a viper's within. "Although this book is in no way authorised or sanctioned," Aronson begins, "my chief thanks are to its subject, Princess Margaret." He has, apparently, been granted an audience with her while working on earlier projects, and is enduringly "grateful to HRH". Ugh. But we can be sure she'll be having him round for tea directly once she has read his findings on how she chatted up Mick Jagger -"wearing a low- cut gown that revealed ample cleavage". It's all considerably closer to Sylvie Krin of Private Eye fame than to Ben Pimlott's recent scholarly book on the Queen.

Obituary: Princess Margaret of Hesse and the Rhine

Few Englishwomen have adapted so well to German life or played such a prominent part in it as Princess Margaret of Hesse and the Rhine.

Keeping the royal hangers-on afloat

If Margaret and co can't make do on their own, the Queen should pay for them herself

Elizabeth's naughty little sister

The Establishment closed ranks in an attempt to stop the making of a television documentary about the life of Princess Margaret, which will be shown on Tuesday, according to the programme makers, writes Michael Streeter.

Salmonella closes ward

A hospital's special care baby unit has been closed to further admissions after the isolation of salmonella bacteria from two babies.
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