Life and Style

First of all, a caveat: the clothes we see in 16th-century portraits aren't fashion. At least, not to our eyes. They're court costume – emphasis on the costume. It's difficult to reconcile the lavishly slashed, brocaded and jewel-bedecked gowns of lustrous Renaissance portraiture with our jeans-and-T-shirt culture, or even with the grander creations on the international catwalks.

Diary: Piers: I'm through with Hugh

As a one-time golfing chum of Hugh Grant, the celebrated swordsman and saviour of celebrity privacy, I was naturally overjoyed to hear him phoning this very office to speak with our honoured guest, the Radio 5 Live presenter Richard Bacon, during his broadcast from The Independent this week.

Queen visits Croke Park stadium

The Queen took centre stage at Dublin's iconic Croke Park gaelic football and hurling stadium today in a historic new act of Anglo-Irish reconciliation.

Mary Ann Sieghart: Long live the king – if he's harmless

If Charles doesn't wind his neck in, the public won't put up with him. The institution is only there by public consent

Paul Vallely: The monarchy moves in mysterious ways

In enjoying the royal wedding, secretly or overtly, we were honouring a cornerstone of our national identity

The state of the nation, 2011

So what, exactly, does the royal wedding tell us about modern Britain, the monarchy and us? Cole Moreton joins the celebrating hordes to find out

Royal succession changes 'will take time'

It will "take some time" to change royal succession rules to allow a first-born daughter to take the throne, Prime Minister David Cameron cautioned today.

Lost choral masterpiece finally finds a home... in the pop charts

Alessandro Striggio's 1566 mass, performed by 40 choristers, sees voices, strings and brass meld into a jaw-dropping harmony.

Queen to make first state visit to Irish Republic

The Queen is to pay a state visit to the Irish Republic this year, the first by a British monarch since independence in 1922, it was announced yesterday.

Queen's head saved from the chop

The presence of the Queen's head on postage stamps is to be guaranteed by law after the Government struck a deal with Buckingham Palace.

Lucy Porter: Enough of all these rewards. Let's have a 'dishonours list'

It's pretty embarrassing to admit, but whenever I read the New Year Honours list, there's always a part of me that hopes that – due to a massive clerical cock-up – my name will somehow appear.

Queen's Christmas message to highlight sport

The Queen's Christmas message to the nation will highlight the importance of sport as a medium that can help build communities and create harmony.

Tom Sutcliffe: If anyone 'owns' the Queen's head, it's us

Social Studies: Why is the Queen permitting her image to be included as a sweetener to a deal so broadly unpopular with her subjects?

Minister 'confident' on royal stamp

A business minister said he was "extremely confident" the Queen's head would remain on postage stamps even if the Royal Mail was sold off to a foreign firm.

'Sad' day as Ark Royal returns home for the final time

The commanding officer of HMS Ark Royal said it was a "sad" day today as the aircraft carrier returned to its home port for the final time.

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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
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'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick