The Third Leader: Endangered species

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The Independent Online

Rare species struggling to survive in an increasingly inimical world are preying much on our minds presently. Having witnessed the King of Saudi Arabia and the Queen of England and elsewhere engaged in their elderly, unworldly and curious courtesies, attention then switched to the poor persecuted Indian tiger, and then, in the blinking of a blind eye, to Sandringham and some smoking guns.

We do hope that Prince Harry is not guilty of slaughtering hen harriers, since protected creatures, being birds of a feather, should stick together. But fingers are pointing as well as pulling triggers, and, as the eight people subject to the control orders considered by the House of Lords yesterday know, innocence is no longer necessarily presumed in this kingdom.

Again, how Prince Harry's grandmother can be both patron of the National Society for the Protection of Birds and owner of estates where they kill them in large numbers is one of those subtleties which always escapes this member of the urban lower orders, along with the correct occupants for a Semi-State Landau.

And now, after suggesting it would be only prudent to keep the Prince unarmed should he visit India, we turn with relief to another risky existence, that of an escapologist. The Great Omani, a former public schoolboy who often appeared on Hastings Pier with Dr Cullen, the drunken fortune teller, who was cremated in Brighton with chains around his coffin "in case he fancied a go at the greatest escape of all".

He didn't. We wait, without optimism, to see how the rest of the above fare.

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