In Depth

Instant Opinion: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are ‘nothing without gossip’

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Tuesday 28 July

The Week’s daily round-up highlights the five best opinion pieces from across the British and international media, with excerpts from each.

1. Hugo Rifkind in The Times

on the emptiness of royalty

The Sussexes are nothing without gossip

“There’s just not enough there. This is royalty’s big problem. There is a swirling maelstrom of duty, and familial rifts, and hats, and writs, and gossip, and more hats, and medals for you’re not sure what, and awful friends, and dogs, and horses, and palace disasters, and occasionally a meaningful brooch but more often than not just another hat. And really not very much else... The fuss is the job and the job is the fuss. That’s it. That’s the whole royal deal. This is the context in which to read the past few days of extracts from Finding Freedom, the new book about the Sussexes’ brave decision to move to America because the Duchess of Cambridge made the wrong sort of eye contact with Meghan at a memorial service and also once didn’t offer her a lift to the shops in a Range Rover. And it is also why, despite their ceaseless desire to be known, and understood, but correctly, their efforts will only ever be a Mobius strip, turning inwards, forever, upon themselves.”

2. Giles Tremlett, author of Ghosts of Spain, in The Guardian

on the second wave in Europe

The conditions for a coronavirus spike in Spain were clear. Yet no one saw it coming

“Spain’s socialist prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, provided a reassuring contrast to the buffoonery of Boris Johnson and Donald Trump during the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic. When he forced the country into a harsh mid-March lockdown, he freely admitted mistakes had been made. Spaniards were prepared to pardon. But, just as Americans cannot forgive Trump for leading the United States into a double-bump pandemic, so a sense of anger is building as Spain’s triumphant ‘defeat’ of coronavirus threatens to become merely a brief holiday. New daily cases here have jumped to three times the level in Britain and show a steep progression. In the worst-hit areas, partial lockdowns are being reinstated, with the Catalan regional premier, Quim Torra, talking of a ‘critical situation’ and threatening the harshest lockdown measures available to him within days. ‘I don’t want another 7,000 deaths,’ he said. Community contagion – when nobody knows who is infecting who – is reportedly back in some parts.”

3. Benedict Spence in The Daily Telegraph

on a life-saving opportunity for tourist towns

With the right attitude, Britain’s tourist industry can be the real winner of the quarantine row

“The reality is, plenty of the UK is in dire need of tourists. They are perhaps the one thing that will revive flagging businesses in many parts of the country in the short term. And much of our islands are areas of staggering natural beauty. Sure, there’s always the risk of a washout – but so far it hasn’t been an especially bad year, weather-wise.  It would represent a far less risky option, in a difficult period when official advice and policy can shift in a matter of days, for many families to choose to holiday at home this year. For it to happen, it will require people to recognise that everyone is having to do things a little differently, and that going abroad to your regular, favourite retreat, though enticing, may simply not be practical. On the other hand, it will require a change in attitude from many people in the places of the country who stand to gain the most from increased domestic footfall. Right now, with potentially millions of livelihoods at stake, there just isn’t the capacity for hostility towards outsiders. By definition, the lockdown has forced us all to become insular. That doesn’t mean shutting ourselves off entirely from those around us.”

4. Dr Nisreen Alwan, associate professor in Public Health at the University of Southampton, on HuffPost

on the government’s Covid-19 weight loss plan

Blaming Obesity Is Not The Solution To Coronavirus

“Covid-19 is an infectious disease and the risk of getting it is determined by how much of the virus is circulating in the community more than anything else. Therefore, fighting it primarily means controlling the spread and transmission of the virus, and very quickly detecting and isolating cases. Obesity on the other hand is a structural problem in society. This basically means that it is largely determined by people’s environment and resources. If you are poor, it is much harder to maintain a healthy weight due to the many barriers imposed by your environment and available resources... Population-level action on obesity is very much needed, but it is a long haul of systems-wide change and must not be linked to the fight against Covid-19. This can potentially lead to further stigma of already disadvantaged people. This narrative of losing weight to beat coronavirus can easily turn into victim-blaming. If it is necessary to link it as a “wake-up call” then the same should apply for action on poverty right from the start of life, given the pre-pandemic status of almost one in three children in the UK living in poverty. Those who live with multiple disadvantage are most vulnerable to getting Covid-19 and getting it badly. These are the same groups vulnerable to many other health problems.”

5. Dr Emily Oster, author of Cribsheet: A Data-Driven Guide to Better, More Relaxed Parenting, From Birth to Preschool, in The New York Times

on schools in need of a plan

What Will Schools Do When a Teacher Gets Covid-19?

“Bottom line: When schools open, there will be cases. It is necessary to have a concrete plan for what will happen when this occurs... Once you acknowledge the reality of cases in schools, it is clear that schools need a plan. The first part of this plan should recognize that schools should not open in person until cases of the virus in the surrounding areas are low. Putting a precise number on this is difficult, but at a minimum places that have locked down except for essential services should not open schools. But for areas with low incidence, you still need a plan. And this plan needs at least two parts. First, there needs to be what I’d call a micro plan: What happens when a single student or teacher in a classroom tests positive? Of course the affected person will need to remain home until cleared for a return to school. But what about the rest of the classroom, the rest of the floor, the rest of the school?”

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