London News Snippets

The Evening Standard 12-10-1983 – 09-07-1991

Crown Prince Alexander – The Man Who Would Be King 09-07-91. Dora Camp Survivors 15-08-89. Vet Sends SOS To The Queen 08-11-83. Rebuilding Shakespeare's Globe 12-10-83. Animal Demo's Wings Clipped 03-10-83.

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The Man Who Would Be King

Crown Prince Alexander of Yugoslavia appeared to be offering his services as king and a figure of unity when he spoke at the Palace of Westminster last night.

The Prince appealed to "my country" to sort out its differences round the conference table.

Addressing an all-party Commons committee meeting on human rights which was also attended by more than 200 Yugoslavs, he offered his services as a constitutional umpire, promising to lead his people towards a progressive, democratic state with a reborn free market.

The Crown Prince, son of the exiled King Peter of Yugoslavia, lives in London and has never visited his potential kingdom.

[See also: An interview with Crown Prince Alexander as war erupted in Yugoslavia in 1991.]

Dora Camp Survivors

London tonight plays host to the men and women who helped build the rockets which devastated the capital during the war.

Exactly 45 years ago this week the first of Hitler's V.1 buzz bombs and V.2 rockets crashed into London.

Ironically, the 70 visitors and their families from all over Europe were themselves Hitler's victims.

They were spared incarceration in the Buchenvald death camp in return for their slave labour, working as physicists, chemists, designers and craftsmen in the grim 'Dora' camp producing the V.1s and V.2s – Hitler's desperate attempt to bring Britain to its knees.

You'd need to be at least in your fifties now to remember the devastation and terror which the first pilotless, self-propelled rockets caused when they unleashed on Britain during 1944 and 1945. Since then almost all the damage has been cleared and rebuilt.

"There really isn't much left to show them," says author and historian Professor Michael R.D. Foot who will be talking to the veterans at a conference at the French Institute in South Kensington on Monday.

The party, which arrives tonight, will visit a bomb site on Ludgate Hill, escorted by Professor Foot. "It is probably the last significant symbol left in London and right now the builders are at work. In a few weeks this will be gone too."

"Nearly all those World War ll bombsites have been built on by now. In fact it's hard to remember the devastation and destruction in London and few youngsters would believe what it looked like then," he said.

The Dora visitors, who are spending five days in London, will have a private meeting with the Queen Mother at Clarence House, an official reception at the Imperial War Museum and a dinner at the House of Commons hosted by Sir Anthony Meyer.

Having visited the war-graves of compatriots, savoured champagne at a French Embassy reception, visited de Gaulle's former Free French headquarters in Carlton Gardens and taken a tour around Chartwell in Kent, the veterans may well feel that peacetime is as hectic as the dark days of war.

"It'll be interesting to hear what they have to say," says Professor Foot. "I think they'll come here with mixed feelings of penitence and pride."

"Penitence for the death and destruction they helped create and pride that they may well have achieved under-cover sabotage and lived to tell the tale," he said.

"They were anti-Nazis living in camp conditions that we would find quite inconceivable today."

The text above in no way corresponds to the spirit of that supplied to the Evening Standard and represented a travesty on the part of sub-editors. Those who worked in Dora Camp as slave labour (including its survivors) were remarkable for their strength and courage in attempting to cope with – and to sabotage – German Nazi plans to destroy London with the rockets they produced there. The sub-editor responsible for handling this story clearly had no idea of the offence that the published version would cause to those few survivors visiting London that week who had withstood the appalling conditions that killed the majority of their fellow victims. The consequence of all this was that I had the unfortunate task of standing up publicly to apologise for the Evening Standard's articles, and my role in the affair, at a public reception for the Dora Camp survivors, held at the French Institute in August 1989.

Vet Sends SOS To The Queen

A London couple who have launched a Save Our Swans society have appealed for help to the Queen who owns many of the Thames birds.

Windsor vet Stephen Cooke and his wife Zyllah say lead poisoning caused by anglers' weights kills about 3,500 swans each year and that without funds to treat them the Thames could be largely denuded of swans in 15 years.

The Cookes treat up to 30 sick swans at a time at their riverside home. A converted shed acts as a hospital where the couple use drugs to return about 40 per cent of the victims to the river.

While they are pleased that non-toxic synthetic weights are now available to anglers, they say only a total ban on lead can save the Thames swan population owned by the Queen and the Dyers and Vintners livery companies.

Mrs Cooke said: "We need money for treatment before it's too late. In 1956 there were 1,311 swans between Pangbourne and Walton-on-Thames. Last year the swan-upping count showed only 200."

At the Lord Chamberlain's office a spokesman said he would be investigating what action should be taken in response to the Cooke's appeal.

Encore For Globe's Heyday

One of the most historic stretches of the Thames will rediscover its Tudor popularity if a plan unveiled today succeeds.

The half mile between Blackfriars' Bridge and London Bridge on the south bank – the site of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre – is the centre of major redevelopment.

The recently formed Bankside Association wants to revitalise it as a centre for recreational, artistic and educational activities.

Lynne Williams, director of the Bankside Gallery, has teamed up with Southwark Cathedral and the Bear Gardens Museum of Shakespearean Stage to give it a new lease of life.

She said: "We've already won the support of Charringtons, Courage and Youngs breweries and the Diners' Club to draw attention to the project."

"One of the most exciting ideas is to recreate the Globe Theatre near Southwark Bridge. In Tudor times this area was a major centre in London with three theatres as well as famous pubs and brothels."

Jenny Naish, of the museum, said plans for the reconstruction of The Globe are well advanced. Construction, using authentic materials and construction techniques, should start later next year.

It will be largely financed by American enthusiasts of the International Globe Project. They are also planning an Inigo Jones Theatre, based on early 17th Century plans at Worcester College, Oxford.

Jenny Naish said: "There seems to be a good chance that H.M.S. Discovery will be given a new permanent home at the St Mary Overy's Dock and so we hope other museums and arts groups will move here too."

The Southwark riverside is rich in archeological sites dating from Roman times. It was visited by thousands of Londoners in the 16th and 17th Centuries when bear-baiting, pubs, brothels and theatres such as the Globe, Rose, Hope and Swan offered the sort of attractions now provided by the West End.

Animal Demo's Wings Clipped

Animal welfare protesters have had their wings clipped.

They planned a demonstration at Westminster tomorrow. It's the day of the patron saint of animals, Francis of Assissi.

But members of the Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals have been told that they and similar Catholic and Quaker groups cannot march in Whitehall or distribute pamphlets at Westminster Abbey.

More than 100 Christian protesters had hoped to meet on the steps of St Martin-in-the-Fields and then deliver messages to Mrs Thatcher, the Home Office and the Department of Food & Agriculture on their way to a service at the Abbey.

They object to vivisection, performing animals, factory farming and the trade in furs.

Now they will meet at St Martin's and break up into small groups before reassembling at the Abbey. The Receiver General, Mr Reginald Pullen has forbidden them to distribute leaflets within its precincts.

Mrs Jose Parry, a member of the Anglican Society, said: "Apparently there is a rule that demonstrations cannot take place within a mile of Westminster during Parliamentary sessions."

"Parliament isn't due to sit until October 24, I believe, but because some of the Law Lords are sitting, our march has been banned."

"We're rather disappointed that some of the clergy have not been more concerned to back us."

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