Wednesday evening news briefing: Prince William's godmother quits in race row

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Good evening. The Prince and Princess of Wales land in the US tonight. Our royal correspondent is in Boston for the visit – and says the timing of a race row involving William's godmother could not be worse. But, first, the headlines...

Evening briefing: Today's essential headlines

Month of strikes | More than 10,000 extra ambulance workers have today voted to strike across nine trusts, increasing the threat of widespread action in the NHS before Christmas. It came as the TSSA union said members will strike and take other forms of industrial action in December at Network Rail and a number of train operators. See the dates of the walkouts and train companies affected. Meanwhile, Royal Mail is using a gig economy app to recruit agency staff during postal strikes as delivery workers stage a 48-hour walkout before Christmas.

The big story: Lady Susan Hussey resigns in race row

She was on duty at a Buckingham Palace reception last night to welcome guests and represent the Royal household.

But Lady Susan Hussey, the late Queen's most loyal lady-in-waiting, has today resigned after asking "unacceptable and deeply regrettable" questions about where a guest was "really" from.

Ngozi Fulani, the British-born director of the east London charity Sistah Space, claimed she was asked persistent questions about "what part of Africa" she was from.

She detailed her recollection of the exchange on Twitter. The palace said it took the incident "extremely seriously" and had investigated immediately.

The alleged conversation occurred as 300 guests joined the Queen Consort for a drinks reception honouring their work campaigning against domestic abuse and violence against women.

Lady Susan, 83, was one of three courtiers kept on in unpaid honorary roles to aid the King.

Royal editor Hannah Furness explains how she served as Queen Elizabeth's lady-in-waiting for more than 60 years and is a godmother to Prince William.

 Lady Susan Hussey, the late Queen's most loyal lady-in-waiting
Lady Susan Hussey, the late Queen's most loyal lady-in-waiting

The Prince and Princess of Wales land in the US later today for a three-day visit. Speaking ahead of their arrival, a Kensington Palace spokesman said he was "disappointed" to hear of the incident and that "racism has no place in our society".

He added Prince William thinks "the course of action taken is correct". The Telegraph understands the royal couple are expected to meet US President Joe Biden on Friday.

Their trip is designed to focus on climate change and the early years before culminating in an Earthshot Prize award ceremony.

Reporting from Boston, royal correspondent Victoria Ward writes that, for the Prince and Princess, the timing could not be worse.

Their last overseas tour, to the Caribbean, was marred by criticism of its "colonial overtones".

Forensic detail behind US trip

The British are coming. Or, more specifically, the Waleses are going: to America for the first overseas trip of a new era in which their royal star-power will be tested like never before.

As the home of this year's Earthshot Prize, their destination, Boston, could hardly be more appropriate. And, in every sense, it could not be further from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's home in California.

Our royal editor explains the strategy of the visit, which is seen as the ultimate power positioning.

Lessons from Meghan's podcast

With the Duchess of Sussex having released the "season finale" of her Archetype podcast, she appears to have put down her microphone – for now.

In this tongue-in-cheek piece, Guy Kelly says that, after 12 episodes, we face a future without Meghan guiding us through the dark.

He writes: "While we come together and plot a path forward, then, let us not focus on what we've lost, but celebrate what we had. Or at the very least, what we learnt." Guy has picked out his seven takeaway moments.

Comment and analysis

World news: Letter bomb at Ukrainian embassy

A worker was injured when a letter bomb sent to the Ukrainian Embassy in Madrid exploded in his hands. The envelope was reportedly addressed to Ukraine's ambassador to Spain and contained a small homemade explosive. Meanwhile, Russian soldiers are ringing a Ukrainian "I want to live" hotline to ask for advice on how to surrender. It has emerged that up to 100 people a day are reaching out through the 24-hour scheme – a total that has increased since the city of Kherson was liberated.

Wednesday interview: 'Today's old-boy network would still protect someone like Kim Philby'

The cast and writers of a new drama, A Spy Among Friends, tell Chris Harvey the secrets of how "the greatest double agent of all" survived. Read the interview.

DAMIAN LEWIS as Nicholas Elliott and GUY PEARCE as Kim Philby. - ITV
DAMIAN LEWIS as Nicholas Elliott and GUY PEARCE as Kim Philby. - ITV

Sport briefing: Three key areas England need to fix

England have successfully navigated their way through another tournament group under Gareth Southgate and – despite quibbles over selection and performance – they never looked in danger of elimination. But Daniel Zeqiri says there have been enough clunky periods to analyse, as he picks out three main areas the side can improve on if they are to go all the way in Qatar. In other World Cup news, the USA's victory over Iran not only guaranteed them a place in the knockout rounds, but also won their women's team a pay day unlike any they have seen.

Editor's choice

  1. Whistle-stop global tour | Mapped: all the planet's 1,154 World Heritage Sites

  2. Healthy eating | How to cut down on salt – without losing any of the flavour

  3. Unisex beauty | 'Gender-neutral skincare isn't woke, it makes perfect sense'

Business briefing: HSBC to shut quarter of branches

HSBC has announced it will close about a quarter of its branches across the UK from next April as more people move to online banking. The decline in customers using branches has accelerated so much since the pandemic that some of the 114 sites closing are said to be serving fewer than 250 people a week. Meanwhile, new analysis shows that Britain's tax burden rose faster than all but one G7 economy last year as high earners were forced to hand more of their wages to the taxman.

Tonight starts now

Ultimate wishlists | It can be incredibly difficult to figure out what you want for Christmas presents. It is often even more difficult to know what to buy your friends and family. This year, our experts have rounded up the best Christmas gift ideas for all the people in your life. You will find ideas for the best gifts for children, women, men, gardeners, foodies – and more. Read on for the inspiration for everyone on your list.

Three things for you

And finally... for this evening's downtime

International takeover | From Harrods to Claridge's and the fashion house Valentino, Qatar owns some of Europe's most iconic brands – and perhaps more than you might realise. Ed Cumming explores how the Gulf state props up the world of global luxury.

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