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Camilla’s short Oz trip not snub, say officials



The Duchess of Cornwall will travel all the way to Australia for two full days of a Royal tour before leaving Prince Charles to carry out the rest of the week-long visit alone.

Clarence House confirmed Camilla will be in Brisbane and the Gold Coast from the afternoon of 4 April to attend the opening of the Commonwealth Games and a Women of the World event.

But she has decided not to join her husband as he goes to the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns, Gove and Darwin, along with the Pacific island of Vanuatu.

Instead she will fly back to the UK on 6 April, leaving Prince Charles to return on the 10th.

A spokeswoman for the Duchess said: “The Duchess has always wanted to go to the Commonwealth Games but she was taking a little longer to decide what the rest of the programme was going to be and what the rest of her programme this year was going to be.

“We have got CHOGM (the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London), the Prince of Wales’ birthday, their Spring tour…so she is going to return after the Commonwealth Games as that would be the natural point to return home.”

Prince Charles
Prince Charles will visit parts of Australia’s east coast as well as the Pacific island of Vanuatu

Asked whether this could be seen as a snub to Australia, the spokeswoman said: “No. It’s quite a gruelling tour, with some fantastic places for the Prince to visit.

“Her last tour there was in 2013. She is going to the Games, which she regards as a very important part of it.”

When asked further if only going for two days looked odd, she added: “Better than not. She decided a few weeks ago to firm up her plans. We were always looking at the Duchess coming.”

It was also confirmed there were no health reasons, with the official saying she was “as fit as a flea. The Duchess does not like flying but I think she sometimes has to embrace that fear and get on with it”.

Palace officials emphasised the importance of this tour for celebrating ties with the Commonwealth especially in Australia where the Queen is head of state.

They also confirmed that when the couple arrive at Old Government House in Brisbane, Prince Charles will receive a full ceremonial arrival, usually only laid on for visiting heads of state, because he will be representing his mother the Queen.

Steve Irwin
The Duke will meet the family of wildlife expert Steve Irwin who died in 2006

The visit comes just weeks before heads of government from the 53 Commonwealth members will attend CHOGM from 16 April.

The Queen is head of the Commonwealth but Prince Charles will not automatically inherit the title when he becomes king.

As part of the tour, the Prince will meet the family of Australian wildlife expert Steve Irwin to highlight the plight of the world’s coral reefs.

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Irwin, who was nicknamed the Crocodile Hunter, died in 2006 after being attacked by a stingray while filming footage for a documentary.

The Prince of Wales will also visit the Pacific island of Vanuatu – where some islanders worship his father the Duke of Edinburgh as a god.

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India: Head of ‘world’s largest family’ Ziona Chana dies – leaving behind 39 wives and 94 children | World News



A man said to be the head of the world’s largest family has died in northeastern India.

Ziona Chana had 39 wives, 94 children and 33 grandchildren – all of whom lived together in a four-storey pink house with about 100 rooms in Baktawng in Mizoram state.

The 76-year-old was the leader of a local Christian sect, named Chana, founded by his father in 1942 and with a current membership of hundreds of families.

Ziona married his first wife when he was 17 and claimed he once married 10 women in a year.

They shared a dormitory near his private bedroom and locals said he liked to have seven or eight of them by his side at all times.

The chief minister of Mizoram confirmed his death on Twitter, saying the village of Baktawng had become a “major tourist attraction” because of the family.

With a total of 167 members, the family is the world’s largest, according to local media, although this depends on whether you count Mr Chana’s grandchildren.

In a 2011 interview with Reuters, Ziona said: “I am ready to expand my family and willing to go to any extent to marry.

“I have so many people to care for and look after, and I consider myself a lucky man.”

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Vladimir Putin: ‘Where is the proof’ Russia is waging a cyber war against the United States? | World News



Russian leader Vladimir Putin has denied claims his country is waging a cyber war against the United States.

In an exclusive interview with NBC News, the Russian president rebuffed accusations Russian hackers, or the government itself, is using technological warfare against America – as baseless.

He said claims his country was involved in cyber attacks had become “farcical”, asking: “Where is the evidence? Where is the proof?”

Mr Navalny at a court hearing earlier this year
Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny remains in prison

“We have been accused of all kinds of things: election interference, cyber attacks and so on and so forth. And not once, not one time did they bother to produce any kind of evidence or proof,” he said.

Evidence has been put forward by US intelligence services of Russian hackers targeting the federal government and meddling in US elections.

Mr Putin also denied ordering the poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

Pressed on whether he had any involvement, he said: “Look, such decisions in this country are not made by the president.”

Russian intelligence services have been accused of poisoning Mr Navalny, who survived the incident but now remains in a Russian prison.

Asked whether the former opposition leader would make it out of prison alive, Mr Putin said: “He will not be treated any worse than anybody else.”

Joe Biden will be meeting Vladimir Putin on Wednesday
Joe Biden will be meeting Vladimir Putin on Wednesday

Mr Putin’s comments come just two days before he and Joe Biden are due to sit down for talks in Geneva on Wednesday.

The US president will be fresh from his meeting with NATO leaders, who have signalled that Russia remains a security risk to Western allies.

In his interview with NBC, Mr Putin said Russia would be willing to engage with other countries including the US and would value “predictability and stability”.

The Russian president has made no secret that he supported Mr Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump, who he called “extraordinary” and “talented”.

Mr Putin and Mr Biden have had somewhat more rocky relations, with the current US president agreeing when asked whether he thought the Russian president was a killer.

When this was put to Mr Putin, he replied: “Over my tenure, I’ve gotten used to attacks from all kinds of angles. And none of it surprises me.”

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Finke Desert Race crash: Spectator killed and two injured at Australian off-road event | World News



A man has died and two others have been injured after a car crashed into spectators during a race in Australia.

The car, which was taking part in the 285-mile (460km) Finke Desert Race, struck a group of people around 22 miles (35km) from the finish.

A 60-year-old man died at the scene.

A man in his 50s was seriously injured and taken to Alice Springs Hospital, while the driver, a woman in her 50s, suffered minor injuries, Northern Territory police confirmed.

Police have issued an appeal for information as they continue to investigate the circumstances.

Motorsport Australia issued a statement calling it “tragic news” and offering “sympathies to the families, friends and all those impacted”.

The governing body also said it would begin its own investigation and provide counselling to all competitors, officials and people associated with the race.

The track is described on its website as having a “reputation for being one of the most difficult off-road courses in one of the most remote places in the world”.

The two-day off-road, multi-terrain race for motorcycles, cars, buggies and quads through desert country between Alice Springs and the town of Aputula, also known as Finke, takes place every June.

The car section of the race has now been cancelled.

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