While watching Tuesday’s spring training game between the Detroit Tigers and Atlanta Braves, some of us in the FiveThirtyEight office were surprised to see Tigers shortstop Alex Gonzalez. Didn’t Gonzalez retire years ago?He was Atlanta’s everyday shortstop in 2011, but over the past two seasons, Gonzalez was thoroughly forgettable, playing just 65 games for the Milwaukee Brewers (hitting .211 and producing -0.8 wins above replacement). If you go back to 2009, when Gonzalez was 32, he seemed particularly unlikely to be in the majors five years later.This got us thinking: Could we quantify the “Wait … he’s still playing?” question. Our idea was to use a player’s age and WAR to predict whether he would be an active major leaguer a half-decade later. To that end, we plugged every player from the designated hitter era (1973-present) into a logistic regression model. The result will tell us the likelihood of a given player being in the league five seasons later. For example, here’s the arc of a generic Major League Baseball player who peaks as an All-Star (5 WAR) at age 27:So for players in MLB this season (a list taken from Fangraphs’ depth charts), we looked at the odds at the end of the 2009 season that they’d still be playing today. Here are the most unlikely major leaguers:Gonzalez is not the most improbable player in the game. That honor belongs to catcher Henry Blanco, who was 37 in 2009 and had been hovering around replacement level for the previous three seasons. All else being equal, a player of that profile would have just a 3 percent chance of still being in the majors five years later, and yet Blanco is slated to be in the mix for the Arizona Diamondbacks’ backup catching role this season.Blanco underscores one of the themes of the list. The probabilities listed above don’t take into account the player’s position (beyond the positional adjustments in WAR) — just his age and performance. For most players, that’s enough, but backup catchers are a different breed. No other position is so well-represented among the “I can’t believe he’s still playing” set.One reason for this is that WAR, for all of its strengths, doesn’t incorporate a catcher’s receiving skills. Recent research suggests that elite pitch-framers such as the Tampa Bay Rays’ Jose Molina have a startlingly large impact on the game, far beyond what was originally believed in the sabermetric community.Another explanation, though, is that on-field performance isn’t necessarily the first thing managers look for in their reserve backstops. Instead, managers may place more value on intangibles such as clubhouse presence and leadership. How else to explain how backup catching became what Sports Illustrated once called “the cushiest job in baseball”?
The Reggae Boyz are facing a possible elimination from the Caribbean Cup as they managed a 0-0 draw against Martinique Monday night at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium in St. John’s, Antigua.Jamaica is the defending Caribbean Cup champions, who is attempting to get to the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup, but with Monday’s draw they have landed their way at the bottom of Group B. Martinique leads the group with four points, French Guiana and Guiana both have three points, while Jamaica only has one point.Martinique appeared to be the more aggressive and organized team in Monday’s night match. Jamaica appeared to be flustered at times in the first half.Martinique managed to score in the 14th minute of play when Jordi Delem delivered a floated ball in, but the goal was nullified when the referee ruled Martinique offside, according to Sean Williams of the Jamaica Observer.Boyz goalkeeper Dwayne Miller was tested two minutes later when Martinique captain Kevin Parsemain attempted a shot from 25 yards, but Miller denied his strike.Demar Phillips attempted to answer the shots put forth by Martinique in the first half with one of his own. Phillips challenged Martinique goalkeeper Kevin Olimpa with a 30-yard shot, but was unsuccessful as Olimpa denied him.Both teams entered the half scoreless, but the Boyz came out in the second half with a new sense of urgency. They played in a more cohesive manner compared to the first half, but were still unable to penetrate through the Martinique defense.As the Jamaicans were gaining momentum they took a hit in the 62nd minute when left-back Demar Phillips picked up his second yellow card and was sent off the field.Martinique looked to capitalize with the short-handed Boyz in the 86th minute, when Sebastein Cretinoir aimed a 30-yard shot at substitute goalie Duwayne Kerr. Kerr managed to deny Cretinoir’s shot.The Boyz had a final attempt to steal the game when Darren Mattocks split two defenders, but was unable to get a high percentage shot off from inside the box.Jamaica now needs to win against Cuba Tuesday and hope Martinique defeats French Guiana, so they can squeak their way into the knockout phase. They could also hope that the two teams draw in their match, but Martinique winning would be a more favorable outcome for the Reggae Boyz.If none of those scenarios work out in the favor then they will be eliminated and sent back across the water to regroup for the Caribbean Cup next year.
Preseason odds as of July and August for season referenced. Exact odds vary by date and sportsbook.Sources: Pro Football Reference, Sports Odds History Philadelphia+500176Missed 3+8751011.39.9 29-32+14459003.85.6 2008New England+3502211Missed 2017New England+2502913Lost SB 2016New England+6501314Won SB 25-28+8168115.56.9 2012Green Bay+6001411Lost Div 2007New England+2502916Lost SB 2010Green Bay+140076 2008Pittsburgh+180058 2011New York Giants+2000511 2015Green Bay+5001710Lost Div San Francisco+6501312Lost Conf Preseason odds as of July and August for season referenced. Exact odds vary by date and sportsbook.Sources: Pro-Football-Reference.com, Sports Odds History, Westgate 2012Baltimore+160066 New England+5001710Lost Div 2018New England+60014%—— 2010Indianapolis+8001110Lost WC 2015Denver+120085 2003New England+150068 Preseason Odds to Win SBMade Super Bowl?Average Wins That’s made for some pretty good David-vs.-Goliath Super Bowl theater, often featuring Brady and the Pats. New England took down the preseason-favorite Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI after coming into the 2001 season as a 60-to-1 longshot. The Giants upset the preseason-favorite Patriots after the 2007 and 2011 seasons, and the Eagles did it to them again in February. Not bad for NFL scriptwriters — or the NFC East. Oddly, despite being the preseason Super Bowl favorite at least seven other times since 2001, the Patriots won four of their five Super Bowls when they weren’t favored coming into the season.So if preseason favorites don’t win the Super Bowl, who does? It turns out that if you want your favorite NFL team to win it all, you should hope it enters the season as kind of likely to do so. Nine of the past 17 champions — the majority — have had the fourth to ninth best preseason odds, with an average around +1400 (14 to 1). If recent history is any indication, the Packers, Eagles, Saints, Chargers, Falcons and Jaguars are in an attractive position as we near Week 1. 2003Tampa Bay+800117Missed 2011New England+6001413Lost SB 2002St. Louis+350227Missed Keep this in mind, too: Preseason Super Bowl odds tell us more about the season that just ended than the one that’s about to start.6Much like strength-of-schedule rankings. There’s a fairly strong negative correlation (-0.75) between teams’ regular-season win totals the previous season and their rankings in the odds before the start of the next season — the more games a team won last year, the lower, or better, their preseason odds rank becomes. And there’s only a modest negative correlation (-0.42) between teams’ preseason odds rankings and their performance in the season that the odds purport to cover. NFL teams generally revert toward the mean, undermining the accuracy of preseason odds that are mostly based on what each team did last season.So have some fun analyzing this year’s preseason Super Bowl odds, agree or disagree, and compare them with FiveThirtyEight’s NFL projections in a couple of weeks if you’re curious to see how the betting markets and Elo differ. But above all, take them with a grain of salt — unless a team with the fourth to ninth best odds wins the Super Bowl. If that happens, you heard it here first. 2014New England+800114 The *kinda* favorites tend to win the Super BowlPreseason odds to win the Super Bowl versus season results, 2001-2017 The preseason favorite tends to lose in the Super BowlThe preseason Super Bowl favorite has made the Super Bowl nine times since 2001 — but won only twice 2004New England+600142 Preseason Odds to Win Super BowlSeason Results 7-9+1895319.69.0 2005Pittsburgh+120085 2007New York Giants+3000315 2001St. Louis+4002014Lost SB Source: Pro-Football-Reference.com, Sports Odds History 13-16+3150108.28.1 1+5202713.011.4 17-20+4083127.47.5 Seattle+5001710Lost Div The 2018 NFL season kicks off in two weeks, and for the third consecutive year — and eighth time since 2005 — the New England Patriots are the betting markets’ preseason favorites to win the Super Bowl.1Preseason Super Bowl odds are referenced as of July and August, the time frame when historical odds are most consistently available. If you expanded your preseason parameters, you could argue that the Patriots have been the preseason favorite at least three more times since 2005, including 2015 (favorites in March), 2013 (favorites in March, co-favorites with Denver and San Francisco in April) and 2012 (co-favorites with Green Bay in early September). The Los Angeles Rams, Minnesota Vikings and Pittsburgh Steelers are all currently tied as the next most favored, followed by the Green Bay Packers and the defending-champion Philadelphia Eagles.2According to the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook and as of publication. Odds change over time and vary among sportsbooks.Thanks to a Supreme Court decision in May that struck down a federal law prohibiting sports gambling in most states, topics like Super Bowl odds — and point spreads, money lines, over-unders, prop bets, parlays and teasers — are set to become a bigger part of the mainstream sports experience than ever before. Since the decision, Delaware, Mississippi and New Jersey have joined Nevada in offering full-scale legalized sports betting, with several states poised to follow.Against this backdrop, and as the start of the NFL season nears, we thought it worthwhile to explore how teams’ preseason odds to win the Super Bowl typically play out over the course of the season. Where on the odds board do Super Bowl winners and losers come from? And how do preseason favorites and almost-favorites usually fare?At +600 (6 to 1),3In the United States, “odds to win” are typically referenced in money-line (American) or fractional (traditional or British) terms. The Patriots, for example, are currently +600 (money-line odds) or 6/1 (fractional odds) to win Super Bowl LIII according to Westgate — commonly referred to as having “six-to-one” odds. That means that if a bettor wagers $100 on the Patriots to win it all, the bettor would win $600. the Patriots have an implied probability of 14.3 percent to win the Super Bowl,4Implied probabilities are presented here at face value, without adjusting for the underlying profit made by sportsbooks on the bets. Because of that take, the likelihood of each outcome is slightly overstated, and the sum of the implied probabilities for all teams in a given season is greater than 100 percent. highest in the NFL. Last year, the Patriots were +250 (2.5 to 1) before the start of the season, which translated to a 28.6 percent chance — they were, in other words, a considerably heavier favorite than they are today.The 2018 Rams, Vikings and Steelers are all +1000 (10 to 1), which suggests a 9.1 percent probability. Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bills and Tampa Bay Buccaneers currently have this season’s longest odds — 200 to 1, or a 0.5 percent chance at a Super Bowl ring.In the past 17 NFL seasons, only two preseason favorites have gone on to hoist the Lombardi Trophy — the 2006 Indianapolis Colts (+600) and the 2016 Patriots (+650). But preseason favorites haven’t exactly fallen apart, either. Only four since 2001 have missed the playoffs,5The 2002 Rams, 2003 Buccaneers, 2005 Eagles (co-favorites with the Colts and Patriots) and 2008 Patriots. The 2008 Patriots won 11 games but still missed the playoffs. and in most seasons, the favorite or co-favorite actually made the Super Bowl. They just had a funny habit of losing when they got there. 2013Seattle+800113 2009New England+5001710Lost WC 2013Denver+6501313Lost SB 2005Indianapolis+5001714Lost Div 2006Indianapolis+6001412Won SB 2017Philadelphia+40002%17 But does recent history really tell us anything? We’re only dealing with 17 seasons here, so the sample size is small. Four champions have still come from among the top three most heavily favored teams heading into a given season. And we could just as well have seen a slew of preseason favorites win the Super Bowl — the 2001 Rams, 2004 Eagles, 2007 Patriots, 2011 Patriots, 2014 Seahawks and 2017 Patriots each came up only a play or drive short. 2009New Orleans+200059 SeasonPreseason Favorite(s)Money LineImplied Prob.WinsPlayoffs 21-24+6101016.26.8 2002Tampa Bay+120085 10-12+2414128.68.4 2+7701011.710.9 2004Philadelphia+5001713Lost SB SeasonSuper Bowl WinnerMoney LineImplied Prob.Implied Rank 2014Seattle+5001712Lost SB Preseason Odds to Win Super Bowl 2001New England+6000225 RankAverageWonLostPrior SeasonNew Season Denver+5001712Lost Div Where do Super Bowl champions come from?The majority of champions since 2001 had the fourth to ninth best preseason Super Bowl odds 2016New England+650131 2006Indianapolis+600141 4-6+13336310.58.7
Fans take in a game at Bill Davis Stadium on April 16.Credit: Courtesy of OSU AthleticsJust about anyone who has ever attended a baseball game has witnessed the following scene: A fan in attendance, usually along the first- or third-baseline, isn’t paying attention to the play on the field. Within milliseconds of the crack of the bat, a fan is struck by the ball and takes the brunt of the force of the live ball, only slowed down by air resistance.MLB made waves this winter by recommending that protective netting should be installed beyond the dugouts at all 30 MLB ballparks. Several minor league baseball teams have put in additional protective netting as well, including the local Columbus Clippers.Ohio State Executive Associate Athletic Director Martin Jarmond confirmed that in 2017, protective netting will be expanded at Bill Davis Stadium, extending to the ends of the dugouts on the baselines to protect the most vulnerable fans.“We are always looking for ways to provide a better and safer experience for our guests,” said Associate Athletic Director Mike Penner. “The netting is one way to do that.” Penner told The Lantern that the department has budgeted $50,000 for the project.Some fans watching the OSU baseball team take on the University of Alabama-Birmingham on May 3 had a general consensus about the eventual extension of netting: For the safety of the fans, it’s a change that needs to happen.R.C. Perez, a third-year in sport industry, said he recalls a moment earlier this season when a group of kids sitting on the first-base side above the dugout was moved to another side of the stadium where a batted ball, broken bat or anything else thrown from the field couldn’t injure the young fans or anyone else in attendance.“It’s a great idea (for extra netting) because of the risk to kids and other fans,” Perez said.Dave and Diane Mosbarger — grandparents of OSU senior pitcher Daulton Mosbarger — sit by themselves along the third-baseline even with the dugout. Diane Mosbarger said that at least one of them has to be paying attention when a left-handed batter is at the plate.“So many people don’t pay attention too much,” she said. “Ushers are constantly paying attention to foul balls.”The couple has attended over 30 major league ballparks apiece, and although Dave Mosbarger has a different take than his wife, saying that more netting does take away from the experience a little bit, they both said they are sure they will attend many more games in the future despite the increased area of barrier between them and the field.John Grubb has been an usher at Bill Davis Stadium for five years, and he said in his five years working on the concourse level, he has seen too many close calls.“You always have several instances,” Grubb said. “One time, a thrown bat just missed some people in box seats … It’s just a matter of time.”OSU coach Greg Beals said that most fans now choose to view the game through the limited netting behind the home plate area, so the expanded netting will allow fans to sit comfortably anywhere they choose to sit in the ballpark.“I see the purpose in it, to protect the fans,” the coach said. “The fans are so critical in the major league game, and obviously to us as well, so it makes sense from that standpoint.”Beals said hanging the net with suspension cables is important to the process because it eliminated poles that can obstruct the view of fans.“I think once fans get used to the net, you don’t really notice it a lot,” he said.The installation process is expected to take four months.
Sophomore goalie Christian Frey skates near his goal during a game against Minnesota at the Schottenstein Center on March 6. OSU lost, 4-2. Credit: Alexis Soares / Lantern photographerIn the final home game of their collegiate careers, OSU’s eight seniors were the stars on the ice one last time.The senior class helped lead the team to a 5-2 victory over the No. 15 Golden Gophers on Saturday.“Led by our seniors, no question,” coach Steve Rohlik said. “We talked a lot about it today and in video session, you can’t script a book any better than what happened tonight, but again, you’re led by eight pretty quality young men. But I credit the team because it takes all 27 guys to get it done, and all 27 guys jumped on board and everybody wanted to do it for the seniors, but more importantly for the program.”Sophomore forward Nick Schilkey’s backhander off a rebound from senior forward Darik Angeli put the Buckeyes in a 1-0 lead.The Gophers notched two tallies in the second period, but senior forward Matt Johnson tied the score at 2-2. OSU then added three goals in the third to take the win.This weekend proved to be a big one for junior defenseman Craig Dalrymple as he scored his first two goals of the season in back-to-back nights against the Gophers.“Two goals in two games, it’s pretty special,” Dalrymple said.OSU’s defense held the game for the Buckeyes by not allowing one of the best power-play units in college hockey to score on its four power-play chances.“That’s a scary team on the power play when you’re clicking at the right percent. They have so many weapons,” Rohlik said. “I think our guys decided it just doesn’t matter, you have to go out and kill a penalty and our guys just jumped the boards and got the job done.”After Minnesota coach Don Lucia decided to pull his goalie late in the final period Saturday to allow the Gophers to add an extra attacker, the Buckeyes took advantage.Led by the stick skills of senior forward Tanner Fritz, the Buckeyes scored twice on an empty net. Fritz assisted junior forward Anthony Greco on the first, and scored the second himself, marking his last home goal as a Buckeye.“I think the hockey gods were shining down on me a little, but definitely nice to go out that way,” Fritz said.Fritz, who leads the Buckeyes with 26 points and has had a point in each of his last six games, said this win was one to remember.“It’s an awesome feeling, something that I’ll remember and cherish down the road. I can look back on this and be proud of what I’ve done,” Fritz said.But the Buckeye captain’s hockey career isn’t over yet, as OSU is set to travel to Madison, Wis., to take on the Wisconsin Badgers in its final series of the regular season.“We enjoy this win. We played a very good hockey team,” Rohlik said. “We are going into their senior weekend and we have to become a better team starting on Monday and that’s our focus. If we can continue to do that, hopefully we can cause some success.”Puck drop in Madison is set for 8 p.m. on Friday and 7 p.m. on Saturday.
After a cold week, a change in wind direction means it’ll turn milder for the #BankHolidayWeekend, but low pressure will bring mixed weather pic.twitter.com/tQB586fRuX— Met Office (@metoffice) April 26, 2017 Waves crash into Seaham harbour in County Durham as the Arctic weather made its way south this weekCredit:Owen Humphreys/PA Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. The April cold snap that has brought snow, sleet and hail to some will be replaced by sunshine in many areas in time for the May Day Bank Holiday.The news will please the thousands of holidaymakers taking to the roads to make the most of the long weekend.Drivers have been warned to expect delays on Friday evening, but Monday will be the busiest day for leisure trips with 3.4 million such journeys, as motorists head home after their bank holiday breaks. However, although the cold weather is due to give way to milder temperatures, the Met Office confirms there will be a geographical split – so keep your cardigan on and don’t forget an umbrella.London and the south-east are due to see a good amount of sunshine from Friday onwards, but northern and western England should expect rain. Scotland will be cloudy with a chance of sunshine.The Met Office said: “Bank Holiday weekend will start largely dry and bright. However, becoming windier through Sunday and Monday with rain spreading up from the southwest, although drier across Scotland. Becoming warmer.” For most of the country, the temperature will stay in single figures until at least midweek, but it should get warmer from then on.London and the south-east should see temperatures climb to 11°-13°C by Wednesday, and continue to rise. A sharp #frost greeted some of us again this morning. This great picture of a frosty tulip🌷came in to us from @CarlaSears in Hertfordshire pic.twitter.com/UbfJApvBij— Met Office (@metoffice) April 27, 2017 On Saturday the mercury is expected to hit 16°C in some parts of the country, but this is expected to be followed by more unsettled weather.RAC traffic spokesman Rod Dennis said: “With Easter just a fortnight ago, for many people the May Day bank holiday may have come as something of a pleasant surprise. “Certainly our figures show that many of us will be packing the car up to enjoy a trip to see friends or family, with the vast majority of leisure journeys expected on Bank Holiday Monday itself which suggests day trips and drivers returning after a short break will be responsible for much of the traffic.”He advised anyone travelling a long distance to give their car “a quick once over” before setting off to cut the chance of suffering a breakdown. Rail passengers are being urged to check for timetable changes as a number of lines will be closed for engineering work over the weekend. There are no trains between London Liverpool Street and Shenfield, Ingatestone and Billericay, and buses are replacing trains between Carlisle and Glasgow Central and Edinburgh. There are also no Southern services to or from London Bridge.A Network Rail spokeswoman said: “Rail staff will be working to deliver crucial upgrades to the rail network throughout the bank holiday weekend.”We don’t like inconveniencing people but we have to carry out this work when the railway is quietest, and we know that up to 50 per cent fewer passengers travel by rail over bank holidays.”The majority of the network is unaffected.”
For many families, mowing the lawn or hanging out the washing is a way of helping out while saving everyone money. But their numbers may be declining as busy lives mean fewer families do household chores for each other – and increasingly “get a man in” instead. ONS figures show that a smaller proportion of family members do jobs for one another such as helping with household chores, childcare and shopping. The proportion of parents who regularly receive help from their grown-up children fell from 42.2 per cent to 37.7 per cent.Fewer parents offered such help to their children, too, with 58.5 per cent saying they helped out in the most recent figures compared to 62.8 per cent in the previous statistics. The figures suggest that families who live apart are helping each other less. Dr Lydia Martens, a senior lecturer in sociology at Keele University, said the decline could be down to time-pressed younger generations being more comfortable with paying for services. She said that a “declining resistance to buying in services may be one factor to explain a reduction in intergenerational exchange”.”People now say they have no time – if mum and dad need something doing, it’s much easier to pay someone to do it than to do it yourself.”The generation who were young in the 1950s were the last who would have been less comfortable paying for something they could do themselves. Values are changing,” she added.The trend was started by baby boomers who were more “materialistic” and happier to spend, she said, and would be more likely to pay for someone to do chores around their homes. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. She also said new technology such as online shopping had made it easier for children to help parents remotely.The rise of sites such as Gumtree, Mopp and TaskRabbit has also made it easier for householders to access workers who can quickly do individual jobs. Consumer studies have shown that baby boomers are more enthusiastic spenders than their parents were.Last year a report by Government agency Innovate UK found that baby boomers “have the money and desire to commission bespoke new products and services that extend their enjoyment of life for longer”. it added: “Where their parents, brought up in war-time shortage or post-war austerity, might passively consume what they were allowed, Boomers actively seek out what they want.”ONS figures also show that spending on services such as cleaning and gardening has increased to its highest-ever levels. The most recent statistics show that spending on services grew to £10,416 per head in 2016, the largest number ever recorded. The figure has risen almost ten-fold since 1997, when the figure was £1,070 on average. The ONS analysis also suggested that families and friendships had become less close. The report said there had been a “deterioration” in close family relationships. There was a fall in the number of people who said they had a reliable spouse, family member or friend to help if they had a serious problem, from 86 per cent to 84 per cent.
Prince Philip joins the Queen for the Order of Merit service after announcing he is to retireCredit:PA He was unexpected joined by his wife the Duchess of Cornwall, who had been at Radio 2 for her own engagement in the morning to promote 500 Words, a children’s storywriting competition. The Queen makes Anna Wintour a Dame CommanderCredit:PA Prince Philip at work on Wednesday at Lord’s The children and grandchildren of the Queen have embarked on a new phase of public duties, as “Team Windsor” rallied round to fill the Duke of Edinburgh’s shoes.The Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, Duke of Cambridge, Princess Royal and Earl of Wessex each stepped up a day after the Duke announced his retirement, in a very visible sign of a new collaborative Royal era.While the Duke of Edinburgh, 95, departed London to spend the day privately with friends, the Queen was joined by the Duke of Cambridge for a working lunch at Buckingham Palace. Anna Wintour, the American Vogue editor-in-chief who was made a Dame Commander, said of the ceremony: “I congratulated her on Prince Philip’s service because obviously that’s so remarkable and such an inspiration to us all.”The Earl of Wessex, meanwhile, fulfilled his role as chairman of the The Prince Philip Trust Fund, hosting a reception at St George’s Hall, followed by a dinner at Norman Tower at Windsor Castle. Staff at the palaces have been given a pep talk on how they will be encouraged to pull together, as three generations of the Royal family work ever closer with the common purpose of supporting the Queen.Team Windsor, as it is being called by aides, will jointly spread the burden of taking the Duke’s workload from August, when he has announced he will retire from public duties. Prince Philip at an engagement last month, feeding an elephant at Whipsnade Zoo News of the Duke’s autumn retirement was greeted on Thursday by an outpouring of gratitude from the public, with admirers acknowledging his long service, which continued 30 years after most of his contemporaries would have retired.Asked whether the Duke would have been pleased to see the public response, two close friends suggested he was more likely to have avoided reading it, embarrassed about the attention.“I don’t think he would ever have expected it,” said Lady Butter. “He hates adulation.” The following months will see the Queen at engagements alone or joined by younger members of the family, who will step further into the spotlight.The Duke himself has temporarily retreated from the public gaze after a jovial public appearance on Thursday afternoon, staying with friends in the north while his family carry on. Paying tribute to the Queen and Duke’s seven decades of public duty together, Lady Butter said: “They are absolutely amazing, the perfect couple. “I think he’s been a real example of service and dedication. It’s a most extraordinary story.” Ray Winston, the Duchess of Cornwall, Debbie Harry from Blondie and Chris Evans in his studio for BBC Radio 2’s 500 WordsCredit:PA Those close to him emphasised he has no plans to retire to a life of idle leisure, saying they expect him to continue to take a very close interest in his charities despite relinquishing his formal active responsibilities and the expectations they bring. The Queen went on to conduct a series of investitures, reflecting this week’s promise to “continue to carry out a full programme of official engagements”. Lady Myra Butter, a friend since childhood, said last night of the Duke’s future: “He might be stepping down but he won’t be sitting down.” The three young Royals will pick up more of the slack this year, as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge move to LondonCredit:PA Prince Charles, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Burma’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi Retirement will allow Prince Philip more time for hobbies, including oil paintingCredit:Rex Christopher Aitken, secretary of the Fund, said the process of the Duke handing his practical duties over to Prince Edward had been “very successful”, adding he would not be surprised if the “very active” Duke chose to attend future events which piqued his interest.The Princess Royal, who has quietly been the hardest working Royal of recent years in terms of public engagements, was due to attend the Women’s Royal Naval Service Benevolent Trust AGM and reception. A full day of activity yesterday saw the Queen and Duke of Cambridge host Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi at Buckingham Palace for a short meeting and then lunch.The Prince of Wales conducted a 45-minute-long meeting with the de facto Burmese leader at Clarence House, shouldering the more formal diplomatic duty. Royal aides confirmed staff across the palaces have been asked to pull together in support of the Queen, in a rallying address from her private secretary Sir Christopher Geidt on Thursday.In an announcement to staff, he emphasised the enthusiasm of the Prince of Wales and and Duke of Cambridge in supporting their mother and grandmother, in a cross-generational effort designed to utilise the working Royals most effectively. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
A Spanish man hailed as a “skateboard hero” after he died trying to defend a woman from one of the assailants during the London attack has been awarded a posthumous medal, Madrid said Friday.Ignacio Echeverria, an HSBC expert in fighting money-laundering who lived in London, was one of eight killed in last Saturday’s attack that saw three men mow down people in a van before going on a stabbing spree in the Borough market area.The 39-year-old had rushed over to help a woman being assaulted and tried to defend her with a skateboard he had with him, prompting British media to dub him the “skateboard hero.” Spain was highly critical of the sluggish pace of the identification process.Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis even intervened earlier this week when the family was told they would not be able to see Echeverria’s body until Friday at the earliest, even after positive identification, prompting British authorities to allow them to be with their son and brother earlier. Spain’s government spokesman Inigo Mendez de Vigo said Echeverria had been awarded the Great Cross of the Order of Civil Merit, which recognises “extraordinary services” by Spanish and foreign citizens.”He was a good man, an exemplary citizen who on this tragic evening had the courage to face the terrorists to try and save the life of a young woman who was being attacked,” he told reporters.Echeverria was listed as missing for close to four days after the attack as British authorities identified the body, leading to an excruciating wait for his family members. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.