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ust as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are preparing Frogmore Cottage for their new arrival, photographs of their rented farmhouse on the Great Tew estate in Oxfordshire have been published by a tabloid newspaper.

   

   The pictures show the Grade II listed home has floor-to-ceiling windows, four bedrooms, a separate two-bedroom cottage for staff and a barn extension. The Cotswold stone farmhouse is set in four acres of land and its location near Oxford Airport means Harry and Meghan or their visitors could slip in and out of the country unnoticed; it has the advantage of a 22-minute helicopter shuttle trip into London. Their relocation to Frogmore, which, with the assistance of police outriders is less than 30 minutes by car from central London, means they will no longer need a London base.

   

   The interest in the birth of their first child, due in the spring, means all eyes are on Meghan as she continues to work on her chosen projects. Royal babies remain a source of endless fascination, but so far the Duchess has not revealed any details about how she will manage life when two become three.

   

   Two years ago, the Queen handed over 25 patronages to members of her family, including Prince Harry and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. More will follow, and in January Her Majesty passed on two to Meghan: the National Theatre and the Association of Commonwealth Universities, of which she had been patron for 45 years and 33 years respectively.

   

   At the same time it was announced that the Duchess would also take on patronage of two additional charities as part of her official working portfolio. Smart Works helps long-term unemployed and vulnerable women regain the skills, confidence and tools to succeed at job interviews, return to employment and transform their lives. Mayhew is a charity which seeks to improve the lives of dogs and cats, and communities generally, both in the UK and internationally, by educating society about the value and importance of animal welfare.

   

   Next month, on 11 March, the royal family will mark Commonwealth Day and the 70th anniversary of the association in its modern-day format. The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall continue to undertake many of the major Commonwealth tours, and this year Charles is expected to become the first senior member of his family to visit Cuba.

   

   As the rest of his family continue with their royal duties the Duke of Edinburgh, now well into his 98th year, is celebrating his success in cultivating truffles. Ever since he was introduced to truffle-hunting by his uncle, Earl Mountbatten of Burma, on a trip to Italy, Philip has been fascinated by the idea of growing them himself. In 2006 he planted the necessary saplings in the alkaline soil of the royal fruit farm at Sandringham but was warned that the first crop, if there was one at all, might not be harvested until 2021, the year of his 100th birthday.

   

   The experts were overly pessimistic and last year a crop of black truffles, believed to be the first in the UK, was harvested on the Queen’s Norfolk estate. None was sold commercially. The Duke, who loves truffles grated over scrambled eggs, has never been able to resist a challenge and the triumph of producing the rare delicacies after 12 years must have been extremely satisfying. He is probably thinking about what to do next.
 
  


 
  
 
  
   
 
 
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