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Royals pretend to be soldiers, Putin pretends to be a wolf

Welcome to Declassified, a weekly humor column.

In disappointing news, Ursula von der Leyen did not begin her State of the European Union address with a heartfelt eulogy to her pet pony, Dolly, which was killed by a wolf earlier this month. Instead she went with Ukraine as her opening gambit. Well, each to their own.

The death of Dolly the pony was a tragic event that left many unanswered questions: Was it a recreation of a Brothers Grimm fairytale gone wrong? Was the wolf making a political statement against von der Leyen’s geopolitical Commission? And — most likely — was the culprit actually Vladimir Putin in a wolf costume?

While there was no discourse about Dolly in the State of the European Union address, von der Leyen did mention the late Queen Elizabeth II, whom she called a “legend” — a term that has, alas, become devalued by overuse in recent years. It’s gone from being used to describe someone who slayed a dragon to being used to describe someone who always gets a round in at the bar.

Speaking of the queen, there has been quite the fuss about which members of the royal household get to wear military uniform during the numerous funeral ceremonies. It’s a big no for Prince Harry, despite him having been in the army for a decade, including two tours of Afghanistan. That’s because Harry chose to leave official royal life in 2020.

Prince Andrew, who like Harry is also a non-working member of the royals because of, er, you know, that, will be allowed to wear military uniform to the queen’s funeral “as a special mark of respect,” according to Buckingham Palace — respect for whom was not specified (the victims of his pal Jeffrey Espstein?) For the other ceremonies, Andrew will have to wear dungarees and a Justin Bieber T-shirt, or maybe a suit. Andrew did, however, serve in the navy for more than two decades and saw duty in the Falklands War, and (this may come as a surprise to younger readers) was once treated as somewhat of a hero.

Princess Anne, who has never been in the armed forces, will wear military uniform at all the memorial events. So will Prince Edward, who was in the Royal Marines for eight seconds before deciding it was too much like hard work and leaving before completing the training (Declassified should point out in the interest of fairness that it has completed the most rigorous military training there is — camping at Glastonbury).

At Prince Philip’s funeral, Edward was decked out in full military uniform including an impressive haul of medals. Rumors that he made them himself using coins and sticky tape were unconfirmed at the time of going to press.

CAPTION COMPETITION

“Lonely Frenchman’s request for two glasses of vin blanc cruelly denied.”

Can you do better? Email [email protected] or on Twitter @pdallisonesque

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Thanks for all the entries. Here’s the best from our postbag — there’s no prize except for the gift of laughter, which I think we can all agree is far more valuable than cash or booze.

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Paul Dallison is POLITICO‘s slot news editor.

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