Newspaper headlines: Queen's Guard 'terror threat', rail 'chaos' and honours tips

The threat of terrorism on British shores is once again on front pages, with some papers reporting that soldiers guarding royal palaces have been moved for their safety.

Members of the Queen's Guard are said to have been positioned behind fences, with armed police protection, in case of attack from a "lone wolf" terrorist - from an extremist group such as Islamic State. As the Mail on Sunday points out, at Prince Charles's residence Clarence House: "Tourists, who love to pose with the guards, can now barely see them."

Police counter-terrorism adviser Sally Leivesley writes in the Sunday Mirror: "As a target it is incredibly significant for these groups to kill a British soldier in their home country. An attack would be a hugely powerful signal."

Remembering the street killing of Fusilier Lee Rigby in south-east London in May 2013, the paper comments: "This is not a step taken without good grounds... It is sad, of course, that such a long, well-loved tradition must be changed. But the alternative is too dreadful to contemplate."

The Mail on Sunday, however, hopes the retreat is temporary. "These disciplined soldiers could easily defend themselves in a fair fight. They are accustomed to close contact with the public, and have long tolerated, with astonishing patience and good humour, some quite unpleasant teasing by a minority of tourists. How can they be sure that such encounters are not the start of something much more serious? No doubt it is better for the Palace and the Army to take precautions now than to weep later because they did not."

Meanwhile, the Sunday Times reports that al-Qaeda is advising such "lone wolf" jihadists to target Easyjet and BA flights with bombs. The paper says an article in the group's online publication recommends the airlines because they carry "a large number of passengers" and so will secure media coverage.

'National disgrace'

Images of thousands of rail passengers either stranded outside central London or facing endless queues at mainline termini, after engineering works overran, are met with dismay. "We don't have a transport system. We have a national disgrace," complains the Sun on Sunday, suggesting that: "The entire senior management of the railway infrastructure seemed to be clueless."

The Sunday Express complains the network grinds to a halt "with all the inevitability of a festive Only Fools and Horses rerun". It adds: "To be told that 'only two million' of us use trains over the holiday season compared with four million at other times boils the blood. For the government to meekly bleat its regrets adds insult to injury."

Image copyright PA

The Sunday Telegraph argues that the best time to do engineering work is during weekends and holidays. "On occasion, things will not run to plan and will result in additional days being needed to make repairs. Passengers are not naive - they understand perfectly that maintaining the nation's railways is a costly business that often requires patience." However, calling for more planning, it asks: "Could this whole situation not have been handled a good deal better?"

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail declares "bad timing" on the part of Rail Minister Claire Perry who'd sent a Christmas message "boasting" of 10,000 Network Rail employees working over the holiday period to bring "light at the end of the tunnel" to passengers. Mrs Perry also has a column in the Sunday People, headlined: "I'm so chuffed." In the article, presumably written before Saturday's problems, she writes of how the rail network is "moving in the right direction" and lists a host of modernisation schemes. "As long as we have unhappy customers... I won't be satisfied," she concludes.

That's Life recognition

TV host Esther Rantzen appears in a number of papers, with the Sunday Times predicting she'll be made "Dame ChildLine" in honour of her work with the child protection charity. She was once most famous for fronting BBC show That's Life!, the paper recalls, saying the "talking dogs and odd-looking vegetables have long since given way to the championing of consumer rights and vulnerable people".

Her latest such project - Silver Line - marked its first anniversary last week, having received nearly 300,000 calls concerning elderly people suffering abuse, neglect and poor standards of care, reports the Sunday Telegraph.

Rantzen isn't the only one linked with a New Year gong. Film legend John Hurt is in line for a knighthood, according to the Sun on Sunday. The paper also reckons Sheridan Smith, who starred in ITV's dramatisation of singer Cilla Black's rise to fame, will be made an OBE.

The year that was

As it's the last Sunday of the year, several papers take the opportunity to look back over 2014. The Daily Star Sunday's year in pictures features the Oscars selfie posted by host Ellen DeGeneres which became the most retweeted photo ever. It also includes Kim Kardashian's bum-bearing magazine photoshoot and the Tour de France's opening in Yorkshire. Its football version recalls a German World Cup win, Chelsea's Jose Mourinho grappling with Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, and Steven Gerrard's infamous slip which "cost his side the [Premier League] title".

Remembering the separation of Coldplay singer Chris Martin and actor Gwyneth Paltrow, the Sunday Mirror's Simon Boyle writes: "This year will forever be remembered as the year of the 'conscious uncoupling', Miley Cyrus twerking around the globe, and the most eligible bachelor finally getting married - that's George Clooney, not me."

Sun on Sunday political editor David Wooding says 2014 was the year "the people of Britain stuck a collective two fingers up to MPs". His "New Sneers' Honours list" features awards for Sneer of the Realm to Labour's Emily Thornberry who "scoffed at a house with three England flags and a white van outside". His Life Sneerage goes to Conservative Andrew Mitchell for "denying he called cops 'plebs'," and Sneer of the Year to fellow Tory Mark Garnier, for telling his party not to bother with "dog-end voters" in "outlying regions".

Image copyright The Office of First Lady

Jessica Boulton reviews the year in tweets for the Sunday People. She recalls Twitter "flooded" with tributes from stars after the heroin overdose of Philip Seymour Hoffman, US First Lady Michelle Obama heading up the #BringBackOurGirls campaign after the abduction of more than 200 Nigerian schoolchildren, and the American tourist who turned to social media for help when locked in a central London bookstore after staff went home.

Meanwhile, William Langley declares the year's heroes and villains. Among the former are Stephen Sutton, whose blog postings helped raise £3m for the Teenage Cancer Trust before he died in May, and volunteer nurse Will Pooley, who became the first Briton to catch Ebola in the current outbreak. His baddies include Russell Brand, who "didn't seem to grasp that appearing on Question Time, dodging awkward questions and confusing scrutiny with intrusion" is exactly the sort of behaviour he objects to in mainstream politicians.

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