Newspaper headlines: The Queen and the EU, Sharapova 'losses' and looted statue removed

The Queen and Bank of England governor Mark Carney find themselves in the headlines on Wednesday in the debate over the UK referendum on EU membership.

The Sun's front page exclaims "Queen backs Brexit". Its splash does not, however, feature a statement of support from the monarch.

Instead it is a reference to how the paper interprets the words of two anonymous sources. One claims to have witnessed the Queen telling former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg at a Windsor Castle lunch in 2011 the EU was "heading in the wrong direction".

The other refers to a conversation the Queen is said to have had with MPs at a Buckingham Palace reception "a few years ago" in which she is alleged to have remarked with "venom and emotion" that she did not understand Europe.

Image copyright AFP

Buckingham Palace tells the Sun the Queen remains "politically neutral", while Mr Clegg said on Twitter the story was "nonsense" and he had no recollection of the incident.

Elsewhere, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney's appearance before the Treasury Select Committee attracts plenty of scrutiny.

Mr Carney told MPs the possibility of Britain leaving the EU is the "biggest domestic risk to financial stability", while stressing continued membership brought risks too and he was not taking sides.

The Financial Times says Mr Carney "without explicitly advocating a vote to remain in the bloc... gave considerable ammunition to the In camp".

But the governor's words, reports the Times, saw him dragged into the political row over Britain's future. He came "under fire" from both Eurosceptics on the committee and from Leave supporters, including former Tory Chancellor Lord Lawson, it says.

In a leading article, the Daily Express accuses the Bank of England governor of "engaging not in factual analysis but in wild speculation". He "joined in the EU referendum scaremongering" and exceeded his brief, it says.

However, the Independent's economics editor, Ben Chu, believes Mr Carney gave a "pretty measured set of answers".

The Guardian would appear to agree, saying Mr Carney "strained every sinew to avoid coming across as partisan, but it did him no good with determined anti-EU MPs".

The Sun says it would be daft to pretend leaving the EU would not carry a risk for the UK economy but the "crucial question is how long a wobble would last".

Meanwhile, the Daily Mirror argues the decision on whether to leave or remain in the EU "isn't as simple as those wanting to go it alone pretend... Instead of abusing Carney, his critics must pick apart his argument".

Eye-catching headlines

  • My beautiful laundrette - now it's a gallery Coin-operated launderettes are in sharp decline on the UK High Street but their retro appeal means many sites are enjoying new lives as exhibition spaces and cocktail bars - Guardian
  • First smoke-free beach in Britain unveiled Little Haven beach in Pembrokeshire becomes the first seaside resort in Britain to trial no smoking signs on the sand - Daily Express
  • £2,500 for day as a Downton servant Wealthy Americans influenced by the ITV period drama are paying handsomely to act as skivvies at a historic Scottish home - Times
  • Tall or slim? You will probably earn more... In the genetic lottery, slender women and tall men really do seem to have hit the jackpot, as an Exeter University study suggests height and weight are critical to future earnings - Daily Telegraph
  • Vegetables grow well in soil from Mars Researchers in the Netherlands harvest tomatoes, peas, rye, rocket, radish and cress raised on simulated Martian soil supplied by Nasa - Independent
  • Time called on era of ever-bigger container ships Research by Drewry Shipping Consultants suggests the race to operate larger vessels could be nearing the finishing flag - Financial Times

Sharapova losses

Tennis player Maria Sharapova remains on the front pages following her admission she failed a drugs test at the Australian Open.

The Financial Times records the fallout from the revelation. The former world number one suffered a "swift corporate backlash", it says, seeing three of her biggest sponsors suspend their contracts.

Image copyright Reuters

The Daily Mail dubs Sharapova "the biggest loser in sporting history", reporting the player's admission she unwittingly took the banned substance meldonium following its ban in January could see her miss out on future earnings of £100m.

Other coverage, including that in the Times, focuses on the views of medical experts who have questioned why the player should have taken the drug for 10 years.

Looted statue

Could the decision by a Cambridge University college to bow to student pressure and remove a bronze cockerel looted from Africa in the 19th century set a precedent?

A month after Oriel College in Oxford, turned down student demands to remove a statue of Victorian imperialist Cecil Rhodes, Jesus College has announced its ornament would be removed permanently from a hall, reports the Guardian.

The bronze was taken from the Benin empire, now part of Nigeria, in a British naval expedition in 1897. But, says the Guardian, the student union passed a motion saying that the sculpture, which is properly known as the Okukor, should now be returned.

Critics branded the decision a mistake, says the Daily Mail. Alan Smithers, professor of education at the University of Buckingham, tells the paper: "Students always look for things to protest about. We can't be in the business of trying to re-write history."

The Times suggests the decision could revive the Oriel College campaign as well as emboldening others trying to repatriate cultural artefacts, such as the Elgin Marbles which Greece wants to be returned from the British Museum.

'One careless owner'

Finally, the Daily Express carries news of an Aston Martin Lagonda tailor-made for Prince Philip in the 1950s that is predicted to fetch up to £450,000 at auction in April.

"His pride and joy from 1954 until 1961, it was fitted with the ultimate mobile luxury of the time - a radio telephone that allowed the Duke of Edinburgh to speak to Buckingham Palace," says the paper.

All that remains of the system is an aerial and a switch on the dashboard - but an extra vanity mirror for the Queen to adjust her hat is still in place, adds the Daily Telegraph.

The convertible, which has 50,000 miles on the clock, even witnessed the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, having been loaded aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia for a tour of the Commonwealth, says the paper.

Image copyright H&H Classics/PA

"One careless owner," reads the Times headline. It notes the sale by H&H Auctions at the Imperial War Museum at Duxford, Cambridgeshire, cements the Duke of Edinburgh's reputation as "a spirited driver" as the car comes with an exhaustive list of bodywork repairs on its service record.

What the commentators say...

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Media captionFinancial commentator Louise Cooper and Michael Booker, deputy editor at the Daily Express, join the BBC News Channel to review Wednesday's front pages

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