Newspaper review: Prince's death, Obama and the EU, and Queen's 90th birthday walkabout

By Alex Kleiderman
BBC News


The pages of Friday's papers take on a purple hue as they pay tribute to music legend Prince following his sudden death at the age of 57.

The headline "Purple reign is over" crops up in more than one paper - a reference to Purple Rain, the musician's biggest-selling album.

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The seven-time Grammy winner, says the Times, blazed a trail through the pop charts over four decades, and a vast quantity of unreleased music is thought to lurk within the vaults of his studio.

"A master performer, at 5ft 2in Prince stood tall in global pop music as a singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist whose blistering guitar solos recalled Jimi Hendrix and whose dance moves evoked James Brown," it adds.

Police called to the star's Paisley Park estate in Minnesota found his body in a lift and the Daily Mirror reports celebrities and fans were left reeling by the news.

"His preference for privacy means his death comes as a huge shock to his fans, but Prince's health has deteriorated over recent weeks, with the singer cancelling two shows at the beginning of April," says the paper.

The Guardian describes Prince as a "unique and endlessly creative artist" who sold more than 100m records in a career of "virtually unparalleled richness and unpredictability".

"If he never quite regained the astonishing musical form he displayed in the mid-to-late-80s on record, his live performances could make you believe he was still an artist absolutely at the top of his game," writes Guardian music critic Alexis Petridis.

In the Daily Telegraph, Neil McCormick says Prince's "grasp of musical styles was astonishing, spanning rock, soul, jazz, funk, disco, gospel and sensitive singer-song writing, blending them all into something uniquely his own.

"His singing voice was incredible, shifting gears from rasping soul to sweet falsetto to screaming heavy metal roar. He was an innovative producer, a masterful band leader and an audacious songwriter."

The Financial Times says Prince's "tempestuous relations with Warner Bros came to epitomise the tensions between artists and record labels", although he surprised the music world again two years ago by rejoining the company.

In the New Day, Danny Kelly, former editor of Q magazine, writes about the "game of cat and mouse" he had to play with the musician before he was able to secure an interview.

And there's a similar tale from Daily Mirror journalist Peter Willis who recalls the time he ended up playing drums with the star. "No experience in my life will be as bizarre as the day I spent with Prince," he says.

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Obama's EU intervention

As US President Barack Obama arrives in the UK on Air Force One, the i reports he has flown into a "Brexit row". A decision to throw his weight behind the campaign for Britain to remain in the European Union has provoked fury among supporters of the Leave campaign, it says.

The Guardian says the main anti-EU campaign believes the prime minister has been able to distort the public debate by calling on a range of global policymakers to support his case to remain.

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The Times notes former work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith is leading the reaction against the intervention. It reports senior British officials as saying Mr Obama will be unambiguous about the negative consequences of a Brexit but will stress that the referendum is a matter for British voters.

Ahead of any public statements Mr Obama may make, the Daily Telegraph's lead story quotes from an article he has penned for the paper in which he says the US and the world need the UK's "outsized influence to continue - including within Europe".

Mr Obama adds: "The European Union doesn't moderate British influence - it magnifies it. A strong Europe is not a threat to Britain's global leadership; it enhances Britain's global leadership."

However, writing in the Sun, London mayor Boris Johnson, a leading member of the Leave campaign, reiterates his belief that the president's stance is "incoherent. It is inconsistent, and yes it is downright hypocritical".

"It is a breathtaking example of the principle of do-as-I-say-but-not-as-I-do," says Mr Johnson, who argues the UK can thrive outside the EU, and be an "even better and more valuable" ally of the US.

In a leading article, the Daily Mail says the US president needs to tread with "immense care" during his visit. "How unfortunate it would be if Mr Obama were to sully Anglo-American relations, by attempting to cajole us into making sacrifices of which his own people would never dream," it says.

Queen's delight

Finally, photographs record the scenes in Windsor as the Queen celebrated her 90th birthday.

"Many among the 3,000-strong throng had brought gifts, bouquets and 90th birthday balloons and thrust them out for her... leaving aides weighed down with armfuls of cards and presents," reports the Daily Express.

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"In a life hemmed in by formality and ceremony, the moment that the Queen started her walk among the crowds outside Windsor Castle must have brought a smile to her heart," says Valentine Low in the Times.

But it was, he writes, the crowd's rendition of "Happy Birthday, dear Queenie", accompanied by the band of the Coldstream Guards, that turned an everyday walkabout into something special, "an occasion that shone a light on the bond that unites monarch and people".

The Queen looked "happy and glorious" as she stood with Prince Philip in an open royal Range Rover dubbed the Queenmobile to wave to the thousands of people who gathered to see her, says the Daily Mirror.

Robert Hardman in the Daily Mail describes how later the "entire United Kingdom became one giant birthday cake" as the Queen lit the first of over a thousand beacons stretching from Cornwall to the Shetlands in honour of her big day.

What the commentators say...

media captionLiam Halligan, economics commentator for the Daily Telegraph, and the political commentator Ayesha Hazarika join the BBC News Channel to review Friday's front pages

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