Weekend Reading: the death of the Queen, the investigative switchboard, and good luck paying for college

Weekend Reading is a weekly collation of 3-5 articles that have caught my attention, published on Saturday mornings. Previous editions can be found here.

1. ‘London Bridge is down’: the secret plan for the days after the Queen’s death (The Guardian)

QE2 has been on the British throne since 1952; she is both the longest-living and longest-reigning monarch in Britain, and the longest-reigning Queen in the history of the world. I’ve never known another Queen. My parents have never known another Queen. But even though it’s a little hard to fathom at this point, she is actually mortal. What’s going to happen when she dies?

2. The Switchboard Operator Politicians Feared (The Walrus)

He recalls the time he was told that then prime minister Jean Chrétien would not be flying with the press corps to Morocco. Chrétien, he was told, would meet them there. Thompson deduced Chrétien was taking a holiday somewhere in Morocco, but the prime minister’s office wouldn’t confirm. He called the switchboard operators and asked them to do what they could. “Five minutes later, they call me back and say, ‘Mr. Thompson, we have your party on the line, please hold.’” A moment later, Thompson could hear Chrétien’s distinctive tones over the phone. “The funny thing was he kind of pretended he wasn’t himself,” laughs Thompson. “Finally, I said, ‘Is that you, prime minister?’ and he said, ‘I’m sorry, he’s not available now’ and hung up the phone.” The story ran with a line about the prime minister’s private holiday in a Moroccan city.

“I learned afterward that the process of elimination was if Chrétien was going to Morocco, where is he going to stay?” says Thompson. “They decided that he was a Marrakesh kind of guy, and if he was going to go to Marrakesh, what are the three best hotels, and which one of those has a golf course? They called the hotel in Marrakesh with a golf course and asked for Jean Chrétien, and they got him.”

3. Why Is College So Expensive In America? (The Atlantic)

Fun fact: when I was in undergrad, I had American classmates who came to our university because it was cheaper to pay international tuition in Canada than domestic tuition in the United States. I graduated about a decade ago, so it will have risen by now, but my yearly tuition then was a very reasonable $5,000/year. America: what is the deal?