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After Harry weds Meghan, who is the most eligible prince of them all?

The blue-blooded bachelors of Europe.

Sorry, everyone who wanted to marry a British prince – US actress Meghan Markle has beat you to the last eligible one, at least until the 2030s. If you can’t wait that long, you’ll have to go further afield and bag yourself a European prince. Hey, at least you might be able to retain your EU citizenship!

Some European monarchies can immediately be ruled out by those who aren’t willing to wait: Monaco, Norway, the Netherlands and Sweden currently have no princes of marriageable age who aren’t already married. So what are your remaining options if looking to wed a more or less bonafide prince in the immediate future?

Prince Joseph Wenzel of Liechtenstein

Age: 22.

Position in line to the throne: Second (he’s also third in line to the Jacobite succession, if you fancy a bit of light civil war.)

Is he an actual prince? Yes, he’s the grandson of the Prince of Liechtenstein, and the son of the regent.

Does he have a palace? He’ll most likely inherit the family pad, Vaduz Castle, originally a 12th century fortress.

Does he have responsibilities? He doesn’t have a lot on right now, but he is probably going to be the reigning Prince of Liechtenstein one day.

Fun fact: He dreamed of being a football star as a child. Oh well, maybe something else will work out for him.

Eligible prince rating: 4/5.

Felipe de Marichalar y Borbón of Spain (pictured far right)

Age: 19.

Position in line to the throne: Fourth.

Is he an actual prince? No, but Spanish royal titles don’t work in quite the same way – as the king’s nephew he’s about as close as you can get, and people are supposed to call him “His Excellency”.

Does he have a palace? No.

Does he have responsibilities? Wikipedia alleges that he might in some way be sponsored by Dr Pepper, but the only source for this is an apparently non-existent book with the same ISBN as the first in the Animorphs series of young adult science fiction novels.

Fun fact: Despite his young age he is already notorious in the Spanish press for “antics” such as shooting himself in the foot, literally, and shouting racial slurs in the queue for a rollercoaster. Quite a catch!

Eligible prince rating: 1/5.

Prince Joachim of Belgium (pictured far right)

Age: 25.

Position in line to the throne: Ninth.

Is he an actual prince? Yes, he’s the nephew of Belgium’s King Philippe.

Does he have a palace? No.

Does he have responsibilities? No particularly royal ones as yet, though he’s an officer in the Belgian navy.

Fun fact: He’s descended from at least ten different European royal families, so at least you get a lot of royal “bang” for your marital “buck”.

Eligible prince rating: 3/5.

Prince Nikolai of Denmark (pictured centre)

Age: 18.

Position in line to the throne: Seventh.

Is he an actual prince? Yes, he’s the grandson of the Queen of Denmark.

Does he have a palace? Well, his dad’s royal residence is Schackenborg Castle – although it’s not officially owned by the family anymore, having been passed to a private foundation.

Does he have responsibilities? Apparently not – for the moment he’s been given the freedom to do whatever he wants to do. Which is apparently mainly listen to house music.

Fun fact: The first album he ever listened to was FutureSex/LoveSounds by Justin Timberlake, it says here.

Eligible prince rating: 3/5.

Prince Sébastien of Luxembourg

Age: 25.

Position in line to the throne: Sixth.

Is he an actual prince? Yes, he’s the son of the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, but he’s got older siblings with kids so don’t get your hopes up about a promotion.

Does he have a palace? Not as such, but he can probably give you a tour of his dad’s, the Grand Ducal Palace.

Does he have responsibilities? He’s an officer in the Luxembourg Army but turns up to various royal events, according to the website Royal Central.

Fun fact: Prince Sébastien shares a birthday with Little Jimmy Osmond and also there is not much information about him on the internet.

Eligible prince rating: 2/5.

The Pope

Age: 80.

Position in line to the throne: On it.

Is he an actual prince? Well, the Vatican is a monarchy, and he is the monarch, and his full title includes “Successor of the Prince of the Apostles”, so, if you squint? And Wikipedia confirms that he’s unmarried, ladies!

Does he have a palace? Unlike his predecessors, he turned down the option of living in the Apostolic Palace – but presumably he’s allowed to change his mind, because he’s the Pope.

Does he have responsibilities? He’s the Pope.

Fun fact: He loved to do the tango when he was young.

Eligible prince rating: 5/5.

The University Challenge final. Photo: BBC iPlayer
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Why University Challenge is deliberately asking more questions about women

Question setters and contestants on how the show finally began to gender-balance its questions – and whether it’s now harder as a result.

University Challenge has long had a gender problem. When the show first started airing in 1962, some Oxbridge colleges were still refusing to admit women as undergraduates; in the decades since, women have been consistently outnumbered by men, with all-male teams still a regular occurrence. Those women that did appear were all too regularly criticised and objectified in equal measure by audiences: notable contestants like Hannah Rose Woods, Emma Johnson, Samantha Buzzard and Sophie Rudd have experienced intense media scrutiny and criticised the sexism of the show and audiences. In recent years, sexism rows have dogged the show.

How satisfying, then, to see two women carrying their teams in last night’s final: Rosie McKeown for winners St John’s, Cambridge, and Leonie Woodland for runners-up Merton, Oxford. Both secured the majority of points for their teams – McKeown with visible delight, Woodland looking unsure even as she delivered correct answer after correct answer.

But there is another site of sexism on University Challenge, one that earns less column inches: the questions. Drawing on all areas of history, science, language, economics and culture, the questions often concern notable thinkers, artists, scientists, and sportspeople. Of course, our society’s patriarchal hierarchies of achievement have meant that the subjects of these questions are mostly men. General knowledge is, after all, a boys’ club.

Over the course of this 2017-8 series, though, I noticed a shift. More women than ever seemed to be making their way into the questions, at times with deliberate reference to the inherent sexism of their lack of cultural prominence. On 5 February, there was a picture round devoted to female composers, with contestents asked to identify Clara Schumann, Ethel Smyth, Rachel Portman and Bjork from photographs, who, Paxman explained, are all “women that are now listed in the EdExcel A Level music syllabus after the student Jessy McCabe petitioned the exam board in 2015.” Episodes have included bonus rounds on “prominent women” (the writer Lydia Davis, the pilot Lydia Litvyak, and the golfer Lydia Ko), “women born in the 1870s and 80s” (Rosa Luxemburg, Elizabeth Arden and Vanessa Bell), and the female philosophers Mary Midgely, Philippa Foot and Iris Murdoch.

Elsewhere, questions raise a knowing eyebrow at the patriarchal assumptions behind so much of intellectual endeavour. A music round on famous rock bands quoted the music critic Kelefa Sanneh’s definition “rockism”: “the belief that white macho guitar music is superior to all other forms of popular music”. Another, on opera, quoted Catherine Clement’s Opera, Or The Undoing of Women, which explores how traditional opera plots frequently feature “the infinitely repetitive spectacle of a woman who dies”. “Your music bonuses are three such operas,” Paxman said dryly, to audience laughter.

University Challenge’s questions editor Thomas Benson confirms that there has been a deliberate attempt to redress a gender imbalance in the quiz. “About three years ago, a viewer wrote in to point out that a recent edition of the programme had contained very few questions on women,” he explains. “We agreed and decided to do something about it.”

Last night’s final included a picture round on artists with works concerning motherhood (Mary Casatt, Lousie Bourgeois, Leanora Carrington and Frida Kahlo) and a music round on Marin Alsop, the first woman to ever conduct the Last Night of the Proms, as well as sets of bonuses on the American writer Willa Kather and Byzantine historian and princess Anna Komnene.

Former winner Hannah Rose Woods is delighted by the increase in such questions. “I think it’s fantastic!” she tells me. “These things are really important in changing people’s perceptions about women in the past, and the way women’s contributions to science and the arts have often been written out of history. We need to keep challenging the idea of the White Male Canon.”

Last night’s winner Rosie McKeown says that while she didn’t necessarily notice a deliberate attempt to gender balance the questions, she was “very pleased with the quality of those questions that did come up”.

“Although it wasn’t in one of our matches,” she tells me, “I thought the picture round on female composers was especially good for highlighting women’s achievements.”

For all the enthusiasm for these questions, in the studio they’re often met with blank stares. While University Challenge questions are broad and imaginatively posed, there are some reliable revision topics and techniques: from Nobel laureates and the years of their wins to identifying famous paintings and classical music excerpts. McKeown says she has been a religious viewer of the show since she was 11 years old, and admits to watching reruns of the show to prepare. Shift the kinds of answers you might be looking for, and teams may struggle.

“Do we know any female British composers?” Leonie Woodland said weakly, looking at a picture of Ethel Smyth. Trying to come up with a female Muslim Nobel laureate, one contestant desperately suggested Aung San Suu Kyi. Asked to provide a first name linking an American concert pianist with the sister of Lazarus one male contestant still buzzed in with “Daniel”.

“Even if we didn’t always get them right,” McKeown tells me, citing that round on female philosophers, which saw them pass on every question, as an example, “it was great to see so many important female figures represented.”

“I don't think the questions about women necessarily affected our performance, but it’s certainly a very good thing that they were there and I hope that they’ll arouse people’s interest in the women featured and in their achievements.”

Benson believes that it hasn’t had a significant effect on performance. “The great majority of the questions that feature women are no different to any others, in that they sit firmly within the realm of standard academic general knowledge.”

He notes that they often refer to historical and background details, citing sets of bonuses on Canadian novelist Ruth Ozeki and British physicist Hertha Ayrton, which both teams answered correctly in full. “Though Ozeki and Ayrton may not be household names, the questions are definitely answerable and deal with central themes in their work and achievements.”

It’s easy to brush off the significance of a fairly geeky Monday night BBC quiz show, but University Challenge still regularly pulls in three million viewers. In any case, a show like University Challenge has a cultural significance that outweighs its viewing figures. It helps to shape our understanding of which subjects are intellectual or important, which are history’s most notable achievements, and who is worth learning about. To ignore questions of identity is to risk intellectual laziness, relying on tired ideas of canonical figures – or worse, supremacist propaganda, privileging the achievements of white men over all others.

Quite aside from making for less predictable and more enjoyable television, by including questions on the likes of Stevie Smith, Nella Larsen, Gertrude Stein, Myra Hess, Margaret Mead, and Beryl Bainbridge, University Challenge can diversify the mental encyclopaedias of its viewers, be it a tweed-wearing 60-year-old in Leamington Spa or an 11-year-old like Rosie McKeown with her own dreams of one day competing. It has a responsibility to do so.

Anna Leszkiewicz is the New Statesman's deputy culture editor.