11 rich and famous people who took the Tube (because they're actually just like us)

Duhcesses commute too, OK? Image: Getty.

The ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and his son, Prince Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, were in London this week. The pair are known for their opulent lifestyles, and the prince's Twitter feed is a reliable source of photos of the family playing polo, attending important meetings and wearing fancy suits.

So when he posted a picture of their London trip, I assumed it would be pretty swish: inside Buckingham Palace, say, or on that funny moving walkway in front of the jewels at the Tower of London. 

But no: it was a casual shot of the two taken aboard the London Underground.

Yes, the Tube is a great way to bypass London's gridlock, but as a world leader the Sheikh must know it's harder to stay safe in a tube carriage than an armoured car, or even a taxi. It's also, as you may have noticed, extremely hot on the Tube at the moment. So why did they do it? Because the Tube has somehow become an actual tourist attraction? Or were they hoping it would make them look like men of the people?

Whatever the reason, they aren't the only ones. Below are a whole load of celebrities for whom travelling by Tube can't be entirely practical, but who decided to do so anyway. 

Jay-Z, Chris Martin, and Timbaland

...travelled to a gig at the O2 by Tube in 2013. Given the trio were apparently surrounded by an entourage of 10, this was probably not an off-the-cuff visit. (The photo evidence sadly disappeared from this tweet, but the BBC has a copy of it here.) 

Eddie Redmayne

Oscar-winning actor Eddie actually takes the Tube all the time, implying it's not just a bid for good PR. Unlike most of the other entries on the list, he does not seem to bring his own photographer along. 

Kate Middleton 

K-Mid visited Baker Street station to mark the London Underground's 150th birthday with the Queen, Prince Philip, and approximately no normal passengers. She looked incredibly out-of-place the whole time:

Image: Getty.

Image: Getty.

Just a normal gal, hanging out on the Tube with a small bouquet and a fascinator. 

Rihanna

Rihanna travelled to a 2011 London gig by Tube, with minimal fuss. No, really – there were only a few news crews there, filming the whole thing. 

David Cameron

Ex-Prime Minister David Cameron is often officially photographed on the Tube. and no one around him ever seems to notice or care. Perhaps frustrated that he wasn't being adequately praised for his brave descent to the level of us normal folk, in 2015 he had a go at driving one instead.

George Osborne looks on stonily and then comments: "This is a great bit of kit." 

Harry Styles

Image: via Twitter.

Harry seems to have ditched his usual array of bodyguards for this picture. Is it a lookalike? Or is his entourage lurking just out of shot? 

Kendall Jenner

Image: Kendallj.com.


Kim K's younger sister showed her authentic, Kendall-from-the-block side when she visited the Underground on a recent London trip. You can just how down-to-earth she is by viewing the full video of her journey, "Moves on the Tube", available if you pay her website's very reasonable $2.99 monthly subscription fee.

 
 
 
 

Covid-19 is highlighting cities' unequal access to green space

In the UK, Londoners are most likely to rely on their local park for green space, and have the best access to parks. (Leon Neal/Getty Images)

As coronavirus lockdowns ease, people are flooding back to parks – but not everyone has easy access to green space in their city.

Statistics from Google show that park attendance in countries across the globe has shot up as people have been allowed to move around their cities again.

This is especially true in urban areas, where densely populated neighbourhoods limit the size of private green space – meaning residents have to go to the park to get in touch with nature. Readers from England can use our interactive tool below to find out how much green space people have access to in their area, and how it compares to the rest of the country.

 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement Monday that people are allowed to mingle in parks and gardens with groups of up to six people was partially following what people were doing already.

Data from mobile phones show people have been returning to parks across the UK, and also across Europe, as weather improves and lockdown eases.

People have been returning to parks across the world

Stay-at-home requirements were eased in Italy on 4 May, which led to a flood of people returning to parks.

France eased restrictions on 1 May, and the UK eased up slightly on 13 May, allowing people to sit down in public places so long as they remain socially distanced.

Other countries have seen park attendance rise without major easing of lockdown – including Canada, Spain, and the US (although states there have individual rules and some have eased restrictions).

In some countries, people never really stopped going to parks.

Authorities in the Netherlands and Germany were not as strict as other countries about their citizens visiting local parks during lockdown, while Sweden has famously been avoiding placing many restrictions on people’s daily lives.


There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that access to green space has major benefits for public health.

A recent study by researchers at the University of Exeter found that spending time in the garden is linked to similar benefits for health and wellbeing as living in wealthy areas.

People with access to a private garden also had higher psychological wellbeing, and those with an outdoor space such as a yard were more likely to meet physical activity guidelines than those without access to outdoor space. 

Separate UK research has found that living with a regular view of a green space provides health benefits worth £300 per person per year.

Access is not shared equally, however, which has important implications for equality under lockdown, and the spread of disease.

Statistics from the UK show that one in eight households has no garden, making access to parks more important.

There is a geographic inequality here. Londoners, who have the least access to private gardens, are most likely to rely on their local park for green space, and have the best access to parks. 

However the high population in the capital means that on the whole, green space per person is lower – an issue for people living in densely populated cities everywhere.

There is also an occupational inequality.

Those on low pay – including in what are statistically classed as “semi-skilled” and “unskilled” manual occupations, casual workers and those who are unemployed – are almost three times as likely as those in managerial, administrative, professional occupations to be without a garden, meaning they rely more heavily on their local park.

Britain’s parks and fields are also at significant risk of development, according to new research by the Fields in Trust charity, which shows the number of people living further than a 10-minute walk from a public park rising by 5% over the next five years. That loss of green spaces is likely to impact disadvantaged communities the most, the researchers say.

This is borne out by looking at the parts of the country that have private gardens.

The least deprived areas have the largest gardens

Though the relationship is not crystal clear, it shows at the top end: Those living in the least deprived areas have the largest private green space.

Although the risk of catching coronavirus is lower outdoors, spending time in parks among other people is undoubtedly more risky when it comes to transmitting or catching the virus than spending time in your own outdoor space. 

Access to green space is therefore another example – along with the ability to work from home and death rates – of how the burden of the pandemic has not been equally shouldered by all.

Michael Goodier is a data reporter at New Statesman Media Group, and Josh Rayman is a graphics and data visualisation developer at New Statesman Media Group.