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April Fools' Day 2014: From square eggs, a ban on One Direction in North Korea and Scotland driving on the right ...

By Adam Withnall

April Fools' Day sees news editors, advertisers and search engine operators around the world let their hair down and see what they can sneak past the general public.

Apart from the often tell-tale name of the journalist writing the piece - Paolo Frils and Flora Poli have been busy this year - it can be a challenge to spot the fake among the genuine news.

This year has been no exception - though from chickens laying square eggs to the Queen drilling for oil in the back garden of Buckingham Palace, it quickly becomes apparent that some spoofs will be easier to spot than others.

If you fancy the challenge of finding the hidden gems yourself, read no further (in other words, spoiler alert).

But for those who want their suspicions confirmed, here is a round up the very best April Fools' articles from across the world, starting with the UK press.

Scotland to be ruled by German duke

The Times was among a number of papers to take on a Scottish theme with their spoof - suggesting that the independence debate was being watched with interest by His Royal Highness Ferdinand, Duke of Saxony.

It claimed that the German Duke, descended from the last Stuart king, would have a claim to the throne of an independent Scotland.

Quotes attributed to an academic seem to make a credible point: "These are tricky legal waters... If we revert to a Scotland that, constitutionally at least, we last saw in the 1600s, it does seem the Stuarts have rather more of a right to reign than a Windsor."

There is one giveaway, however - the name of the Dublin University expert, Amadan Giblean, is a Gaelic translation of April Fool.

Ban on selfies

Metro included a feature today on the development that the Government is trying to ban people from taking selfies.

It included an interview with the "poster boy for a growing anti-selfie movement in the US", Louie "Bull" Geary".

And the newspaper said it "has learned" that "a new branch of the Department for Culture, Media & Sport has drafted proposals for a ban on selfies, which could come into force as early as the end of next year".

Piers Morgan to advise Lib Dems

Nick Clegg has made a "surprise appointment", according to the Huffington Post, by hiring Piers Morgan in a media-consulting role ahead of the next general election.

The new website noted that the former Mirror editor's show Piers Morgan Live was cancelled in February, and its final show aired last Friday.

Huff Post quoted a senior Lib Dem figure saying: "Only a fool would think we could win it, but recruiting a man of Morgan’s gravitas and veracity is likely to give the party a clear advantage in the media campaign."

One Direction North Korea ban

The Mirror revealed that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un has drawn up plans to challenge the worldwide dominance of One Direction.

He has banned them from entering the country unless "the boys opt for the short-back-and-sides hairdo he models".

And in a bid to provide competition for Harry Styles and co the leader will set up an X Factor-style talent show to find his own hit band, "dubbed Un Direction".

Union Jack without the blues

"Secret Government papers" have been leaked which suggest a new design for the Union Jack, in the event of Scottish independence, the Daily Mail "revealed".

Flagmakers have apparently already started producing the design, which ditches the Scottish saltire in favour of a bare red cross on white background alongside the existing red saltire of Ireland's St Patrick.

The newspaper claimed: "The dramatic change to our national flag – the first since 1801, when St Patrick’s cross was added – was accidentally revealed in confidential papers carried by a Government adviser in Downing Street."

Chickens lay square eggs

ITV's Daybreak programme managed to secure an interview with the first farmer in the world to rear chickens that lay square eggs.

"While the shape makes it convenient for eating, it also means making egg sarnies has become even simpler," apparently.

Scotland switches to the right

The Guardian's Bruce Roberts has an exclusive line from Scotland today - that the country would switch to driving on the right if it gains independence

It reported that the Yes campaign will also unveil "an ambitious scheme to scrap the current - English inspired - road signage scheme", including changing the M for motorway to an S - "for Scotland".

Salmond Sterling

The Daily Telegraph has "reported" that plans have been unveiled for a new Scottish pound coin in the event of a victory for the Yes campaign in September's referendum.

"The plan,", according to their reporter Flora Poli, "which would be introduced on April 1, 2015, would see the head of Scotland’s First Minister replace that of the Queen if the country votes for independence."

Apparently the Alex Salmond designs were "being honed at a facility funded by Sir Sean Connery".

Frackingham Palace

According to the Sun (£), the Queen has given "her royal seal of approval" to prospectors for fracking in the grounds of Buckingham Palace.

"Fracking could reduce rocketing utility bills that cost the royals up to £3.1 million a year," the paper said.

"A palace source said: 'Even Prince Charles is convinced.'"

An 8ft shark has been "spotted" in the Birmingham canal, the Birmingham Mail reported.

The predator was seen by a "quick-thinking passerby" - a Mr S Harks - who filmed the spectacle on his smartphone. The footage, a snapshot of which can be seen above, is indeed shocking.

Birmingham animal expert Wendy Hale told the paper: "It is unheard of for shark to make it this far inland... Birmingham city centre is not its natural habitat." Thanks for that, Ms Hale.

According to the Brentwood Gazette, plans are underway to create a "bizarre juxtaposition" by placing a six-foot bronze statue of Joey Essex in the grounds of the town's 14th century Chapel Ruins.

 Brentwood Borough Council will be "investing up to £300,000" in immortalising the The Only Way is Essex star.

"Organisers are hoping the large representation of Joey, sporting his famous goofy smile, will attract thousands more visitors each year," the local paper said.

In the north-east, the Hartlepool Mail reported that a joint team of archaeologists from France and England have discovered the skeleton of a monkey famously hanged in the early 19th century for being a French spy.

"Tiny pieces of fibre, believed to be from the rope used to hang the monkey, were even found close to the poor primate’s neck," the paper said.

A lead archaeologist named as "Avril Foujour" told the Mail: "This is one of the most important finds in maritime history and ranks alongside the discovery of the Mary Rose."

The Bristol Post, meanwhile, has discovered "recent archaeology and documents" which suggest the last of the Dodos was actually fried and served up with chips in the city.

The birds apparently may have been eaten in the west of England more than 50 years after the last previously recorded sighting.

Going into some detail, the Post outlines the possible history of "the Brislington Dutch Turkey" - aka the Dodo - before quoting UWE's own Old Literature expert Dr Avril Fish.

From around the world

The website reddit has invented a revolutionary new way to browse its content.

Criticising other companies for "indulging in japery" on 1 April, it introduces the Hand Equivalent Action Detection system (headdit), saying in a blog post that "reddit is serious business".

Elsewhere it appears those japesters at Vegemite have decided to have a crack at the energy drinks market, unveiling their 'NEW Vegemite iDRINK 2.1' drink. Although judging by some of the comments, there may actually be a market for it.

Google has also got involved. First up is the Magic Hand, which Google Japan claims will mean even the laziest smartphone user won't have to go to the trouble of using their own fingers. The - entirely made-up - device functions a a thumb, cat paw and even a back scratcher.

Those brainiacs at Google also came up with a nice little Pokemon wheeze. In a video posted by Google Maps, the company said it was creating a new job - Pokemon Master. The search giant wants people to search the globe looking for 150 of Nintendo's fictional characters. Anyone who finds them all will be invited top the company's headquarters for a final interview. Or not. A cute idea, but one that might have been better for April Fool's 2008.

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