Prince Harry marked his 31st birthday on ­Tuesday at a gathering of vintage Battle of Britain aircraft ­honoring the pilots who helped protect the country during World War II.

Harry watched as some 40 Spitfire, Hurricane and Bristol Blenheim bombers flew in formation before dispersing to wartime airfields in the south of England. The 75th anniversary celebration was attended by some of the surviving pilots, who are now in their 90s. About 544 personnel from Fighter Command died during the Battle of Britain in 1940 as Germany's Luftwaffe was repelled.

Harry, wearing a beard he grew over the summer, met with some of the veteran pilots. He briefly took the controls of a Spitfire at an event last year but plans for him to ride on one Tuesday were scrapped.

Marlon James on shortlist

St. Paul writer and Macalester College Prof. ­Marlon James has made the shortlist for this year's Man Booker Prize. James' "A Brief History of Seven ­Killings" is set in his native Jamaica and is about the attempted assassination of Bob Marley. James has previously won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and the Anisfield-Wolf Award. "A Brief History of Seven Killings" was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Marilynne Robinson's "Lila" won that award, but "Lila" did not make the shortlist for the Booker. The finalists are: Tom McCarthy, "Satin Island," (U.K. ); Chigozie Obioma, "The Fishermen," (Nigeria); Hanya Yanagihara, "A Little Life," (U.S.); Anne Tyler, "A Spool of Blue Thread," (U.S.); Sunjeev Sahota, "The Year of the Runaways," (U.K.), and Marlon James, "A Brief History of Seven Killings," (Jamaica). The Booker winner will be announced Oct. 13.

Laurie Hertzel

Was there a call? Elton John says Russian President Vladimir Putin has called him, after the musician requested a meeting to discuss Russia's anti-gay environment. On Instagram, the star said, "thank-you to President Vladimir Putin for reaching out and speaking via telephone with me today. I look forward to meeting with you face-to-face to discuss LGBT equality in Russia." But Putin's spokesman ­Dmitry Peskov said the call didn't happen, but that Putin would be willing to talk if John reaches out to him.

in the lead: Drake does it again. For the second straight year, the Canadian rapper tops nominees for the BET Hip-Hop Awards with 12 nominations. Drake had 14 songs simultaneously placed on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, tying a record set by the Beatles in 1964. Snoop Dogg will host the show, which will be taped Oct. 9 and airs Oct. 13.

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