The monarchy and the media

For more from the Annals of Inappropriate Royal Influence, we get the BBC deciding to postpone its new documentary on Charles Windsor’s efforts to spin the press, after some royal lawyers oozed up to them in the canteen and leaned heavily on their shoulders. Jessica Elgot reports in the HuffPo UK:

According to the Radio Times, the documentary, presented by former Panorama editor Steve Hewlett, was pulled from the 9pm slot on Sunday’s schedule after lawyers “known to represent senior members of the royal family” had made contact.

Reinventing The Royals is described on the corporation’s website as a “two-part series about the twenty-year battle between the monarchy and the media – the first family and the fourth estate – over personal privacy and public image”.

I guess now we need another documentary on the battle between the monarchy and the media over showing a documentary about the battle between the monarchy and the media. Maybe there can be an infinite loop.

A statement from the corporation said: “The BBC is delaying broadcast of the documentary Reinventing The Royals, due to be shown on BBC Two on January 4, until later in the New Year while a number of issues including the use of archive footage are resolved.”

How fraffly kind and deferential of them. It wouldn’t do for the royals to be subject to too much public scrutiny. Their job is to spend other people’s money and live in luxury, not to be questioned or criticized by the peasants.

Anti-monarchy campaign Republic have said they will write to James Harding, the BBC’s head of news and current affairs, to seek clarification on why the documentary has been postponed.

Republic’s spokesman Graham Smith, said: “The decision to delay broadcast of this documentary looks like undue pressure and interference that would not be tolerated if it were from Cameron or Miliband.

“At best the BBC might make a quick edit to avoid libelling someone – but delaying the broadcast so it can discuss the content of a documentary with its principal subject is unacceptable.

“The BBC has a responsibility to the public to show no fear or favour in its reporting. Prince Charles is in line to be Britain’s head of state – he must be subjected to the same standards of media scrutiny as any politician.

“The BBC and other broadcasters are far too deferential to the royals. It’s time they began to treat them in the same way they treat politicians and other public officials.”

That’s how it seems to me. I dislike all this bowing and scraping, this jumping when a royal says jump. It’s demeaning. Plus it only encourages Charles to think he’s a fine amateur doctor.


  1. Phillip Hallam-Baker says

    Rather ironic that you choose this time to go after the UK royals when they are actually in a real jam following Prince Andrew being linked to the Epstein prostitution / ‘underage sex’ case.

    And the odd thing there is that it seems that only Royalists are actually worried about the case at all. And they don’t seem to be so much worried about whether the girl was 17 or 18 at the time as the idea that royal princes spend their time having international sex orgies with high class strumpets provided by their sleazy friends. Going by history, such behavior was not only accepted, it was expected.

    Monarchists are offended of course because for most of the the Royals are a way to live the high life vicariously. A lot of stupid people are attracted to the trappings of power even if there is no substance, they would have no idea how to use the power if they had it (c.f. G. W. Bush). The illusion is broken if the incumbents prove themselves unworthy.

    Republicans by and large don’t have any interest in the position itself and tend to regard the Royals with pity and condescension. Its the system that is the problem, not the unfortunates doomed to wasted lives by being born royal.

  2. chigau (違う) says

    I think the original meanings of ‘irony’ are slipping away.
    It now seems to mean,
    ‘Oh. I think I detected a coincidence.’
    ‘I was just thinking about this.’

  3. says

    I’m surprised they’re not claiming or enacting Lèse-majesté laws (“injured majesty”) and arresting journalists for reporting on their crimes and misconduct. They’re probably jealous of Thailand getting away with such nonsense.

    Malaise majesté is more like it. Impregnation, nepotism and incest make for a lousy system of government.

  4. Holms says

    Yep, a new non-standard-but-increasingly-standard meaning of ‘irony’ is ‘coincidence’, which I think is the second most annoying word change after literally / figuratively.

  5. voriank says

    Re Phillip Hallam-Baker, #1

    >> “it seems that only royalists are actually worried about the case”

    I’ll go out on a limb and propose this comes from your imagination rather than observation

    Many of us who think aristos should be removed from the state are concerned both that they get away with a lot of things they shouldn’t, and that our compliant journalists help them do it.

    >> “Republicans by and large don’t have any interest in the position itself and tend to regard the Royals with pity and condescension”

    Nope. You seem to be missing the anger being expressed at Chuck’s secretive interventions.

  6. says

    I think that this is a perfect case of irony.

    An American blogger chooses on a couple of occasions to highlight a scandal between 2 British institutions, while completely missing the real scandal of of her target’s brother being implicated in an underage prostitution ring in her own back yard, and whether he used his position to pressure US prosecutors into lightening Jeffrey Epstein’s sentence.

    And this British republican feels no anger at Charles, it would be akin to getting angry at a child lost in a supermarket.

    Its been well known for years that he has been trying to influence policy on a number of issues, so well known we even have a phrase for it, “black spider letters”. So its not exactly secretive as he gets exposed whenever he tries it.

  7. Bernard Bumner says

    The BBC can’t afford to upset the establishment in an election year – many politicians would love to do away with the public funding which allows the corporation to provide public service broadcasting and stay ad-free. Coupled with the spectacular failures around the Jimmy Saville case, the Lord McAlpine libel, the Cliff Richard property search, and executive pay-off scandals, and you can start to see how a risk-averse and deferential culture is maintained as an advantage to those in power. In another year, there might be less bowing and scraping

    The failure isn’t particularly of the BBC, but of establishment politicians and craven civil servants who will permit (support, and encourage) the interventions of Clarence House. The BBC has a fragile tenure, which could easily be undermined by determined politicians who would like to present the scrapping of the licence fee as a £145 pa tax cut (funding was frozen in 2010 until 2017 at least). What the BBC needs is strong allies in government (or in a strong Opposition), but it has very few popular champions in power.

  8. RJW says

    @7 voriank

    Actually, all rich people (particularly those with media empires) should be ‘removed from the state’ as they are inimical to democratic government, they’re a menace regardless of the system of government.

  9. Phillip Hallam-Baker says

    Like Danny says, the irony comes from the fact that any fallout from the Beeb documentary would be minor compared to the media shitstorm in the wake of the Epstein/Roberts/Andrew affair. Its like writing to protest that someone got off a parking ticket the day they are arrested for embezzlement.

    The Beeb documentary was not going to change any minds. People will see what they want to. If the documentary had gone ahead as planned it would be forgotten already. Getting the documentary postponed has caused far more comment. But both are rather minor compared to what looks to be a months-long sex scandal with a tell-all book in the offing.

    And so far it is the monarchists who are really worried by the exploits of Randy Andy. British republicans have been pretty much ignoring it. Which is rather odd really because the thing that makes a scandal serious is when the complaints come from supporters. Nixon was doomed when the Republicans in Congress abandoned him.

  10. says

    Ah, I see. I haven’t been following the Andrew item past the headlines, I suppose because Andrew doesn’t proselytize for homeopathy without a medical degree.

  11. sonofrojblake says

    The headlines are “Prince Andrew had sex with the underage slave(s) of his billionaire convicted paedophile buddy on a private island”.

    You really read that and thought “Meh…” and moved on?

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