It all started quite well, though not for The Queen.
The news was our Monarch was gravely ill. Parliament went into shock, the media prepared for the worst and the BBC News’ main presenter Huw Edwards was on screen in his black tie even before there was confirmation Elizabeth 2nd was dead.
This was it. The media had been planning for this day for years. Huw later admitted he had been practising announcing The Queen’s death in front of his mirror for ages to ensure he got the historic announcement right.
And the practise paid off. Huw did a proper job. Informing the nation and the world that The Queen had passed away, he got the tone spot on. Respectful, assured, calm, Huw gave it to us straight and his screen authority for the next few hours allowed us to let the enormity of the occasion sink in and ponder on our thoughts.
But then something happened. There wasn’t a precise moment but gradually as Huw continued in hushed and reverend tones and as other presenters on different channels began to get into their stride, the combined media shifted from being news deliverers to fully paid up Royal guff generators on steroids.
The sheer torrent of pro-Monarchy, pro-Elizabeth, pro anyone who is anyone in the Royal Family (even the disgraced Andrew!) became incessant and continued all through the 10-day mourning period right up until The Queen was finally laid to rest in Windsor.
Instead of bringing us the news about this huge moment, the massed media became non-stop propaganda machines for all things Elizabeth and Royal.
What was the impact of The Queen’s life? How did she reign? What did she achieve? What would be her legacy? How would the Royal Family move on? What now for King Charles? What was he like? How should the Monarchy progress?
All good questions deserving in-depth, neutral analysis. But that’s was for the birds. What we got was 100% ‘The Queen was great’, end of, and now King Charles was going to be great too. That’s all folks, The Queen was perfect, the Monarchy is perfect and every single person in the UK and the world thought so too.
It is perfectly understandable, though for a Republican like me, utterly frustrating, that however the media ‘reported’ the death and all the ritual and pomp that went with it, The Queen and the Monarchy were going to get a love-fest. Such was the depth of feeling for The Queen, however that came to be (see Kaleidoscope’s post on her death https://www.keithbradbrook.uk/post/the-queen-s-death), little criticism or differences of opinion on Elizabeth was going to get much air-play or discussion in print.
However, it wasn’t understandable or in any way correct, that there were no counter arguments about The Queen or the Monarchy throughout the whole mourning period – or even since, weeks after the events.
Not only did the media go full-blast ‘we love Elizabeth’ and everything she and the Monarchy ever stood for, but the main, individual presenters on the news programmes from Huw Edwards on the BBC to his colleagues on other channels quickly joined in the love-in themselves, contributing their own gush at every opportunity.
Instead of putting questions to the vast array of Palace insiders, flunkies and pro Monarchy celebs who flocked to cameras and microphones, then stepping back, these so-called ‘journalists’ (apparently professionals seeking truth and balance) didn’t hesitate to hit the glorifying buttons themselves.
Huw and the others seemed almost to answer every question they asked with their own gush. It was like on election night telling us how great it was that one political party were winning because they were flawless and deserved everyone’s vote.
Huw and the gang constantly ramped up the love-in for Charles too as if his past has been a blissful path to eternal glory. No mention of bags full of loot from dodgy donors from abroad, gongs for cash, the Diana sagas or indeed the ins and outs of tampons and Camilla.
How can we ever take Huw and the rest seriously in the future if Charles is caught up in some dodgy dealing or mishandling of his office and the BBC or ITN have to suddenly become critical of the new King?
It was inevitable that in a national mourning period, and bearing in mind the unique standing The Queen had in National life, the media would not overtly criticise. But to have a total pro-Queen/Monarchy media blitz was unacceptable, certainly to the many people in this country, by all means not the majority (perhaps), to whom the Monarchy is a totally out-dated institution which ought to be abolished.
And those – as outlined in the Kaleidoscope blog above – who have very different views on The Queen’s role as Head of State.
We wait in fading expectation that the BBC and other main media outlets will, now the mourning is over, run even a sprinkling of output putting the other side to Monarchy or offering counter interpretations of The Queen’s life and times.
Without any such redress the media continues to fail the public in the context of a national debate on the Monarchy as it did in the coverage surrounding The Queen’s death.