Showing posts with label Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Show all posts

Saturday, 2 July 2011

My royal reporting career

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s 11-day tour of Canada and California has got me thinking about my own brief sojourn as a royal reporter.

Apparently more than 1,300 journalists are covering Kate and Will’s visit, including hacks from as far afield as China and India. My sympathies are with them. For a start, they’re having to be more fashion writers than newshounds. Knowing their Issa from their Erdem and their Mulberry handbag from their Anya Hindmarch clutch is absolutely key. But not only that, with the media showing endless images of cheering Canadians and beams from Will and Kate (see above), it’s tricky to fulfil the demands of rolling 24 hour news and be fascinating at the same time.

I spent a couple of years following the royals for the Evening Standard back in the 80s. Princess Diana was splashed across the tabloid front pages virtually every day – for dancing onstage with Wayne Sleep as a birthday surprise for Charles (he clearly wasn’t impressed), dressing up as a policewoman for Fergie’s hen night and taking William to his Notting Hill nursery school for the first time.

But my most vivid memories are from Charles and Diana’s Middle East tour of 1986. As the royal couple progressed through Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, lunching in the desert, going to the races and attending endless banquets, it was hard to come up with new stories to file. Daily Express columnist Jean Rook (the only other woman reporter in the press pack) even resorted to dressing up in a burka to see what women’s lives in Saudi Arabia were like. Meanwhile the rest of us got worked up about whether the Saudis had been offended by Diana wearing a dress that showed her ankles when they flew into Riyadh.

For a lot of the tour they both looked utterly miserable. But at that stage even seasoned royal-watchers didn’t realise the rot had set in. Most of us simply assumed the tour was too long and gruelling, that Diana was missing William and Harry and that once you’ve seen one falconry display you’ve probably seen them all.

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Three cheers for newspapers

From The Times’s wrap-around picture of the newly-weds in Prince Charles’s dashing sports car to the Daily Telegraph’s shot of the first (or was it second) balcony kiss, the newspapers did us proud today. I’m not sure what the Independent was playing at with Tracey Emin’s dreadful sketch of the bride and groom on its front page but we’ll gloss over that one.

Newspapers come in for an awful lot of stick these days but when it comes to covering massive events with style and panache they’re pretty impressive. Even more so considering the huge number of finely-honed words– “history’s first draft,” as American writer Geoffrey Ward so neatly put it - they produce in double-quick time. Today’s papers contain details of the best-dressed, the worst-dressed (no contest there), the canapés, the crowds, the street parties - everything we could possibly want to know about the royal wedding, and a lot more besides. Some papers even got professional lip-readers to decipher what the royals said to each other while others relayed the wittiest tweets of the day. “Do not even think of letting Fearne Cotton into the Palace,” was my favourite, from the brilliant @Queen_UK, while @VanityFair reckoned “This is probably the only time that the Archbishop of Canterbury’s hat has felt inadequate.”

The pressure to encapsulate the occasion in a few salient paragraphs, then file them to the office before your deadline, is one I remember only too well. Working for the Evening Standard, I was one of the reporters invited into Westminster Abbey for Andrew and Fergie’s wedding. The only trouble was that we were seated so high above the bride and groom, and at such a neck-breaking angle, that it was impossible to see much at all. From our lofty vantage points we certainly didn’t spot four year-old pageboy Prince William fidgeting and making faces. The hacks glued to TV screens back in the newsroom, however, did.

PS: The Sunday Times must be feeling pretty pleased with itself. It scooped the world’s fashion press back in March with the news that Kate Middleton had chosen Sarah Burton, creative director of Alexander McQueen, to design her dress. Many poured cold water on the revelation at the time but well done Rosie Kinchen and Tiffanie Darke. You were dead right.

PPS: Thank you Grazia, for my fabulous Anya Hindmarch and Basso & Brooke royal wedding flags. The only downside is that they arrived in today’s post. But what the hell. I’ve put them up anyway..
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