Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, died on 9th April, 2021, around midday. The news swept all other news aside. My day notes read as follows:
Global news. Prince Philip has died aged 99. An experienced BBC news broadcaster is almost breaking into tears. The oven-ready royal programme begins.
The overwhelming coverage of the life and death of Prince Philip has started across the media, but as might be expected led by the BBC. I mention to a receptionist at the sporting physio how tearful the BBC news reader had become. ‘Maybe it’s a female thing’ she says, misty eyes visible above her mask)
The Telegraph invites me to contribute to ‘Prince Philip Remembered (1921-2021)’ by joining ‘the tributes flooding in from across the world’ to be part of ‘our special commemorative supplement’ tomorrow’
Even CNN takes its news feed from Windsor, before eventually switching to the Chauvin trial.
BBC channels are now in blanket formation, sharing the official version of the news reports from Windsor, Buckingham Palace and beyond. Parliament to be recalled ‘to pay their respects’. Not clear if there is to be scope for other news. Overall, the treatment of the death of the Duke of Edinburgh by the BBC is likely to become regarded as a critical incident contributing to its future, for better or for worse.
Saturday 10 April
The papers. Easy to anticipate the who and the what. Interest mainly on the how. Answer, grief of the Queen, note of the duke’s logivity.
The Mail. ‘Farewell, my beloved. HISTORIC 144-PAGE ISSUE WITH MAGICAL SOUVENIR ISSUE’ (The Mail refuses to cede to any other paper in the fulsomeness of its declaration of empathy with the Queen’s loss)
The Mirror. ‘Goodbye, my beloved. PRINCE PHILIP 1921-2021’ (the Queen’s grief, again)
The Sun. ‘we’re all weeping with you, Ma’am’ (The nation shares the Queen’s grief)
The Times. ‘Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, 1921-2021’ (Muted respect?)
The Guardian. ‘Prince Philip. 1921-2021’The i. 1921-2021: a life of duty’
The Telegraph. ‘HRH Prince Philip, the DUKE of EDINBURGH (1921-2021)
The Express. ‘After a lifetime of devotion to his wife, our Queen, and the nation…today we join Her Majesty in mourning the loss on an extraordinary man. DEEP SORROW’ (Only pedants would cavil over a few ambiguities in the paper’s expression of grief and loyalty to the Queen and her departed consort)
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario. ‘Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, dead at 99’
(The only international headline from over 30 scanned In which I find mention of the death of the Duke of Edinburgh).
The internet has one topic of conversation. The treatment of the Prince’s death. The more vociferous tweeters are those considering the response of media, and particularly the BBC, has been overblown. This hardly competes with the overwhelming torrent of affection poring out from the MSM.
Numerous 41 gun salutes are discharged from land and sea. On twitter, someone asks churlishly if we still have 41 guns to fire. The BBC begins to disentangle itself from the stranglehold it has exerted on itself of all-channel coverage of the Duke (little news, much anecdotes of personal experiences from the highest in the land to humble recipients of his attention on one of his formal duties. There is the Grand National to cover, as well as the resumption of football, somehow having to be squeezed in but isolated from the death of Prince Philip.
There seems every likelihood that we are witnessing a difficult time for the Monarchy. The most widely admired figure is The Queen. The unspoken thought is of the consequences to the nation’s psyche and mood if the unthinking were to happen, and the Queen were to die, while the events of the Duke’s death are still a focus of attention and discussion.