Despite the worldwide media attention she has received during her 62-year reign, there is one thing for which The Queen is famous in both in press circles and the wider world – that is the fact that she has never given a press interview.
Every other member of the present Royal Family, including Her Majesty’s 92-year-old husband the Duke of Edinburgh, have given interviews with the media – but The Queen herself, she remains resolute.
She has certainly come close over the years, with several notable examples which have been recorded and are in existence today. The most prominent of these occasions was in 1992 when, for a BBC documentary to mark her 40th year on the throne, she provided commentary on various aspects of her life and role as Monarch.
The documentary, called Elizabeth R, was shortly after withdrawn from public view by the Palace because of fears it intruded too much into The Queen and her court.
Nothing particularly controversial or contentious is said by The Queen during the documentary, but the combination of such a candid narration and the fact she had never done anything like it before seemingly proved too much for Palace PR.
Elizabeth R was a one-off, nothing like it has happened before or since, though it was certainly significant – and indeed popular! It won critical acclaim from many seasoned reviewers, with one journalist commenting that he believed Elizabeth R has ‘redefined the function of the British Monarch through this documentary’.
It was not the first time The Queen had spoken directly to an audience though. In 1987, she made media history by attempting her first on-the-spot media interview.
The brief, 30-second encounter with the assembled press pack has been forgotten 27 years on, though it remains perhaps the only (or at least most pertinent) example of a time when The Queen has done such an interview.
The video demonstrates yet another possible reason for Her Majesty’s general refusal to do interviews: the lack of preparedness for such encounters. Plus the ever-present risk with press interviews that something The Queen says could be misinterpreted by one eager journalist, or that the interview could take a turn on to topics less suitable.
Of course, The Queen has given speeches and even those are not without media scrutiny. Indeed, on that alone it’s not hard to understand why this longstanding convention of Her Majesty’s to keep a respectful distance from the press has largely been maintained.
The constitutional position of modern Monarchy mean that it is the Sovereign’s actions that are interesting, not their words. Monarchy survives because certain preconceptions people have of The Queen are maintained – one of those is that she does not give opinions.
Despite what some may regard as a missed opportunity by The Queen to engage with her people, the current arrangement seems to work extraordinarily well, people respect Her Majesty for her policy with the media and besides, in the words of Victorian constitutionalist Walter Bagehot, “we must not let in daylight upon magic.”
Give your view in the comments box below: should The Queen give press interviews?
photo credit: Birmingham News Room via photopin cc
Absolutely not! By NOT voicing an opinion, The Queen remains above the political fray and media frenzy – the purview of politicians and so-called celebrities, etc. It’s her job to represent the full spectrum of society – and I think she’s done a commendable job!
Her knowledge of world affairs is greater than most living politicians; being head of the Commonwealth gives her unique insights unavailable to many. I would rather hear her views than most politicians; but she remains true to her role, and advises only in private.
HRH,HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN.IS,WAS & WILL ALWAYS BE THE GREATEST AMBASSADOR THIS COUNTRY HAS OR WILL HAVE FOR ETERNITY.
Also, too. I think there are some topics that HM The Queen become annoyed with International media. She can become also annoyed with Intl media due to any country’s response against British and Int’l media, if the debate of that country was right and well-defendant on his/her own debate.
The Queen’s refusal to do interviews helps maintain the monarchy’s “mystique,” and allows her subjects to imagine her thoughts as they wish. Should she express opinions (as almost happened over the Scottish Independence Referendum), she places herself and the Crown into the political arena…not a good place to be. I hope her successors follow her lead, and avoid press interviews.
No, I don’t think she should. She should NEVER be put into a position where her dignity could be compromised. Keep your interviews for brain-dead celebrities.
No press interviews; the very idea is shocking. But I would like to see the monarchy playing a more active role in government, as it did in the past.
She did offer “advise” at the time of the Scotland vote.
Absolutely no! I think she has maintained the perfect position for someone of her stature. There is no need at all for the Queen to give an interview. She is seen, therefore she is!. She is there at the head of our nation, and she maintains the integrity of her position. I’m sure she has an opinion, but as we all know, the press love to spin an angle and you can be sure that whatever she says will be manipulated, twisted to reflect the opinion of the particular journalist/newspaper/magazine, a spin put on it and sensational headlines attached. No, she is admired and respected already. And anyway, you can always pretty much guess what her opinion is on something…have you seen her face when ‘one is unimpressed!’
I think it is very sensible for the Queen to not answer questions to press. Because like it or not. The press would get political, offensive and intrusive. I like her as she is.
Bagehot is as usual right!
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