Fitz: Harry also had a fairly direct go at you in Spare?
CT: Yeah, he said I was always wrong, which was quite a strange thing to say about somebody who broke the very right story of his relationship with Meghan.
Fitz: Nevertheless, as a trenchant critic of the Sussexes, you trended for weeks on Twitter, with Sussex supporters attacking you. Was that hard to cope with?
CT: That’s the thing though, I’m not a trenchant critic of the Sussexes. I just tell it like it is. Is it frustrating being labelled a liar for writing a story stood up by multiple reliable people but disputed by Harry and Meghan? Yes. But they don’t have a monopoly on the “truth”. I couldn’t give two hoots what trolls write on Twitter. I don’t read any of that nonsense.
Fitz: Still, do you not have a sneaking sympathy for Harry as I must say, I do? Because the basic point he made in Spare was, “I’m not telling and selling family secrets. They’ve been saying things about me and my wife, they’ve been setting the agenda, and I am simply setting the record straight!” His point is that members of the royal family have their breakfast with six tabloid newspapers and broadsheets by their kippers; they read them to work out the narrative, and then do judicious leaks to change that storyline to suit themselves, often at his and his wife’s expense.
CT: Harry suggests that if any story about him and Meghan is negative, it is either a) wrong or b) briefed by the palace. The truth is, sometimes people attract negative publicity, perfectly justifiably. And he has this notion he has created that the palace is handing people like me stories on a plate. I can assure you, with my hand on my heart, the only interaction I have with the palace is when they complain about the stuff that I’ve found out.
Fitz: As one who’s been a guest in your country for the last week or two, I have a sense that the economic times are grim, and that the timing of the coming coronation could not be worse for King Charles, as there’s no mood for great gilded gold celebration when so many people are suffering.
CT: I don’t know about that. I mean, if you look at the last coronation, Sir Winston Churchill very much wanted that to be a pick-me-up after the horror of the Second World War. And actually, as we saw with the Queen’s funeral, people enjoyed all the pomp and pageantry. That doesn’t mean that they want excessive amounts of cash to be splurged on a ceremony, but this is an event that we haven’t witnessed in seven decades. So I think it needs to be fairly sparkly and spectacular. It obviously also needs to be as inclusive as possible.
Fitz: Prince Philip once said something like “the royals find themselves fighting an election every day of the week”. With the Queen in their corner, they were winning that election. I don’t think King Charles and Camilla are winning, do you?
CT: I agree with you that it’s really difficult to follow Queen Elizabeth II because even republicans like yourself, Peter will have found it hard to find personal fault with her. Whereas some people historically have found personal fault with Charles III, not least because of the breakdown of his marriage to Princess Diana. So, that’s difficult.
Fitz: Well, I only remember seeing one bad bit of footage about Queen Elizabeth, when she returned from her trip to Australia in 1954 and after six months away shook hands with Charles when he clearly wanted a hug from the mother. King Charles was on the throne for three days and we saw two hissy fits over pens!
CT: Yes, it’s interesting that he’s tried to make that aspect of the accession as accessible as possible by letting the cameras in. But obviously that comes at a cost because the public then see you warts and all.
Fitz: He seems to have a few more warts than I thought?
CT: I think most people find him to be hardworking; to be decent in his approach to his public life and a fairly genial fellow. But I know you’re a staunch republican Peter, so you’re less likely to see it that way!
Fitz: Take the queen consort though … I was shocked by the whole Jeremy Clarkson thing. After he viciously attacked Meghan, Camilla was still happy to break bread with him and Piers Morgan, who has made an industry out of attacking Meghan! If someone had attacked a member of my family like those two did, I could never speak to them again. And yet, she’s happy to be seen with them in public! How can that be?
CT: I don’t know. You’d have to ask her.
Fitz: What sort of king will Charles make?
CT: A thoughtful one, wearing his heart on his sleeve much more than his mother.
Fitz: In our own Malcolm Turnbull’s first speech as chair of the Australian Republic Movement, he made the point that if Britain becomes a republic, Britain’s president automatically becomes Australia’s president. So, do you think there’s any chance that the monarchy will fall apart in Britain?
CT: I don’t. Following the fallout from Harry and Meghan, their popularity tanked, and the rest of the royals’ went up.
Fitz: But isn’t a sign that the king is on the nose with the people, when both Ed Sheeran and Adele have knocked back invitations to perform at the coronation. For previous monarchs, it is inconceivable that the leading British entertainers of the day would ever knock back such an invitation, whatever their previous commitments?
CT: I understand it is because of those commitments, and I mean, you can’t get everyone every time, can you?
Fitz: I know, you’re a royal correspondent, are you a royalist?
CT: No, I’m a realist. As long as people want to read about these guys, I’ll write about them. I’m not mates with them and I don’t take a personal position on them either way. I mean, covering the royals helps to pay my mortgage.
Fitz: Yes, but do you honestly think that they are special people who are a cut above the rest of us?
CT: No, I don’t consider them to be any more special than anyone else I write about. And that’s why these people fascinate us, even though they live a Downton-Abbey-esque lifestyle. It’s because they’re just as fallible as the rest of us; because they have affairs; and sisters-in-law have fights; and brothers fall out and start having a punch off over a dog bowl. And there’s a degree of dysfunctionality to them, which I think people can relate to in a strange way. They’re not so much a nuclear family, they’re almost thermonuclear now, and that’s what makes them so interesting to people.
Fitz: But how long can that last? Walter Bagehot, the 19th century English essayist said, “The monarchy’s mystery is its life. We must not let in the daylight upon magic”. Now you’re better than most at letting in daylight, so do you accept that the more you let in, the worse it is for them, or not?
CT: I don’t think I’ve let in as much daylight as Prince Harry. My job is to get to the truth of any given story. And you’ve quoted somebody from the 19th century – let’s go with somebody from the 20th century, the Duke of Edinburgh, who said, “The royals cannot exist, like some sort of secret society.” He was the man who let the cameras in, in 1969, to film the first fly-on-the-wall documentary on the royals. He understood it. Draw back the curtain a little – but don’t do a Harry and reveal The Wizard of Oz.
Fitz: But in terms of the mystery dissipating, you will have seen that South Park thing this week where in a portrayal of their wedding, Prince William tears off Kate’s arm and does unspeakable things with it. No generation of royals has had to face that kind of stuff. How can they maintain the illusion of the “majesty” of the whole royal thing when that sort of stuff is going around the world?
CT: South Park is a comedy, not a critique. The royals who take their work seriously, but not themselves, always seem to be the ones who manage to rise above the fray.
Fitz: Thank you for your time. Have a good coronation.
Quote of the week
“I always encourage people to work through those issues and treat everybody with respect, understanding and tolerance – and that’s what our government has always been about.” – Premier Dominic Perrotet, equivocating on just how strong the legislative ban on gay conversion therapy his government will propose. How can you treat with respect, medieval homophobic nonsense?
Joke of the week
Neil Armstrong would go to parties, tell anecdotes about when he was on the moon, then laugh hysterically at his story, though no one else would understand what was so funny. So, he’d add, “Well, I guess you had to be there.”
The Opinion newsletter is a weekly wrap of views that will challenge, champion and inform your own. Sign up here.
Denial of responsibility! Planetconcerns is an automatic aggregator around the global media. All the content are available free on Internet. We have just arranged it in one platform for educational purpose only. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials on our website, please contact us by email – [email protected]. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.