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Feedback: Royal photos

Friday 21 September 2012, 16:35

Roger Bolton Roger Bolton

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"Shame on BBC News for placing far too much emphasis on the Kate Middleton photos story all Friday evening and beyond"

"What has happened to the respected BBC News? It used to tell us what mattered and what is important to the nation.....If trivial titillation is all the British public is interested in now, the BBC news department is certainly feeding it to them".

Those were the reactions of two Feedback listeners to the news that Princess Kate had lost her top and that, earlier, Prince Harry had lost his bottoms.

How should BBC News have responded?

That was the subject of the interview I did with the Head of the BBC Multimedia Newsroom, Mary Hockaday, this week. Many other listeners felt that, though important, the Royals' stories paled into insignificance compared with the Muslim demonstrations in the Middle East, and the killing, or possible assassination, of the US Envoy to Libya. The BBC has often had difficulty in reporting Royal scandals.

When Edward 8th was squiring Mrs Simpson around town and on yachts in the Mediterranean, events gleefully covered in the American and European papers, Lord Reith's response was to remain silent. Only when the issue was raised in parliament was it reported on his BBC.

Later, when Princess Diana's affairs were featured on the front pages, they were usually reported, if at all, in the BBC newspaper reviews, not in the main bulletins. The broadsheet newspapers have tried various ways of responding to these sorts of Royal stories.

When the Independent newspaper began it announced that it would not run many Royal stories, and when the first reports about the breakdown in the marriage of Prince Charles and Princess Diana were made public, several other serious papers were also rather "sniffy" about them.

However the stories turned out to be largely true and the constitutional consequences of the deteriorating relationship of the heir to the throne and his wife were significant.

Can the same be said of the Duchess of Cambridge's decision to remove her top while sunbathing, unaware that she was visible from the road, hundreds of metres away? I talked to Mary Hockaday about these questions in this week's Feedback.

Here is our interview:

Roger Bolton.

Roger Bolton presents Feedback on Radio 4.

  • Listen to this week's Feedback
  • Listen again to this week's Feedback, get in touch with the programme, find out how to join the listener panel or subscribe to the podcast on the Feedback web page.
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    Comment number 1.

    The royals have an internal problem to address first. For example, there is a rogue self-described media freelance in the UK who is offering for sale the photos of Catherine Duchess of Cambridge by using the chat facilities on the UK website www.batc.tv. Perhaps not enough attention is being paid to this issue.

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    Comment number 2.

    There was too much about Middleton's breasts on Radio 4. As one contributor to Feedback pointed out, there are a lot more important things going on in the world. More news about how much the royals cost taxpayers would be preferred. Also, many women would not be too bothered about having their breasts photographed in return for the lavish taxpayer-funded lifestyle that Middleton leads. And lets not forget, as one contributor to the PM programme observed, Middleton was freely showing what she got in a diaphanous dress on the catwalk when a student at St Andrews.

    On the subject of the zapata moustache, well, in the mating game they put a man two-thirds of the way there! Not everyone can grow one, though.


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Find out about this year's panel and theme