David Dimbleby slams the BBC for not questioning the power of the monarchy

Just after Queen Elizabeth II’s September funeral, we discussed a curious story: the Windsors had “veto power” on all of the footage from the funeral, and they could decide what was aired and what was not. As I pointed out, the funeral was paid for by the government, as QEII was the head of state and it was literally a state funeral involving a high-level military operation, international heads of state and a huge amount of security. I understand why the funeral was paid for by the British taxpayers. What I don’t understand is why the taxpayers and/or the BBC don’t “own” the footage. Why does it belong to the crown? And why do the Windsors have veto power? Well, BBC presenter David Dimbleby discussed all of that and much more during the Henley Book Festival:

One of the UK’s most revered broadcasters has revealed the level of control exerted by the British Royal Family over broadcasters’ rights for the Queen’s funeral. David Dimbleby, one of the BBC’s presenters for the huge service last month, told Henley Book Festival, that as he broadcast from St George’s Chapel in Windsor – where the Queen was buried in the final ceremony of the day – the BBC was receiving emails “almost simultaneously” from palace officials, dictating which clips of footage could not be shown in any subsequent broadcast.

During the live broadcast from St George’s chapel, the team weren’t under “any injunctions”, but were simply told “to be courteous and not show the King in floods of tears or dwell on it”.

Dimbleby told the Festival: “Prince George touching his nose, don’t show it. And it went on. Beatrice and Eugenie leaving St George’s, not to be shown. There was this complete list of things that no broadcaster could show because the copyright belongs to Buckingham Palace. I think that’s wrong, just wrong. It’s just interesting how tightly controlled monarchy is.”

Dimbleby also voiced his disapproval for the way the BBC tip-toes around the British monarchy, and refuses to tackle the more sensitive topics of money, privilege and deference. He said the BBC has an “old sore about the monarchy” and will “not go near” controversial topics. Such an opinion is nothing new, but this time it comes from David Dimbleby, for decades the BBC’s face and voice on state occasions. He is also the son of the late Richard Dimbleby, who commentated on the Queen’s coronation in 1953.

Dimbleby, now retired, said the BBC “would not go near things like the power that the palace has to change taxation legislation” or whether it was right for the Duchy of Cornwall not to pay capital gains tax.

“All those issues are never touched by the BBC because I think they feel their viewers will not like it — a visceral feeling. I think it is wrong and these things should be properly examined. It is not discourteous to question, it is not rude, it is important, because the way we are governed is important and the way our constitution works is important.”

[From The Independent & Deadline]

Someone on Twitter made a supercut of all of the original funeral footage which was later cut out, and it really was mundane bullsh-t like “George scratched his nose” and “Eugenie got up at one point.” Again, though, I’m focused on the ownership of the footage. How in the world does the monarchy scam the government and the taxpayers into paying millions for a state funeral, and then the monarchy claims that they alone “own” the footage? That needs to be examined, as does all of the other stuff Dimbleby is talking about. It’s easy to say “who cares, just do it, who needs to fight about this” when the crown demands that you edit out a kid scratching his nose, but it’s clearly part of a much larger problem of the BBC supplicating itself to the crown.

Some/most of the issues with the BBC aren’t even about the Windsors throwing their weight around, in my opinion. The BBC is getting battered in both directions – clearly, the right-wing factions of the British media want the BBC delegitimized and dethroned, while the left-wing factions of the British populace think the BBC has gotten into bed with the establishment to the point where the BBC no longer has legitimacy. Guess which side is running Prince William as their useful idiot?

Photos courtesy of Cover Images and Avalon Red.

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