4 Jun 2012

Former aide urges Queen to do TV interview

A former senior aide to the Queen has suggested she should record her memories of the extraordinary experiences of her long reign, and the lessons from this, in a broadcast interview, or a series of interviews.

Simon Walker, who served as Communications Secretary at Buckingham Palace from 2000 to 2003 (and now runs the Institute of Directors), makes the suggestion in an interview with me for Channel 4 News tonight. 

Walker believes that if the Queen was to talk in detail about the major events of her reign, and her personal knowledge of the important episodes of modern British and Commonwealth history, is would provide a valuable guide to her successors, as well as a wonderful source for historians: “In many ways I think it would be great for future generations, given the experiences that the Queen has gone through, given the closeness of her knowledge of prime ministers from Churchill onwards who have served her.

“It would be wonderful if that could be kept alive for future generations.”

The Queen has never conducted an interview of any kind – so far as I know – though she has been “doorstepped” a few times – once by the Sky reporter Adam Boulton. 

Most of the leading members of her family have done TV interviews, including Prince Philip, Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward, and Prince William (and famously his late mother Diana).

The Queen is nonetheless very familiar with television, having been the first British monarch to deliver her annual Christmas messages on TV (after her predecessors started the broadcasts on radio).

The Queen has been urged to do a TV or radio interview by some of her senior staff in the past, but she rejected the idea.

Simon Walker suggests to Channel 4 News that such an interview, or interviews, could be kept secret without being broadcast until after her death, or even until a specified time after her death.

Queen Victoria kept an extensive diary throughout her reign, and it is believed that the current Queen has kept a diary too, though far less extensive than Victoria’s.

If the Queen were to accede to such a request there would be an extraordinary contest between broadcasters for the right to ask the questions, but the Queen might prefer to conduct it with a broadcaster known to her.  I mischievously suggested to Simon Walker, who was once a TV reporter in New Zealand, that he himself might like the job.

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