September 29

“Clapped-out courtiers, posh low­lifes and fleabag turncoats:” a “royal watcher” assesses her peers.


I was rather sceptical of Tina Browne’s story in June 2007 that Prince William was interested in becoming Governor-General, referring to her as a “socialite journalist.” For this I was reprimanded by a certain Australian republican royal watcher, who insisted she is a respected journalist. But since he also cites with approval Kitty Kelley, whose books on such subjects as President Reagan consist of adverse rumour and malicious gossip masquerading as fact, I have maintained my reservations about Ms. Browne’s story. This story about Prince William was treated by the media almost as if it were a press release from Clarence House, consistent with their practice that when it comes to the Royal Family, fiction is to be accorded status equivalent to fact.  

 “I felt the book had to hit a standard or I'd regret it," Tina Browne had apparently informed the New York Times when she was promoting the very book in which she related the story about Prince William, ‘The Diana Chronicles. "It had to have some endurance, to enable me to make a quantum leap, to take me into a different area," she continued.


A friend passed me the 22 June issue of the English journal Private Eye which concluded that the “different area” into which Miss Browne has so gracefully leapt may seem oddly familiar to anyone who has compared the  way the media has reported Diana Princess of Wales to the  "revelations"  touted by Tina and her publishers.


According to Private Eye, most of her  "scoops" can be found  be found in  Sarah Bradford’s book, “ Diana” published in 2006.

Private Eye also found this telling condemnation of all writers about Diana. This was written by, of all people, the same Miss Browne just three years before she published her own book on the Princess of Wales:


"Every time Princess Diana's ghost returns for another haunting, as it did this week on NBC's Dateline, our perceptions of her change. The only thing that stays the same is the revolving cast of clapped-out courtiers, posh low­lifes and fleabag turncoats who continue to cash in on her memory … Patrick Jephson, the princess's erstwhile private secretary, who published a rancid memoir in 2000 … Paul Burrell,  the whispering butler…bio-porn  king Andrew Morton…" (Tina  Brown, Washington Post, 2 Decem­ber 2004.)


But in her acknowledgements in the book three years later, Miss Browne holds a most different opinion of this “revolving cast of clapped-out courtiers, posh low­lifes and fleabag turncoats who continue to cash in on her memory.”  The following comes from the  formal acknowledgements to her 2007  tome “The Diana Chronicles.”  


 "Our knowledge of Diana,” she now declares,  “owes much to the writings of [read: bio-porn  king ] Andrew Morton, whose “Diana: Her True Story” … remains one of the greatest publishing scoops ever. He has been most helpful to me. So has Patrick Jephson. “Shadows of a Princess,” his [read:rancid] memoir of his eight years as Diana's equerry and then private secretary, is replete with intriguing observations as well as an insider's perspective … [read:the whispering butler] Paul Burrell's two memoirs, too, have much touching detail to commend them."


And Ms. Browne is considered a "respected journalist" by a republican royal watcher who is  regularly presented as an authority on matters royal in the Australian media. 




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