December 24

Royal TV marred by the” rudest man in Britain”


We are about to enjoy a rich serving of television programmes on Royalty or related to royalty. To spearhead their battle to win back television ratings in 2008, the Nine Network has just signed one of Australia's biggest stars to with a programme about our Royal Family. 

Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett will narrate the documentary series, “A Year With the Royal Family”.  This is a confirmation by commercial TV  that programmes about our Royal Family rate very well, a fact which must send shivers up the backs of the declining all number of republicans in the country.  The six-part  series provides a rare insight into the daily lives of Queen Elizabeth and her family. This series gained international notoriety when the BBC  announced during a launch that The Queen had walked out of a portrait session”  during the making of the programme.  This was completely untrue, which any competent media professional would have realised after the most superficial checking. The BBC of course had to aplogise. But that series is yet to come.

During the week of Christmas we have of course, The Queen’s Christmas Message and a number of ways of seeing that, including the new Royal Channel on “You Tube.”   

 And on Monday, 24 December, 2007, Christmas Eve, at 830pm the ABC is screening the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

 Then on Christmas Day, the ABC will screen the final episode this year of the historical series “Monarchy” at 920pm. This episode is on the rise of Oliver Cromwell, and his ill fated republican dictatorship which he attempted, unsuccessfully, to make hereditary. There was an overwhelming longing for the restoration of the monarchy, which soon followed. 

 This splendid series is presented by a competent historian and presenter, the  self confessed “ media tart” Dr. David Starkey. In what  author Hugo Vickers called “the self-promotional ramblings of a bitter media academic,” Dr Starkey has now given an interview to The Guardian in which he shows himself more desperate than usual for publicity.  

 Starkey should be well aware of the fact that if he says something outrageous, he will get headlines. Once dubbed “the rudest man in Britain,” he breaches normal courtesies concerning private conversations to launch an attack on his Sovereign.

Starkey, who has long benefited from his historical presentations on the monarchy, not only says The Queen is not comfortable with anybody intellectual, but likens her feelings on this to the Nazis.  In the interview, Starkey says “I think she's got elements a bit like Goebbels in her attitude to culture – you remember: 'every time I hear the word culture I reach for my revolver.' “

Having administered the Nazi bane, the devious Starkey then offered this antidote: “I think The Queen reaches for her mask." Of course the media took no notice of this. His use of the Goebbels ananogy went around the world.

As Hugo Vickers says, Starkey’s comments are “completely outrageous, shameless and untrue.”   They were.  Starkey claims  The Queen’s reaction to him was because he is an intellectual. It was probably because she was read him well. His subsequent unacceptable behaviour demonstrates how right Her Majesty was.  

Incidentally the first written source of the sentence attributed by Starkey to Goebbels was in a  play by Hanns Johst’s, “Wennn ich Kultur höre… entsichere ich meinen Browning.” Translated literally this is ‘ “When I hear Cultuer ..I undo the safety catch on my Browning.”

 As L.M.Findlay observes, it would be ambiguous to say in English “ When I hear the word culture, I reach for  my Browning.”  It is of course unlikely that  a fascist would reach for, much less carry the work of this English poet. Findlay suggests three equally plausible and evil oral sources: Herman Goerring, Joseph Goebbels, and Alfred Rosenberg.  In any event,

Starkey’s disgraceful allusion went around the world, which surely did not surprise him. Starkey will no doubt reap many benefits from his gross discourtesy and vulgarity.

How times have changed.

When John Grigg, who had reluctantly succeed to his father’s barony as  Lord Altrincham,  criticised The Queen in 1957, he was dropped from the BBC, the Duke of Argyll said that he should be hanged, drawn and quartered, and, he was assaulted in the street, which I think involved an attempted or threatened horse whipping.  



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