“Let them eat finger food, says aloof Anne.” This was the headline in The Australian on 14 June 2006 to a piece by D.D. McNicoll. Mr. McNicholl had however not reported that the Princess had said this. This was inserted by a sub-editor, exercising his right of not letting the facts get in the road of the way the mainline media would have you believe they are.
He was reporting a casual lunch for 80 invited guests at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia for a “still stern-faced” Princess Anne. He said that any hope of “rubbing elbows” with the Queen’s daughter were “dashed” when she was “whisked” away to the “serene surrounds” of the club’s committee room for a private meal. As for her alleged comment, suggestive of that probably manufactured by the French republican terrorists to destroy Marie –Antoinette, the only basis for this invention was in the words "The royals don’t do finger food." Indeed Mr. McNicoll does not claim the Princess Royal said this. He attributed this to “a lackey from the British consulate.” (A lackey is of course an obsequious person)
Normally, any accompanying photograph will support the theme of a story. Once when a newspaper wanted to show that I was concerned and worried, the front page photograph they chose would seem to have clearly illustrated this. I was in my car, but my concern was not about the events the newspaper reported. It was about the photographers blocking my way. I knew that the boom gate would very soon crash down on their heads if they did not move .
Now in this report, Mr. McNicoll observed that the “still stern-faced” Princess “ seemed to have lost her trademark smile.” But here the usual coordination between the story and the accompanying photograph fell down. The large photograph under the Marie -Antoinette headline shows the Princess aboard Gypsy Moth IV, the yacht Sir Francis Chichester sailed alone circumnavigating the world forty years ago. And yes, the Princess is smiling. Broadly.