The media flies the flag. (Image: Shutterstock.com)
The run-up to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebration has seen a patriotic fervour grip the nation. From Oxford Street to rural villages, rows of union jack bunting (hundreds of miles of it, according to the Daily Mail) have been hung out in celebration.
Such sentiments have been widely echoed in the nation’s media, with the Telegraph decorating its website with bunting and the Daily Mail asserting ‘Jubilee pictures from around the country prove what a proud nation we really are!’. The Daily Mail doesn’t even care if it rains such is Paul Dacre’s excitement.
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The Telegraph tells us what to wear at a street party, the Sun informs us that Kylie Minogue has challenged Pippa Middleton to a bum-off, and the Guardian provides a break down of the Queen’s spending.
The avalanche of royalist coverage appears unstoppable; however there has been a determined resurgent republican response.
Graham Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Republic, wrote an official letter of complaint to Chris Patten, the Chair of the BBC Trust, claiming that the BBC has failed in its duty to ensure that controversial subjects are treated with accuracy and impartiality throughout its royal coverage. Mr Smith stated that the BBC ‘aims to celebrate and promote the monarchy rather than present the facts about it.’
Andrew Marr’s recent programme the ‘Diamond Queen’ formed a clear example of the BBC’s bias according to Mr Smith. It failed to discuss the British Republican movement and cited misleading statistics, such as the claim that the British monarchy every year ‘costs each of us about half the price of a cup of coffee at a high street chain,’. But the programme neglected to inform the viewer that this was calculated by the Palace itself and ignored many hidden costs like security.
The outcome of the complaint was that the Republic was given airtime on the BBC’s flagship programme, Radio 4 Today.
This itself has been a cause for debate with Hugo Vickers, a royal historian, expressing his concern that there were no royalists on the programme to balance the debate. The Telegraph opposed the BBC for allowing ‘free rein’ opposition to the monarchy and has called British republicans ‘babyishly peevish’.
Around 2.5 million Britons plan to go abroad for the weekend, which perhaps represents a wider disengagement with the Jubilee celebrations.
For those left behind the media will be full of patriotic fervor.
The Royal family is enjoying record popularity according to a new Guardian/ICM poll: 69% of respondents state that Britain would be worse off without the monarchy while 22% say the country would be better off.
The point remains that the republicans are in the minority and an opinion piece like that of Philip Collins in today’s The Times is rare. When they do appear, the republican author may be abused. Suzannah Moore’s criticism in the Daily MailOnline attracted 138 comments, most critical.
Irrespective of the plans of anti-monarchists to stage a substantial protest on the banks of the Thames during the royal pageant, the numbers joining in with the festivities will be infinitely larger, with up to two million people expected to line the banks of the river Thames.
Lord Salisbury, the pageant chairman stated ‘I believe we should recognise the Queen’s 60 years of service with an event that expresses our admiration and gratitude.’
Mainstream opinion is firmly rooted behind the royals for the time being, whether the media reflects this or lacks integrity towards a political issue is open to debate.
Controversy over specifically the BBC’s coverage of the event is certainly growing, amidst claims it is merely an extension of the Palace’s PR machine. A leaked e-mail by a producer of The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Song symbolizes this when he states ‘we are not interested in hearing a personal bad word against the Queen.’
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