the royals and the press



1936In order to marry the woman he loves, a divorcee, Edward the VIII is forced to abdicate the throne

1940'sNewsreels are allowed to shoot carefully-monitored footage of Princess Elizabeth. All access to the Royal family is controlled by Commander Richard Colville, the Royal Press Officer.

1948The Palace agrees to allow the BBC to have a radio court correspondent report on official engagements. Godfrey Talbot is appointed the first BBC Radio Court Correspondent.

February 6, 1952King George VI dies. Princess Elizabeth becomes Queen.

The BBC approaches Winston Churchill for permission to broadcast live the coronation. Initially the palace says no, because it would be an added strain for the Queen.

October 1952Winston Churchill tells the Queen there should be no live tv coverage of the coronation. But the Queen disagrees.

June 2, 1953The coronation of Queen Elizabeth is televised live. However, certain parts of the ceremony -- such as the annointment -- are still considered too sacred for television, so a canopy is used to shield it from cameras.

Henceforth every major Royal event will be televised.

On coronation day, reporter Audrey Whiting of the Daily Mirror sees Princess Margaret (Elizabeth's sister) with a divorced man, Group Captain Peter Townsend. The editor of the Daily Mirror refuses to print the story saying "we can't upset the ladies' day..."

June 1953Stories about Peter Townsend and Princess Margaret's relationship begin to appear in American papers.

Soon after, British papers write that there are rumors Princess Margaret is in love with a divorced man -- Group Captain Peter Townsend.

July 7, 1953Palace sends Peter Townsend to Brussels to wait until Princess Margaret is 25 years old.

August 21, 1954Peter Townsend returns to Britain.

Growing press interest in Princess Margaret and Townsend's romance. Cameras follow him. In the popular press Townsend and Margaret are viewed as doomed lovers. A debate begins over whether it is Princess Margaret's duty to give up personal happiness for the good of the Monarchy.

October 26, 1955The editor of The Times, Sir William Hayley, writes the Royal Family are national symbols of family life and that if the queen's sister married a divorced man, it would damage the institution of the Monarchy.

The Daily Mirror condemns the Palace for adopting Hayley's advice and forcing Margaret to choose between love and her royal status.

October 31, 1955The Daily Mirror prints a story telling Margaret to hurry up and decide about Townsend. The headline: "Come On Margeret!"

1955Princess Margaret decides to leave Group Captain Townsend: ""Mindful of the church's teaching that Christian marriage is indissoluble and conscious of my duty to the Commonwealth, I have resolved to put these considerations before any others. I have reached this decision entirely alone. And in doing so I have been strengthened by the unfailing support and devotion of Group Captain Townsend...I am deeply grateful for the concern of all those who have constantly prayed for my happiness...."

August 1957John Grigg ( Lord Altringham) writes an article in The National and English Review about the Queen, accusing her of being elitist. He says the Queen is too closely associated with the upper classes and that he particularly dislikes her presentation parties when debutantes are received at court. He says the Monarchy is "complacent" and "out of touch."

Grigg's planned appearance on the BBC program "Any Questions" is cancelled. Robin Day of Independent Television News interviews Grigg on the another tv program and Grigg reiterates his criticism of the Queen. After the interview, an angy man approaches Grigg and punches him.

There is outrage in the press over how Grigg attacked the Queen.

December 25, 1957Queen Elizabeth's Christmas message to the nation is televised for the first time. For the next 40 years, the BBC broadcasts this event.

May 1960Princess Margaret marries photographer Anthony Armstrong Jones. She is the first of the royals to be thought of as cool, glamorous, and soon becomes the paparazzi's target.

1962BBC launches "That Was the Week that Was." The popular weekly program starts satirizing the Royal Family.

1964Ray Bellisario is the first British paparazzo, dubbed "the peeping Tom" by the press. He sells photos of Princess Margaret in a swimsuit to the Sunday Express which publishes them. The Palace instructs editors not to buy Bellisario's pictures. The editors oblige.

1967Commander Colville, Palace Press Officer, retires and is succeeded by William Heseltine who believes the Royal Family should give more access to the media through television. Prince Philip agrees.

June 21, 1969A film is made and aired by the BBC called "Royal Family." Its aim is to promote the Royals and cameras are allowed in to film their daily life. The program is almost two hours long and 68% of Britain's population watches it.

Not long after, Prince Charles gives a BBC interview.

July 1, 1969Charles' investiture as Prince of Wales is televised.

Late 60'sPress links Charles with Lady Jane Wellesley.

1969Rupert Murdoch buys News of the World and soon after, The Sun, launching it as a tabloid. Sales soar to one million in 100 days.

1970's Press starts following Charles. He is portrayed as an "action man" and is shown playing polo, in the snow, on a bull, etc.

November 14 1973Princess Anne marries Mark Phillips in Westminster Abbey

The press follows Princess Margaret to Mustique and pictures are taken of her with a younger man, Roddy Llewellyn.

1976Prince Charles leaves the Navy at age 28 and soon becomes world's most eligible bachelor in the popular press.

March 3, 1976British Parliament announces Margaret and Tony Snowdon will separate.

Press links Charles with Davinia Sheffield. (The News of the World publishes a story saying she had once lived with a boyfriend).

June 1977Daily Express says Charles is to marry Marie Astrid.

1978Princess Margaret is criticized in the Press as lazy and decadent. It is the first time a member of the Royal family has been so strongly criticized.

April 5, 1978Press hounds Princess Margaret. Headlines read: "Give up Roddy or Quit Royal Duties."

May 10, 1978Princess Margaret announces she is seeking a divorce. Roddy says he will not marry her.

1979The Daily Star, another tabloid, is launched.

Press links Charles with Sabrina Guinness.

September 7, 1980James Whitaker and Ken Lennox of The Daily Star spot Charles kissing unnamed girl in river Dee at Balmoral (it turns out to be 19-year old Diana Spencer).

Rumors start circulating in the press of Charles' relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles; it's mentioned in the magazine Private Eye

October 1980Sun headlines: "Charles Set to Make Lady Di his Bride Next Year..."

Diana is under siege by British tabloids.

Nov/Dec 1980Charles tours India for eight weeks; he asks British royal reporters on the trip what they think of Diana Spencer and why they think she's the girl he should or will marry.

1980'sThe Sun's circulation rises to record levels.

January 1, 1981On New Year's Day, Prince Charles and Queen Elizabeth say to reporters staked out nearby: "A thoroughly nasty new year to your editors..."

Rupert Murdoch buys The Times and the Sunday Times.

February 24, 1981Engagement is officially announced of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer. Tabloids follow Diana's movements constantly.

July 1981Diana Spencer leaves polo matched distressed -- Charles says it is because of all the media attacking her.

July 29, 1981Prince Charles and Diana Spencer get married. 750 million people watch worldwide.

Diana starts appearing on the covers of dozens of magazines

The Sun annoints Diana "Queen of Hearts".

December 1981Michael Shea, Press Secretary for the Queen, invites Fleet Street editors to Buckingham Palace. The Queen appeals to the editors asking them to lay off the Royal family and especially, to lay off the Princess who is pregnant.

1982The Sun reports problems in the marriage. Examples of headlines: "A Public Bust-up!"....."Pregnant Di Falls down Stairs" "Are Charles and Diana Moving Apart?"

February 18, 1982The Star and The Sun follow Princess Diana and Charles to the Bahamas and in a sneak attack take pictures of pregnant Diana in a bikini. Queen calls the action "The blackest day in the history of British journalism."

Lloyd Turner, Sun's editor, is sacked for the day.

Throughout the year, headline coverage on the marriage continues : "Loveless Marriage" "Disco Diana dumps Charles" "Old Flame the Prince Won't Forget..." "Fears for Di's Health"

April 5, 1983Woman Magazine names Diana World's #1 Cover Girl.

September 1983Diana Spencer and Prince Charles go to Australia for their first official tour; the reception for them is compared to Beatlemania. Prince Charles writes to a friend: "How can anyone, let alone a 21 year old, be expected to come out of all this obsessed and crazed attention unscathed?....the media's fixation frightens me and I know for a fact that it petrifies Diana."

May 30, 1984Prince Charles gives controversial speech about architecture. Tabloids start to make fun of Prince Charles.

February 4, 1985Sun Headline-- "Charles loses his trousers to Di"

Star Headline -- "Man or Mouse?"

1987Tabloids start counting the days Diana and Charles spend apart and the various problems in their marriage. Palace denies any rift.

June 1987Prince Edward persuades Andrew and Fergie (the Duke and Duchess of York) and Princess Anne to take part in a televised mock Tudor knockout - a take-off on an old slapstick series. The embarrassing tv program is called "It's a Royal Knockout."

October 1987Press notes Prince Charles and Diana spent 35 days apart.

1989'Squidgy' conversation (between Diana and James Gilbey) is tape-recorded by Cyril Reenan. Rupert Murdoch holds off publishing it.

August 1, 1990Cyril Reenan contacts the Sun about the 'Squidgy' tape.

July 2, 1991Diana's 30th birthday; press stories appear about more marriage troubles.

March 1992Lady Colin Campbell publishes a book talking about Diana's relationship with four men. It's serialised in the Sunday Mirror.

May 1992Andrew Morton's book "Diana -- Her True Story" is released. It's a devastating account of Diana's doomed marriage, her bulimia and suicide attempts and the insensitivity of Princes Charles and the Royal Family. Family and close friends of Diana are quoted. Both Diana and Morton deny she had any involvement in the book.

June 1992The Sunday Times serializes "Diana -- Her True Story."

June 8, 1992The Palace asks the Press Complaints Commission to issue a statement condemning press coverage of Charles and Diana's marriage: "The most recent intrusive and speculative treatment by sections of the press and indeed by broadcasters of the marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales is an odious exhibition of journalists dabbling their fingers in the stuff of other peoples souls..."

Buckingham Palace officials deny Diana cooperated with Andrew Morton on his book.

June 22, 1992Tabloid headlines: "Charles May Never be King."

August 20, 1992National Enquirer publishes version of 'Squidgy' tape

August 24, 1992The Sun splashes the 'Squidgy' tapes on ten pages and the next day offers a phone line for the public to listen to them. There are 60,000 calls.

August 26, 1992James Gilbey is named as the man in the 'Squidgy' tape.

Sept 1992The Mirror receives the 'Camillagate' tape - a recorded intimate conversation between Camilla Parker Bowles and Prince Charles.

Sept 1, 1992The Sun claims Diana had a relationship with James Hewitt.

Sept 6, 1992ITN does a documentary on the collapse of Charles and Diana's marriage.

November 3, 1992Every tabloid has front page story about Diana and Charles being openly at war with each other.

November 6, 1992The Palace finally admits there is a rift.

November 11, 1992The Mirror's "Camillagate Confidential" says that there is a 60 minute 'Camillagate' tape that exists.

Nov 13, 1992The Mirror prints quotes from 'Camillagate' tape: "I love you...I adore you..."

December 1, 1992Michael Shea , Royal Family press secretary, is quoted in The Times calling tabloids, "a cancer in the soft underbelly of the nation."

December 9, 1992Charles and Diana officially announce their separation.

December 25, 1992In the Queen's Christmas message the distress over family turmoil and press revelations is clear: "Like many other families, we have lived through some difficult days this year...It has touched me deeply that so much [support] has come from those of you with troubles of your own. If we can sometimes lift our eyes from our own problems, and focus on those of others it will be at least a step in the right direction."

Afterwards, The Times writes: "What matters is the national sense that something is wrong with the state of the Royal Family, that, while the Monarch remains high in her subjects' esteem, the rest of 'the firm'is variously at fault and failing to live and work as it should."

January 13, 1993The Sun and Today both print extracts from 'Camillagate' tape.

January 14, 1993'Camillagate' goes frontpage in 53 countries.

March 2, 1993The Sun prints entirety of 'Squidgy' tape.

December 4, 1993Diana retires making announcement at a charity event: "When I started my public life 12 years ago, I understood the media might be interested in what I did...their attention would inevitably focus on both our private and public lives, but I was not aware of how overwhelming that attention would become...."

Paparazzi begin hounding Diana.

Autumn, 1994Prince Charles appears in a special ITV program on his life. He is interviewed by journalist Jonathan Dimbleby and admits to adultery.

Jonathan Dimbleby's book "The Prince of Wales" is also released. It is an 'authorized' biography of Charles and tells the story of the Waleses' marriage from Charles' point of view.

Newspapers headline the adultery admission

November 20, 1995Diana gives a shattering one-hour interview on BBC's Panorama program in which she admits she had an affair with James Hewitt and discusses her bulimia, great unhappiness and her failed marriage.

December 15, 1996Prince Charles' housekeeper publishes memoirs.

August 28, 1996Prince Charles and Princess Diana divorce.

August 1997Diana and her new love interest, Dodi Fayed, are pursued by paparazzi while vacationing in the Mediterranean. "The Kiss" photo of the them is printed by newspapers around the world.

Aug 31, 1997A car crash in Paris kills Princess Diana, Dodi Fayed and the driver.




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