June 03, 2022

Tina Brown

Renowned journalist Tina Brown reflects on Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee—marking 70 years on the throne—and predicts what is next for the British monarchy. Brown discusses Megxit, Prince Andrew and other topics from her new book on the royals.

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MH: Behind the Royal fascination…This Week on Firing Line…

Nats Princess Diana

In the 25 years since the death of Princess Diana… The world has watched a fairytale wedding… BROWN: That’s what really gives William his strength, The Megxit…

BROWN: you could not have a more chaotic exit plan

And a royal scandal surrounding Prince Andrew…

BROWN: He’s really reprehensible. It’s hard to have anything but contempt actually for Andrew.

All subjects of Tina Brown’s highly anticipated new book – The Palace Papers – out as Queen Elizabeth celebrates her Platinum Jubilee, marking 70 years on the throne…

BROWN: what the Queen has been able to do is never give her opinion about anything// which is reassuring at a time of enormous turbulence.

Brown – a legendary magazine editor who has run Vanity Fair and the New Yorker – has tapped into more than 100 sources for an inside look at Buckingham Palace.

Plus, what’s next for journalism? Magazines?

What does Tina Brown say now?

Firing Line with Margaret Hoover is made in possible in part by: Robert Granieri, Charles R. Schwab, The Margaret and Daniel Loeb Foundation, The Tepper Foundation, The Fairweather Foundation, The Asness Family Foundation and by Craig Newmark Philanthropies, The Rosalind P. Walter Foundation,

Damon Button and the Simmons Family Foundation. Corporate funding is provided by Stephens Inc. and Pfizer Inc.

INTERVIEW HOOVER: Tina Brown, welcome to Firing Line.

BROWN: Thank you for letting me come.
HOOVER: You and I have known each other for some years. You are a legendary magazine editor. BROWN: Which means old.
HOOVER: Titles of magazines like Tatler, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker.

HOOVER: Now, you are the author of your second book about the British royal family, “The Palace Papers.” It is an insider’s account of the last 25 years since Princess Diana’s passing. You spoke to more than 120 people that were involved or have knowledge of the senior royals. In 2022 assess the state of the monarchy.

BROWN: Perilous right now. It’s in a perilous, fragile moment. The Queen is in a glide path, obviously, to the last days of her reign. We’ve had the buffeting and tarnishing by Prince Andrew, who, of course, was essentially canceled for his scandalous conduct. We have Harry and Meghan who have left the fold. And it’s fragile right now. I think it’s going to emerge okay. But it is probably in its most fragile place for the last ten years.

HOOVER: What gives you confidence it will emerge okay?

BROWN: Well, it’s a thousand year old institution that has braved quite a lot. And I think that Prince Charles actually, although there’s quite a lot of pessimism really about him taking over. I actually think he’s going to be a steady force. A strong transitional monarch. Actually, his interests and his passions, which for many years were sort of mocked, have turned out to be very prescient. You know, he cares strongly about, you know, the environment, organic farming, you know, climate change. These are his authentic passions. And they happen to sort of dovetail with the moment that he’s going to be stepping onto the throne. So I actually think it’s going to be a lot better than some people think.

HOOVER: Some Americans perceive the institution of the monarchy as something that is antiquated, out-of-date, anathema to American values. Of course, we fought a revolution to be done with the British monarchy. And yet, Americans are enthralled by it. Make the case for the monarchy.

BROWN: Well, the monarchy is the sort of focal point of British national pride, identity and, you know, its sense of itself, if you like, its traditions, its history. And really, you have to consider what do we rather have, President Boris Johnson, perhaps, than Queen Elizabeth the second? Actually, there’s something

steadying and reassuring about having that head of state who is aloof from the partisan madness, from the bickering. And of course, what the Queen has been able to do for 70 years is never give her opinion about anything. The remarkable thing is, after seven decades, we don’t have a clue what Elizabeth the second thinks about anything, which is really a remarkable thing, and it’s reassuring at a time of enormous turbulence. So I don’t think the British monarchy’s going anywhere.

HOOVER: You’re making the conservative case.

BROWN: I’m making the conservative case, it is true. But I’ve seen it in a world of totalitarian despots, which seems to be, you know, one of the horrible trends of the last ten years. I think people are beginning to feel sort of more and more comfortable with the idea that, well, perhaps having a monarch as head of state is less scary than it is having, you know, some of these monstrous, you know, figures that we’re seeing all over Europe right now.

HOOVER: Queen Elizabeth is– about to celebrate her platinum jubilee, which will mark 70 years since she took the throne. She’s 96 years old. Last year, she lost her husband, Prince Philip. And you wrote in the Palace Papers that, quote, “The question of how the buffeted institution can maintain its mystical stature after the Queen dies has begun to creep through the British nation like a low grade fever.” How will the world react at this inevitable event?

BROWN: You know, there’s so much change right now in the world, so much turbulence, so much fearfulness that I think that that factor, plus the fact that no one and certainly in England has known anything but the Queen for 70 years, I think that the mourning is going to be seismic because essentially it’s a valediction to a whole kind of sense of an era, a sense of stability that people are going to feel very, very anxious about. I mean, I actually do predict a big national identity crisis when the Queen dies, because she, in a sense, has represented what it means to be British: stoic, dutiful, It’s, you know, England’s idea of itself, at any rate. It actually is a far cry from a huge amount of the way people live, but our idealized – “our” I say as an American who was born British – the British idea of itself is sort of wrapped up in those values still, which remain those kind of World War two ideas of itself. And I think the loss of it’s going to feel very weakening, as a matter of fact, and a sense of sort of shrinking will happen. And that’s really the challenge that Charles has, is to make– reassure the nation into thinking that the country has not sort of irredeemably shrunk by the loss of the Queen.

HOOVER: You know, you’ve written that the Queen is a royal CEO who will work until her dying last breath. But you’ve noted that she’s been in power for so long that in some ways she has blocked the evolution of the monarchy.

BROWN: And we– there’s no one who can live like a 96 year old person. I mean, the greatest generation were these unique people with this self-discipline and their sense of service and their sense of duty. It’s remarkable. But frankly, you know, modern people don’t live like that anymore. And that’s been a hugely difficult thing for both her children and her grandchildren.

HOOVER: In what ways specifically has she blocked its modernization?

BROWN: I think that the Queen’s always done things a certain way. And the whole of the sort of royal way has been constructed around, not only her view of it, but her father’s and her grandfather’s. I mean, the monarchy’s really been in a kind of set routine since the time of George, you know, the fifth, actually, her grandfather. We saw recently the commonwealth tour, taken by, you know, William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. And it really became glaringly obvious all of a sudden, this just doesn’t really work anymore. This whole semi-colonial feeling of the two of them standing up in a Land Rover. You know, Kate in a huge hat and islanders pressed against the fence. I mean, you know, the optics were horrendous, actually.

HOOVER: I actually was going to ask you about that. Last year, Barbados actually removed the Queen as its head of state. And then when Prince William and Kate went on their royal tour of the Caribbean, they faced protests, and calls for reparations for slavery. // The Queen has said it’s her sincere wish for Charles to carry on the Commonwealth after she dies. But there is speculation that more and more members of the Commonwealth will go the way of Barbados.

BROWN: I personally think that the British monarch as head of state of the last sort of 14 or 15 nations that still have the soft British sovereign as head of state, I don’t believe that that will last more than a few years. I think that that movement has– that ship has sailed, if you like, personally.

HOOVER: What are they waiting for?

BROWN: They’re waiting for the end of the Queen’s reign, I suspect, to really make that final decision, many of them. The Queen has a unique place in the hearts of the Commonwealth, there’s no doubt about it. But you know, will that apply to her heirs? Much less so. But of course, the Commonwealth is also a club, a network of nations, a commercial, cultural, you know, sort of federation of shared interests. That I think will continue. But I don’t think it’s going to have the British monarch as their heads of state.

HOOVE: The Queen is still on the Canadians’ $20 bill. And Prince Charles and Camilla went to Canada recently. They’re returning actually within the next month. But when they were last there, they were caught on camera giggling through a performance of Inuit singers, and they were accused of being quite disrespectful. Are they going to get it right this time?

BROWN: I mean, look, they’re all completely out of sync with this whole movement. I mean, the whole thing has got to be reviewed. It’s not right. I mean, when Kate quite recently went over to Copenhagen and met with the Crown Prince Mary and they discussed early childhood education, that was a good look for Kate. That was good optics. She looked like a crisp international diplomat. And I think that with a younger generation, you’re going to see much more of that kind of an overseas visit. There’s a mission, there’s a point, and there is a sense of, okay, well, we’ll have these meetings and then they may do some additional sort of almost like a first lady would. I don’t think this idea of a sort of a tour, the very word tour, has a kind of colonial ring to it. It smacks of, you know, Earl Mountbatten and, you know, and partition, you know, it’s just out of sync. And it’s amazing how fast suddenly that just seems completely all wrong. Actually, in my book I talk about how Harry and Meghan went on their first Commonwealth tour to Australia and it was a giant success. I mean, it was a huge success, but Meghan hated it. She felt it

was pointless. You know, looking back, maybe she was right. Maybe they should have listened to Meghan about rethinking the Royal tours.

HOOVER: Actually have an agenda or a policy agenda.

BROWN: Yeah. To have a policy agenda. I mean, you know, just showing up and, you know, batting a tennis ball or or sort of cutting a ribbon, it does feel very, in a strange way, sort of condescending. And I think it’s going to be massively rethought. And I’m told that William is really determined that it’s going to be totally reexamined.

HOOVER: I think this, thinking of it as a first lady, right? Like somebody who’s there to amplify the policy preferences of a government, to sort of help around the edges but not hurt and bring some gravitas, stature.

BROWN: Precisely. It’s going to have to be reconceived as that. But when you think about and this is where the Queen’s length of reign, you know, is arguably something that’s been in the way, because she’s always done it that way. And so the concept of the royal tour has been molded to, you know, a woman who’s now in her 90’s who, of course, was an emperor’s daughter.

HOOVER: So “The Crown,” the Netflix series that has been a smash hit around the world in every country that views it, was You’ve written about how the royals quite liked it in the beginning. But they’ve become more worried about its next season, which will cover the 90s and Diana, and frankly risks reminding people of the less empathetic elements of Charles’s time as prince. Is that a problem for him? As–

BROWN: I think it is a problem, actually, yes. Because there’s a whole generation that believes The Crown is fact. Right. That it’s not drama, that it’s history. And of course, it is drama, not history. A lot of things about The Crown are, you know, reshaped, changed, to make good drama. Poor Prince Charles cannot get out from under with the whole shade of Princess Diana. For years, he’s felt aggrieved that, you know, the hagiography of Diana, Saint Diana, kind of overwhelmed him and always cast him sort of as the villain in the relationship. And now, of course, his sons really want to bring their mother forth. I mean, for a long time, the two boys didn’t really talk much about Diana. She was sort of– they didn’t wish to talk about her. But now they’re grown men, they’ve moved on. They want to salute and celebrate their mother as anybody would. And as William ascends in importance, and when he eventually becomes king, I have no doubt there’s going to be statues of Diana all over the place. There’s a desire to kind of really recelebrate her and give her her stature that a different kind of importance in the royal story, which, of course, has been attempted to be somewhat airbrushed out by Charles and that generation. So Charles does feel very nervous about this forthcoming series of The Crown. It’ll be interesting to see how the boys react to it because, you know, Harry has a big deal with Netflix. Is he going to like the portrayal of his mother or not? We’ll be very interested to see how he reacts.

HOOVER: There’s a new survey out in February that suggests that increasing numbers of Britons have become skeptical of the monarchy, and especially so among the younger generations, the 18 to 34. Do you believe the monarchy will survive to see William king?

BROWN: I believe the monarchy will survive, but I definitely think its place in English society will be less. I think that William and Kate will be much more like the European monarchies in places like, you know, the Netherlands, etc.. You know, I think that they are unable to have the kind of mystique that the Queen, after 70 years, I mean, 14 prime ministers starting with Winston Churchill. There will never be that kind of mystique again. And the fact that the Queen has never spoken about anything in an interview, of course has added to this extraordinary mystique. We already know a lot about William. We know much less about Kate. She’s actually been astounding, I think, in her ability to be so self-disciplined about the duties she has to perform and the role she has to play. It’s quite remarkable that this woman who was raised in a middle class British family has somehow managed to really absorb all the kind of necessary tenets that it requires to be successful in this role. She’s blessed with I mean, temperament is extraordinarily important. I mean, she is genuinely a calm and composed, mature woman who is able to just take this intense scrutiny and somehow carve out a private world for the family. And that’s what really gives William his strength, that she has created this sort of incredible domestic bubble around them.

HOOVER: You write pretty extensively about “Megxit,” the exit of Harry and Meghan from the firm, from the royal family. You say, quote, “The Sussex’s decision to get out of Dodge had much in common with the American exit from Afghanistan: unnecessary and executed with maximum chaos.”

BROWN: Well, that is absolutely true. I mean, you could not have a more chaotic exit plan than they had or a lack of one. They could have got a much better deal out of the Queen, I believe, if they had just gone about it in a more strategic, careful fashion. But it was so kind of impatient and petulant the way they behaved that essentially they kind of offended everybody on the way out. And they seemed to be unable to understand that the real problem that couldn’t be overcome was their desire to both keep all of their royal privileges, patronages, etc., while also having this whole commercial arm where they were able to make money. They did not accept that, you know, it’s a bit like being in politics their situation now. It would be rather as if, you know, Biden had had a whole commercial deal going on. You can’t do it without having absolute outcries about conflict of interest. And it just would not have worked because ultimately whatever they were doing commercially, they were leveraging their HRH, you know, their royal highness titles and it just could not work. And so a choice had to be made. I mean, you know, faced with the choice between the Commonwealth and Netflix, I mean, they took Netflix.

HOOVER: But I mean, Meghan was a working royal for 20 months. BROWN: Yes,
HOOVER: Diana was for 16 years.
BROWN: Correct.

HOOVER: Why did it deteriorate so rapidly?

BROWN: It was shocking. I was shocked. I believed that it would only last four or five years, but I did not expect it to last as short a time as 20 months. Meghan really hated everything about it. And in fairness

to Meghan, I really think that Harry wanted out. In fact, what was said to me, which I was very surprised about when I heard it from a very close member of the circle, they said to me, ‘you know, Harry was so unhappy we all knew that at some point he’d want to go, that the Queen thought so, too.’ She knew that Harry was very unhappy and there was a very good chance he would go. I think nobody thought, however, that going meant literally living in exile in California and being completely cut off. I think that they hoped that perhaps he might like to live, you know, a different sort of life, but not necessarily one that was really a repudiation and has become, you know, quite antagonistic towards them all. I think that’s the shocking piece to them. They didn’t expect that. And I think it’s a bit of a heartbreak that it happened that way. To be alienated from your family so profoundly is not good for anybody, whether they’re Prince Harry or somebody else.

HOOVER: From the time she was an early actress, and some of the other endeavors that she attempted to take on didn’t necessarily gain much attention. And you write, quote, “By 2014, she was famished for prestige, frantic for validation.” When she met Prince Harry, in your assessment, was she– is their marriage and did their relationship.

BROWN: Meghan certainly saw that in Harry there was a whole other platform that would be hers. I mean, you know, Meghan has always wanted that sort of global humanitarian thing, you know, like Angelina Jolie, like Cate Blanchett, a lot of these major actresses who have actually been able to sort of create a sort of humanitarian halo and do great works, etc.. She– that was what Meghan wanted. I mean, you know, it’s great that she wanted to that in the sense that she didn’t just want to be an actor. She did actually want to use her celebrity to, you know, create goodwill in the world. I mean, she never understood, for instance, just the absolute sort of dichotomy between the concept of being a, you know, glamorous royal fairytale princess and actually having the kind of very dull slog of being somebody who’s expected to visit hospitals all the time and, you know, do this round of of sort of what she would feel is very sort of imaginative duties. And at the same time, really not have essentially all of the kind of perks and rewards of being, you know, a celebrity. It’s like she couldn’t even accept freebies because that’s out if you’re a member of the royal family. So, I mean, here was someone who had always been sort of on the margins, had never been an Oscar presenter. I mean, and now she has it all at her at her feet. But you don’t have to have anything.

BROWN: And I remain kind of baffled why somebody who’d really been enormously hard working all her life and actually, I mean, she was a great team player when she was at Suits, the show that she appeared in. She worked very hard. You know, she put in the work, I think for her not to put that work in was really, you know, a tremendous loss of opportunity for her. I think he just hated the press scrutiny. And the weird thing is, the way he’s done everything, it seems to amplify that scrutiny ever since. That’s what the family, you know, the advisors around me told me that just completely baffled as to why Harry, who so hated press scrutiny, who just wanted, you know, just loathed it after what it had done to his mother and broken up so many of his own relationships with the press, stalking and harassing and eavesdropping. How come one of the first things he does when he gets into exile is to do this massive interview with Oprah Winfrey? And now to be actually doing a memoir in the fall of ‘22, which will be a tell-all memoir, after everything he’s been through in his life.

HOOVER: And this is from the person who supposedly wants privacy in exile.

BROWN: It’s baffling. He is so kind of mixed up in what he really wants that I don’t feel any good can come of that.

HOOVERL: In addition, he has signed with Spotify and with Netflix $120 million dollar content creation deal. I mean, you are somebody who has been in charge of content creation online, in magazines. These two have never participated in this kind of a content creative space. Are they meritorious of these kind of deeply sizable, very, very rich deals?

BROWN: Well, I think, obviously not. I mean, obviously, they are essentially a PR stunt from the companies concerned to sign them. But what I will say is, that, you know, the great plus of being a member of the royal family – and there are a lot of negatives – but a lot of great plus for being a member of the royal family, there’s no time stamp on your celebrity. There’s no time stamp on your leverage. You have this huge palace apparatus that will be sifting the best invitations. If you pick up the phone and say, ‘this is Kensington Palace here,’ there’s no one who doesn’t take your call. You know, the palace platform is immensely influential globally. If you’ve just got content deals, you have to deliver hits or the content deal doesn’t get renewed, and then you’re scrambling for the next content deal. So I think it was short sighted to think that these big golden deals were somehow self-perpetuating, because they’re not. Whereas royalty is self-perpetuating. You can be incredibly boring for the next five years if you want.

HOOVER: And no one would hold it against you.

BROWN: And no one’s going to hold it against you. You’re still going to get invited, you know, to go to the major conference, or the big platform, or the incredible tour. You know, it goes on is the point. And it’s all about playing the long game. And unfortunately I think the Sussexes have not been able to do that. However, I will say that Harry’s creation of the Invictus Games, which is his sort of Special Olympics for vets, that is his best chance of a big legacy, because I think it’s a very successful creation.

HOOVER: You mentioned the interview that Harry and Meghan did with Oprah Winfrey, which 49 million people viewed. And one element we haven’t discussed in this conversation is perhaps the cultural clash between Meghan and the palace and especially how allegedly they were conversations about how dark the Sussex child would be with a mother who was half black. You’ve written extensively about how there is a real lack of diversity among the royal staff. And I wonder, given what you know and who you’ve spoken to, do you believe that it’s true that a member of the royal family would have made a statement?

BROWN: Well, it’s very shocking if it’s true, and very appalling if it’s true. It’s impossible to know, isn’t it?

HOOVER: Based on what you know? Does it feel possible?

BROWN: I don’t think that. I don’t know. Honestly, I really don’t want to conjecture about that because I just don’t know. And it’s such a hot button concept, frankly, for this to have happened, and so tarnishing for the royals for this to have happened. So I think it’s– we will perhaps find out when Harry writes his book.

HOOVER: Do you think he’ll be that forthcoming?
BROWN: I think that he’s been pretty forthcoming so far.
HOOVER: Do you think he thinks that he’s benefited by being so transparent? Or does he regret it?

BROWN: I don’t think Harry has any regrets about anything he’s been doing, actually. I think that he seems to keep doing it. So therefore, that would argue that he has no regrets, because each time he’s given an interview, he’s sort of made it worse, actually, the relationship with the family. So he has real anger, Harry, that wants to say these things and he wants, I gather, with the book to quote, you know, ‘tell his truth.’ And the truth is not going to be pretty as far as his family is concerned, which I think is of enormous anxiety to them. You know, they’re at a very fragile moment in the reign. The Queen, who knows how her health will be by the fall. Charles is, you know, in this wobbly moment when, you know, he’s looking to make his reputation with the British nation better than it’s ever been before. And then along will come Harry’s book. So I think it’s very, very scary for them all. And I think if they could do anything to stop it, they would.

HOOVER: You describe Prince Andrew in your book as a, quote, “coroneted sleaze machine.” And you say that he, quote, pursued a string of international lowlifes for unsavory personal deals. Of course, his ultimate downfall was his relationship with convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. And this portion of the book is fascinating because you have your own history with Jeffrey Epstein. As editor in chief from The Daily Beast, You published a series of articles and exposés about Jeffrey Epstein And Jeffrey Epstein even came to your office and threatened you personally before he then turned around and invited you to a dinner with none other than Prince Andrew.


HOOVER: How do you reflect on Prince Andrew and that royal Epstein connection now?

BROWN: Well, unfortunately, Andrew, he’s really reprehensible. It’s hard to have anything but contempt actually for Andrew. I mean, I somehow do feel a bit sorry for him simply because he’s a person of small intellect and major status. So that’s a bad combination. And he was always, you know, an oaf, frankly, treated his staff poorly, you know, threw his weight around, not at all a sympathetic kind of a guy. And then, of course, he had the the problem of the second son, namely, he’s supposed to be, you know, a person of grandeur and a person of of, you know, impeccable mien, etc., While not having, in his mind, nearly enough money to do that. He had to have the grant of about £250,000 a year. And you’re not really supposed to make any money for the reasons we’ve already discussed. So he always felt he didn’t have enough money to live the way that he wanted to live, which led him into the company of people who want to be around royalty. Inevitably, that means that they’re going to be unsavory a lot of the time. And they really were. He had terrible judgment about people. He was always entertaining the kind of relative sort of, you know, insalubrious kind of, you know, despots and, you know, just just a creepy social circle, always looking to sort of be around royalty. And unfortunately, that led him, you know, absolutely into the lair of Jeffrey Epstein. Because Jeffrey Epstein felt that he could, of course, exploit Andrew’s royal

connections for his own sort of luster. And he was really sucked into that by Epstein. He hadn’t got a chance against someone who was as, you know, deft a seducer as Epstein. And, of course, it led to his downfall ultimately, because then, of course, he is photographed, you know, with this young woman, Virginia Giuffre, who was underage.

HOOVER: There were allegations that he had sex with one of Epstein’s underage victims and he reportedly paid £12 million in settlement.

BROWN: Yeah. Andrew has never admitted either knowing or having sex with her, but he paid her £12 million pounds. So, you know, we will have to, you know, gather what we can out of that. But it was a disgraceful episode that unfortunately has tarnished the family enormously.

HOOVER: Prince Andrew escorted the Queen to her seat at the recent memorial to Prince Philip. It has been reported and you wrote about it in your book, the closeness of the relationship between the Queen and Prince Andrew. Why does she continue to favor him?

BROWN: Well, this is where, of course, things get very complicated and where also, of course, I find it the most interesting because the institution of monarchy is underpinned by fallible people – a family, like any other family with its black sheep, with its miscreants, with its loses and winners, and people who are successful and people who are–fall by the wayside. They’re like any family. It’s just that they’re in this enormous sort of scrutiny and held to the standard of monarchy. The Queen is very fond of, you know, her third child, Andrew. She was much closer to the two younger ones, Andrew and Edward, than she was the two older ones. Because, you know, like any working mother, age 25, she was given this unbelievable position in the world when her children were very young. And she did not spend that kind of time with Andrew, with Charles and Anne that she was able to spend, as you know, when she was a more accomplished monarch later in her reign than she was with Andrew and Edward. So she always has had a very soft spot for Andrew. A ndrew also happens to live closest to her of all her children. He lives in Royal Lodge, which is the Queen Mother’s former home in Windsor Great Park, which is very near Windsor Castle, which has always been the Queen’s Weekend Home, and it’s now her permanent home. So she sees a lot of Andrew and as in any family, you know, there’s always one who in the parents declining years, you know, is nearer and takes– you know, spends more time with her. And that’s what’s happening now still. And after him being completely canceled, having all of his, you know, royal patronages stripped and essentially thrown into the dungeon of shame in the public repute, people were utterly shocked to see Andrew escorting the Queen at the memorial for Prince Philip. But the Queen would feel, this is my private situation. It’s his father, my husband. She wanted the arm of her son when she walked into the church.

HOOVER: She has two other sons to choose from.

BROWN: And of course Andrew muscled to make sure that he was there. I mean, she was actually supposed to be handed off to the archbishop who was going to walk her down. But Andrew, wanting to push his face into the limelight and say, ‘I still have the approval of my mother,’ made sure he was in the picture. And that has caused a great deal of consternation among her, you know, everyone at the palace.

HOOVER: The Queen is not the only woman in recent history to have put her stamp on Britain. Margaret Thatcher was a guest on the original Firing Line with William F. Buckley Jr in 1975 when she was leader of the Conservatives, four years before she became prime minister. Take a look at this.

GREENFIELD: There’s a feeling among some of the electorate, distressingly high in fact, that women tend to think more emotionally. //
THATCHER: Would you be so very surprised if I said that at home on the whole we just look at the person and not necessarily at the sex?

THATCHER: You would be. But that’s because you’re a man. I mean, you’re limited. But, look, I honestly dislike– I regard these questions as very trivial. // I’ve heard this argument frequently, that women are really rather more emotional than men. Really, women are intensely practical. Again, I don’t mean that flippantly. We are an intensely practical sex. We often get on with the job. We don’t always talk about it as much as men; but we get on doing it.

BROWN: Love it. That’s so true. And the monarchy is on the shoulders of the women. Let’s face it, the Queen has been amazing. I mean, and Kate is amazing. And even Camilla has turned out to be a person who had, in the end, that ability to be practical and get on with it.

HOOVER: So, of course, Margaret Thatcher was the first female prime minister that the Queen worked with. And did you see any similarities between how they navigated the sexism

BROWN: Well, I don’t think either of these women have ever considered sexism an issue. That’s their strength in a strange way. And they didn’t much like each other, as you know. But the Queen’s always been a real man’s woman, actually. And I think Margaret Thatcher was, too. The Queen likes alpha men.She’s never had a female private secretary, actually. So she’s used to being with very high powered men around her is the truth.

HOOVER: While you’re an expert on the royals, you’re an expert on many things. You’re a groundbreaking editor of, as we mentioned, magazines like Vanity Fair and The New Yorker and Tatler and the founding editor of The Daily Beast. You recently said that “Everyone needs to be their own media impresario.” Is journalism better off or worse off than it was 20 years ago today?

BROWN: I think journalism is in a massive sort of meltdown, actually. Really, unfortunately. I think there are multiple outlets, many of them great. I think social media has been an incredible platform for dissent and for, you know, airing views that could never have seen the light of day before. But the lack of financial, you know, heft behind so many outlets that have had to kind of fall by the wayside has been a terrible loss to the world is the truth. So I think the journalism is very challenged at the moment, and I think we need to fully get behind and support it.

HOOVER: Is the era of magazines over?

BROWN: Well, as a huge magazine junkie all my life, sadly I don’t buy them anymore. So I think that magazines, print magazines, have a very tough time right now.

HOOVER: That is shocking to hear.

BROWN: Yes, I know. I feel sad about it because it’s a great art form and I have loved every second of my career in it. But the truth is that I’m, you know, I’m a creature of disaggregation, too. You know, I follow writers, I follow Twitter feeds, I follow, I pick- I’m a scavenger now taking my news from a thousand sources. And I miss the hierarchy of presentation that that that, you know, print gives you where you could have a big splashy headline to cover, you know, these things connote importance. And the problem with reading online is that everything looks the same.

HOOVER: You have known Prime Minister Boris Johnson for decades, and while you say that he is a fabulous dinner partner at a dinner party, that he is not necessarily a leader of any real substance. And you also have covered Donald Trump. And I wonder if there are elements of Trumpism and Donald Trump’s leadership style that have made their way across the pond into British politics.

BROWN: Well, I think actually Boris was always the way that he is today. Where I think he has taken out of Trump’s playbook is a willingness to– an embracing of being completely dishonest while never feeling he has to apologize for it. The never apologize for dishonesty is absolutely a new Trump phenomenon. And that is something that I think that Boris absolutely absorbed. But Boris, most about Boris’s persona has just been about this sort of phony, disheveled, unthreatening kind of an Englishman which actually concealed a very canny political strategy. Interestingly, really, his whole sort of appeal as a rule breaker was completely blown up when he broke a rule that made everybody finally enraged, which was while they were locked down, unable to say goodbye to their loved ones who were dying in COVID. He was giving parties in Downing Street. It’s that kind of simple black and white chicanery, as it were, that really hits home.

HOOVER: And he apologized. He’s had to apologize.

BROWN: He finally had to apologize for that, which which shows–

HOOVER: Limits to Trumpism, perhaps?

BROWN: Limits. But I think only because he’s now clinging by his fingertips to to his role, because he has finally realized that this is one thing no one is going to let him off the hook about. Finally.

HOOVER: In 2020, you lost your husband Harold Evans, or Harry as he was affectionately called, also a legend, a legendary newspaperman, somebody that generations of reporters have looked up to. And the Times obituary, The New York Times obituary described him as a crusading newspaper man with a second act. I know he was not only your partner in marriage, but also a real partner to you as a professional. You all were really the original power couple in journalism. What are some of the lessons of Harry’s legacy?

BROWN: Harry was the ultimate truth teller, and he really knew how to speak truth to power while never being self-important about it. And I think one of the things I most loved about him as well was his immense optimism about life. He always believed that good would prevail as long as, you know, good men did not stand by. So he was never a person who was willing to stand by. He to the very last, if he saw injustice, if he saw dishonesty, he would sit down at his computer and he’d start banging out like a piece or even tweeting. I mean, he’d just never stop being engaged with trying to get– to right the wrongs of the world in a way that was just powered by a sense that it mattered. And that’s what I miss most about him in a funny way, was this incredible moral energy that he had that just permeated every aspect of our lives.

HOOVER: You’re on book tour for the Palace Papers. This is, frankly, a great contribution to a generation of people who actually know most about the royals from the Crown, the Netflix series The Crown. And this really does fill in with reportorial detail, all the things one needs to know. As you think about the coming years of the royals, you’ve said it’s a perilous moment, but you have confidence that they will transcend this moment. What gives you hope about the next generation of the royal family?

BROWN: I think what gives me hope is a sense that these are very decent people. And decency is a rather old fashioned word, but I think it’s a meaningful word, and I think it’s a quality that has longevity. So I think my optimism about the crown is I do think that both Charles and William are very decent people who care very deeply about their country and about trying to do good for the nation. And in that sense, that’s hopeful because they’re going to have an immense position. Whichever way you look at it, even if it’s a diminished position, it’s still an immense position. And compared to the dreck, the dross, the despots, the charlatans who are running countries all over the place, how lucky are we really to have really decent, you know, virtue-loving human beings who are sort of trying to dedicate themselves to making life better.

HOOVER: On that, Tina Brown, congratulations on the book, The Palace Papers, and thank you for joining me here.

BROWN: Thank you, Margaret. END