The Queen’s iconic “mystique” is a result of her reign beginning before the “great media age”, and will not be something her successors are able to emulate, the author of The Palace Papers has said.
Tina Brown, whose new book charts the royal family’s recent history, said that Prince Charles and Prince William would have to be “more communicative” than the Queen had been because of the society and media landscape they live in.
She told an audience at Hay festival: “It was the era of deference. She could develop that great mystique and say nothing which took enormous discipline and sense. Her sagacity has been not giving the interviews, but it’s much harder now.”
Asked by her interviewer, historian Simon Schama, whether the monarchy can have opinions as strongly held as Charles’s views on the environment, which have previously resulted in rightwing publications such as the Daily Mail “com[ing] down on him like a ton of bricks”, Brown answered: “That’s a very perilous question.
“I think the answer is as long as he doesn’t go and give a great big interview on television at any point. Let’s face it, every time one of them has done that it has been inconvenient.”
She cited as examples how Prince Andrew “strapped on his suicide vest” for his interview with BBC Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis and the “catastrophic” Oprah Winfrey interview with Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex.
Noting that the platinum jubilee weekend is “our chance to say goodbye to” the Queen, Brown was sanguine that Prince Charles would defy expectations as her successor as he has “always been underestimated”.
Although he has “stage fright” about the role, he “will be a very successful transitional monarch”, particularly since his interest in sustainability aligns with society’s current priorities.
However, she added that “he won’t have anything like her mystique” and warned that although the monarchy remains quite a popular institution in the UK, it would not survive a “disastrous monarch”.
“It won’t be tolerated as in the past,” she said.