The royal tour of Australia and New Zealand

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Friday 18th April 2014

IMG_0555Hundreds of journalists are covering the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s tour of Australia and New Zealand right now – and I’m so glad I’m not one of them. As well as having to turn their hand to an awful lot of fashion writing (knowing their Alexander McQueen from their Roksanda Ilincic is key) this time round they’ve got to cover nine-month-old Prince George’s progress too.

The images are great. We’ve all enjoyed seeing endless pictures of cheering Australians and New Zealanders, William and Kate wreathed in smiles and George being presented with a giant toy wombat by Australia’s governor-general. But it’s trickier for the royal reporters, who not only have to fulfil the demands of rolling 24 hour news but try and be fascinating at the same time.

I faced the same challenge when I was a royal correspondent for the Evening Standard back in the 80s. Princess Diana was splashed across the tabloid front pages virtually every day – for dancing onstage with Wayne Sleep as a birthday surprise for Charles (he clearly wasn’t impressed), dressing up as a policewoman for Fergie’s hen night and taking William to his Notting Hill nursery school for the first time.

As I’ve written before, my most vivid memories are from Charles and Diana’s Middle East tour of 1986. As the royal couple progressed through Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, lunching in the desert, going to the races and attending sumptuous banquets, it was hard to come up with new stories to file. Daily Express columnist Jean Rook (the only other woman reporter in the press pack) even resorted to dressing up in a burka to see what women’s lives in Saudi Arabia were like. Meanwhile the rest of us got worked up about whether the Saudis had been offended by Diana wearing a dress that showed her ankles when they flew into Riyadh.

For a lot of the tour the royal couple looked utterly miserable. But at that stage even seasoned royal-watchers didn’t realise the rot had set in. Most of us simply assumed the tour was too long and gruelling, that Diana was missing William and Harry and that once you’ve seen one falconry display you’ve probably seen them all.

4 comments so far

  • All sounds so glamorous! What sort of angle did you end up using? The ankle-flashing? And how did it all work from your perspective – were you bussed around or did you have to haggle for lifts and things?

  • Thanks so much for commenting, Carlie. It wasn’t THAT glamorous. We all travelled as a pack – by coach, plane etc. Actually, my deadlines were earlier than other reporters (being on an evening paper) so once I had to stay behind and file in the desert and hitch a lift. Looking back, it was a bit foolhardy!

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