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  • Lawrence Bailey

United in grief or divided in opinion?



According to the tabloids, the BBC has received more than 100,000 complaints from members of the public over its coverage of the Duke of Edinburgh's death.


There was “fury”, said the papers, that how the corporation opted to replace EastEnders and the MasterChef final with a cycle of news programmes about the passing of Prince Phillip.


Of course, these are the very same tabloids that slashed their own news content a day later in order to publish 12-page memorial supplements.


Whether you agree with this overdone approach or not, what is clear is that the media just can’t help itself at such times. Perspective and judgment seem to go out the window, thanks to those who confuse royal status with the higher end of the super-celebrity spectrum.


We are not “a nation united in grief”, as the headline writers insist. Things never reached that stage at the height of this awful pandemic and it’s not going to happen over the death of an individual, no matter how highly placed.


Complex and conflicting reactions are involved. For every person who feels touched by this loss there is another who perceives royalty as an expensive irrelevance. I could go on at length about the need to make a distinction between the constitutional status of the monarchy and the individual who holds the title of monarch, but now is not the time or the occasion. Essentially, it comes down to how each of us reacts at a personal level. For me, my sadness is towards the incredible woman who has been serving as Head of State since before I was born and who has lost someone very dear to her.


We’ve all since read about memories of Prince Phillip. Like thousands of others, I had the opportunity to shake hands with the him. To my embarrassment I don’t remember much about the experience, save the date and place.

My other half however has far more vivid recollections. As a very junior reporter, she was once encouraged by her editor to get a few words from the Prince during a visit. Seconds after she tapped his shoulder to get his attention, she found herself bundled off outside by bodyguards, who on setting her back on the ground asked, “First royal visit, is it luv?”.


To many, Phillip embodied a generation who had a plain and forthright view about service. He thought it was important that privilege should entail responsibility. A decent individual who will be greatly missed. Let’s leave it at that.




Anti-social is as anti-social does


I’ve been reading about how supermarket trolleys have been finding their way into the river alongside Liberty stadium just days after a clean-up operation.


It reminded me of the story from years ago when council officials somewhere in the Home Counties decided to tackle the problem of persistent graffiti. A prominent wall in a town shopping centre was forever being daubed. It was costing several thousands of pounds a year to remove.


Engineers came up with the idea of making the wall vandal-proof by covering the surface in pebble-dash. The idea was considered a stroke of genius and even gained praise for its innovative approach in a municipal magazine.


The work took a few weeks to complete; what with surface preparation, choosing the right grade of stone and getting all the necessary planning approvals. A modest ceremony saw the completed job unveiled by the chief engineer.


The very next day, early morning shoppers were greeted by a cheery message chiselled into the surface which read: “This wall has been re-opened”.


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