Excessive TV coverage of the death of Prince Philip masks the key social issues that need addressing - Helen Martin

Friday was my birthday, so I will always remember the date when Prince Philip’s death was announced. I was never anti-Royalist, except recently when they reduced their tax payments.

Monday, 12th April 2021, 7:00 am
BBC News presenter Andrew Marr addresses the death of the Duke of Edinburgh on TV on Friday

The Duke of Edinburgh was known for some of his controversial comments when he toured abroad, yet I usually thought he was informally humorous.

So, I did watch the first two hours of TV, then got on with my birthday plans. But I was stunned and not happy to discover BBC1 and 2 plus ITV went on and on even throughout the night with the same coverage of Prince Philip’s life. It was so excessive ITV and BBC rated a 60 per cent audience decline on Friday!

It became obvious on social media that so many complained about programmes being obliterated. Many others made the point he was 99, had recently gone home from hospital, so it was hardly surprising he had passed on.

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With elections suspended and politics frozen with Covid-19 still active, Northern Ireland in chaos, and Brexit killing off exports and imports, the country “shutting down” in respect seemed foolish, said many on social media. Several suggested the UK was behaving like

North Korea, a communist-like dictatorship, which would have even slightly more exaggerated freeze-downs of normal life if Kim Jong-un passed away.

One of the worst scenarios in London was the massive gathering of the public outside Buckingham Palace. Many were laying down bouquets, even though the Palace had asked them not to, and it was obvious the huge crowd were ignoring social distancing and many didn’t even wear a mask. Is that going to create another virus surge?

It’s impossible to figure out what percentage of the population are so devoted to The Queen and Prince Philip that they accept Philip’s death is the most important element in the UK for at least the next week. What percentage can be sympathetic and respectful over his death but don’t expect it to dominate the UK at all, and what percentage are anti-Royalists who don’t care if the Duke of Edinburgh has died or not?

My view? There are many important issues now that our countriesand governments have to deal with rather than “park” for a week.

The obsession with television and some newspapers isn’t popular, and there are also many voting for Independence who don’t want to stay in the “Kingdom” or the Commonwealth. I don’t believe that the Queen, or her family (who are all too busy grieving) expected or cared one way or the other, if all standard channels killed off their programmes. News channels alone could have covered it all non-stop.

Prince Philip had made a request about his funeral arrangements, saying he wanted “no fuss” and something “a little more simple” than a normal Royal arrangement. Clearly it would not be as simple as that of an ordinary, non-famous old man, and it will certainly and appropriately be covered by television.

But there will be no public procession, no state funeral, plus the Queen and 29 relatives and family members will obey pandemic rules, wear masks and keep social distance.

When Queen Elizabeth passes on (hopefully not soon but several years ahead) and Covid-19 is eventually controlled, that will possibly be the last, biggest, global, Royal funeral.