tv Dateline London BBC News June 4, 2022 11:30am-12:00pm BST
for the bit lighter this afternoon. for the south and east, we will see some dry, sunny weather develop. it will stay cool with the breeze, a blustery day across much of england and wales compared with yesterday. scotland and northern ireland, highs of temperatures of 20 to 2a in the west. 0vernight, the cloud returns and through the first part of the night, we will see thundery rain returned to the south. across wales, the midlands and east anglia. fresh further north. sunday, scotland and northern ireland will again have a dry day. a lot of cloud for england and wales, rain across midlands, wales, east anglia first thing. it will push its way northwards. to the south of it, brightening up but if you heavy showers. highs of the temperatures in western scotland. we will have the latest news for you at the top of the hour. now it's time for this week's dateline.
hello and welcome to the programme, which brings together leading commentators in the uk with the journalists from overseas who write, blog and broadcast from the dateline london. this week, as this country marks the 70—year long reign of queen elizabeth, what future for queens and kings here and globally? from king mswati, who's used his absolute power to rename his country eswatini to the imperial family ofjapan, gods made mortal by an occupying power. from the often absent thai monarch to king felipee of spain, embarrassed by his dad. in the studio thisjubilee weekend, are catherine pepinster whose new book defenders of the faith,
addresses one of the reasons this queen does not contemplate retirement and herfaith. yasmin alibhai—brown, a british columnist who is a committed republican, and henry chu from the la times in the united states, a country formed in revolt from the then english monarch. welcome to you all. thank you very much for coming in, particularly on such a busy weekend. catherine, can i start with you? there's no doubt that this weekend feels like a very public affirmation of this queen. but is it also consciously, do you think, for the monarchy, at least, a moment of transition? it does feel like that. it's been feeling like that for a while now. we saw the prince of wales represent his mother at the state opening of parliament, another major occasion, and this one too. so i think transition is a good word for it, but he's not being a replacement. he's representing her. and i'm intrigued that there hasn't been a suggestion of there being a regency. in other words when the monarch
continues, but because they are no longer able to carry out their duties to the same level, the person who's due to succeed when they die fills in for them. exactly. part of that might be because everybody feels, the queen herself, particularly, that she's not completely incapacitated, as happened, for example, with george iii, when he was seriously ill and the person who became actually george iv, his son became the prince regent, so they haven't gone down that path at the moment. perhaps they remember the history of it because he wasn't a terribly popular figure when he was regent, was he? no, he was not. and there were in those days, the monarch had more political power, and he didn't use it in ways that were particularly impressive. but i think it's also to do with the fact that this queen has this very strong sense that she signed up to this for life, and so i think there's possibly
an unwillingness to to stand down. but we may yet see that happen, we may yet see a regency act. because nobody can know the state of her health which may change over the coming... i find that so interesting only because, catherine, knowing that you were an editor of a catholic publication probably ten years ago we would you have said a pope would resign? no, he's in it for life. and yet that happened. and so never say never in these situations where we're in uncharted waters for a monarch to be this old, really, and having been on the throne this long and what happens next, it's really hard to say. interestingly, the queen will be well aware of how queen victoria disappeared from view for quite some time after the death of her husband, prince albert, and became very unpopular. and it was only when she had her golden and diamond jubilee, the other monarch that reigned a very long time, that she came out for those and she was popular again, so i guess this queen knows
the importance of what she phrases as being seen to be believed. which raises, in a sense, the unspoken part of all this weekend's events, doesn't it, yasmin, which is the nervousness, perhaps, that this could be a moment when the queen dies in the coming years where people start saying, "do we want to hang around with this institution any longer?" so in a sense that, just as with queen victoria, the big pomp and circumstance and celebration restored the monarchy to a certain extent. i think, oh, by the way, i'm wearing this in casej you haven't been attacked by a mob. i haven't been attacked. i had a fall and i've. broken some bones. so sorry for the clumsy look. i think one has to remember not |to overstate the popularity evenj
of the queen, because recent surveys have shown, like in almost _ every other major issue, - this is a country now divided. sometimes it's showing 50, 49, whatever it is, 52, - sometimes it's showing, you know... but there is much more of a sense, i think, - that after this queen dies... |and i respect her because she'sj old and also because she's been through the most astonishing history — but beyond that, i think onej shouldn't overstate that this is a totally inclusive, j 100%joyousjubilee, especially coming at this time i when there are so many people feeling economically insecure. an anachronism for you, then? i think it's very insensitive. i wouldn't have gone so big at a time like this. - and a lot of people are saying that. a lot of people are saying that. and when you say anachronism, that's a reflection of time. and i think what the surveys that
you were referring to, yasmin, show that it's also a generational thing, that support for the monarchy as an institution is less amongst young people. and that's notjust here in britain, but in other realms where she technically reigns as well. i'm interested what the attitude is in the united states, because the networks are going big on this, the television networks. is that generational difference too? because, i mean, one of the little known bits of the early development of the us, which i didn't know about until steve richards on this programme pointed it out a while ago, was that at one point some of the founders of the united states contemplated getting that rather unlucky figure from british monarchical history bonnie prince charlie, who was not very bonnie and certainly not very successful in his time, having fled scotland after the defeat of culloden, getting him to be their king. i think in the us actually there's a fascination with the royalty, with the royal family here that actually transcends generations, in part because they're
not our royal family and it's not about whether we're having them as our kings and queens or not. 0r having to pay for them! i do find it mystifying sometimes the fawning coverage that our networks give to a family that i feel like i need to remind my fellow americans their oppressive yoke was what we threw off nearly 250 years ago. and yet there is this real obsession with them. i think, though, therein also lies the answer for why there is this fascination. and that's because we are still relatively a young country compared to european nations. many of our institutions obviously pale on the timeline in comparison to the monarchy here, which is over 1000 years. we read about and study as children king john and the magna carta and realise that actually is a direct line to our declaration of independence. and so there is that cultural affinity between the us and britain that i think helps explain this. and also it is a soap opera, and i come from a city where we manufacture dreams
and myths, hollywood, and this is part of that. but, henry, from what i hear from my american friends, . the way the meghan story has really affected americans. - i mean, a lot of them. feel a lot of sympathy. young, mixed—race american actress who marries into the british royal family and it doesn't go well. yeah, and very unfairly treated, i think. - so it sounds like i'm writing a plot synopsis for a soap opera! but it is it is a soap opera. but it's very, very interesting because i've written - for the american press about this. in fact, i wrote before they married | that the only way they will survive | this family and this country is if they leave. _ this is in the cover story in the time magazine. l but i think the meghan thing has really woken up people. - you know, they were kind i of pie—eyed about the crown and the glory and the pomp, which everybody loves. - you know, everybody loves that. i think the meghan thing
has made a difference. i well, it's interesting you say it's made a difference. and i think it is a blow for the royal family that didn't work because it was effectively an innovation, wasn't it, to have this mixed—race person join the royalfamily, this young woman who'd had her own career beforehand? and i'm very interested to see how they were back today for this service of thanksgiving, and i wonder to what extent there's a certain amount of rapprochement now, because i think the royal family does have to think about where the monarchy is going in the future. and without them, actually, the burden is on a very few shoulders. and shoulders that - don't quite understand. i mean, if meghan and harry had gone to the caribbean, i can guarantee -
you that the reception would have | been very different because theyl kind of understand, she understands. because it's part of her own heritage. and it wouldn't have been. so embarrassing that some of the tone deaf interactions. this is a good point to bring up because we are, as i said, potentially at the point of transition and the royal family must know this. there's a danger that at this point, perhaps unlikely at the moment, the uk says actually we don't want to carry on with the monarchy, but certainly other parts of the world are doing it. we've got anthony albanese, the new prime minister in australia, appointing a minister. an assistant minister and i know everybody sort of said it's a sop and it was in the to republicanism, but it was in the labor kind of policy position way back into pole position in the run—up to the election that they would support a transition to a republic. we have those caribbean islands, caribbean nations, some
of which have really broken away. others are saying we are going to have our own head of state, no longer have the queen. i mean, this is a significant moment. because she represents thatjunction from the end of empire? yeah. to this moment, which could be the end of the monarchy. quite a large part of of the globe. well, as as regards this country, although yasmin has said that there are declining numbers of people who support the monarchy, it isn't that considerable. i think what you do have is you have some people who are very vocal about republicanism and some people, the kind who camp out for three days in advance of something happening on the mall, aren't ardent royalist. but there's a rump in the middle who like the queen, who like the sense of stability and continuity that it brings. and i think what we're seeing at the moment is some management going on by the government, by the royalfamily, to try and ensure that charles seems to be part of that continuity and stability that his mother has represented. things overseas are rather different and i think we're looking towards australia saying,
"thanks, but no thanks." but it does suggest that there will be more effort made to try and keep the commonwealth of nations together, because of course there are many countries that belong to that that are republics. the queen is not the head of state. i am thinking uganda of ourse. but they still want to be in the commonwealth. but you see, i always think - that the commonwealth was a real sop, a kind of not giving up - on a virtual empire, if you like. and i'm sorry, you know, l everybody says the queen hasn't put a foot wrong. actually, she has, ithink, - to insist, as she did two years ago, that charles should inherit her place was wrong because - the commonwealth was ready then to elect its own person _ and they are very respectful of the queen, but i thoughtj that was so undemocratic. and that's my primary... the primary objection? my primary objection _
is that it is totally undemocratic for a person to be born into onei family, to be at the top of a very class—ridden society, _ and therefore no other child born in the same minute has that privilege, and that principle| is deeply undemocratic. democracy thrives in this country alongside. yes and no. alongside the monarchy. a lot of the informal. powersw that are taken by charles actually, _ you remember, the spider letters. letters he wrote when he was younger to the government. that the queen has managed - to negotiate with the government. i think it was cameron- that the royal family is exempt from foi, freedom of information. how is this 0k in a democracy? and where they can't even mention the monarchy in the house of commons?
i think it was starmer was actually reprimanded a few months ago, the labour leader, for doing so. correct. ijust wanted to pick up on exactly that point, catherine. just this week we had a cabinet minister, the culture secretary, talking about the jubilee celebrations. when she was asked a particular question about an individual member of the family, she said, "we're not allowed to talk about that". similarly, the finances of the royal family are opaque. and there's also this question about these powers, which i think you were alluding to on two occasions. the queen summoned somebody to form a government. there have been two occasions in her career already where there's been some debate over which party leader she should summon. and in a sense, that's a real political power which has to be exercised with great caution. you might argue was done, but it's a power beyond, in a sense, the democratic system. well, i think when it comes to prime ministers that... well, on occasions when there's been a problem, it's actually been more of an issue of what those politicians have been saying and doing.
i don't know if you were referring there to... february 1974 and 2010. well, i was thinking more that actually the one that was really the most serious is �*63 when macmillan stood down for health reasons. there wasn't a general election, and it was all a bit of a muddle. and he effectively recommended to her that she ask douglas hume to to replace him. but there was a whole group of people who wanted it to be rab butler, and she went for him. and she went for hume. and it seemed on that occasion that it was more the problems caused by the then set—up in the conservative party rather than her saying i must have hume because i want hume. and i think that �*74 and 2010, with those attempts by heath and brown to stay in office were more of their making than hers. that's a fair criticism.
the point is a fair one. but recalling 2010, huge efforts were made behind the scenes between downing street and the palace to agree the protocols to draw up a document, and all of this was kind of hidden from the public and people. commentators talked about it, but we weren't allowed to see it. nobody codified what the rules were, so it's almost like a gentleman's agreement, and i wonder at the beginning of the 21st century, how people would feel about that if we had the next general election, a really contested election. well, that's one, two seats between the two big parties. the issue, though, is probably that maybe we need a written constitution more than anything. yeah, an unwritten constitution is great until you actually need to find the rules to govern things. and then a written constitution has its own pitfalls, as we see in my own country. as we are seeing again right now. yeah, absolutely.
and i understand that there is this urge for countries to have a unifying figure, someone who seems to be beyond politics, who can really rally the nation in times of great need or crisis. and that happens in other countries. there are elected presidents or otherwise chosen heads of state who are not part of a dynasty that we see here. although, there are one or two where they are there can feel almost dynastic. that is true. and also i was once based in south asia and saw two monarchies fall. i mean, well, one, it was a republican revolution that got rid of an unelected dynast in nepal and in bhutan, it was actually a king who said, it's time for me to give up absolute power and for this to become a constitutional monarchy. but that is the way of the world is heading towards democracy. although, of course we see setbacks. when india became independent, l the minute it became independent, it declared itself a republic and it got rid of all the maharajas- who were very autocratic
and incredibly wealthy, i gave them a palace each. and did that stop the i tourists from visiting? no, it made it into a modern state. now, i understand that people say, oh, do you want trump, then? - no. this is a model of a titular head like you have in ireland. - you had the wonderful mary robinson, for example, who was elected, - and after her time was done, somebody else was elected. i i can imagine david attenborough being a wonderful president - of the united kingdom, could you not? - yes. yes, it's a good thought, actually. we'll make a note to save that one for when the time comes. the point about the monarchy was made very well by the late duke of edinburgh, when somebody once said to him, how long do you think the monarchy will last? and he said, "as long as you want us." so they can envisage a time when they won't be in the position they're in. but if we don't want them any more,
we've got to work out exactly what we're going to have in its place and how we're going to unravel this, because we've had the setup we've had for such a long time, unless you want a bloody revolution, actually dismantling it is going to be a considerablejob. you just start by looking at it, looking at the system. - just because something has been . around for a long time is not a good reason not to properly examine it and see, you know, what else - could be more democratic, fairer and more palatable.| but i take your point, catherine, in that it is so woven into british life, public life, whether it's the honour system or whatever, this is everywhere that to actually untangle it will be quite a task. it doesn't mean you don't try, if you're so inclined. you know, you can try to do this, but we saw that that might have helped sink it in australia when they had a referendum in 1999. there was no good agreement as to what would actually replace it. and i think that also hurt the chances of that happening. and so to thoroughly overhaul a system, you need to have something else in place.
but we also need really the media. to be less fawning and to really ask the tough questions that the same i questions they ask of politicians. i what seems to me, you know, . why did the queen award andrew all these multiple medals? each time you saw him, _ his mum had given him another medal. we need more interrogation. you know, you have these special correspondents, . royal correspondents _ who leave their critical faculties behind, whereas a science - correspondent or an environment correspondent or a legal l correspondent is expected to give you both sides _ to examine, forensically explain. we need to get to| that point, i think. let's talk a bit more in the last few minutes about, because henry raised it and it's a very good point, well, two points actually, we'll come to the one about the rest of the world in a moment, if we can. butjust very quickly, on this question of transition, and this used to be a really nervous
time for monarchs, didn't it, when when an old king or queen was coming to the end of the life, because they worried that at that point, another member of their enormous family from some other branch would turn up and say, person you've lined up." it's not quite the same now, but presumably there's still an issue about why it passes the way it does. the queen got it because her uncle had it and he then abdicated and his brother picked up, and then it went through her line. presumably the duke of kent's line. and there are all kinds of people, presumably, who could could say, actually, if you have a hereditary system, our claim is better than that. well, you mentioned bonnie prince, charlie earlier, and there are certain people who think his descendants should be brought back. but they're a minority, i don't think there is quite that claim. i think that if there
is a nervousness around, it will be about the extent to which charles will be fully accepted. and i think that's notjust to do with the republican feelings that yasmin has talked about. i think that's an issue about who he is. and some people aren't that well inclined because we no longer accept. the idea of the divine right of kings, i mean, which we effectively cut a king's head off. or you can argue back to the days of the civil war, but there was an element of we no longer accept that principle. well, indeed. and therefore, presumably that guarantee for him isn't there? well, indeed. but i think it's if there is nervousness, it's more is he fully accepted? and again, ifound it extremely interesting that the queen made a comment in her accession anniversary statement earlier this year about how much she wished to see camilla become the queen consort, not somebody strangely on the sidelines. it did feel like a bit of management of the process,
trying to ensure that camilla was accepted, because if the queen gives camilla her imprimatur, it's harder for others to object. but i think what will happen when we see a new monarch is that prior to any coronation, if they have one, of that monarch, we're going to get opinion polls, i would think about them. millions of people have never forgotten diana. | you know, they've wiped her out of history. - prince charles�*s first wife, who died in a car accident. and that's why camilla _ being installed again by the queen, kind of given this, i think, - is to misread how many people really feel passionately. that diana was wronged. i think that's true. but i think that has somewhat faded. it's not as strong as it once was. and now, interestingly, the prince has been married to his second wife for longer than he was married to diana, so i think, if you like, they've had time on their side.
i think she's been bedded in as this member of the royal family. there are people who still feel, as you're suggesting, she hasn't, but i don't think it's quite as powerful as it once was. henry, ijust wanted to, as we close talk very briefly about the rest of the world. it's a bit unfair, but this weekend of all weekends, this is very much a domestic focused edition of dateline. unusualfor us. butjust on that you gave a great example, asia, where you've got monarchies who voluntarily gave up, monarchies who were deposed. we have a monarchy that's proving very supportive in thailand of the militaryjunta there that seized powerfrom a democracy. i mean, just an observation from you, perhaps on the uses and abuses of monarchy internationally. having a monarch is no guarantee of either the good or the evil of a monarch, the monarchy. you do have thailand, where they're in support of a military dictatorship. 0n the other hand, although he was an embarrassment a few years ago, the king in spain, juan carlos, actually helped
transition that country to democracy from fascism, and so there have been examples of good kings and queens and bad kings and queens. and sometimes it's the same person. correct! but as sometimes it's the same person. but they are not elected and there is no way to get rid of them unless it is a bloody revolution or some other kind of mechanism that few countries have managed to actually successfully do in a bloodless way. so you cannot get rid of these kings and queens very easily, and i think that's what we're seeing is a problem. i've got 30 seconds, yasmin. how much longer will it last as an institution, do you think, in this country? it will one generation, i think. catherine? the duke of edinburgh said as long as you want us. but it's also, of course, as long as they want to do it and will younger generations want to do it? great thought to end on. thank you very much.
thank you all very much. yasmin, in particular, thank you very much for soldiering on through your discomfort. love your programme. bless you. thank you very much. i hope you love it, too at home. that's dateline london for this week. please come back again same time next week, goodbye. lighter winds and the rest of the sunshine — lighter winds and the rest of the sunshine in _ lighter winds and the rest of the sunshine in scotland _ lighter winds and the rest of the sunshine in scotland and - lighter winds and the rest of the i sunshine in scotland and northern ireland _ sunshine in scotland and northern ireland and — sunshine in scotland and northern ireland and the _ sunshine in scotland and northern ireland and the highest— sunshine in scotland and northern. ireland and the highest temperature
is 20 to— ireland and the highest temperature is 20 to 24— ireland and the highest temperature is 20 to 24 in— ireland and the highest temperature is 20 to 24 in the— ireland and the highest temperature is 20 to 24 in the west. _ ireland and the highest temperature is 20 to 24 in the west. this - is 20 to 24 in the west. this evenin: is 20 to 24 in the west. this evening and _ is 20 to 24 in the west. this evening and overnight - is 20 to 24 in the west. evening and overnight the is 20 to 24 in the west.- evening and overnight the cloud returns and through the first part of the night we see thundery rain returned to the south across wales the east midlands and east anglia. scotland will have a dry and sunny day. a lot of cloud for england and wales. rain across the midlands, wales. rain across the midlands, wales and east anglia will push its way northwards. it may alterjust a little bit. to the south brightening up. the highest temperatures in western scotland.
this is bbc news. these are the latest headlines in the uk and around the world. platinum jubilee celebrations enter their third day and it's party time at the palace. it's derby day at the races but the queen won't be there — only the third time ever the monarch will miss the event. filmed at home at sandringham in april, these previously unseen clips were released to mark thejubilee celebrations. and the bunting's still out up and down the country — we take a look at the street parties celebrating her majesty's 70 years on the throne. in other news, travel disruption continues — airlines cancel more flights this morning and rail passengers are being warned of delays because of strikes by conductors.