Skip to main content

tv   The Interview Tina Brown  BBC News  June 9, 2022 2:30am-3:01am BST

2:30 am
hello. this is bbc news. the latest headlines: the us house of representatives has approved a series of measures aimed at regulating the sale of guns, including raising the age for purchasing semi—automatic rifles. but the proposals do not have the 60 votes they would need for approval in the senate, and are unlikely to become law. ukraine's second city of kharkiv has come under renewed attack from a number of russian missile strikes. the city of severodonetsk is also under heavy fire. prime minister volodomyr zelenzky says, in many respects, the fate of the donbas region is being decided in that region. president biden has arrived in los angeles to open the summit of the americas, which has become bogged down
2:31 am
in controversy before it begins. the us didn't invite the leaders of cuba, nicaragua or venezuela, whose leaders it sees as autocrats. in protest, mexico has led a boycott by several other nations. now on bbc news, katty kay meets award—winning writer and magazine editor tina brown in the interview. how many years for the new yorker? seven. and vanity fair? from her new york apartment, tina brown keeps a close eye on events in buckingham palace. those 3,000 miles give this british—american author a different, more global perspective on the royal family. for her new bestselling book, the palace papers, she interviewed over 120 people to tell the story of the women of the house of windsor. brown herself has met the queen several times. she was awarded the commander of the british empire for contribution to journalism. she has edited both tatler
2:32 am
magazine and the new yorker. she knows the clintons well. she has metjustin trudeau, theresa may. suffice to say you don't get a lot better connected than tina brown in politics or in all things royal, which is why we went to visit her in manhattan. congratulations on the book. thank you. it is great. i passed a very delightful plane ride from london reading it. when you look as we celebrate her 70 years on the throne, the conundrum of the queen's impact, is itjust longevity? the amount of time she has been with us all and been with the world? is it her personality? how do you account for her impact? it's all of it, isn't it? the longevity clearly is a major factor. three generations can remember nothing but the queen, so it's hard to even imagine how to be british without the queen. but it's also been her
2:33 am
remarkable combination of temperament, judgement and composure, essentially. that has proved to be such a kind of focal point of british identity because in a way the queen has found a way to represent what we consider to be the best of being british. stoic, dutiful, humorous in her own way, unflappable, and she has never stepped over the line. after all of these years, we still don't know what the queen thinks about anything. i mean, brexit, who knows what she thought? it is a remarkable strength, the power of the royal silence, essentially. of course, it was only possible for her because she grew up in an age when the media were not invasive. and she could simply be a representationalfigure, much harder today to be a representationalfigure without revealing what you think and feel. there is a lovely scene in your book when you talk about a concert at windsor castle where she is sitting there listening to this concert
2:34 am
and you have no idea what she is thinking. is she dog tired and hating it or is she actually kind of in raptures and enjoying it? in a way, that was her power and you describe it as a unifying power. it is a unifying power because everyone can project what they think onto it. they can say the queen is loving this concert like i am, or they can say, look at the queen, she is as bored as i am. uniformity of appearance, the way she has managed to create a uniform for herself, her particular look, her particular style, she never felt the need to update or change with the era. essentially she has looked the same all these years, it's enormously reassuring. indeed, we saw in the pandemic how even today, in an absolutely different era of digital disruption and turbulence, somehow when the queen came out and made that speech during the pandemic which ended, we will meet again, evoking of course vera lynn in the second world war, there was a kind of exhalation
2:35 am
of breath and people felt it was going to be ok, and she does have that gift. has she changed at all? during her 70 years on the throne has she adapted and changed the role at all? has she personally changed at all? did you get that sense? she hasn't changed the role, but she has definitely loosened up a little as the years went by. since her diamond jubilee, that was the time when the queen began to sort to allow herself a little fun. like when she took part in the 2012 olympics and she did that wonderful stunt with james bond, where she agreed to be seen with a body double descending onto the stadium, and then she walked in as if nothing happened. it was an absolutely marvellous joke that she was willing to take part of and what was fun to learn, as i did in the palace papers, is i interviewed all the olympics are people
2:36 am
and assumed it had taken massive conversations with her courtiers to persuade her to do this. no, she agreed right away. she loved it, she thought it was funny, she wanted a joke that she would not tell her grandchildren that she was about to do it and it shows the queen sort of relaxing. funnily enough, i think the pop culture elements of her celebration have done that. the personification of her by helen mirren and stephen frears�* film, the queen, that sort ina way, opened up the queen's personality to a whole new audience and people kind of realised how much they kind of loved her in that role. is she an exception? you have written a lot about other members of her family and this notion of unflappability, duty and a strong sense of kind of duty, is she almost the exception that makes monarchy still relevant? the truth is the queen's whole ethos was forged by growing up in the second world war. i mean, they were bound by that ethos, that sense of duty
2:37 am
for the country, patriotism, all those things, that the queen and prince philip sort of embodied. but it was a lucky thing that the monarch who took over, age 25, in 1953 had her particular combination of qualities. we tend to forget that it was only 13 or 1a years since the abdication of her uncle. we had gone through the renaissance of the monarchy under george vi during the second world war when they became enormously popular. because they stayed in london in the blitz. but it could still have gone awry, it could still have cracked, if, for instance, the younger sister, princess margaret, had been the monarch. she was a much more volatile, emotional, impulsive individual than her elder sister. it was sense and sensibility personified. and elizabethjust had those qualities — duty, inscrutability, authenticity, dogged hard work and service. she has never veered from that, it is quite remarkable. that she's been able to do it.
2:38 am
i question really whether any modern person could sort of subsume themselves in that way. it is quite a remarkable sacrifice, actually. i suppose one area where she insisted on having her own emotional way was in marrying prince philip. she could stand up for what she wanted and she made that very big stand for something that was notjust important to her, but really important to her reign. that was what was so wonderful about that relationship. it was the major thing she stood up for and with her usual good judgement, she chose the man she knew could make her happy and would be the perfect foil to her. because prince philip was an alpha man writ large and the queen likes alpha men by the way, she surrounds herself in them. she understood philip was a truth teller and that with him she would never be blindsided by self—delusion in some ways. philip kept her sort of straight about what she should think about things,
2:39 am
that there was no toadying around with philip, and she needed that, she wanted that. because otherwise, it is a very isolating position to be always surrounded by people who are sort of, frankly, sycophants in one form or another. she has met with 13 american presidents. we talk about longevity and everything she has seen, did she have a — would one ever know if she had a favourite or one particularly got on well with? i am told she liked reagan. i mean, horses, charming, easy. she liked bush, i'm told. what she thought about trump at some point no doubt we will learn, she was clearly playing it to the hilt when trump came and the whole of the royal family essentially knew they were putting on a giant reality show for trump. i mean, camilla winking at someone in the crowd really
2:40 am
epitomised what they were really thinking that day when trump came. but the queen understands that her soft power is enormous. there was a moment when she met with the 0bamas and michelle 0bama put her hand on her back and the press made a lot of it. do you think that is the kind of thing that would have bothered the queen? no. the queen is really so beyond being bothered by that kind of thing. she knows who she is and she understands that not everybody quite interprets the arcane customs and rules around the monarch in the same way. she has the most amazing manners and manners in her level of life means making someone else feel comfortable. so she would not have minded that. it's much more, very often these kind of moments are about the courtiers around them who are the ones who are obsessed with status. in fact, the royals themselves are far less obsessed with that than the people
2:41 am
around them are. you mentioned a sense of britishness. how important is she to that sense of what british identity means? the queen has been absolutely critical. it really has been a given of public life in england. and i think when she dies, there will be a great identity crisis of people mourning, not just her, but what she represented to them and a sense of can this continue? because there is no real lobby to get rid of the monarchy. there is something reassuring to most people in britain to have as head of state a non—partisan, uniting figure who is essentially a safe space for everyone to relate to. so i think there will be a lot of trembling when she does go. more perhaps than people realise?
2:42 am
i think it's going to be huge and i don't think we know how it will be expressed but i think the mourning will be enormous and it will go on for quite a long time. she has these weekly audiences and still does with the prime minister on zoom, with successive prime ministers, and there have been 1a of them, how important does she think that is to her role? she regards it as a very, very important part of her constitutional duty to meet with the prime ministers and she is allowed by the constitution to kind of advise or warn. she can't dictate what she thinks but she is very, very well—informed. i'm often asked when i am in the uk, why do the americans love the royal family so much? what is your answer to that? what is it about america? because it's the one institution that is completely out of reach. you can't become a member of the royal family. you could marry someone in the royal family, i suppose. as an american has.
2:43 am
as an american has, exactly, but other than that you can't get in there. it is like this is the ultimate sort of ivory tower you can't penetrate. and the sense of the history of the country, i think it's just very appealing. of course, the institution of the monarchy is built on the shoulders of these people, this family, and so you have this combination of the sort of glittering diadem essentially of the crown, but these people are like anybody else�*s family, but writ large and high. so the ongoing drama, people feel extraordinarily invested in these people. it is true here, but i think globally as well, right? you talked about the impact it will have on britain and a sense of britishness when the queen dies, i think it will have an enormous impact around the world. people will be watching that moment, that transition in britain, and it is almost part of the identity of britain
2:44 am
as a global power. absolutely, the queen has been a global monarch. i mean, her tending of her role in the commonwealth has made her a global monarch because she has done these tours and tours and tours for years, she has received foreign prime ministers, commonwealth leaders, for 70 years. she is enknitted and embedded in the global community. yes, it will be a huge global moment and i think a moment when britain, frankly, losing her, does again become smaller. i think the queen's presence makes britain larger than it is because it has such global attention. we don't care what the royals in the netherlands are like or doing, we don't care what the king of spain is doing next week, we have no idea, but people are very, very involved with and invested in and focused on what the british royal family are doing at any given point of the day. can charles fill her shoes? i actually think charles will be a very good transitional
2:45 am
monarch. his role is to get ready the whole institution for william. he has to do the modernising that requires to be done and he has really got to find a way to relate to the british people that is completely different because what he won't have and can never have is the queen's mystique. we already know way too much about charles. we already know what he thinks about most things. i think he is authentic and that is a very important thing if you're going to be a popular monarch because people know that charles is a very decent man, they know what he cares about, his passion for the environment organic farming, his cares about climate change, these actually are very prescient concerns he has had for decades which now everybody recognises were the right concerns. so he has, i think, a good chance to be loved in a different way. so the problem is the royal
2:46 am
family has had in the last few years, and i know they went through problems in the 90s when she spoke about her annus horribilis, when her children got divorced. and windsor castle went up in flames. symbolically awful. and at the end of her life she has had another rough few years with andrew and then harry and meghan leaving for california. and the loss of philip. particularly with the children and problems around harry and meghan and andrew, how much damage has that done to her legacy and how much damage has it done to the monarchy? the big problem this time as opposed to the 90s is that now the queen is frail. in the 90s, 0k, there was a conflagration in the family. with diane and the divorce and everything that happened, but the queen could continue, the queen could keep calm and carry on and pull the institution back around and right the ship, if you like.
2:47 am
the more perilous moment now is that all of this tarnishing has happened without her being the strong, younger monarch who could again pull the ship around. it has been much more damaging this time. and the sort of hand grenades that harry has kept throwing really continue to destabilise. and of course, the scandals of andrew have really been a tarnishing of everybody�*s dismay and sadness essentially, because it has just been awful to behold. what they do with andrew is going to be an ongoing problem because he is out of public life but he does not want to go quietly. so that remains another sort of potentially erupting mine, as the years go by. do you see those problems as problems of the institution or problems of that particularfamily? well, i think the thing about this institution
2:48 am
is it is based on a family that is going to have its problem people, its rebels, its miscreants, its winners and losers, like any family. where i think they are lucky is that in charles they have a very decent statesman—like person and they have in william and kate, ithink, a remarkably lucky heir and his choice of wife has turned out to be a critical, extraordinarily successful addition to the family. so there is a real piece of luck there that again the heir, william, has got some of the things the queen has got. he is a judicious person. he is a cautious person. he is a decent person. and temperamentally so much better in a position to take it over than his younger brother
2:49 am
harry, who would have been, if he had been the elder son. i think the cambridges are a very lucky future for the house of windsor. i don't really know how they can actually bear to live the way they are going to live, but like the queen, they seem to have embraced it. it is more remarkable that kate has embraced it. she comes from a middle—class family and is not to the manor born and when she married william there was a lot of how will this girl from a middle—class origins fit in and become a future queen? the answer to the question now is how can the house of windsor survive without kate? she has absorbed her role with such kind of remarkable poise. it is interesting because this is a time so different from the 1950s when the queen became queen, where everybody puts their opinions about everything everywhere. and yet it is a job
2:50 am
and a role that demands that you do the opposite. will the monarchy inevitably with the next generation, charles and beyond him, william, who will be the first digital king, i guess, will the monarchy change? how will it adapt? will it change to survive or flourish? the question is how relatable can the royals be without losing so much mystique they are boring to everybody? that is the route the european monarchs have gone. they are so ordinary to people that nobody cares. if they want to preserve any kind of gravitas, they have to have some mystique to them. i suspect that william and kate will be much more like the european monarchy. i hope that they understand the power of the royal silence that the queen really has shown us works, frankly. because there are not any boomerangs if you don't say anything, and people might complain that you are boring, but long term, and it is about long term, you are better off
2:51 am
being somewhat inscrutable then you are blathering out your feelings which can lead you into the most difficult for us of blowback. i guess she had that moment after diana died where she had to wrestle with how much to say and how much to relate and a country that seems to want more or most of the social media emotion than she was perhaps willing to give. that was the one moment for the queen when it was no longer enough to be, just to represent, that people wanted her to emote and she found it very difficult because she does not like doing that. it is easier for william and kate because they are much more modern people who have a much more on the surface emotional life, but you do too much of it and you are going to lose all of your mystique.
2:52 am
harry and meghan, too much of it? there is a lot of over sharing in that department but they are not in the mainstream any more and they no longer will be that important to the monarchy. was it ever going to work, an american coming in and joining the royal family? i think it is extraordinarily difficult for an american to really ever adapt to that kind of denial of emotion that is so much about schooling, class, tradition. i don't know any american who could really find that an easy thing to fit into and live with it successfully at such a level of extreme expression, if you like. we all know the british upper classes are very sort of, there is that tightness of emotion, but trying to be in the royal family, that is the apex of that whole emotional effect of being just not willing to be effusive about things, and it is hard for an american who has been brought up in a much more cultural effusiveness essentially.
2:53 am
you said in the book you did over 100 interviews for this book and you talk about all of them, particularly focused on the women in the family. what surprised you the most and what did you learn about the queen that you hadn't expected? well, i did come to see that the queen actually has a very astringent sense of humour and that part of her ability to keep playing this role is she is genuinely able to compartmentalise the sovereign and the off—duty woman. a lot of her off duty life is connected to her passionate interest in country matters. that grounds her. her dogs, her horses, this is where her emotional life really flourishes and has kept her kind of sane.
2:54 am
but she is also very tart and smart and she understands completely the difference between being a monarch and the mother and a grandmother or a friend. she is able to compartmentalise in ways i think are extraordinary. at times frequently the personal and the private have collided. the time of diana's death of course. and in such difficulty with andrew, she has had to cancel her own son. but there are times when she then has to choose over mother versus sovereign and the queen has always chosen in the end, sovereign. she has always chosen the protection of the crown as her consumatr duty, even if it means making very difficult, personal decisions. we saw it at the very beginning when she had to tell margaret that she could not marry the man she loved because he was divorced, he was older than her, he was completely, in those days, inappropriate for margaret, but her sister loved him.
2:55 am
the fact is she has had to make the very painful decision to essentially tell harry you are gone. she loves her grandson and she knew that it would make him very unhappy, but she had to choose what was right for the crown and most of all with andrew, if she has to make that choice, it is a choice she will make. something her uncle did not do. something her uncle could not do. at the back of the book you asked the question will the monarchy survive when the queen goes? what was your conclusion? i think it will. i think it will evolve and it will be a different monarchy. because the people are different. i think it also is not a given it will survive forever if those who inhabit it don't live up to it.
2:56 am
i do think we are beyond the era when we could have had a libertine king, you know, and undutiful king or queen, that i don't think would work into today's media climate. but if the proposed players, charles and william, do indeed inherit and it all goes according to plan, i think the monarchy will survive, because there is not much of a movement to get rid of it and the british people see the monarchy as the summation of their history. and it is a way of being patriotic without being nationalistic, essentially. as we all look around the world and we see other systems, you have to ask if the monarchy went, what else? what is better? tina brown, thank you very much. thank you.
2:57 am
good morning. wednesday was certainly a day of contrasting conditions. if you managed to keep the sunshine, you also had some warmth. it was very pleasant out there. in fact, we saw a high of 23.5 celsius in london through wednesday afternoon. but there were some showers, and if you got caught in one or two of them, you would certainly know about it. they were heavy with hail and thunder at times. in fact, if we take a look back at wednesday, we had some fairly persistent rain throughout the day moving through central and northern scotland and a cluster of showers piling in behind. some of those, as i say, heavy and thundery. those showers tending to fade away as we speak, and we keep some clear skies over the next few hours across central and southern england, a little bit of nuisance cloud further north with an odd isolated shower.
2:58 am
but it will be a relatively mild start to thursday morning, temperatures holding up, 10—12 celsius. the best of the sunshine certainly across central and southern parts of england first thing in the morning. we'll see cloud and light, patchy rain gathering in from the west. that's going to drift its way steadily eastwards, so eventually the sunshine being nibbled away with cloud as it moves its way steadily eastwards. we'll keep some light rain and some misty, murky conditions along west—facing coasts, the highest temperatures where we see the best of the sunshine — 22 degrees, 72 fahrenheit. and it's certainly worth bearing in mind if you are a hay fever sufferer that where we've got that sunshine, grass pollen is now reaching its peak, so very high levels of pollen expected through the course of the afternoon. so, if we move out of thursday into friday, we've got this area of low pressure. it is the ex—tropical storm alex, the remnants of that storm bringing some windy conditions to the far north and west but also some warmth, as it's a south—westerly wind to go with it. so we keep a cluster of showers and winds perhaps gusting in excess of 40—50 mph in exposed coasts. but across much of england and wales, with some sunshine coming through, a breezy afternoon but warm with it. we could see highs of 23 degrees. that low pressure just drifts to the north of scotland, so we still keep the squeeze
2:59 am
in the isobars, the strongest of the winds here, but high pressure is starting to build in from the southwest, calming things down quite nicely. so, yes, some showers to the north and west and still a fresh breeze to contend with, but an improving picture as we go through the weekend.
3:00 am
welcome to bbc news. i'm simon pusey. our top stories: gun control measures are once again approved by the us house of representatives but they're unlikely to become law. it comes after a harrowing day of testimony. he shot... renewed bombardment of ukraine's second—largest city, kharkiv, as severodonetsk in the donbas region also comes under heavy fire. gymnast simone biles and dozens of other athletes sue the fbi for failing to stop convicted sex abuser larry nassar. and on his first trip to the democratic republic


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on