Friday, 11 May 2012

Royalty on t'telly!

Yesterday one was amused to see sites such as Twitter and Facebook come alive with people posting links to HRH (I like referring to royalty using this acronym, it makes them sound like old fashioned British sports cars) Prince Charles presenting the weather on Scottish TV.

                           HRH Prince Charles presenting the weather forecast yesterday
                                     © BBC Scotland

The Prince and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall were visiting BBC Scotland as part of their annual Holyrood week when they were asked if they would do a special forecast the script for which included reference to their residences in Scotland such as Balmoral. The event was received by the majority of the mainstream media and internet commentators alike as simply a bit of fun, highlighting once again the heir to the thrones ability to laugh at himself, act aloof and of course relate to the British public. Globally the forecast has been jumped on by news agencies from all over the world, desperate to get a glimpse at our doddering royal family in action.

Whilst it might seem strange to see our regal royals presenting the weather on television, those with longer memories may remember that his father Prince Phillip was really the pioneer of putting himself in front of the camera's and thus (indirectly) into the British public's homes. Not long after his marriage to the future Queen Liz, the Duke of Edinburgh realised the power of the emerging medium of television to securing a more modern vision and function for the Royal Family in British society.  

                                     HRH Prince Phillip presenting a documentary on the IGY in 1957
                                     Source: Alexandra Palace Television Society

Over the coming decades he was to appear on many television shows often in connection with his work with organisations such as the World Wildlife Fund, the Royal Society, and his own Duke of Edinburgh's Award. For readers in the UK the BBC online archive has collected much of the surviving footage from his TV appearances here. My personal favourite has to be the clip above which shows Phillip presenting a documentary, The Restless Sphere, hugely ambitious for the time, which presented the many scientific projects underway as part of the International Geophysical Year in 1957.

Beyond the interesting quirk of being presented by the Queen's other half, this documentary for me provides a great insight into scientific practice of the period, the tensions and hopes of the cold war, and perhaps most interestingly how cutting edge science was communicated to the public at the time. I doubt that if such a documentary was made today, even if he submitted his recent weather presenting footage as an audition, Prince Charles would get a sniff at the job. Thankfully we now have professionals whose job it is to communicate complex scientific theories, ideas, and risks via television to the general public - and long may they resign royalty to only appear on our screens when they're breeding, marrying, or messing up in public!

(Comments as ever are encouraged)

1 comment:

  1. Here's the Daily Mash's take on the Royal's getting involved with presenting the weather-

    Thanks to Leucha (@LVeneer) for pointing this out!