British television channels vetoed the use of footage from Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral at Buckingham Palace, indicating the complicated relationship surrounding the media’s coverage of the monarchy.
As part of an agreement with news broadcasters, the royal family was given the right to request that certain footage from funeral services at Westminster Abbey and Windsor Castle not be used again.
Royal staff sent messages to the BBC, ITV News and Sky News during the event with the timestamps of footage they wanted to exclude from future news broadcasts and social media. As a result, five short video clips featuring members of the royal family were removed from circulation.
Although the episodes were relatively short, the decision to give the Palace veto power over what footage could be used has caused unease among some journalists working on the coverage, in an ongoing tension in British media between marking the death of a major national figure and enabling news coverage to be shaped by the royal family.
The palace issued guidance on what footage and photographs would be considered acceptable, with a particular request to avoid intruding on the grief of individual members of the royal family. Other bits of video, such as a man lunging at the Queen’s coffin while it was in Westminster Hall, were also not used by broadcasters.
The unedited “as live” broadcast of the funeral is allowed to remain on catchup services such as BBC iPlayer for one month. But according to sources at British broadcasters, there will be negotiations with Buckingham Palace about which parts of the case can be shown after that time. This could allow the Palace to shape retrospective coverage of the event.
The families of recently deceased celebrities often make advance requests to the media, seeking respectful coverage of their funerals, with broadcasters careful not to intrude on the grief. But retrospective vetoes of recordings are unusual.
Other news organizations using the broadcast feed were required to promise that any social media clips from the funeral would be “solemn and dignified”. Another condition was that recordings could only be used in news broadcasts and not in entertainment programs.
Restrictions were also imposed on where the funeral proceedings could be broadcast, including not allowing parts of the memorial service to be streamed on online video platforms such as TikTok.
The broadcast of the Queen’s funeral was one of the biggest collaborations in British television history, with a peak audience of nearly 30 million viewers. The BBC combined efforts with ITV and Sky News to provide enough cameras and broadcasting equipment as the Queen’s coffin made its final journey from Westminster to Windsor.
Coverage of the day was coordinated by BBC Studios, the BBC’s commercial broadcasting department, rather than its news department.
Broadcasters largely left wider constitutional questions about the future of the monarchy out of their coverage. Dermot Murnaghan, who co-presented the funeral coverage on Sky News, told the Guardian the “proper order of burials is to maintain respect” and that there would be a chance to look at such issues in the future.