Royal expert Hardman on the monarchy

Robert Hardman is a renowned author, documentary filmmaker and journalist specializing in English royalty and historical subjects. Over time, he has developed a special relationship with the English royals and enjoys an unusual level of trust. He has interviewed Prince Charles for the BBC production Charles at 60, Prince Philip for the format The Duke: In His Own Words and Princess Anne for the documentary The Princess Royal at 70, among others. Hardman writes regularly for the British daily newspaper “Daily Mail”. His book “Queen of Our Times” (Lübbe Sachbuch, 560 pages, 28 euros) via Elizabeth II.

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Robert Hardman

Robert Hardman is a renowned author, documentary filmmaker and journalist.

In the RND interview, Hardman now talks about the new king:

Mr. Hardman, have you got used to saying “King Charles” instead of “Prince Charles” in everyday life?

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(laughs) No, I still say “Prince Charles… ah, no, I mean King”. Just as the Queen was the longest-reigned monarch in British history, Charles was the longest-serving heir to the throne. The other day we were singing the national anthem and almost out of habit I sang “God save the Queen”. It takes time to get used to it. 70 years is longer than my previous life. There are a couple of big events in the near future where we will see the change. Firstly, Remembrance Day, the day of remembrance for those who died in war, always on the second Sunday in November. It was something of a holy day in the Queen’s calendar. Now she won’t be there anymore. Another key event will be Christmas Day, when the Queen has given a 3pm address each year. Always on time, she never missed it. Many across the country have gathered their families to see her on television. She won’t be there this year.

Has Charles settled into his new role yet?

Well, there was a long transition period. Elizabeth had already delegated more and more responsibilities to Charles in her last few months. However, no one ever questioned the fact that she herself remained the boss. She kept talking to the prime ministers, she signed laws and so on. The last official photo we saw of the Queen was of her in Balmoral, smiling as she confirmed Prime Minister Liz Truss in office, her 15th Prime Minister. She did her job to the end. I was even surprised how quietly the change of throne went. I would have thought there would be more debate about it. But there wasn’t. People were very ready and willing to welcome Charles to his job.

“A Consolidated Monarchy”

How will the next few months in office be for King Charles? Should he be worried?

Harry’s book will be out in January. That could be explosive – although I don’t think it will be. I don’t think Harry is ugly to his family in that. He can be very critical of the media, of the palace structures, but he’s not critical of his family. What we have witnessed in the past few months since the Queen’s death is a solid monarchy. I expected she would be questioned a lot more without Elizabeth. But the British have accepted the kind of nation we are. It is different in other countries. Charles is king in 14 other states, there will be debates there. And I have no doubt that some of these states will decide it’s time to elect a local president. Someone local, not Brits. But when the time comes, it certainly won’t be a reaction to Charles as a person. It’s just that it’s time for such a change.

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You’ve interviewed many members of the British royal family, Prince Charles and Prince Philip among others, have you met the Queen?

Yes, I met her many times. I more or less accidentally became a royal correspondent 30 years ago, in 1992, the year the Queen once described as her “annus horribilis”. I have accompanied her and Prince Philip on many trips and I have met them at many events in the UK. In 2012 we made a film about her Diamond Jubilee, for which I accompanied her for a long time. In 2016 we made a film for her 90th birthday, four years ago another, “Queen of the World”. But she has generally never given interviews.

On September 6, 2022, Liz Truss will travel to the Queen at Balmoral Castle in Scotland.  Elizabeth II appoints her there as the new British Prime Minister.

On September 6, 2022, Liz Truss will travel to the Queen at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. Elizabeth II appoints her there as the new British Prime Minister.

“You knowingly distort the truth”

You mentioned the “annus horribilis” that is also at the heart of the new season of The Crown. Have you already seen the series?

Yes, I have already seen all ten new episodes. I don’t like The Crown. In my recent book, Queen of Our Times, you read that I have many problems with the show. I find them very tasteless at times. The new season begins with the Queen on a therapist’s couch. And the characterization of the people is wrong. The Queen is not portrayed correctly. I think it’s a distorted view. I wouldn’t mind if The Crown was a second rate TV series. But it’s a brilliant drama, beautifully done, on a huge budget, and people around the world are amazed by it. You see big yachts, huge castles, and everyone always wears the right clothes. It all looks very glamorous. They emphasize how much research they did for the series and then turn it into completely wrong storylines. They knowingly distort the truth. Even if some people may now say: You are a journalist and you have written unpleasant things about the Queen over the years. My problem is: It’s just not her on the show, but the whole world thinks so. As a journalist, you get asked questions based on scenes from The Crown. People say, for example: “Hey, the Queen hated Margaret Thatcher, I saw that on ‘The Crown’.” No, she didn’t. That is simply not true.

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Is that also the case in season five?

The season begins with the idea that the Queen is very selfish. Her main problem seems to be getting her yacht repaired. That’s absolutely not her. She just never did. In my book research I found a document from a time when Great Britain was in great financial difficulties. In it, the Queen wrote to the Prime Minister: “If you are looking for savings, please consider that the yacht can be one of them.” I spoke to former Prime Ministers John Major and Tony Blair several times for my book. And both said they could not, of course, repeat what was said in their conversations with the Queen, it is part of the agreement between heads of government and the royal family. But they could report what was not said. And Blair said the Queen never insisted on her yacht to him. The Queen would never have said “You have to do this”.

“Harry is in a very difficult position”

A lot of celebrities have made similar statements over the past few days. How much is “The Crown” moving Britain right now?

Let’s say it’s a pretty big topic. Funnily enough, I’m meeting an increasing number of people who have stopped watching the series. They liked the first seasons because they learned a lot of history stuff that they didn’t know. Even if even the first seasons contained all sorts of bugs. But I think the closer the show gets to the present day, the more events many viewers can remember.

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The royal family traditionally does not comment on series like “The Crown”, but it is repeatedly reported that the princes are not very impressed.

Harry is in a very difficult position because he gets a lot of money from Netflix for his own production. Harry once said he accepted it in a way, the show gives you an idea of ​​what life is like. William hasn’t said anything about it yet. I think the family strategy is to ignore the show. Princess Anne made a funny remark when we were making a film for her 70th birthday. She said: “I don’t watch ‘The Crown,’ but I read recently that it took the actress who plays me two hours to do her hair like mine, with a whole team of hairstylists. I don’t understand: I always do it myself and it takes me 15 minutes.”

In the new season of the Netflix series

In the new season of the Netflix series “The Crown” Dominic West can be seen as Prince Charles, the current king.

You wrote your book “Queen of Our Times” on the occasion of the platinum anniversary, it was published this year. Would you have approached the project differently if you had known it was coming out in the year of the Queen’s death?

I think 90 to 95 percent of the book would have been the same. I might have adjusted the tone a bit here and there. The merciful thing about her death, if you will, was that it happened quickly. She didn’t have to suffer long. It was different with Queen Victoria, for example.

“The coronation will be smaller”

In your book one learns that the Queen spent a total of 14 kings during her reign US President has experienced.

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Yes, that’s great. I once spoke to George W. Bush about it, who, as the son of a president, must have seen a few predecessors in office. But for him, the idea of ​​having met a total of 14 presidents was unimaginable. The Queen saw 13 incumbent Presidents and Herbert Hoover in 1957 after he had left office. No one has done it before, and I suspect no one will either.

In May we witness the official coronation of King Charles III. Will it differ from that of the Queen in 1953?

Yes I think so. I mean the core will be identical, going back to King Edgar in the tenth century. And nothing has really changed since then. other things. Westminster Abbey can accommodate 2000 visitors. At the Queen’s coronation, they managed to accommodate 8,000 people by building some kind of scaffolding. That won’t happen this time. The coronation will be smaller. And the long parade through London was a kind of last “hooray” of the British Empire for Elizabeth. There was cavalry from all over the Commonwealth, from Pakistan, Australia and New Zealand. That won’t happen this time, it will be a completely normal parade.

Are you already planning a new book? One about King Charles?

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No, I think that would be too early. There are already a number of good books about him, and to judge his reign one has to see him longer as a king. I think in my next book I’ll go more back in history, before Elizabeth’s time.

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