The death of a senior member of the royal family has always been a huge event in British life, regardless of your view of the monarchy. And nowhere is the importance of these moments better captured BBC.
Public broadcasting has well-trained procedures for reporting royal deaths, and these protocols have morphed into mortality procedures Prince Philip. Shortly after Friday afternoon, the BBC cut its regular television and radio production to bring the Buckingham Palace statement to the public.
On BBC One, the UK’s most watched TV channel, an episode of a daytime program Paramedics are in the scene Dark gone. A black and white title card appeared on the screen with “News Report” written on it.
Then presenter Martin Croxall said: “We are boycotting our regular programs to make you an important advertisement. You are watching BBC News from London. Shortly before, Buckingham Palace announced the death of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.”
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Then I read the Buckingham Palace manifesto before Prince Philip’s image devoured the screen and the national anthem, God bless the queen, Play. You can watch the moment here:
Here is how BBC One announced the death of the Duke of Edinburgh pic.twitter.com/21Kdnj72sr
Scott Brian (@ scottygb) April 9, 2021
Croxall was cementing BBC News with the announcement of the ad and moments before BBC One smashed, she had the opportunity to don a black T-shirt to celebrate the moment. Later, BBC News’s most popular presenter, Huo Edwards, took over the hosting duties with a black tie.
Breaking news is not handled safely throughout the BBC’s output. Listeners to BBC Radio 1’s sub-station, BBC Radio 1 Dance, may be surprised when a dance song crashes into the national anthem. The moment was captured by Twitter user Richard Smith:
Just wait for the tempo to go down … pic.twitter.com/OiG8RVUONu
Richard Smith (@richardavsmith) April 9, 2021
After the initial news, the BBC cleared its schedules until 6 pm to make way for special reports on Prince Philip. Several hours of television and audio were pre-arranged for such events, and it wasn’t long before BBC Royal correspondent Nicholas Witchle aired a thoughtful obituary.
A BBC spokesperson said: “With the sad news of the death of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, there is now special coverage across all BBC networks to celebrate his life in extraordinary public service and the planned schedule has been suspended.
UK public service broadcasters have also removed their planned programs to report news of the death of the 99-year-old Duke of Edinburgh. ITV offers continuous coverage throughout the afternoon, before moving on to specially designed programs, including documentaries Prince Philip: A Royal Life, Introduced by Royal Editor Chris Ship. Julie Eichingham and Philip Schofield will also be presenting a live show on The Prince at 7 PM.
ViacomCBS-owned Channel 5 directed a pre-produced documentary about Prince Philip, while Channel 4 switched to a news special at 1 pm. The latter will feature the ITN-produced film His Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh 4 pm and special news at 7 pm.