Tim Ewart Metro Interview
I never had a particular interest in the British Royal Family, but I’m a reporter and they’re a good story. Still, there have been some special moments since I started the job – it felt like history was being made when the Queen laid a wreath at Dublin’s Garden of Remembrance for those who fought against the crown, and again when she shook hands with Sinn Fein politician and former IRA commander Martin McGuinness. The crowds she attracts never cease to amaze me.
I’d love to still be chasing the dragon on foreign news. I’ve run four foreign bureaux for ITN, starting in Warsaw in 1982, and three of my children grew up in Africa. But the royals are a great gig, and I was lucky to be given it.
I try to be objective and not to fawn but people on Twitter still call me an obsequious sycophant. When there are stories about controversy, I look for critical voices. I’ve questioned Prince Andrew about his travel costs. But the House of Windsor has been on a roll recently, with huge crowds turning up for many events, and that does colour the tone of reporting.
I went to the Lindo Wing at St Mary’s Hospital every day for more than two weeks before Prince George was born but we weren’t literally camped outside. I camped on stories in Sudan and Iraq – never again. But else could we do but wait? All the different journalists got along like a house on fire.
I got to ask William and Kate the first question when they came out of hospital. It was my idea to toss a coin as the fairest way to avoid a shouting match. I didn’t cheat, honest. Was I fawning as I sat in the road under the cameras? Guilty m’lud.
I missed the birth of my fourth grandson to over the royal birth but I went to see him as soon as I could. I was sorry to put work first but this was a story I couldn’t abandon. I’ve got five children, so I hope there will be more babies to come.
My wife, Penny Marshall, covers social affairs for ITV News, and isn’t interested in the royals. We share a house, an office and often the train to work, so we get to spend enough time together. There’s nothing I really dislike about my work. Compared to the majority of people who slog away at demanding jobs for little reward, I lead a charmed life.
The Royals and the Press
The relationship between the British press and the royals has definitely improved. They realise there’s a difference between the mainstream media and the paparazzi. Are they good for Britain? Do they boost the economy and attract tourists? You can argue about that for hours.
After Diana died, The Sun famously asked: ‘Where is our Queen? Where is her flag?’ I think they reflected public opinion. It’s amazing how often people still hark back to the days of Diana, especially when you travel abroad.
Prince Charles got himself into hot water in 2005 when he was caught muttering under his breath about the BBC Royal Correspondent Nicholas Witchell to his sons. I’ve interviewed Prince Charles twice but he probably regards me as just another ‘awful man’. I’m sure that view wasn’t exclusive to Nick, who didn’t deserve it. If you want a cheerful, relaxed royal, look no further than the Duchess of Cornwall [Camilla]. She’s a hoot!
© Associated Newspapers Limited (2013)