The British royal family has given broadcasters in the UK a deadline of today to pick just one hour of footage they would like to keep for future use from the Queen’s funeral and the King’s proclamation ceremony, despite the fact that millions of people already saw it all livestreamed on several platforms, according to a new report from the Guardian. And since the UK lacks any constitutional protections for free speech equivalent to the First Amendment, broadcasters like the BBC, Sky News, and ITV seemingly have no choice but to comply.
The United Kingdom recently observed a full ten days of official mourning for Queen Elizabeth II, who died on September 8 at the age of 96. But British broadcasters are being told to compile just one hour from their non-stop coverage for any future broadcasts and submit that hour to the royal family for approval. Any use of footage beyond that one-hour would also need to be cleared with Buckingham Palace in the future.
Where does that leave online coverage, something you’d assume could live on the web forever? The royal family already had at least five short clips from the Queen’s memorial and funeral services at Westminster Abbey and Windsor Castle purged from UK media websites, according to the Guardian, though longer streams still survive for those who know where to look. The BBC’s digital video repository, iPlayer, has just a few weeks left before those longer streams are purged.
News organizations that used the broadcast feed of the official ceremonies had to promise any social media clips would be “solemn and dignified,” as the Guardian phrases it, though it’s not clear what kind of written arrangements may exist with U.S. news outlets. Staff for the royal family even maintained a WhatsApp group with executives at British media outlets, letting the news organizations know in real time what clips were permissible for re-publishing during the Queen’s memorial service, according to the Guardian.
What are the royals trying to hide from the public? As it turns out, nothing as scandalous as you’d expect, given the history of people like Prince Andrew, the new king’s brother and a notable associate of deceased pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. Queen Elizabeth II contributed roughly $2.7 million to settle a civil sexual assault lawsuit against Andrew, according to Time magazine.
No, the royal family would like to make sure you don’t see things like King Charles III impatiently making one of his servants take away a pen holder at the desk where he proclaimed himself king. In the video, which went viral on social media, Charles looks like an entitled prick, which is precisely the kind of video the royal family doesn’t want circulating after losing the queen—a woman often compared to a neighborly grandmother and a much softer image for a group of people who are hoarding immense stolen wealth.
Another censored clip involves a man named Mike Tindall, husband of the Queen’s granddaughter Zara Phillips, who was looking at his watch during a quiet period of reflection, an act that was apparently considered scandalous by some in the UK, according to the Guardian.
Anyone looking at the BBC’s iPlayer website in the UK can probably guess which video streams have been flagged with supposedly scandalous content. As you can see below, a long video stream of the king in Northern Ireland expires in 11 months. Whereas, a clip of the king in Wales will only be available for the next 20 days.
What happened in Wales that King Charles III would like to keep out of the official public memory? Honestly, we don’t know. We didn’t follow the hours of footage closely enough. But Charles would hate for whatever is in there to be archived by an army of internet users.
Thankfully, there are some great ways to archive video from BBC’s iPlayer if you know where to look online. But people inside the UK are unlikely to see anything from the official ceremonies that hasn’t been approved by the royal family when watching historical footage in the future—a good thing to keep in mind the next time you see people laughing at the cult of personality other authoritarian leaders build for themselves, whether it’s former President Donald Trump or North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
The British monarchy has no real power, according to so many monarchists both inside and outside of the UK. Until they decided what you can watch on TV or even online.
Correction: This article originally stated that Prince Andrew was the son of King Charles III. Actually, Andrew is his brother. Gizmodo, as an American website with a healthy disdain for monarchy, only slightly regrets the error.