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Panel Discusses Royal Family

Aired June 9, 2002 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, a royal jubilee with everything, a fireworks celebration and lots of questions. What's Camilla doing there? Will she and Charles ever get married? Will he ever be king? And what do Di's boys think about all of this? We'll tackle those questions and more next on LARRY KING WEEKEND.

Thanks for joining us. Tonight, we're dishing about Britain's royal family. Last week, Queen Elizabeth II marked 50 years on the throne. The jubilee celebration was a heck of a party. There was lots to talk about with our regular panel of royal watchers.


KING: Joining us in London is Robert Lacey, the best-selling biographer, veteran royal watcher. His new book, "Monarch: The Life and Reign of Elizabeth II" is now out everywhere. In Washington, Kitty Kelley, the best-selling biographer as well and author of "The Royals." She's working on a book about the Bush dynasty. In London, Harold Brooks-Baker, the publishing director of "Burke's Peerage" and also in London, Phillip Hoare, the biographer and social historian. It's always great having all of them with us.

We'll start with Mr. Lacey, who I understand attended Saturday night's festivities. What was that like?

ROBERT LACEY, ROYAL BIOGRAPHER: Well, it was just wonderful and tonight's was just wonderful. I hope you'll be able to show some footage and not just our ugly mugs looking across the Atlantic at you.

It's a real moment to make, I think, every Briton proud. On Saturday night, there was this wonderful classical concert where we saw the queen. Of course, the news item on that was the appearance of Camilla alongside the queen. And then tonight, we've had this extraordinary pop concert in the palace. We've had the princes, William and Harry, on stage. And it finished with the most extraordinary firework display, which put all those firework displays that bored us during the millennium on the hour around the world, put them to shame. They had them over the top of Buckingham Palace, which turned into a waterfall of fire at the end with all sorts of images played on it.

It was -- and it was -- above all, it was just a wonderful occasion of national feeling and celebration for this extraordinary woman who has been our queen for 50 years. KING: Now, Robert, we understand that Camilla was invited. She was with the royals, but not -- did not sit with Charles. Why not?

LACEY: Well, softly, softly, Larry, she did sit in the royal box on Saturday night and she was in a row towards the rear. But somehow, magically, when the photographers got their photographs, there on one side was the queen and you could see Camilla clearly on the other side.

Now, for us, that was a definite first. She was there tonight, we are told. We haven't yet seen the pictures. Interestingly, on Saturday night, the cameras focused on her, but tonight they didn't.

KING: Kitty, does any of this surprise you?

KITTY KELLEY, AUTHOR, "THE ROYALS": Well, no, not on the Camilla business. I think that, as Robert says, it's going to be softly, softly, but surely, surely.

I do understand, though, that there was a little bit of a rift between the queen's advisers and Charles' advisers for a while in getting Camilla into the picture and where she would be. The thing that is surprising and really wonderfully so about this Jubilee is that months ago, nobody thought that it was going to be successful. And it does look like a wonderful, wonderful celebration for everybody.

KING: Why did they think it wouldn't be?

KELLEY: And after 9/11, I have to tell you, Larry, I believe that we should all take whatever opportunity we have to celebrate.

KING: Why did they think it wouldn't be, Kitty?

KELLEY: Well, I think they said that there was such a lack of deference toward the queen, which probably runs parallel with the lack of deference toward elected politicians and certainly the lack of deference toward people in the media and even people in the clergy. But they really did not think that Britons would turn out for this, but they have.

And also, I think that she was great in that she opened up Buckingham Palace, because after all it really should belong to the people. And she certainly allowed everybody inside. And for those who couldn't get inside, they put up great screens so that they could see the concert. Although it was a wonderful picture watching the queen look at Ozzy Osbourne, one wonders if she knew Ozzy Osbourne from "Ozzie and Harriet."

KING: Harold, that was not exactly the queen's musical taste, was it, Ozzy Osbourne or Ricky Martin or Eric Clapton, Sir Phil Collins and others, was it?

HAROLD BROOKS-BAKER, "BURKE'S PEERAGE": Well, it clearly was the taste of her grandchildren, and the one thing the royal family in this country is trying to do is to bring in the teenagers. After all, that is the future. And it looks as if the House of Windsor has now achieved what for many years it could not, and that is interest for young people.

There was a terrific amount of applause every time the queen appeared. You saw for the first time this evening that the prince of Wales referred to his mother in a very affectionate way. That had never happened in public before. There was also an embrace between the queen and the prince of Wales.

These are changes in the etiquette and protocol of the royal family. And it looks like to me as if the House of Windsor is here to stay for a very long time, probably many generations to come. Somehow or other, the great love that the people had for the queen mother has now been extended to the queen, and everything is working out extremely well.

KING: Philip, what -- before we get back to Kitty and to Rob, but, Philip, what can you tell us about the fire?

PHILIP HOARE, ROYAL WATCHER: The fire really was -- it was scary because we certainly had all these news reports just after the classical concert and certainly it sort of -- it brought back images of Windsor on fire. It actually was fairly inconsequential and was fairly swiftly dealt with.

But going back to what the others are talking about, I just -- I love this idea that we've gone from -- in 50 years, we've gone from a queen whose anointing at the coronation was so sacred, it could no filmed on TV. We've gone from that to her being presented on TV, being introduced, by a man in drag. It's fantastic. And, you know, this sense that we have got, you know -- we've got, you know -- would you let Ozzy Osbourne in your backyard? I mean, no. And it's almost like a scene out of a John Waters movie.

We've got Brian Wilson from the Beach Boys there doing his thing. Paul McCartney sang a serenade to the queen telling her off for never talking, for not talking and that's kind of one of the points about this.

Well, one of the things we were talking about just before we came on air was this sense that she doesn't smile enough. You know, there's all this mad stuff going on in your backyard. Loosen up a bit. You know, loosen up.

And I think it's quite interesting. You have got William and Harry sitting there in the royal box watching, sitting there in their suits and you kind of think they want to be down there sort of moshing with people, really. So I thought it was an encouraging sign. And it's been an exciting day for us here.


CHARLES, PRINCE OF WALES: So, Your Majesty, we are all deeply grateful to you. And in the words of the non-politically correct, second verse of "The National Anthem," you have defended our laws and certainly given us cause to shout with heart and voice, "God Save the Queen!"





PRINCE CHARLES: You have embodied something vital in our lives: continuity. You have been a beacon of tradition and stability in the midst of profound, sometimes perilous change.

Fifty years ago, at nearly 4 years of age, I would probably have been playing in the sand pit in the garden just behind this stage. But now you have generously invited everyone in here for a thoroughly memorable party.

KING: Robert Lacey, based on all of this, is Camilla in? Is she in-in? And are they going to get married? Is everything hunky-dory?

LACEY: I think so, on the evidence of this weekend. In fact, there was an exclusive story in the "Daily Mail," which usually has pretty good inside scoops in this royal area, that it's now going to be settled family policy that Camilla is included in all public royal occasions.

Perhaps we ought to explain, following on from what Philip was saying, that the concert tonight was actually in two parts. The first part was without the queen. It was with the younger members of the royal family, with Prince Charles and the boys in the box. And it had a definite naughty quality about it, some of the things Philip is talking about. You know, mummy hasn't arrived yet. And there were some quite lewd jokes.

And as he said, the transition was managed by a female impersonator, Dame Edna Everage, Barry Humphries, you may be familiar with her. And she suddenly said -- or he/she suddenly said, "Oh, here's the Jubilee girl." And I think it's the most informal way the queen has ever been introduced in Buckingham Palace and the response was just amazing.

So, well, what I was proud of as a Brit was, you know, this element of making fun of ourselves, and even poking a little fun at the queen at the same time, but in a very fond way.

KING: Kitty, what do you make of all this, this obvious change?

KELLEY: Well, you know, Larry, I loved the concert. And I loved the fact that rock 'n' roll has come to Buckingham Palace. But I think one poignant part -- it's rather subtle and indirect -- but Elton John was there. And he is a favorite of the queen's. And for those who watched the funeral of the princess of Wales, it was when Elton John sang that the queen was most moved. So I think that she was quite happy to have him there. And I was very touched when Prince Charles -- although I don't understand why he couldn't have committed to memory his wonderful tribute to his mother -- but when he kissed her on both cheeks and then kissed her hand, it really was a demonstration of affection that we expect and would want to see more of. But it was very nice.

KING: Harold, will we expect to see, now, a more human Elizabeth?

BROOKS-BAKER: I think you're going to see a great deal more that is the human side of the queen. Furthermore, the queen is definitely following the ways of her nine cousins on the continent who still control thrones, who are all very secure on those thrones.

The weddings of recent royals on the continent, including William Alexander of Holland, shows clearly that the young people, people of all ages, are enthusiastic about the monarchy and how monarchy protects the world from the difficulties that politicians can bring, even dictatorship.

The fact is that the queen has now been taken to the heart of the people in a way that I never actually thought possible in the 30 years that I've been watching. And these two books, "Alice" by Hugo Vickers and "Monarch" by Robert Lacey, are the best examples that I can point to of why this monarchy is going to last for probably a thousand years.

KING: Philip, the queen has been described as the classic familiar stranger, someone nearly everyone knows and almost no one knows well. Is that apt?

HOARE: It's a very good description. I think Ben Pimlots (ph), the historian and another biographer of the queen, has made the point that we have feelings for the royal family, which we hope they return for us -- this sense of a communion in a way.

And it's odd, isn't it? Because, although, you know, the divine right of kings was, you know, outmoded centuries ago, there's still that weird sense that she is something special. She is something -- who -- she is someone who rises above politics. And she's a source of constancy in an age of change.

I mean, Prince Charles, in his speech, talked about an age of profound and sometimes perilous change. And, you know, after September the 11th, that's -- you know, it's something to be valued, that sort of constancy. And I think that's something we suddenly realize in England. You know, we can sometimes be a bit embarrassed about this stuff. I mean, I know, myself, I'm never quite sure exactly what I really think about our monarchy. But at occasions like this, you just think, yes, no, it works. Why get rid of it?

KING: Robert Lacey, Philip has said his faith in the monarchy has been restored. Harold thinks it's going for 1,000 years. What do you think?

LACEY: Well, let me tell you what the polls say. I mean, there is always a hard core here of 18 to 20 percent who say they're Republicans, anti-monarchists and there are about 70 percent who say they're in favor of the monarchy, with 10 percent don't knows.

The latest polls show that those 10 percent don't-knows have all gone over to the monarchy's camp. But you've still got 18 percent of people in this country who'd like a different system. And I think that's one of the great strengths of Britain, that this diversity opinion remains.

KING: Kitty, what do you think? I mean, to be frank, it has no power.

KELLEY: Has no power, but it has great pageantry. And we do love the pageantry.

The polls that Robert just cited also show that almost 41 to 48 percent of the people believe, yes, they want the monarchy, but they do not want a monarchy that doesn't change. They think that this monarchy really does have to change and become more accessible to people. And it seems like it's doing that.

You know, Larry, this Jubilee has been in the planning for a year now. And the queen's staff has got creative consultants and publicists and PR specialists, communications experts, and they really have worked very, very hard to represent Britain, which is now a very diverse and different country than it was when Victoria celebrated so many years ago.

KING: Let's take a...

KELLEY: So it is a monarchy that's going to last, but it's a monarchy that's going to have to change, I think.

KING: Let's take a call. Austin, Texas, hello.

CALLER: Hello. I'm wondering if William and Harry have accepted Camilla yet.

KING: Harold, have they accepted Camilla?

BROOKS-BAKER: I think there's no question that they have accepted -- they clearly love Camilla Parker-Bowles. Camilla Parker- Bowles will be their stepmother in the not-too-distant future, as soon as the Church of England changes its rules, which will probably happen either this July or next July. And when I say change the rules, I mean allowing divorced people to remarry in the church.

Prince Charles will be titular head of the Church of England if he becomes monarch, which we all hope he will one day. And therefore he must marry in his own church.

Certainly these young fellows are very appreciative of her. And when you see them together, you see people who are very, very happy in each other's company. This is an unusually happy situation.

KING: And Philip, that had to be some good work on her part because these boys were very close to their mother. And there had to be some ambivalent feelings to begin with.

HOARE: Of course. And there possibly still are. But as Harold says, to all intents and purposes, they are very accepting of Camilla. Of course, we don't see them in public with her, so we can't judge that. And I kind of sometimes think it's not really our business in a way. You know, I mean, it's a private, family affair. And that kind of -- that's where it has to stand.

KING: Well, but Philip, none of it is really our business, is it?

HOARE: Absolutely not. But there are -- I mean, it's certainly our business when the queen throws open her backyard to 12,000 people and invites them in with free champagne and chicken and God knows what and, you know, she has rock stars crawling all over the place. You know, the doings of, you know, a possible stepmother, I think, are less interesting to me, anyhow.

KING: Robert Lacey, it'll never be the same, obviously, this monarchy has changed.

LACEY: No, I mean, tomorrow we are going to see even more extraordinary things. We're going to see 50 Hells Angels driving down the mile, one for each -- one for each year of the queen's reign. This is on this -- I mean, the mile used to be absolutely sacred to the guardsmen. We're going to have 5,000 gospel singers, 3,000 Samba dancers. I think they've got 20,000 performers lined up in this extraordinary pageant...

KING: Wow!

LACEY: ... children performers.

The old guards say it's getting a bit too touchy-feely. But I think Philip's right: It's what the country wants at the moment.

KING: Yeah.



KING: Welcome back. In anticipation of the queens' jubilee and to mark the release of the Robert Lacey's new book, "Monarch," we brought our royalist panel together a few weeks ago and we began by finding a place in history for the reigning queen.


KING: Robert Lacey, was Elizabeth a great queen?

LACEY: Well, of course, it's difficult to compare her to the first Elizabeth, who was the executive head of state. Elizabeth II, our present queen, plays a totally different role from the time of Queen Victoria, really. The role of monarchs has not been to run the country but to reign. And reign means inspiring affection, inspiring feeling, being the embodiment of the country both to the country itself and also, of course, to foreign nations who look to Queen Elizabeth II as the figurehead of Great Britain.

KING: Her father died young, did he not? What was he, 52?

LACEY: Yes, he was the -- well, one of four British kings in the last century to die of smoking related causes. And of course, that brought her to the throne at a comparatively early age, in her 20s, and that's why, well we think of her still, I suppose, as quite a young woman. I mean, she's 76, I suppose that's something to do with the long survival of her mother, the queen mum, and perhaps, one of the things the queen has had to cope with in the last months is becoming all of a sudden from middle age to elderly.

KING: Kitty, in your opinion, has she acquitted herself well as queen?

KELLEY: I think she's been quite dutiful, very dignified. I certainly don't think you could compare her historically to Elizabeth I. I mean there was an outpouring of the arts and culture and history and military triumph. It was a whole different era. This Elizabeth came into the monarchy and sort of presided over the diminution of it, if you will. She's now head of the commonwealth, a very dutiful queen.

KING: History, Harold Brooks Baker, will say what of her?

BROOKS-BAKER: I think history will clearly state that Elizabeth II is one of the best loved and respected monarchs of all time, and she was certainly the best informed of all time.

Queen Victoria read letters from all of her ambassadors in the field and was considered very well versed in what was happening. Elizabeth II has gone that one step further, of knowing absolutely everything you possibly can imagine about her countrymen and her courtiers and the guy in the street. It's really very impressive, and the great respect the people have had for the queen has now turned into great love and admiration, the type of love that people displayed toward her mother, the queen mother, who died recently. It's very, very impressive.

KING: Hugo Vickers. Hugo Vickers, will she live out her term? Will she stay until she dies or will she give it up and let Charles become king?

HUGO VICKERS, ROYAL BIOGRAPHER: Well, you know, Larry, there was a very exciting moment in Westminster Hall the other day when she received the addresses from the two Houses of Parliament, when she stated that she had every intention of continuing, and I must say, I felt like a soccer fan. I went -- a great cry of "yea" went up in my House.

I think it's very good. She becomes more valuable as she goes on. She has been dealing with prime ministers since Churchill. The present prime minister, as we said before, wasn't even born when she came on the throne. She has an enormous accumulation of experience, so the longer she stays the better.

KING: Robert Lacey, did she handle the aftermath of the death of Princess Di well?

LACEY: Well, that's something I addressed particularly in my book. In the end, it turned out very well, but of course, there was that moment right in the middle when the people called for her to come down to London. They protested at her for not lowering the flag and now here we are, we're actually looking at her speaking to the nation, but also to those crowds outside the palace who'd gathered around to pay tribute to Diana.

I think this speech of hers was the high point of her reign. It was a moment of great crisis. She had to go on live and she had to express her own feelings about Diana, both positive and negative, in a way that people found convincing. Everybody knew that Diana and the queen did not get on that well in many respects, and yet the queen managed, by being honest but by also concentrating on her positive virtues, her mothering of William and Harry in particular, to pay a tribute with which everybody agreed.

KING: She has had, Kitty Kelley, a lifelong almost love relationship with her husband, has she not?

KELLEY: She has indeed. She was lucky enough to marry a man she really fell in love with. And one thing Robert points out in his book that's quite funny, he says that the queen has chosen as her favorite animal this snapping, nasty little dog known as the Corgi, and for the woman who chooses the Corgi, she can certainly get along with the Duke of Edinburgh.

He has been by her side all these years. He pledged to be her lees man and say what you will about his dalliances, he is still there at the end of the day, and I think he brings an awful lot to her and to the monarchy.

KING: We'll be right back with more. We'll include your phone calls. Robert Lacey's book "Monarch" is now published in the United States. You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be right back.


KING: As we come back, for our viewing audience, we are showing you some stills from Robert Lacey's new book "Monarch," the life and reign of Elizabeth II. Harold Baker, what's the relationship between her and Charles?

BROOKS-BAKER: I think it's obviously a relationship of great respect. They've had their differences. He has set up a completely independent organization at St. James Palace, as you know. His idea on press coverage is very different than his mother's, but there's every indication that they are coming closer and closer together as the years go by and I think that with the death of the queen mother, they'll be even closer.

Of course, he will be the one who will be chosen to fill in constantly for the queen, when she is unable to attend certain ceremonies, but of course, since she is an anointed monarch, she will remain on the throne until death, and I think it's very likely that Prince Charles will never be king because the queen could last another 25 years.

KING: Hugo Vickers, what is Elizabeth's feelings about Camilla?

VICKERS: Well, we don't really know what her feelings are. I imagine she has to treat that one with some -- it's a rather difficult problem because there you have this kind of strange middle-aged pair who seem to be very content in each other's company.

On the other hand, there are all sorts of complications in connection with any possible marriage. But I have gone on record in the past and I stick to it by saying I don't think the prince of Wales particularly does want to get married again. I don't think that the state of matrimony was one that made him particularly happy.

KING: Robert Lacey, do you agree with that, that they will not get married?

LACEY: I don't agree, no. I know that's his position. It's a matter of obviously intense debate in Britain. Prince Charles once did go on record as saying he has no plans to remarry.

Interestingly, last year when a sly reporter poked the question at him and took him a bit by surprise about whether he was going -- if he had marriage plans in his future, he said "who knows what the good Lord will bring," and I myself interpret the press relationship that Harold's been talking about as definitely a campaign to soften up the British public who will be the ultimate arbiters of this for a regularization of his marriage, of his relationship to Camilla, and I think there will be marriage.

I don't think she'll be queen. I mean British people, when asked about this now are pretty relaxed in saying let bygones be bygones, and then these same people when asked will say no, we don't want her to be queen, and I think that will be dealt with by giving her some sort of title.

Prince Charles has got lots of them, duchess of Cornwall, duchess of Rothsay (ph), so just as we now have a queen and a duke of Edinburgh, if Charles makes it to the throne, and I quite agree that he may never make it, then he'll be king and then his consort, his wife, will be duchess of something and I think ultimately the British people would want that. They wouldn't want a king with a bit of stuff on the side. They want it to be regularized.

KING: Kitty Kelley, is there still a fairy tale aspect about the queen and the monarchy in London or has that changed?

KELLEY: Oh, no. I think that fairy tale aspect, that fantasy is what keeps it going for so many people, absolutely, and I think that that fantasy is one of the reasons why there was such an outpouring when the princess of Wales died, because it was a fairy tale that did not come true. The princess did not live happily ever after, and I think people become invested in that kind of a fantasy. They become invested in the royal family. They identify with the royal family. They adored the queen mother. She was like everybody's grandmother. They look up to the queen. The forgive her for not being a good mother because she's a dutiful leader. They care about this family. They laugh at them. They make fun of them but they still are invested in the fairy tale, and it is the fairy tale, I think, that keeps the monarchy alive.

KING: Harold, what does Queen Elizabeth think of Fergie?

BROOKS-BAKER: Well, I think that if you really wish to know what all these people think, read Mr. Lacey's book. It is one of the best books on the subject that I have ever read in my life, and he doesn't leave anything out, but he is clever enough not to be too controversial, so that he doesn't really offend anyone.

As far as the duchess of York is concerned, I think that Fergie, as the public wishes to call her, is more and more respected as a person, but of course she's not the favorite of everyone at the palace, but you've seen that she is slowly coming back into her own.

KING: Robert, what does the queen think of Fergie?

LACEY: Well, to start with what we do know. We do know that Prince Philip does not approve of Fergie. He thinks that she brought enormous damage to the family in the past and you know it's a speculative line. She's now a wonderful mother. Well, she always was a great mother, but you know, people do wonder whether that marriage between Charles and Diana might have lasted.

Everybody knows about the Camilla factor, but if it wasn't the sense in which Fergie was egging the princess on in her antagonism, certainly that's what Prince Philip feels. We know that because at Christmas time we have this bizarre situation of all the royal family going to Sandringham, and Fergie's daughters being in the big house and Fergie being away, down the road in a farm because of Prince Philip's disfavor.

But we also know that the queen goes to visit Fergie, which I suppose at the end of the day gives us some indication who really wears the trousers in the big relationship.

KING: We'll be right back.


KING: Sensational review from Harold Brooks-Baker for Robert Lacey on his new book. Let's ask Hugo Vickers what her relationship was with the late Margaret, who died a while ago at age 71. Hugo, what was that relationship like?

VICKERS: Well, the queen and Princess Margaret and indeed the queen mother were extremely close to each other. There was a lot of telephoning that went on between those three households, and they were a very, very strong triumvirate and it was a very good and very intimate relationship.

For example, if ever the queen went on a trip somewhere, state visits, for example if she went to China or India, then Princess Margaret always would go around to see her as soon as she came back in order to hear all the stories and see the pictures and things.

No, that was very close so it's been a sad year for the queen, losing both of them, and for this reason I, for one, very much hope that she will, you know that what is already happening in this country, that the Golden Jubilee is a great success and everybody is celebrating and having fun and giving her a good boost.

KING: Robert Lacey, did you get interviews inside the palace?

LACEY: Yes, with a lot of people close to the queen. One never, of course, interviews the queen herself. I've been privileged to meet her. When you meet her, she -- but not interview her, but when you meet her, she's immensely more lively and humorous than she appears in public.

She's of course a woman totally without vanity. I mean, it's not every woman who would cheerfully put on the crown like that and wear glasses with the strings hanging down from her ears.

I think that's one of the reasons why she's lasted so long in public esteem in Britain. She has this word "stumped," which is her disparaging word for gimmicks. She's been a gimmick-free queen for 50 years, and as compared to politicians, I think people more than ever now find that very refreshing.

KING: New Smyrna Beach, Florida, hello.

CALLER: There was a discussion at one time of Princess Anne being able to succeed to the crown earlier than the current status. Whatever happened to that conversation?

KING: Kitty, do we know?

KELLEY: Well, right now she can not do it, but there is a bill, I think, in the House of Lords so that she would be able to succeed down about three generations in line of where she stood. In other words, the first in succession would be Charles. The second would be Anne, then Andrew, and then Edward.

Right now as it stands, it has to pass from Charles and this is saying that there aren't any children. Let's say that none of the boys have children. Right now, it has to go Charles, then to his brothers and his sister would be way, way down the line.

But now Charles, after the death of Diana, in an effort to make the royal family, the monarchy more relevant, proposed two or three things and one was that a woman could succeed in line as Anne, and also I think he wanted to open it up to the Catholics in the United Kingdom. Please correct me if I'm wrong, gentlemen.

KING: Robert, is she right or wrong? LACEY: She's certainly right about Prince Charles and what will happen in the future because, as Kitty says, the fact that Charles has children now means that the succession goes through him. But there has been a proposal put forward by this (UNINTELLIGIBLE) group of which Prince Charles is a member, along with the queen, that in the future, it will be the firstborn child who succeeds, whether that's a boy or a girl, but it hasn't got to Parliament yet, so it's not a law.

KING: You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be right back.



HER MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH II: Over the years, I have met many people who have had to cope with family loss, sometimes in the most tragic of circumstances. So I count myself fortunate that my mother was blessed with a long and happy life. She had an infectious zest for living, and this remained with her until the very end.


KING: The queen mother's death in April, a sad occasion. The night of her funeral, we assembled our panel of royal observers to reflect on her long and remarkable life.


KING: Why all the fuss over a wonderful lady who albeit was 101 years old, David?

SIR DAVID FROST, ROYAL FAMILY FRIEND: She was and that was one of the amazing things, although I think her sense of humor, wit and her sense of humor are one of the things that endeared her to people. There was that great event when she rang downstairs to two of her footmen and said: "When you too old queens have stopped gossiping, will you bring this old queen a large gin and tonic," and you know that sense of humor, self mocking sense of humor was part of it.

But also, over the last 10 days, I came here to South Bend today, but over the last 10 days, we've seen a process that's taken the Brits by surprise as well and the rest of the world too, I think.

On the plane today, I travel British Airways a lot, but today I was on United and there on an American airline at 11:30, the pilot introduced a two-minute silence for as he put it, the queen mum, affectionately, and everybody took part, a predominantly American group. Everybody took part.

So, it's not just in England that this thing has caught on, but it's caught on more than any of us ever expected. I mean there's a thing here, Larry, that I don't know whether you can see this, but this is "The Independent." Now, "The Independent" in London started about 15 years ago, and one of its policies was to try to never report the Royal Family at all in those days, and certainly not on the front page. Different editors now, and we have today a front page in The Independent, the original founders would turn in their -- well not in their graves, turn in their beds, "Poll Reveals Big Rise in Support for the Monarchy," and 54 percent now say they want it left as it is now, 30 percent want it radically reformed but want to keep it, abolished altogether only 12 percent.

Well, any politician who came up with an approval figure of 84 percent would go absolutely berserk. They're happy with 40 percent in elections in this country.

KING: All right. Let me get...

FROST: I mean, it's really taken off.

KING: Robert Lacey in London, how do you explain her particular affinity with the people?

LACEY: Well, of course, the Catholic explanation has to be Britain's finest hour that was also hers. Back in the Second World War, when we stood alone, even before our American friends came to our help, and she embodied the spirit of the country, the little lady with the fur wrap around her shoulders, and the hats which, of course, people laughed at but felt fond of as well, picking her way through the rubble the very day after the bombs had struck just summed up what everybody was fighting for.

And she made of course the famous remark after Buckingham Palace was bombed, "well I'm glad we've been bombed. It means we can look the East End in the face." And certainly, someone who lived in a palace was no longer a person of privilege. They were actually living in a bigger target than everybody else.

So I think that's a very important component of why people responded as they did today.

KING: Harold, of all the royals, we speak of all of them, the late Di, Charles, was she the best liked?

BROOKS-BAKER: I think that she was closest to the hearts of people of all backgrounds and categories. She was instrumental in getting her husband George VI the strength to carry out his duties as king. You remember that he could hardly speak when he first became king, as far as the radio was concerned, wireless as it was called in those days.

He had a very difficult time reviewing troops, and she was instrumental in convincing Franklin Roosevelt in that famous trip in 1938 to Washington and then to High Park, New York to visit the president's country house, to listen to her husband, to listen to the plight of the English people as it was taking shape, and after all, probably without the queen mother, the relationship between Roosevelt and Churchill would not have been nearly as strong.

President Roosevelt went out on a limb and granted ships and goods to the English through Churchill, of course, without permission of the United States Congress. It's quite possible that Roosevelt would have been impeached, considering how right wing and Republican the Congress was in those days, had they known what he was doing. It is the queen mother who was behind all of these things. It's something that people can't forget.

All 45 countries in the commonwealth adore her. The 16 countries the queen is head of state in, look to the queen mother, look to the queen mother for the approval and affection that she was always able to give as an extraordinary support. She absolutely saved the British monarchy in many ways, and I think that there is a case for saying that she saved the western world.

KING: That's extraordinary. Hugo Vickers, who's -- by the way, a new book on Prince Philip's mother Alice, "Princess Andrew of Greece," is now out in the United States by the way, and Hugo, I know you knew her very well what -- and I know you commented today for ITN on the funeral, how would you describe today's funeral?

VICKERS: Well, it was a most magnificent occasion. What happened was, of course, she died at Royal Lodge, and then for the first few days, it was all very private, and then it gradually became more public.

And then of course, with the big procession on Friday, I think that the whole generation in this country, perhaps even in the world, had never seen anything like that before, the incredible precision, and a comment was made that we may not be able to get our trains to run on time, but the military were able to bring that procession to Westminster Hall absolutely on the dot.

And the other most impressive thing, of course, were the huge cues for the lying in state, and anyone who saw it, I saw it certainly, were just so moved by the sight of that coffin in Westminster Hall.

And then today's funeral was, of course, the climax of it all, wonderful in Westminster Abbey and then, of course, after that it became very private again and the queen and the royal family were just present at the interment at the King George VI Memorial Chapel in St. George's Chapel.

And, after having shared their grief with the whole of the British public, indeed the world, 47 countries watching, that was completely private. So it's been an extraordinary 10 days.

KING: Sir David, we know that poll is interesting but with her passing, it there a chance, she was so popular, that with her gone, there will be a movement to end royalty in Britain?

FROST: I think that's very unlikely you know, Larry. I think this has shown again, there was a tremendous surge back for the monarchy after Diana's funeral over the course of the next year. And I think you and I talked at that time, and I was saying that I thought that basically the British public had adopted William and Harry as sort of honorary godparents to them and, therefore, they would love them and their single father, and that's what's happened there with the tremendous growth of feeling for Prince Charles.


HIS MAJESTY PRINCE CHARLES, PRINCE OF WALES: She was quite simply the most magical grandmother you could possibly have, and I was utterly devoted to her.



KING: I'm not sure what it is but something about Britain's Royal Family seems to fascinate us and we'll continue to track their lives and loves as long as they keep the crown.

Tomorrow night, Liberace's former lover Scott Thorson speaks out. Until then, good night.




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