CNN Europe CNN Asia
On CNN TV Transcripts Headline News CNN International About Preferences
powered by Yahoo!
Return to Transcripts main page


Queen Ready to Open Parliament

Aired November 13, 2002 - 06:00   ET


CATHERINE CALLAWAY, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to go to senior international correspondent, Nic Robertson, now, who is in London.
And, Nic, will all of this tradition be overshadowed by all of the tabloid frenzy we've been talking about?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Catherine, today, no, this very much is the queen's day, her state opening of Parliament. We can hear the chimes of Big Ben behind me.

This will be the day where she addresses her nation through the Parliament. She will go through the issues of the day, the bills that Parliament will likely address in the next year. But it is nevertheless still a troubled time for her.

I'm joined by royal author, Robert Jobson. He is an expert on the royal family, on the proceedings today.

Robert, they've announced -- the royal family announced an internal investigation at this time. How is that going to ride out here?

ROBERT JOBSON, ROYAL AUTHOR: Well, I think -- well, in the media, certainly they are demanding an independent inquiry. The fact that this is an internal inquiry carried out by Sr. Michael Peat, a senior curator (ph) to Prince Charles, is seen that basically that he is one of them. He's actually on their side, so he's not going to rule against the royal family.

And that is actually causing not only consternation amongst the media, but also amongst (UNINTELLIGIBLE) MPs (ph).

ROBERTSON: Well, but the queen is leaving the palace now. What is her traditional role in today's proceedings?

JOBSON: Well, the queen will actually simply be there as somebody that makes the speech on behalf of her government. She is actually reading out a prepared speech, prepared by Tony Blair, and that is what she's going to do today, telling what the government will be doing in the next year.

ROBERTSON: Robert, thank you very much, indeed. We'll be back later.

Catherine, the queen about to make that address to Parliament -- back to you.

CALLAWAY: All right, Nic, thank you very much. Keep standing by for us.

We just want to tell everyone that you're about to see the coach with the queen -- there it is. It is called -- it is called the Irish State Coach taking the queen at the state opening of Parliament -- an incredible sight.

We've asked our international editor, David Clinch, to stay with us on the set here and talk about this.

David, I have to tell this, because you shared it with me a moment ago. As a child, you stood there in front of the palace watching the queen on her way to Parliament to do this.


CALLAWAY: What was it like?

CLINCH: You know, I grew up the first few years of my life in London, and along with lots of other children, I was brought with my parents down to watch events like this. And it's -- as we were talking about it a minute ago, this is why we care about this story, because it's such an amazing sight. I mean, as a child, I remember being awed by the whole thing and actually seeing the queen going past in a carriage. I mean, it's a glimpse into the past. No other country really does this anymore, not to this extent anyway.

And again, as we were talking about it earlier, you know, with all of these details on the scandal and, you know, who did what, I think, again, we have to remember that we care, and I think the audience cares about this story, because of the pomp and circumstance. You know, the queen and her family are very sympathetic in a general sense. People like to think of them as being, you know, all good people, I suppose. It would be terrible if they turned not to be.

But that's not really the point. The point is that we love to look at them in their regalia coming in carriages to do things like this.

CALLAWAY: And we don't see anything like this in America.

CLINCH: Exactly.

CALLAWAY: You know, and we should state that this scandal is not going to have any effect on this pomp and circumstance here.

CLINCH: Right.

CALLAWAY: The House of the Lords standing by this morning. We've been taking -- showing you live pictures from there as they await the arrival of the queen.

And, David, I want to talk a little bit about the ceremony that we're going to see, because it is just fascinating and has gone on for such a long time. We're going to see the Black Rod, the senior official of the House of Lord will come and make that ceremonious walk to the Commons Chamber. Tell us a little bit about that and how this keeps in tradition, yes.

CLINCH: Right, well, all of this tradition, of course, dates from the time when the queen actually had some power. Now, she has no power at all, really, except as the head of state. But, of course, her role in Britain is a powerful one in the sense that she is the image of the country nationally and internationally.

And so, having her read -- having the queen read what is essentially a political statement, a sort of a state-of-the-nation type of speech is I suppose in the same way as having the president do it here in the United States -- is a symbolic act on the part of Britain to show that she is the head of the nation, even though in fact she has practically no part in the formation of these policies.

CALLAWAY: Or the formation of this speech.

CLINCH: Correct.

CALLAWAY: I understand it was written by Tony Blair.

CLINCH: Yes, I suppose she had some role in the wording in some ways, but not in the actual policies. And she is used a lot in these ways to present policies in this way, and again, an essential part of British society. The presentation of Britain as a monarchy is still very important to a lot of people in Britain.

And we were talking about this earlier. This was the jubilee year for the queen. Up until just a couple of months ago, we were running pictures every week or so of her touring around the country, receiving massive popularity and praise, which was making up for some nasty scandals that have been out there over the last few years. All of a sudden, the royal family is popular again.

Now, it's falling apart, and these scandals are back to haunt her. It just seems she can't escape them. Well, she's not necessarily responsible for them. The rest of her family are, you know, being held responsible for some of these things. But the fact is, she's going to have this party tomorrow, which was meant to be a celebration of her jubilee year, and once again, she has to deal with these allegations and scandals. They just won't go away.

CALLAWAY: It looks like we've stepped back in time here, hundreds of years...


CLINCH: And that was impressive as a child, and I brought my own children to London a year or so ago, and we stood outside the palace and watched the horses and the carriages and the queen, and it's still -- and it's an amazing thing. It's an amazing thing to see, and if it went away, if it were to go away, it would be a terrible shame, not just for us and other media, but also for Britain, because this is something that they hold very dear. There are, of course, many people in Britain that think the monarchy is totally irrelevant; that it should be gotten rid of. But -- and that's another part of the story.

CALLAWAY: But they love this. They love this (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

CLINCH: For the most part...


CLINCH: ... they love it.

CALLAWAY: Well, we're going to...

CLINCH: And they love the scandals, too, in the tabloids.

CALLAWAY: That's why they...

CLINCH: And it's all just part of the same thing.

CALLAWAY: And that's why they sell so many papers over there when they focus on the royal family.

CLINCH: Absolutely.

CALLAWAY: And we're going to focus on this event today, and we'll be bringing more to you throughout the morning.

David, thank you for sharing your personal stories.

CLINCH: You're welcome. Anytime.


© 2004 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser. does not endorse external sites.