The queen and her final media journey

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The queen and her final media journey

The author is head of the international news team of the JoongAng Ilbo.

A magnificent and spectacular epic drama has ended. The last stage was 1,000-year-old Westminster Abbey. Queen Elizabeth II began her final “media journey” as everything symbolizing monarchy, the Commonwealth, religion, nobility, the crown, the successor and followers, gathered.

It was the first time for a British monarch to have their funeral broadcast live on television, for more than 10 hours in some cases. 4.1 billion people around the world have watched the funeral — the highest viewer rating ever, surpassing the opening ceremony of the Atlanta Olympics watched by 3.6 billion viewers. Some watched it on TV, but many watched it on computer monitors, large displays and cell phone screens. All of these were invented through the media revolution that continued during the reign of the Queen (1952-2022).

The Queen was media-friendly from the start. Her coronation in 1953 was broadcast on televisions that were distributed in British households. While Prime Minister Winston Churchill was worried that it could be seen as a “play performance,” the broadcast was successful. The monarch who sat on top of the balcony for a long time came into the living rooms of the subjects.

While the Commonwealth was collapsing, the Queen traveled around the world, reviving national pride. Tragedies of the royal family were also perfect topics for tabloids and TV shows craving spectacles. With the American media industry-led alchemy, the royal family’s weddings, parenting, fashion and discord have turned into the subject of “royal watching.”

After the death of Queen Elizabeth, the New York Times wrote that her reign “was marked by unprecedented visibility, for better or worse.” In her lifetime, the queen also said, “I have to be seen to be believed.”

The public’s desire for voyeurism and the private lives of the royal family members often created discord. The media dug into the gap and revealed the “human face” of the royal family. The exposure began with Princess Diana’s BBC interview in 1995 and climaxed with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show last year. In the interview, they said that the royal family was not a family but a firm.

Regardless of the existence of the monarchy, everyone knows that the modern royal family is a celebrity business community running on public envy, fantasy, jealousy and compassion. The irony is that throughout her 70-year reign, the queen has rarely given an interview while she was at the center of the spotlight.

When she appeared on the London Olympics opening ceremony with James Bond and had a tea with Paddington Bear for the Platinum Jubilee, she was not an individual person but a public official faithful to her duty.

Until her burial, she was faithful to her duty. The people who stood at the Queue left one-man media cherishing her dedication. Even on the media, she reigned, not ruled.”
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