I’ve never been massively interested in the Royal Family as a matter of course, but have become a bit more curious about them given recent happenings (Royal Wedding, King’s Speech etc).
The Duke at 90 was a brave bit of programming by the BBC. Sending Fiona Bruce – not quite your typical royal correspondent – to interview the Duke on the occasion of his 90th birthday – was risky. And I’m not sure it quite paid off; Fiona’s interview with the Duke of Edinburgh, whilst it does convey some key qualities about the man, doesn’t successfully uncover a great deal about the Prince’s life that isn’t told through the historical documentary drawn from the BBC archives and some researcher’s hard work (which is a lovely bit of television, interview notwithstanding). In the interview itself, he comes across as cantankerous, impatient, and anything but loquacious. Poor Fiona! That said, he’s hardly as grumpy as you’d expect a non-retired 90-year-old man to be!
Some of the key qualities of the man did come across in abundance – his no-nonsense, uncomplaining (except about having to do interviews), get-things-done attitude; the manner and mechanisms by which he carved himself out a (non-constitutional) role in the monarchy, his love and loyalty to his wife… His much reported "racism" seems to have been little more than a mis-interpreted, dry, dated sense of humour. So perhaps it was in what Fiona Bruce didn’t make him say, as much as what she did, that made it an interesting and watchable bit of television (sidebar: watched a Fawlty Towers the other day in which an extra calls Manuel a "dago twit" – this sort of casual racism or national stereotyping was a much greater characteristic of Britain in past decades than it is today…).
I met the Duke once, briefly, on a trip he made to my school. I didn’t have any time with him (a handshake) but did get an impression of him as a man of incredible presence.
I’ll need to brush up on my Royal Family general knowledge, though, if I’m to become a British citizen at any point. I wouldn’t recognise the Earl of Wessex if he was selling me a takeaway.