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The TOTEM Poll: Totally Off Topic, Everything Media
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Old October 22nd, 2008, 09:10 AM   #1
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Royal Rota

People outside the UK might find some of this strange...or perhaps have similar arrangements for their Heads of State.

When covering events attended by senior members of the Royal Family, news organisations are (or perhaps were: does this system still exist? My memories are from the '80s) obliged to participate in the Royal Rota. Just one TV crew and one stills man (plus a gaggle of journos) could follow the Royal around and they would share their pics with the world's media afterwards. Beforehand the 'lucky' crew would be lectured by the harassed person from the COI (Central Office of Information) who reminded us that we mustn't get too close, mustn't shoot royalty ascending or descending stairs, mustn't hear any conversation between Royal and person being addressed....and so on and so on. I got into trouble with a burly member of Special Branch who thought my mic was too close to Fergie at one time and I was severely ticked off.

If punctuality is the politeness of princes, our royal lot are an ill mannered example of the breed. Always bloody late! While everyone waits and gets cold talk inevitably turns to the fate of Charles I.

On one occasion I was in the crew assigned to covering the visit of the Queen Mother to various parts of East Kent, as she was Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports (pronunciation note: in this case 'Cinque' is pronounced 'Sink': it's a hangover from mediaeval French). At the end of the first day it was relayed to us that the Queen Mum was finding the hand lamp, wielded by our electrician, a little hard to see past. So after that Gerry, our spark, always made sure that he didn't dazzle her. Final day and we were preceding her, tracking backwards (how else would loyal subjects retreat from her!!!?) and the plan was for us to peel off down a side corridor while she and the party passed us and went straight on. To our horror, she followed us down the side passage. We were like rabbits in the headlights, making disordered gestures, pointing to where she should have gone. But she had come to say 'thank you' to Gerry!
The final shot of the day was her sailing out of Dover Harbour, on Britannia (the Royal Yacht). The band of the Royal Marines was playing 'Sunset', the sun WAS setting behind the town and on the rear deck of Britannia HRH gave us a special wave as she passed us at the end of the jetty.
People who don't especially have any particular regard for monarchy might find all this a load of tosh. I rather liked it, though. It made up for all those times I got soaked in the rain waiting for some other royal to decide to grace us with her/his presence.
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Old November 3rd, 2008, 12:57 PM   #2
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Well as it happens I have to cover an event tomorrow where a lesser royal (if I may say that without ending up in the Tower) will present awards related to the "Choockie Embra" scheme as it is called in these parts.

Since I have not yet received a briefing (only found out about this today) have you any other dos and don'ts Nick? I believe there will be an advance party who will give some final advice, but what about a (20/30W) on-camera light? I take it speeches are fair game but private conversations with awardees are a no-no.
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Old November 4th, 2008, 04:26 AM   #3
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I'd dress up warmly as you'll spend a long time hanging around! Sometimes the people in charge of the press are very mother hen-ish and will prefer you to feature the recipient of the medal/honour/whatever the royal is bestowing rather than the royal. As you mention, a mike that gets too close will cause resentment. It's worth trying the camera lamp, but don't be surprised if you get asked to turn it off. Depending upon how high your royal is up the pecking order will be the pleb-free area swept around him/her - don't get stroppy with special branch, they may mistake you for a Brazilian plumber.
Just looked at the date of your posting, so you're probably shooting as I'm writing this- sorry I didn't get to the forum in time to be of what little use I might be!
I'm sure that your dress code would be warmly approved by all, but for my week long stint which I talked about above, I was obliged to wear a suit and a tie. I don't know if jeans and T shirts are the equivalent of Kryptonite to royals, but that certainly seems to be the opinion of the lackeys who organise these things!

Last edited by Nick Flowers; November 4th, 2008 at 09:02 AM. Reason: Further addled thoughts
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Old November 4th, 2008, 04:39 AM   #4
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...and just WHAT is 'Choockie Embra', Colin? Can it be 'Duke of Edinburgh? Just a guess from a Sassanach!
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Old November 4th, 2008, 01:05 PM   #5
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Well that was fun! Since the whole thing was going to be a bit unpredictable I put the audio on auto (it may well not be used anyway) - glad I did, because apart from all the usual jobs needing done simultaneously on run and gun jobs, there was the added niggle of avoiding possible offence against protocol. I set white balances in advance with a Kodak card and changed the presets over as we went between venues. I remembered to use the ND filters when outside - it helped with depth of focus. I also decided used the autofocus most of the time - I couldn't have coped with manual under the conditions. Getting clear shots in the constantly changing scenes during the tour (and not blocking the press photographers' shots) was quite difficult.

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Originally Posted by Nick Flowers View Post
...As you mention, a mike that gets too close will cause resentment. It's worth trying the camera lamp, but don't be surprised if you get asked to turn it off.
I used a PAG C6 light indoors and wasn't asked to turn it off, but it was noted by the escorting posse. As it didn't seem to bother HRH and I was careful not to get too near, I got away with it.

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Depending upon how high your royal is up the pecking order will be the pleb-free area swept around him/her - don't get stroppy with special branch, they may mistake you for a Brazilian plumber.
The liason officer was our local community polis, and he was kind enough to remind me that there would be x armed officers present going round with the party. I was very careful to have my ID badge prominently displayed and not to make any sudden movements. I hear a local press photographer at the morning gig (the opening of the new Commonwealth Games Offices) was told in no uncertain terms not to use his flashgun close to the royal chappie again.

Quote:
Just looked at the date of your posting, so you're probably shooting as I'm writing this- sorry I didn't get to the forum in time to be of what little use I might be!
I'm sure that your dress code would be warmly approved by all, but for my week long stint which I talked about above, I was obliged to wear a suit and a tie. I don't know if jeans and T shirts are the equivalent of Kryptonite to royals, but that certainly seems to be the opinion of the lackeys who organise these things!
I have to wear a suit to work anyway I just wore a better (and warmer) one today.

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...and just WHAT is 'Choockie Embra', Colin? Can it be 'Duke of Edinburgh? Just a guess from a Sassanach!
Correct guess. Sorry about that.
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Old November 4th, 2008, 01:28 PM   #6
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Excellent! Glad to hear that it all went well and that your head isn't on a pole at London Bridge (or the Tolbooth).
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Old November 4th, 2008, 03:39 PM   #7
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Excellent! Glad to hear that it all went well and that your head isn't on a pole at London Bridge (or the Tolbooth).
May yet happen because of me posting this still...
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Old November 5th, 2008, 02:00 AM   #8
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Ah yes, there he is: His Royal Highness the Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex. I'm rather glad I live just over the border of Wessex, in the kingdom of the South Saxons!

Last edited by Nick Flowers; November 5th, 2008 at 07:58 AM.
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