She is acknowledged to be someone we must all bow down to, living at a level above us all, associating only with a small coterie of inbred sybarites – İ speak of course of photographer Annie Leibowitz, most recently the author of a portrait of the Queen.

İt’s a pretty stunning work – the sort of thing that reminds you, despite all the dross, that photography can be an art.

But art has to be suffered for and HM Brenda certainly did that, according to a recent BBC documentary. Her maj spits the dummie at Queen Annie, when she is asked to remove her crown. Then she storms off, muttering that she’s “had enough of dress-ups”. You should have thought of that in ’52 one wants to say – but no need, because it didn’t happen.

Reaction was swift, including a series of sound-bites – “a photo session is more than getting in and out of a frock as most women know” from a former equerry, the winningly named Dickie Arbiter.

The whole sequence, trailed exhaustively by the Beeb is composed of two separate events – Leibowitz asking the Queen to take off ‘er ‘at in the ‘ouse, and the Queen separately grumbling about being an overpaid clothes-horse. Except the latter event occurred as the Queen was walking towards the photo session. The footage (I haven’t seen it) may even have been left-to-right reversed in order to match it up.

Quite aside from being an invaluable example of the fact that, in film, montage constructs reality (and TV news is therefore the least trustworthy medium) and a test of the whether people can still be sent to the tower, it’s an example to add, along with the ABCs screening of the Great Global Warming Swindle, of the corruption of public broadcasters.

The footage was no accident – someone had to sit down and work out how to misconstruct an event that never occurred. A generation ago it wouldn’t have happened – it wouldn’t have occurred to people in public broadcasting to do it, even with a pissweak incident like this.

Public broadcasters took these values for granted – thought they could use the reputation of a public broadcaster as a way to grab extra ratings. They didn’t realise that they were corroding its character even as they did it – not merely slow-roasting their own goose but ours as well.

Meanwhile in the diary room, Charles is talking to a maidenhair fern…

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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