Royal visits are strange events for journalists. I don’t think it’s giving too many secrets away to say that there’s a lot of protocol involved and, dare I say it, a little media management too.
For a start, places on them are limited so ITV Wales for example, will take it in turns with the BBC to film the various events and then pool the footage.
These occasions are a balance of allowing the media to get the pictures they need and ensuring the cameras are kept at a respectful distance. There’s an almost balletic quality to the choreography as the press pack is marshalled so that they don’t cross in front of the royal party.
And then there’s the question of, well, questions. You see, we’re not allowed to ask any of HRH as he’s walking round. Occasionally it does happen; indeed it did earlier this week. A, perhaps slightly inexperienced reporter threw a question at Prince Charles. It was studiously ignored by the Prince – and the journalist in question was taken to one side and had the ground rules explained once again. So as journalists we are left with chasing after the people the Prince spoke to, to find out what they talked about and what it was like to meet royalty.
The Prince has a big say in where he goes during the Royal week. He’s very keen to support small rural businesses, allowing them to share in the publicity that accompanies him and the Duchess of Cornwall. This week has been slightly different, though. On Thursday, the visit was obliterated in news terms by the striking public sector workers. He may be the next in line to the throne but that doesn’t guarantee him a slot on the news.
It’s easy to get cynical about these things especially as journalistically, we’re kept at arms’ length from much of the action. But talk to the people who are there, and you’ll see the value of the Royal Week. As one youngster who met him in the small Carmarthenshire village of Gorslas said: “I’ll never forget this day”.