Jeremy Paxman’s stunning U-turn on Royal Family: ‘I was prejudiced!’


JEREMY PAXMAN explained how he had a stunning U-turn on the monarchy, admitting that he had been “prejudiced” against it in the past.

Mr Paxman discussed this about-face during an interview on an American talk show regarding his book ‘On Royalty’.

The Newsnight journalist said: “I grew up from the time that I first became politically conscious ‒ I would have been 13, 14, you start thinking about how the world works ‒ and I was a republican, in our sense of the word, not yours.

“In other words, I would have preferred a republic, I saw no point in having an unelected King or Queen as head of state, I couldn’t see what they were there for, an antique arrangement.

“And I was very happy with that prejudice. I think a lot of people who had gone through, had the blessings of tertiary education and so on, would have shared much the same view.

“And I was very happy with that prejudice, until various things happened, one of which was obviously the death of Diana, which people still don’t understand this outbreak of mass hysteria.

“But then the death of the Queen Mother much more, I thought, because here was a remote, very privileged little old lady who succumbed to what all little old ladies and you and I, in time, will succumb to and she died at a very advanced age.

“And one saw these hundreds of thousands of people queueing up to pay their respects and I just looked at them and I thought ‘what are these people doing?’, I didn’t understand it.

“And I set out to find out why it was they felt they had some kind of personal connection with her.

“And I have to say at the end of it ‒ I spent several years looking into it ‒ and at the end of it I concluded that this was an institution that was all of those things, all those objections are true ‒ it is undemocratic and it is antique ‒ but on the whole, it’s preferable to anything we would invent now.”

Mr Paxman also claimed in his 2007 comments that a large proportion of the most prosperous and harmonious societies in Western Europe have monarchies.

These include the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Spain, among others.

However he pointed out that those who do not have a monarchy tend to have a “rather unnatural fascination” with it.

monarchies in europe

Monarchies in Europe (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)

When asked what he thinks makes people feel such strong emotion about the royals, Mr Paxman said it is partly because there is only one person who is the monarch, and no lay person could ever become a royal unless they marry into the family, which is very unlikely.

On top of that, the public knows about members of the Royal Family all their lives, from the moment they are born to the moment they die.

The broadcaster quoted the Queen’s first nanny Marion Crawford, who reportedly said: “The only truly private period in the life of a royal person is in the womb.”

Mr Paxman also noted how difficult it must be for royals, highlighting that even simple things like having friends can be tricky.

He said: “You and I and all your viewers have friends.

“Friendship is a relationship of equals in which people are perfectly entitled to turn round to you and say, ‘Charlie, you’re talking bull****.

“No one can do that, if you have no equals you can’t have that relationship of peers.

“So all these things make it very hard to grow up in that world.”

Mr Paxman recalled a few days he spent with Prince Charles while working on the book.

He said that despite the prince’s bad press, with people accusing him of being everything from vain to eccentric, from indulgent to whinging, he is “not a bad man”, he just has views that some people disagree with.


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