Focuses on the ways in which two British broadcasters, the BBC and Channel 4, handled coverage of the monarchy during a particularly sensitive period for the Windsor family of ageing and generational change. These events culminated in the commemoration of Queen Elizabeth’s sixtieth year on the throne, the speculation surrounding Prince Charles as the oldest heir apparent in British history, the marriage of Prince William and Catherine Middleton and the birth of their son, George, now third in line to the throne. What various examples of this television coverage reveal are the delicate negotiations necessary on the part of the broadcasters in dealing with the continuity of the monarchy, traditional symbol of the stability of the nation and the inevitability of change.
The Tudors (2007-2010) is a new type of heritage product - the internationally produced and consumed television costume drama- that has recently become an established global alternative to those of the BBC. Drawing on historical fact and previous cinematic and television portrayals of Henry VIII, it also owes its existence to non-British influences such as American and Canadian production companies. It features an international cast and was filmed in Ireland with an Irish actor as the English king. Unlike traditional British historical and heritage cinema, The Tudors does not represent the greatness of a national past through location shooting of castles and cathedrals. Instead, the world its characters occupy is often conjured from computer generated images, suggesting less the past depicted than the technology used to depict it. And rather than dealing in national concerns, its hybridized form and content lead it away from specific characteristics to international notions of British masculinity and nationhood. Via these means, Henry VIII, like Spartacus and the Borgias, joins the historical superheroes of the new multi-channel universe.
Anton Walbrook played Prince Albert in both Victoria the Great ( 1937) - which coincided with George VI's coronation and the centenary of Queen Victoria's accession - and its sequel, Sixty Glorious Years (1938). Austrianborn Walbrook came to Britain specifically for this role, following a successful continental career as Adolf Wohlbrück. His Gennan films included musical comedies such as Walzerkrieg (1933) in which Hanna Waag played Queen Victoria very differently from Anna Neagle. This chapter will examine portrayals of British royalty in his films, linking them with Walbrook's life and the wider historical context. It will be argued that these portrayals of Prince Albert and Queen Victoria were influenced by Anglo-Gennan politics, and comparisons will be made to films by Walbrook's fonner colleagues, such as Ohm Kruger (1941) and Mary Queen of Scots, the Heart of a Queen (1940). The paper will draw attention to the waltz imagery that recurs in all three Victoria films, linking it to the actor's Viennese roots and showing how Prince Albert's journey from Saxe-Coburg to Windsor became intertwined with Wohlbrück's transfonnation into Walbrook.
The King's Speech is paradigmatic of the contemporary trend of representing the British monarchy through melodrama, a mode the traditionally sides with the powerless. ' Bertie' (George VI) is a melodramatic figure whose integrity is underscored, in Linda Williams' phrase, by 'the literal suffering of an agonized body'. His speech impediment literalizes the psychic wounds caused by both the demands of royalty and his austere father in this Oedipal melodrama. Like his familiar nickname, his stammering renders him identifiable, despite his selfconfessed ignorance ofhis common subj ects. Melodrama, in Peter Brooks' influential formulation, offers moral legibility in a post-sacred era, but only in individualized terms. Bertie's hysterical symptoms confirm his virtue and that of the monarchy as institution via a relentless focus on the private realm, with the spectre of class antagonisms and republican protests evoked only to be dismissed. Bertie's stammering speaks the burden of royalty, while also providing a vehicle for exploring the in the wake of the new mass media. His final broadcast unites the nation, reinvigorating the national body ailing from his brother's abdication, triumphantly readying it for war.