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Society

“I Didn’t Want to Miss It”: Royal Funeral on Global Live TV

September 20, 2022

ATHENS — In movie theatres and pubs, on giant screens and smartphones, people watched and pundits droned on as Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral in London flooded the airwaves live across time zones and continents.

On the other side of the English Channel in staunchly republican France, broadcasters scrapped normal programming to carry up to 12 hours of live footage Monday.

In central Paris, locals mingled with British tourists at The Cricketer pub to catch the ceremony on screens more accustomed to sports coverage.

“It’s a historical moment … and I didn’t want to miss it,” said Manchester area resident Natalie Dotson. “So we found an English pub on Google. And then we’ve just come in today to watch (the funeral).”

Sipping her drink, Parisian Martine Paranthoen said she had “a little bit of a tight heart … because for me the queen was immortal.”

In Britain, 125 movie theaters opened their doors to broadcast Monday’s funeral live.

South Africa’s national television broadcaster SABC carried the funeral live as its headline story, even amid rolling electricity cuts across the country that have dominated the news for days. Radio stations also led with news of the procession.

Some of the coverage was accompanied, however, by discussions on the legacy of British colonialism and how — or even whether — the queen’s life should be celebrated in a former British colony like South Africa.

In Germany, public broadcasters ARD and ZDF dedicated hours of detailed live coverage and commentary, as did private all-news channels — though at least one of those later switched to a live shot of the hearse on one side of the screen while business as usual resumed on the rest of it.

Spanish national public broadcaster RTVE offered almost minute-by-minute coverage. But what grabbed viewers’ attention was an issue of domestic concern — the sight of former King Juan Carlos and his wife, former Queen Sofía, sitting in the church next to Spain’s current king and queen, their son Felipe and his wife Letizia.

The four had not been seen together since before Juan Carlos unexpectedly left Spain in 2020 amid financial scandals. Since then, the royal family has made obvious efforts to distance themselves from his legacy.

In former British colony of Hong Kong, many among the hundreds of mourners who gathered with candles and flowers outside the British Consulate on Monday night watched the live broadcast on shared devices.

Tom Fell, a 42-year-old British citizen living in Hong Kong for the past three years, said it was “so hard” to be away for the funeral.

“I remember I was at Princess Diana’s funeral. I was at the Queen Mother’s funeral. To feel the level of grief and loss, but not to be able to be part of it, makes it harder,” he said.

 

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