Queen's press secretary speaks about Diamond Jubilee handling

The Queen's press secretary has spoken about the moment when the Duke of Edinburgh was taken into hospital in the middle of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

Buckingham Palace: a fitting end to the Diamond Jubilee celebrations
Buckingham Palace: a fitting end to the Diamond Jubilee celebrations

Comms and press secretary to the Queen Ailsa Anderson spoke to PRWeek after overseeing a weekend of activities alongside her deputy Dr Ed Perkins.

Prince Philip was taken into the King Edward VII Hospital on Monday because of a bladder infection, and missed several events from the Queen's diamond jubilee celebrations, including a service of thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral.

She told PRWeek: ‘The biggest challenge was the Duke of Edinburgh going into hospital on Monday. In the middle of us having 100 media to deal with at the Queen’s picnic, I get a message saying he’s been taken to hospital.’

Anderson said that she immediately prepared a press statement, which was cleared by the Queen, and  also spoke to the surgeon.

She said: ‘There was a very quick turnaround – we just needed to get something out before the press started speculating about what was going on.’

Anderson and Perkins have been overseeing a press team of ten, alongside a web team, which all moved into Buckingham Palace over the weekend. The team finished work at 3.30am on Monday morning only to start again at 6am.

Anderson added that the plan was to make the event ‘different’ from the Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2002. In particular, she pointed to the Queen’s recorded message of thanks that was issued to the media yesterday.

‘The Queen was very keen to record a message very near to transmission. It was very personal.’

Former government speechwriter Simon Lancaster said of the recording: ‘The Queen has always been a master of the art of understatement, but in this statement she took her talents to a new level.

Lancaster, who now runs Bespoke Speechwriting Services, added: ‘Who else could emerge from four days of being honoured, cheered, feted and literally placed upon a pedestal and describe it as a "humbling experience"?’ 

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