Queen's Funeral Footage in Censorship Dispute After These Viral Moments

A dispute between British broadcasters and Buckingham Palace has broken out over unedited footage from the ceremonial events marking the death of Queen Elizabeth II, according to recent reports.

The Guardian reports that broadcasters and the palace are locked in a battle over the record of the historic events, after outlets were told they could compile only an hour-long edited version of the ceremonies which were spread over many days, for future use.

Britain's primary broadcasters would be restricted to "up to 12 minutes of footage from the hour-long Westminster Abbey funeral service, 12 minutes from the Windsor castle committal service and only a few minutes from each of the various vigils that took place," according to the newspaper.

The royal household would vet the final versions, considering "whether to veto any proposed inclusions." The alleged deadline for submissions was Monday.

Queen Elizabeth II Memorial Broadcasting Dispute
Queen Elizabeth II's coffin is photographed above during the state funeral on September 19, 2022. Queen Camilla (inset left) is photographed at Westminster Hall on September 12, 2022. And King Charles III (inset right) is photographed at St James's Palace on September 10, 2022. A British newspaper has reported that broadcasters face being limited as to which footage from the queen's memorial events they can re-use. Christopher Furlong/Getty Images/Dan Kitwood/Getty Images/ Victoria Jones - WPA Pool/Getty Images

This power of veto provokes discussion around censorship, as some candid moments from the recordings could be considered to reflect unflatteringly on members of the royal family.

The current status of the dispute is unknown. Newsweek reached out to Buckingham Palace for comment.

All major events from the time of the queen's death at the age of 96 on September 8, to her committal service at Windsor Castle on September 19, were broadcast on television in Britain and streamed live around the world through various channels.

The bulk of footage likely falling under potential restriction would be that which was filmed at St James's Palace or inside Westminster Abbey, and St. George's Chapel, Windsor.

To film inside the latter religious spaces, express permission would be needed from the palace as they are considered "royal peculiars," meaning they fall outside of church jurisdiction and answer only to the monarch—in this case, King Charles III.

It is possible, therefore, that permission to film the ceremonies inside these spaces was granted on the condition that footage is re-broadcast upon approval from the palace.

St George's Chapel Committal Service Queen Elizabeth
Above, the committal service for Queen Elizabeth II takes place on St. George's Chapel on September 19, 2022. Permission to film inside the chapel is granted by the royal household as the chapel, along with Westminster Abbey, is a royal peculiar. Jonathan Brady - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Similar arrangements are expected to have been applied to the recording of the wedding ceremony of Prince William to Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey in 2011. An edited version of the ceremony was made available to purchase through the BBC afterward and is available to stream on the royal family's YouTube channel.

Though the exact reasoning behind the decision remains unknown, a number of clips taken from broadcasts of events following the queen's death opened the royals up to criticism.

Two instances that were recorded and widely shared showed the new King Charles expressing frustration over pens, in the days following the queen's death.

The first incident was filmed as part of the coverage of the king's accession council at St. James's Palace. In the throne room of the palace, Charles signed official documents initiating his reign in the presence of assembled privy councilors.

A small desk was provided for this purpose on which was placed a tray of pens and a large silver inkstand. As Charles took his seat to sign his documents he gestured frustratedly to an aide to remove the pens, only for Prince William to need one moments later.

"Manners cost nothing!" posted one Twitter user in response to the incident after a clip shared online had been viewed more than 19 million times in 24 hours. Another added: "Took him more effort to wave his hand a dozen times than to move it himself."

A second pen-related outburst was filmed as the king signed the visitors' book at Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland. After a fountain pen leaked ink over his hands, the monarch was recorded saying: "Oh God, I hate this pen!"

"Can't bear this bloody thing!" he said while walking away, before adding: "[It's] what they do every stinking time."

Another clip shows Queen Camilla appearing to check her nails during a ceremony at Westminster Hall and Mike Tindall checking his watch during a vigil at the lying-in-state.

Other viral moments which may be considered too personal, showed emotional displays of members of the royal family, particularly at the queen's state funeral.

Whether footage of Prince Edward, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, King Charles and Meghan Markle, all shedding tears during the day-long events, is considered in the public interest to be re-broadcast could be debated by the palace.

So far there has been no comment from Buckingham Palace relating to The Guardian's claims. As of September 27, news footage from a number of the ceremonies commemorating the queen's life remains available to stream online from various outlets including the BBC and Sky News.

Representatives for the BBC and Sky News declined to comment when contacted by Newsweek.

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