Déjà Vu for California-based Royal Biographer
New Zealand writer Susan Maxwell Skinner, who lives in Charmichael, California, “knows much about the doings of England’s royal family”, writes The Sacramento Bee’s Bill Lindelof. As a young writer, Skinner moved to England to cover the royals as a freelance reporter, including the births in the 1980s of Princes William and Harry in the same London maternity wing where legions of media were encamped this week for the birth of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s baby boy.
Skinner answered questions about royal births, the press and protocol. “What is your experience covering the royal family?” Lindelof asks. “I got to England to be at Diana and Charles’ wedding. Then I got some book offers and I stayed on with the palace press corps for about eight years. I was basically travelling with Charles and Diana. But I did also cover other members of the royal family, including the queen.”
“What is it like to see the press outside the same spot you occupied for William and Harry’s birth? “Déjà vu. We sat on that very same brick wall that you saw the press mob [on 22 July]. I sat on that wall for three days, through rain, sunshine, night and day.” “What are your memories of how that vigil ended?” “Eventually, Diana and Charles appeared. They posed very accommodatingly for the press. It was a very nice tableau.”
“Compare William’s birth and that of this baby in this age of social media.” “For the first time, in the case of a royal heir, it will be announced by Twitter at roughly the same time the palace announces it. Golly, the queen tweets. The royal family is nothing if not communication-savvy. It has to be, given that it is an anachronistic institution. They have to operate in a way that makes them seem relevant.” Skinner is the author of Carmichael – Americana on the Move.