Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search

Poke fun at William and Kate's royal wedding? The censors say no.

In the land of the Magna Carta – as well as tart satire – footage of the royal wedding of William and Kate is banned from being used in any comedy program, as the Australian TV show 'The Chaser' just learned.

By Paul WoottonCorrespondent / April 28, 2011

A street vendor smiles as he sells royal wedding souvenirs outside Westminster Abbey on Thursday. The British government is prohibiting footage of William and Kate's nuptuals from being used in any comedy program.

Cathal McNaughton/Reuters



Want to poke fun at the royal family? Not while the royal wedding is being broadcast, you can’t.

Skip to next paragraph

The Australian TV show "The Chaser," which had planned an irreverent commentary to accompany images of the ceremony, has been pulled from ABC2’s schedule, after learning that footage of the event is banned from being used in any comedy or satirical program.

The incident is likely to increase unease about the special treatment the British monarchy receives, particularly when it comes to suppressing criticism from those with antiroyal views. While many people are sympathetic with the royal family’s desire to maintain a degree of control over the event, critics believe restrictive measures, which include the police’s intended hard-line toward protesters on Friday, illustrate an unacceptable level of influence the monarchy continues to exert over the state and beyond.

ABC TV director Kim Dalton said he was “surprised and disappointed” that "The Chaser" could not be aired, while one of the show’s stars, Julian Morrow, described the rule as “out of step with a modern democracy.”

Comedy? Satire? Forget it.

Clarence House, which oversees the affairs of Prince William and drew up the broadcast contract with the BBC, issued a statement saying that it was “standard practice for these kinds of religious ceremonies to include a clause which restricts usage in drama, comedy, satirical, or similar entertainment programs.”

Organizations championing freedom of expression have questioned whether the royals should have the right to impose such restrictions, especially given that the taxpayer will pick up most of the costs involved in organizing the event.

Padraig Reidy, news editor at Britain's Index on Censorship, describes the royal family’s control of the coverage as “bizarre.” He adds that plans for preemptive arrests and restrictions on the right to protest were even more concerning, branding as “unprecedented” the police’s intended approach.

“The level of stage management with such an event might not be surprising, but certainly the police promise to use the Public Order Act on the day to deal with anyone who even slightly tries to interfere with the spectacle is rather worrying in our view,” he says.

Republican groups are incensed over suggestions by Metropolitan Police Commander Christine Jones that antiroyal placards in the vicinity of the ceremony would be removed on the day. Graham Smith, spokesman for Republic, a group that advocates a "democratic alternative to the monarchy," says, “Republicans have every right to make their voice heard on the day of the royal wedding, and the police have a fundamental duty to protect that right. The idea that political dissent should be silenced in order to protect the image of the royals goes against every democratic principle.”


Read Comments

View reader comments | Comment on this story