Saturday, April 30, 2011

How the world saw the Royal Wedding...

Royal wedding round the world

How the world's media reacted to the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

The royal wedding round the world
The morning newspapers in Australia show the keen interest shown by Australia's media in the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton Photo: AFP/GETTY IMAGES
An estimated two million viewers tuned in to television coverage of theroyal wedding in France, where presenters described it as "the marriage of the century".
The main evening news programme on France's most watched television station TF1 opened, not with the terrorist bomb blast in Marrakesh which killed 16 people, including six French citizens, but the wedding across the Channel. The leading report included coverage from London, reports from British expatriates living in France and even a dispatch from the factory in the north of France that made the lace for Catherine Middleton's wedding dress.
State television started broadcasting live from the UK early in the morning and the French equivalent of Radio 4, France-Inter, carried regular reports from what it kept referring to as "crisis-hit" Britain. At the British Embassy in Paris, which hosted a champagne buffet lunch for around 300 mostly French guests, there were frequent, almost wistful sighs of "the British always do this sort of thing so well". A couple of well-heeled, haute-couture clad ladies, citizens of the French Republic, were spotted stuffing wads of Union flag paper serviettes and plastic flags into their designer handbags as souvenirs.
Designer Christian Lacroix told Le Figaro magazine that perhaps France was trying to adopt the British royal family "because our neighbours' happiness is a curiosity that we would like to share".
Italians were entranced by the royal wedding. The event was splashed across news websites, broadcast live by half a dozen television networks and dominated front pages on Saturday.
"The wedding of the century was a perfect show with more than two billion spectators," La Stampa proclaimed on its front page, above a picture of Prince William and Kate Middleton leaving Buckingham Palace in Prince Charles's Aston Martin.
The surprise appearance of the classic car leant "a touch of James Bond," Corriere della Sera said on its front page. Much was made by the Italians of Kate Middleton's "bourgeois" background and her coal miner ancestors. "In these times of crisis the message of hope, the moral of the fairy tale wedding of Will and Kate, is that whoever you are, from whatever social background, you too can become a millionaire and marry a prince," said La Stampa. Only the British could put on such a display of pomp and ceremony, Italian commentators said.
"No one knows how to do this better than the English," said La Repubblica. The event was run with "exemplary British punctuality". "It was almost as if the British Empire had been resurrected," said Paolo Filo Della Torre, one of a handful of Italians to be invited to the wedding, looking around Westminster Abbey at the assembled guests. "All the countries of the Commonwealth were represented." Italians found the romance of the whole thing irresistible. Miss Middleton was compared endlessly to Princess Diana, Grace Kelly and Cinderella.
One newspaper gave its readers a handy A to Z guide on the event, from Amore (love) to Zara Phillips, making much of her pierced tongue.
Italy's throne was abolished after World War Two but there are still claimants to it - Prince Victor Emmanuel and his cousin and arch-rival, Duke Amedeo of Aosta. It was a good thing neither was invited to Friday's nuptials, Italians noted – the last time they went to a royal wedding, in Spain in 2004, they got into a punch-up with each other. Italy will now turn its attention to a massive event of its own – today's ceremony at the Vatican to beatify Pope John Paul II, for which an estimated one million people have descended on Rome.
Many Japanese treated the royal wedding as a chance to take their minds off the March 11 earthquake, tsumami and nuclear disaster which devastated the north of their country. National broadcaster NHK made much of the pomp of the occasion and commented on how relaxed the bride appeared as she drove to Westminster Abbey and then later when she emerged in front of the crowds. The Nihon TV coverage was interspersed with footage of the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana introducing Prince William to the British press shortly after his birth. The Nihon TV set for the coverage of the event was designed to look like an English garden, with red and pink roses woven around a huge television screen.
The Kyodo News agency said the union was "injecting new life into the monarchy before a huge global audience." Japanese people hold their own imperial family in high esteem and have similar feelings for the British royal family, so there has been great interest in the royal wedding. The Emperor and Empress had been invited to London for the wedding, as had their oldest son, Crown Prince Naruhito, and his wife, Princess Masako, but all decided against making the journey because of the suffering at home in the aftermath of the disasters.
Australia was well and truly swept up with royal wedding fever. After a night of breathless rolling live television coverage on four out of the nation's five main free-to-air channels, the front pages of morning newspapers were adorned with large colour pictures of the happy couple and glowing reviews of the big occasion.
The Australian, the country's only national newspaper, dedicated six of its 13 news pages to the event. The theme of coverage was renewal of the monarchy, with the paper declaring that the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton marked a major milestone in the monarchy's "long effort to repair the family business - and a step towards a different and uncertain future for the world's most prominent royal clan."
The fact that the wedding was broadcast on YouTube by Clarence House showed that the Windsors had "taken cues from corporate and celebrity image makers in a bid to more carefully craft its future," the paper said. The result was a "perfect start to a royal union".
Taking an equally reverent approach, Sydney's tabloid The Daily Telegraph kicked off its 16-page souvenir lift out - complete with double page poster of the newly wed Duke and Duchess of Cambridge - with a full page photograph of "the kiss" above the headline "Love is in the heir".
But not all the coverage was gushing. There was slightly more cynicism in Melbourne's The Age newspaper, which put its republican credentials on display with this sombre warning to the Windsors: "It would be a mistake to read the enthusiasm for the spectacle as any indicator of enthusiasm for constitutional monarchy, any more than audience figures for the last Olympic Games opening ceremony could be used to measure approval of Chinese foreign policies."
The popularity of the royal wedding could be explained not by a renewed affection for the monarchy, but because it represented "a chance to tune in live to a once-in-a-generation event, something that could be shared simultaneously with the biggest, most interconnected mass audience in history."
Newspapers in the Gulf featured the royal wedding heavily — but omitted photographs of the kiss on the balcony, the picture that was shown on hundreds of front pages around the world. The Dubai-based Arabic-language Al-Bayan instead showed a large photograph of the newlyweds riding in a carriage.
Iran’s PressTV was one of the few media outlets to feature remorselessly negative coverage of the event. One of its internet stories read: “Analysts are questioning the ‘fairness’ of imposing the astronomical costs of the royal wedding on British taxpayers amid growing public weariness of the wide coverage given to the ‘unpleasant’ event.”
Another PressTV expert opined that the wedding was turning Britain into a Medieval “fantasy island” for foreign tourists to escape to from their humdrum lives. The channel’s website did not carry any photographs of the wedding or the happy couple, although it did give prominence to a republican “Not the royal wedding” party in a London pub. It also highlighted the number of arrests made by police on the lookout for troublemakers.
The People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist party, decided the royal wedding did not merit a single word of coverage.
In Shanghai, the main evening newspaper, the Xinmin Evening News, also decided not to cover the wedding. In the last week, there has been sustained criticism from Chinese internet users of media outlets for paying so much attention to a wedding that few Chinese felt any connection to.
However, some of China’s livelier newspapers did cover the wedding, although they stuck very close to the party line espoused by Xinhua, the government news agency.
“This wedding of the century lacked a sense of nobility and holiness,” commented the Oriental Morning Post in a page six article. “The use of Twitter by the global audience to comment on Prince William’s baldness and the wedding dress, while they were watching on YouTube, succeeded in bringing the royal family close to ordinary people,” it added. Both Twitter and YouTube are banned in China.
In a page 11 article, the Yangtse Evening News commented on the economy of the wedding. “Kate Middleton’s dress was much cheaper than Princess Diana’s,” it said.
On its front page, the Qianjiang Evening News said: “The British royal family is hoping for a renaissance with the wedding.”
The kiss on the balcony dominated front pages in a United States that was enthralled with the royal wedding. A headline on the Washington Post under a photograph of the kiss on the balcony read: “That second kiss sealed it: Prince William and Kate grant the people’s wish with a celebration of youth, royalty and all things British.” Many newspapers featured the wedding more prominently than the tornados which have torn across southern states killing more than 300.
Millions of Americans watched live on the internet as the wedding took place, early in the morning in most places in the US. There was some evidence that it may have been live-streamed in record numbers, although it was hard to establish figures because it was being streamed by so many outlets.
Yahoo said it had broken its record for a live video event, surpassing its audience for Michael Jackson’s funeral by 21 per cent.

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