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Friday, June 10, 2011

Lord High Incompetence

Great news about the Duke of Edinburgh being made Lord High Admiral - I'm looking forward to the imminent restoration of various other aspects of the 17th century navy, such as the Navy Board, generals-at-sea and scurvy. However, coverage of the story reveals just how shockingly ignorant much of our media is about naval history; and if the media can't get it right, is there any wonder why the general public is so woefully navy-blind? (See my last post.) Take, for instance, this apparently risible piece of reportage from the Daily Telegraph, surely the one national paper that ought to be able to get this sort of story right. Entirely honorary and delegated to commissioners after 1628? Tell that to the Duke of York, who commanded fleets in battle as Lord High Admiral in 1665 and 1672, to the various other individuals who held the office prior to 1709, and to King William IV, who held it, as Duke of Clarence, in 1827-8. But let's dig a little deeper. Like so much modern reporting, the Telegraph piece is simply a rehash of the Palace's own press release - a bad rehash, too, as it omits the important qualifying comment about powers being passed to and from the Board. But overall, the basic error lies within the press release, which is where the idiocy about the position becoming 'entirely honorary' originates. So if the serried ranks of flunkies and spin doctors around the royal family can't get it right, what chance does an overworked reporter have, and then what chance, in turn, does poor old Joe Public have? 

1 comment:

  1. This is what you find, working in the media nowadays. Most newsrooms are full of freelancers and subs who have no time or desire to write anything original, merely rehashing the press releases they are sent by PR companies. Anytime you see stories on such-and-such-a-day being the most depressing day of the year, invariably it is based on a release by a holiday company.

    On a separate note, do you think I have a shot of being Lord High Admiral just because I happen to marry the future monarch?