BBC Viewers Did Not Mince Words When It Came To Prince Philip’s Death Coverage
The illustrious Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral on September 19, 2022 was, as the global media has emphasized again and again, an historic moment. Per Britannica, she became queen in February of 1952, ruling for an incredible seven decades before her death. Her funeral, according to early figures via the Express, was watched on television by over four billion people.
Her Majesty died, Britannica goes on, on September 8, 2022. Between this time and the funeral, the nation entered a period of mourning. As part of this solemn time, needless to say, special programs about her life, her reign, and her impact were shown across a huge range of television channels. The coverage was almost universal.
Throughout her reign, she was supported by her adored and adoring husband, Prince Philip. The Duke of Edinburgh, per Biography, adopted his famous title on the day of their wedding, on November 20, 1947. The dedicated King Consort died on April 9, 2021, and the news, similarly, dominated traditional media and social media alike. So much so, in fact, that BBC viewers complained about the near-continuous coverage of the Duke’s death.
The BBC leapt into action on the death of the Duke of Edinburgh
Of course, there’s no denying that the Duke of Edinburgh led a long, iconic, and important life. He reached the grand age of 99, he was the Queen’s Consort for the vast majority of his time on Earth, and he fought with the British Navy in World War II prior to his marriage. He supported a wide range of important charitable causes around the world, too.
Prince Philip’s life was one to be remembered and celebrated, and the BBC predictably led the charge when it came to coverage. Per BBC News on April 12, 2021, three days after his death, the channel’s rolling coverage became too much to bear for a lot of watchers. The broadcaster reported that, via the Sun, it had received 100,000 complaints about the constant coverage.
So controversial did it become, in fact, that a dedicated section appeared on the BBC website for people to air their grievances about Prince Philip’s death dominating television. The British broadcaster canceled much of its regularly-scheduled programming to bring the world more (and more, and more) on Philip, and this seemed detrimental to ratings in some areas.
The BBC’s response to the complaints
100,000 people writing in to declare they had watched their fill of Prince Philip is a truly significant total. According to BBC News at the time, the coverage represented the most complaints the outlet ever received for its programming. Previously, the holder of this most controversial record was “Jerry Springer: The Opera.” According to a press release from the BBC, the opera was the focus of approximately 63,000 complaints (55,000 of which were received before it aired).
In the end, the complaints were vastly outnumbered by those who tuned in to watch the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral. According to Metro, between the BBC and ITV, around 13 million people watched.
Metro went on to report that the BBC issued a response to the backlash, emphasizing the iconic broadcaster’s duty to cover events such as this. “We acknowledge some viewers were unhappy with the level of coverage given, and impact this had on the billed TV and Radio schedules,” it read. “… the decisions made reflect the role the BBC plays as the national broadcaster, during moments of national significance.”