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Tribute to Britain's Queen Mother

Aired March 30, 2002 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Britain's Queen Mother Elizabeth who held an unshakeable place in British affections for more than half a century died in her sleep today, and she was 101 years old. Tonight, reflections on the woman the whole world knew as the queen mum next on LARRY KING WEEKEND.

Thanks for joining us. Tonight the world mourns the loss of the queen mother. This extraordinary woman lived a remarkable life. We're going to pay tribute to her. Last year we asked a panel of royal observers about the queen mother's health.


KING: Kentucky, hello.

CALLER: What's the secret to the longevity of the queen mother and how is her current health?

KING: Well Mr. Lacey, do you want to take that one first?

ROBERT LACEY, ROYAL BIOGRAPHER: Well the quick answer is gin and dubonet (ph), which she consumes in generous quantities every lunchtime and is very fond of champagne. It's a very good question. I mean here's a real good news story. We just celebrated her 101st birthday and she's currently up in this castle she renovated up in Scotland, the castle of May (ph). She's rather upset apparently at the number of TV trucks that are hidden in the bonds (ph) in the neighborhood extensively covering a holiday, but she fears maybe ghoulishly waiting for the day of her departure, which she doesn't intend to be before the year 2002 when she's going to celebrate, she feels, her daughter's Golden Jubilee ...


LACEY: ... at her side.

KING: Well, Hugo Vickers, she was hospitalized recently. Is everything OK?

HUGO VICKERS, ROYAL WATCHER: She was hospitalized, that's absolutely true. I am -- I was there outside the hospital when she came out and she looked absolutely amazing. I was also there on the day of her 101st birthday and had a word with her, and I can say that she is in extremely good health and she was as bright as anything, very alert, and taking a lot in. I would say that the -- that the real reason for her longevity is her zest for life. She just takes in a huge interest in everything and she concentrates very hard and she doesn't like to disappoint people. She likes -- her philosophy of life is that if you come into her orbit, your life must get better. Not everybody takes that view actually.

KING: Kitty, would you call her an activist with regard to the family?

KITTY KELLEY, AUTHOR, "THE ROYALS": Oh yes, absolutely. She's an activist. She's helped the monarchy so much since the day she married into it. You know long may she wave.

KING: Well said. Elliott Lake, Ontario, hello.

CALLER: Yes, hello. Good evening, Larry.


CALLER: I have a two-part question, first part being does grandma have much input? I mean great, great grandma not the Queen, the queen mother (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and the second part is how much input does Diana's family have in (UNINTELLIGIBLE) like a very, very emotional ...


CALLER: ... tribute to her and I was just wondering how much input they have with the boys.

KING: Hugo Vickers, do you want to take that one?

VICKERS: Well, I think that the queen mother had obviously a very big influence in the life of the queen, Princess Margaret in particular, prince of Wales. I would say she probably has rather less influence on Prince Williams because you know they are just generations -- another generation apart. And as for Earl Spencer, he makes comments occasionally that he is pleased in the way that the boys are developing and things, but I suspect that he doesn't have a very, very strong influence, frankly on their day-to-day welfare.


KING: On February 9, her youngest daughter, Princess Margaret, passed away. We asked our panel of royal experts how her death would affect the queen mum.


LACEY: There's been a lot of interest and tension about the health of the queen mother and whether she's going to be able to make it to the funeral. And I know that the royal family at the start of the week were themselves a little uncertain. They obviously felt deeply affected by what had happened and by the loss of Margaret, who was such a lively force in the family. But at the same time, as they marked their mourning, they didn't want Britain to feel that they were enforcing some sort of feeling on the whole country because frankly feelings here have been a bit unbenevolent about Princess Margaret. She's had the challenge that Diana never had, of having to grow old as a princess and confront the reality of life. But I think tomorrow we're going to see a moving, though, private ceremony.

KING: Kitty Kelley, wasn't Margaret maybe one of the first of the 20th Century kind of rebels?

KELLEY: Oh, big rebel. She was always known as the "hip" princess, the one that hung out with rock stars, went to restaurants and theaters and dances. But you know I agree with Robert, over here Larry there's been very little coverage of the death of Princess Margaret. Had she died 30 years ago, even if as a woman 71 years old, it would have been front-page news. Now some of that could be that editors now are much younger, but it also shows, I think, that the impact of British royalty in this country has diminished quite a bit.

KING: Harold Baker, what about Margaret, made her, in her time, in your opinion so fascinating?

HAROLD BROOKS-BAKER, BURKE'S PEERAGE: Well, because she was unbelievably beautiful, very intelligent, very charming. Everyone loved her and if she had died, I agree with Kitty Kelley, years ago, she would have been remembered by everybody as the most beautiful woman in the world -- certainly, one of the most beautiful women in the world. But you see the thing is that she lived in a way too long to keep up with the tradition that she set and Princess Margaret was a rebel, but the sad thing about her life was that it was definitely without a cause. She was kept waiting for a job that she could never have and she had no job of her own. Once again, we're faced with a decision for Prince Harry on what he can do, what sort of constructive job he can have in order to keep him from falling into the same trap.

KING: Hugo, she also had to give up a love, did she not?

VICKERS: She did -- she did indeed. When she was very young she fell in love with her (UNINTELLIGIBLE) with the queen mother (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Captain Peter Townsend, but I've always thought, actually that the most tragic aspect of her whole life really was the death of her father when she was only 21 years old and she was very, very devoted to him, and after that in a sense she no longer had the family around her in the same way. She no longer lived at Buckingham Palace, Windsor (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of course she was always very welcome to go there. But in a sense, I think all the problems that stemmed came from that. I mean that was the worst thing that ever happened to her in her whole life.

KING: What, Robert, is the affect do you think on the Queen losing her only sibling?

LACEY: Oh, very bitter. We know that when the queen recently went to actually see the coffin of her sister in Kensington Palace that she wept. Now this is a woman who is not known for weeping. She is a very emotional woman. With this idea that she has no emotions is not true, but normally she keeps them under control. No, from a very early age, she and Margaret were joined at the hip. I mean do you remember -- I'm sure Americans remember how often in their childhood they wore the very same clothes. They were known as the little princesses. They were role models for their generation. Elizabeth, of course, was always the good, neat tidy one. Margaret, the naughty one and of course as their lives unfold, in adult life, that became more dramatic.

KING: What do you think, Kitty, the affect is on the queen mother who, she will attend that funeral tomorrow? You're not suppose to lose children before your time, but I guess if your child is 71, maybe it ain't the end of the world.

KELLEY: Oh I'm sure that it's very, very hard for the queen mother. I think it's probably even harder for the queen because two years ago the queen was heard to say that her worst fear in life was that she would lose the queen mother and then she's lose Margaret and she said and then I'll have nobody. Because these are the two women with whom the queen can really be herself, and I think it's going to be devastating for the queen mother to go there and to bury her child. That's got to be the worst thing for a parent.

KING: Harold, what did Queen Margaret die of and was she very sick? Seventy-one is not old.

BAKER: Well, she abused her body very badly with cigarettes and with cocktails. After all, George VI and George V both died of cigarette smoking and she really should have sworn off this dreadful habit many, many years ago. It is a question of what in the world you can do with somebody who is as determined as Princess Margaret was, but nevertheless it's tragic to see and of course the one good thing about the sad death of the late Princess of Wales Diana, is that she died at the height of her glamour and popularity. She did not live beyond that. That was sad, but in a way perhaps a little bit better.


KING: More on the passing of queen mum and the future of the monarchy after these words.


TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Above all else (UNINTELLIGIBLE) can part by a deep religious conviction, she had this selfless devotion to duty. That's what she believed in. That's how she lived her life, and that is how I believe and hope she will be remembered.



KING: Tonight we're looking back at the life of Britain's queen mother. In June of 1999 the royal family celebrated the wedding of Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones. It was some kind of show. We wondered what the Queen and queen mother thought about their newest family member.


Do we know what the queen mother and the queen think of Sophie?

LACEY: I think they're both tremendously pleased. I think one could take some clues from what the way in which the Queen dressed up especially for the wedding in rather a skittish sort of outfit for her. I mean we royal watchers detect these clues as people used to look at the clues coming out of Peking, say, and the fact that the queen -- the queen dressed up so much showed that this was a girl that she did really approve of, that she felt that her youngest son is in very good hands.


KELLEY: I was quite taken with the purple feathers that the queen put on her head. You know she's probably the only woman in the entire world that could put purple feathers on her head and still take herself seriously and look serious.

LACEY: I think here we're seeing the arrival of the queen mother at the ceremony. She's 99 in a few weeks time and she, of course, didn't walk down the hill and she's actually there going in by a special entrance at the side of the chapel, which I think Hugo knows something about because she couldn't walk up the steps at the front.

KING: Hugo.

VICKERS: Yes she's -- yes she's going in through the galley (ph) porch, which is the way she normally goes into the chapel. It's just that it's a slightly shorter route really to her seat in the -- in the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Chapel, but quite appropriate that she should do that. But quite frankly she looks better now than she did five years ago. I think she's sailing very happily towards her 100th birthday. I certainly hope so.

LACEY: And there are the three young men coming down the hill. I mean just as Hugo said, there was a bit of a mix up in timing, and so there's the queen mother's car that sort of stuck behind them, but ...


LACEY: The royal family don't think that way about things, Larry. No ...


LACEY: The -- I mean, that, as Hugo says, was one of the charming things about the wedding. It wasn't quite a wedding in a local village church, but Windsor is their town. After all, back in 1917, when everybody in Britain was complaining about the royal family being so German, they changed their name from (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to Windsor.

KING: We'll be right back. Don't go away.


KING: Welcome back. David Frost is one of Great Britain's premiere journalist. He's also been a keen observer of the royal family for years. Here now are his thoughts on the queen mother.


One person in all of this that we haven't expounded on except for age is the queen mother who seems to go on forever, does she not?

SIR DAVID FROST: She is incredible, isn't she? At 97 and the pride with which she goes out and goes about her duties at 97 is absolutely extraordinary. I remember going to lunch about six months ago and normally you would -- this was a lunch for 10 or 12 people and normally the etiquette protocol arrive a few moments before the queen mother who was arriving at one, and so we arrived at about 10 minutes to one and in fact, she'd arrived early and she was already getting out and going up the steps and she'd had, you know, operations and other things, but we just -- so we hung back (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and we watched her -- she walked up the steps and she didn't have to, but she had really high heels on.

That was at 96 1/2, you know, nobody would have minded if she'd turned up in carpet slippers. It was great that she'd be there, you know. But blow me down, there she was with these long tapering high heels. What a fierce sense of pride that this speaks.

KING: Boy does it. And I guess she's a -- would you call her a pretty good great grandmother?

FROST: I should think she must be. I should think she must be fantastic and my goodness me, I mean they all -- they all try and get the queen mother to tell the tales of her life because she's lived this century. She's lived this century. She's (UNINTELLIGIBLE) everybody including the family whomever putting it on record or tape or private tape or anything and you know, and but members of family just spend their time -- they know they'll never get a recording of it, but just telling the stories of this extraordinary life. I mean she's been through it right from the turn of the Century, and it looks like she'll be there happily at the end of it as well.

KING: What do we make of the queen? Is she a popular Queen? Is -- will she give her throne to -- what -- where do we stand with the queen?

FROST: Well there is a tremendous respect for the queen in England, and the -- I mean a serious, deep respect for her and the fact that she's done her job, it was generally felt pretty much without putting a foot wrong for such a long time. And of course she and her mother -- her mother is what, 97 now, she's going to live for a long time and there is the possibility that Prince Charles, you know, could not be King until he's 75 or something like that. And imagine, if you hadn't been Larry King until you were 75 or something like that. I mean it would be -- it would be appalling and appalling to the nation, I may add and for the nation too. But the point is great respect for her, of course. She's a very formal figure and you wouldn't invite her out for a game of snooker or something, you know, probably.

But so she has respect and bordering on love, I guess but not in the -- not in the passionate youthful sense that there is -- there's a real love out there for the princess right now.

KING: In the family ...

FROST: And you can feel it.

KING: There is a love for her that still exists ...


KING: Right, yes. In the family ...

FROST: Yes there is.

KING: ... is Fergie the most interesting?

FROST: Well I think people admire her. After all, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the way she's fought back and God knows how she's managed to claw back that debt that she was supposed to have had ...

KING: Yes.

FROST: ... before. So in that sense, yes, she's never boring. And she's not -- she's not your typical royal either I suppose, but she's -- she hasn't got a bad bone in her body, and she's fought back with the support of her divorced husband.

KING: Yes, what can you tell us about William and Harry?

FROST: Well I can't add a lot more to what we've said so far, and in the sense that obviously a lot of get-togethers with the Prince of Wales take place while they're away at school and so on. And everybody has noticed the fact that obviously Prince Williams looks so very much -- Spencer looks, but he's got the same caring thoughtfulness that his -- that his father's got.

So that's a -- that's a perfect marriage and he is the shier of the two with the media, which is why that moment was so moving when he suddenly started following Harry's example on the Friday before the funeral and taking flowers from one -- from the crowd and placing them over there rather than standing back, and that was a very moving moment. I thought that was a moment when the clouds started to lift (UNINTELLIGIBLE) over there -- over the House of Windsor and so on.

So that -- but they're both making very, very good progress at school and indeed it's fair to say actually that Prince William and his time at Eaton before all of this, there wasn't that much intrusion. There's always a few paparazzi hanging about, of course, with tiny hidden cameras and so on, but there wasn't that much intrusion. So they're able to grow up and grow into the roles that history has set for them.

KING: All right, you've been ...

FROST: The one thing -- the one thing is that, of course, their destiny is decided. You or I could (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I want to be a football player. I want to be this. I want to be that. It's different when your destiny is decided.


KING: What is Harry's destiny? What is it like to be the brother of the heir?

FROST: Well there is one -- there is one -- when people talk about modernizing the royal family, I think that that's one of the areas, a real job -- a real job for the second son would be a very good example because it's so difficult. Now the problem here, you had a couple of members of the royal family, you know, tried to get busy in business ventures, things went wrong with the business ventures. They were -- they were attacked for bringing down the royal family and all of that sort of thing and that's why these members of the royal family tend to grow up with spending an excessive number of years in the Army, the Navy and the Air Force because they can't get into trouble there.

They can't -- they can't be attacked at a shareholder's meeting of the Royal Navy or whatever. And so, somehow that's one of the things that they could do in modernizing the royal family. That's one of the things they should do, in fact, which is to find real roles for people. Now there could be really an exciting role as governor general of Australia maybe unless Australia becomes a Republic, in which case they'd go to New Zealand or whatever.


FROST: Yes. Imagine having Prince Harry as ambassador to Washington for Britain. I mean that would be a tremendous plus for Britain and a tremendous education for him.

KING: I would imagine it's also tough to be the younger brother, don't you think?

FROST: I don't know. I mean I don't know. I look at our own boys and I think on the one hand how great to be the elder son and yet you have to do a lot of things first, if you're the elder son and the second son gets a few tips along the way. So you have to blaze the trail as the elder son and in this case, you've got a mega responsibility here coming your way. So I think there's pros and cons. I mean if you're a real leader, you'd like to go first, but if you'd like someone else to test the water, not too bad being the second son.


KING: We'll be back with more of this special edition of LARRY KING WEEKEND right after this.


KING: We're back tonight paying tribute to Britain's queen mother. The life of a royal is one of trappings and tradition. It's also one where your every move is watched and examined. We asked Sarah Ferguson about the difficulties of living with a title.


What, Sarah, is the worst thing about marrying into royalty? What's the thing about it that you ain't going to like if you're madly in love with one man the rest of your life and the kids grow up perfect? What don't you like about it?

SARAH FERGUSON, DUCHESS OF YORK: I think one of the things is restrictions and learning to come to terms with the fact that you have joined a firm and that you're a public figure and being responsible for that. You know, I fought so hard, long and hard, against being a public figure and against being, you know, I wanted to -- I was fighting all the time to being different and be the opposite and perhaps rebellious -- I don't know, and maybe once I surrendered and accepted the fact that I was going to be a public figure and that's the way it has to be. Maybe I've grown up.

KING: Didn't it also make you, though, more of a public figure to create more interest in you? So ...


KING: Six of one, half a dozen of another.

FERGUSON: But the saint and sinner sell good papers. You know, I was the black one and Diana was the right one and we sold papers and ...

KING: Why were you the black one? Because you did what you wanted to do. Because you ...


FERGUSON: I say what I think and I speak the truth. I'm desperately honest (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I like to have a good time. I laugh a lot, and I keep my tears in private.

KING: But the press says we love honest people. We love people to be honest and direct with us and we love to see people having fun and if they get into little mishaps, we love that too, but basically that's the kind of personality we're drawn to.

FERGUSON: Well here in America it's much easier for someone like me because you give a girl a chance and you sort of say come on, you know, look she's paid her dues, whatever, let's get going.

KING: We do forgive ...


KING: ... and we forget.

FERGUSON: ... you really do, and people ask me well why do you spend so much time in America? Well why do you think I spend so much time in America? I like it here and the people are very kind. Oh I'm not under no illusions that it could change like that.

KING: You know it.

FERGUSON: Absolutely.

KING: You join the criticism of the paparazzi.

FERGUSON: I think the paparazzi have a job to do just like we all do and that's not a glib comment. I really believe that. I need the press. I need you to promote -- help promote my film on Saturday night. I need the press to tell everybody about the waiting room from hell, the orphanage in Afghanistan. I need people to talk about the women who have acid thrown in their face in Bangladesh. How are we going to get that message across if it's not thanks to the media.

KING: So you have to put up with them chasing you.

FERGUSON: I think -- OK, chasing or not chasing, I think it's a subject which for me you have to take the rough with the smooth in anything in any walk of life -- positive, negative, yin, yin, yang, whatever you want to call it. And I think personally that that's what life's about.

KING: Good point, the yin beats the yang.


KING: In an interview with the "Times of London" earlier back a couple of months ago, you were asked if you were ever frightened by the royal system and this was your answer -- only when Diana died. I was frightened and I thought it's better to keep your head down and not talk about politics and then maybe you will be all right. What did you mean?

FERGUSON: Well I just mean that quite frankly it's easier just to be within your own parameter and fight for what you -- what you believe is right and what you believe you can do, but not to upset too many people in high places because you know it just -- it becomes too much pressure.

KING: Can't fight the system.

FERGUSON: Absolutely. I think it's better to go with the flow like a good river going to its destiny rather than trying to cause a stir. I think I've caused enough stir in my life.

KING: What did her death do to you?

FERGUSON: It made me revisit every moment. It made me really look at whether I need to find really what Sarah is about. And I didn't -- I didn't want to die. I became very aware of life. I became very aware of every day, and I became very aware of the magic that we have been given. I mean so often in our busy lives we get up and we rush, complaining of a headache or we rush to work and we're late. But what about the fact that we're breathing and that the sun's shining.

KING: Yes. You know that we learned so much about her. Did you know a lot about her troubles during the time of her life?

FERGUSON: Yes I did. I learned a lot about her troubles and we grew together like little trees in the forest.

KING: If you were giving advice to someone now 20 years old in the same position about to marry into royalty, what would you tell them?

FERGUSON: Just make sure that when you do get married you stay with your -- with your spouse. Stay with your husband or wife or whichever's actually getting married and just make sure you really have a communication together. Make sure you really, really are there everyday and see each other everyday, I mean within reason.

Because I think that's really what happened with Andrew and I, we just spent too much time apart and therefore the gap appears. It wasn't from lack of love, it was just circumstances and him, you know, being away at sea, which I did understand before I married. But on top of that I dealt with all the other issues and so, of course, I became more and more self-sabotaged.

KING: But yours is also somewhat of a great relationship, your Christmas card, which was wonderful, by the way, pictures of your beautiful children are signed by you and Andrew. Are you a couple -- are you a couple? When we got the Christmas card we were thrilled to have it. Are you a couple?

FERGUSON: Yes, Larry, we're the happiest divorced couple in the world, and we live in the same house. And he's one of the finest, bestest friends I have, and I am very, very proud that I married him. I'm even more proud that he's father to my children.

KING: But you date and he dates?

FERGUSON: Absolutely. We're a modern couple.

KING: So you're beyond, then there's no jealousy? You don't feel badly if he's with someone, he doesn't feel badly if you're with someone?

FERGUSON: We both understand that there is nobody that could ever take our places really because we have the two lovely girls. We're very responsible parents to those girls and we believe in unity of that. And the fact that when we -- when we decided to have children, you know, there was enormous love between us and I think we really, you know, take responsibility for the girls. KING: By the way, both Sean (ph) and I, when we got the card, thought it was wonderful to see something like that, that divorced people could send out a picture of their children, sign a card together and still -- why can't more people do that? That's pretty -- a grown-up way of looking at things, but what is it like in the same house, though?

FERGUSON: Well it's fine because Andrew goes to work in London and I spend a lot of time in the United States, as you know, Larry, and when we are together we have -- we just have a great time. I mean it is quite extraordinary, our friendship, and it is very difficult to describe because it is totally unique. But we seemed to have grown up together. We're both 40 -- well he's 40 in February (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and ...


KING: And how do the children deal with it?

FERGUSON: Oh, wow, I mean they see great support, great respect of each other. Their mom and dad respect each other very, very, very much and so, they admire that and they -- and they really are happy. In fact, last week they both said at a Sunday luncheon, it was the four of us sitting around, they both said that they were the luckiest children ever because there was such unity and friendship.

KING: And they don't pressure you this "get married again mom and dad".

FERGUSON: Oh, of course, yes. I apparently have to put on my wedding dress and strut around the house as them as bridesmaids. But, you know, the fact is we are very lucky to be healthy and well and a lot of people, you know, speak to me about oh, well what do you think about -- I don't know, motherhood and parenthood and what do you think about everyday life and don't you think we should do this, do that, whatever else. And I say listen, we're jolly lucky not to be in Kosovo. We're very lucky to be -- have the luxuries we do. And quite frankly to have the unity of friendship that we have is great.


KING: We'll be back with more of this special edition of LARRY KING WEEKEND right after this.


KING: Tonight the world mourns the passing of Britain's queen mum. Among the mourners we're sure are Princes William and Harry. The two boys have been in the news quite a bit recently.


Tonight Prince William turns 18. Can this blue-blooded heart throb save the British monarch? Robert Lacey in London, why is this a big story? LACEY: Well it's the future of the monarchy, as you say. Monarchy is only as good as the people doing the job, and we've seen the British monarchy in recent years fall into disfavor in the public opinion polls in this country. William has apparently the glamour of his mother and perhaps the dignity of his father, perhaps he's got the best of both and the hope is certainly among loyal monarchies in this country that he'll keep the flag flying in the future.

KING: And in London, in England, Kitty Kelley. Is 18 adulthood?

KELLEY: Yes, I think it is Larry, which means that the gloves will be off as far as the press is concerned. Up to this time William has been protected really by a wall of privacy -- cooperation between the media and Britain and his family. And the only pictures allowed are those that the palace sanction. Now that's kind of iffy -- Prince Charles has asked to continue that cooperation. The British people, I think, want to continue it, but I don't think there's much morality in the marketplace because there's going to be pressure to get pictures of Prince William.

KING: Philip, why do they need, if they desire privacy, release these pictures of young Prince William?

PHILIP HOARE, SOCIAL HISTORIAN: Well obviously to their advantage, isn't it? They've got this man who they're now shaping up to be the new future of the monarchy. It's quite interesting (UNINTELLIGIBLE) royalty's arm search and Madonna, then William is its Matt Damon. We're seeing that image being brought into focus now. You've got a young man who's sort of preppy, sport image, but with an arty sign. He's going to study history of art, a sort of Renaissance man being shaped for reigning in the 21st Century.

KING: He looks -- he looks an awful lot, Kitty, like his late mother and one would gather she would be very proud of how he he's turned out. What, with all this -- with all this secrecy about, what do we know about Prince William?

KELLEY: He really does stop your heart a bit, doesn't he?

KING: Yes.

KELLEY: He looks so much like her. He's kind of like Leonardo DiCaprio with a crown. I mean, he's got it all. This is a young man who's handsome. He's got the goodwill of the entire world. He's got the monarchy to look forward to for whatever it's going to be, though, Larry by the time he gets it.

His grandmother is 74 years old. She's got longevity on her side. She's going to live as long as her mother. By that time, Prince Charles is what, 75 when he comes to the throne. He, too, has longevity on his side. So, he's going to -- and by the time we have William as a King, he's going to be a man in his 50s possibly.

KING: This Sunday news broke that Harry had dabbled with drink and drugs this past summer when he was 16. After Prince Charles discovered what his younger son had been up to, he sent him to visit drug rehab facility in London. Marijuana is illegal in Britain and the drinking age is 18.

Robert Lacey, the same question for all of you, we'll start with you. What do you make of this story?

LACEY: Well, I think it's being very well handled by the royal family, and I actually think in the -- given the recent history of the royal family, this does not count as a disaster. I think actually quite the contrary. One of the things we're getting used to in Britain is giving up the old idea that the royal family has to be perfect. It's actually quite a 20th Century idea.

And what we've seen with the news of Harry experimenting in the summer is that they are a family like any other and also that they can make mistakes and there's been quite a national debate here, which I myself think is very fruitful about whether or not Prince Charles handled it well, how a parent should react, and the royal family has been remarkably open in disclosing.

KING: Harold Brooks-Baker, what do you think?

BROOKS-BAKER: Well I think the whole situation has, as Robert Lacey said, were handled very well by the royal family especially Prince Charles and indeed, Queen Elizabeth II. However, the member of the royal family who are in line to the throne can not take the chances that our children and grandchildren would take. The public eye is on them and they're no longer able to be as princes were in the past free from scrutiny. It's sad and Robert Lacey also brought up the subject of the prime minister's son who was found dead drunk in Trafalgar Square a couple of years ago. That is something that a prime minister's son can do, but a monarch's grandchild can not do.

KING: Philip Hoare, what do you think?

HOARE: Well I tend to agree with Harold there. It's a -- it's a dangerous thing. I think it's an appalling thing that this came out -- came out anyway. I was very depressed when I saw those headlines. I was very depressed when I saw it break on the news. I must admit I just found it very depressing that this poor chap who's just really done what a lot of us have done in our teenage years in one way or another -- suddenly it's on the front of the newspapers. I think yes maybe there's been a good spend put on it and you know, we -- there is a serious debate to be had here. But I kind of don't think we should use someone of his age to launch that debate.

KING: Well said. Robert, why is it our business if a -- if a 15, 16-year old boy does something wrong?

LACEY: Well it's because this, like it or not, is the new function of the modern function of the royal family. They -- if you're cynical, you'll say that it's the national soap opera. I would actually say while agreeing with what everybody said about the strain, the effects of this on a kid who's under age and indeed, I think the last time we were all here we were talking about an American book, which all of us over here in Britain thought was revealing too much about William and Harry and it's quite right that all these rules are in place. But having said that, the kid did make a mistake. It's a same mistake we've all made and I myself am rather actually encouraged to find out that he's experimenting, that he's like ordinary kids, and to come back to the main point, whether we like it or not one of the functions that the royal family plays in Britain is to act out ordinary human dramas on the big screen. And I think this is being well handled in the circumstances and that the national debate this has ensued, indeed the international debate has been very good for all the societies involved.


KING: More on the passing of queen mum and the future of the monarchy after these words.



KING: While she wasn't in line for the throne, Britain's queen mum was a prominent member of the royal family and her passing raises the question, what's in store now for the future of this venerable monarchy?

Kitty, the queen mum will be nearly 100, apparently she's going to do a radio talk during her birthday weekend, August and most people have never heard her voice. What's going to happen when she passes on?

KELLEY: End of an era -- end of an era. This is the woman who really relaunched, reinvented the monarchy, kept it going during the war, and two generations, older generations of people she represents all that's good about the monarchy. The public opinion polls that Robert was just talking about, they show that the greatest enemy of the monarchy right now is total public indifference. It's frightening. It's the first time in modern times that more than 50 percent of the British public just don't care about the monarchy.

KING: We've talked about health tonight. What's the health of the queen? What is the health, Kitty Kelley, to your knowledge of Queen Elizabeth?

KELLEY: Tough, strong, strong constitution. This is a woman who takes very, very good care of herself. Barring the unforeseen, she's going to live as long as her mother and as well. You know Larry, you noticed in the knighting of Giuliani, the queen was wearing black and I would point out that royals never wear black except when grieving. And she is grieving the death of her sister.

KING: Any chance, Harold, that she would advocate?

BROOKS-BAKER: Avocation is absolutely impossible for (UNINTELLIGIBLE) because she was anointed with holy oil at the time of her coronation and pledged to God, the royal family that she would remain on her throne until called by God. I don't see Elizabeth II breaking her word to God nor do I see her breaking her word to any human being. I think that you have to accept that unlike her -- most of her cousins on the continent, she can not step down no matter how much she would like to. Certainly, it would make her life far more attractive in a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of life, but that is not to be -- we have to live with that fact.

KING: If she's made that pledge, Hugo, and she has her mother's genes, might it be that Charles will never be king?

VICKERS: Well, it might be. We never know what's going to happen. But I certainly agree with everything that's been said about the queen this evening. She is very strong. She works hard, and she's an extremely good constitutional monarch. I mean, one of the most interesting things I always think about the queen is that her first prime minister was a man born in 1874 who served Queen Victoria as a junior minister (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Winston Churchill.

But her present prime minister wasn't even born when she came to the throne. And the queen has been reading the state papers and digesting them and absorbing them for longer than the whole life of the present prime minister. That makes her a very valuable asset to our country.

KING: Robert, any update on Harry is doing?

LACEY: Harry is back at school now and doing very well. And there is some controversy in this country as to whether it was really fair to expose him to the media as happened. Hugo was just talking there about a prime minister -- our prime minister's son has had problems with drink and there's been very strong clamps placed on the press discussing it.

So, there are quite a number of people who feel that Harry's had a raw deal. On the other hand, Charles has emerged very sympathetically from this and also indeed from the events surrounding Princess Margaret. You've been playing these clips from Charles appearing on television, this is the first time a senior member of the royal family has gone on television expressed feelings in this way. It's done Prince Charles a lot of good, and I think it points to the way the royal family is going to react to things like this in the future.

KING: And Harold, how is William doing?

BROOKS-BAKER: He's doing very well. There's no question that Prince William is the person everyone would like to see as King one day, especially the young people in this country, and I have no doubt throughout the commonwealth. But Prince William has all of the attractive abilities of his late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, and all of the common good sense of his father's family. He, if he is given a chance will probably be one of the best kings this country has ever seen. But he is greatly loved and respected by everybody.

KING: Kitty, you have only 30 seconds. American interest in royalty remain good or high or lesser?

KELLEY: It remains high but without the reverence that Americans once had. Royalty doesn't make that much difference in American lives anymore. "The New York Times" says that they want the royal family to stay in place for American amusement. I don't mean to make light of that, but that seems to be.


KING: Tonight we are saddened by the passing of Britain's queen mother. This amazing woman will be missed by many and our best wishes go to her family and the citizens of Great Britain.

Tomorrow night we pay tribute to Milton Berle and Dudley Moore. Thanks for watching. Good night.




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