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Interview with Historian Elizabeth Norton; Interview with Institute for Government Senior Fellow Catherine Haddon; Interview with British Broadcaster Bidisha Mamata; Interview with Former British Prime Minister Theresa May. Aired 12-1p ET
Aired September 13, 2022 - 12:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. And welcome to "Amanpour" live from outside Buckingham Palace in London. As
Queen Elizabeth II begins her last journey home. This hour, her coffin is being moved from Edinburgh to here in London.
Now, just moments ago, we saw her body being brought out of St. Giles' Cathedral in Scotland and driven to Edinburgh Airport. There, the coffin
will be placed on to a royal air force jet for her final journey back to England.
Now, after one more night at Buckingham Palace, the queen will lie in state for four days at Westminster. And preparations are underway now for as many
as two million people who want to pay their respects. King Charles III and Queen Camilla will meet the coffin at Buckingham Palace, following their
historic trip to Northern Ireland.
Here now, Catherine Haddon, resident historian at the Institute for Government, and Elizabeth Norton, historian an archaeologist and author of
the book, "England's Queens".
Catherine Haddon, welcome to the program. We're going to be spending quite a lot of time, you know, looking at these pictures and watching video
elements. Perhaps a strange question, but we've been talking a lot about the formality. And during the time that we saw her coffin in Scotland, it
was draped with the Scottish standard. And the crown of Scotland, at one point, was put on it and Scottish flowers and that white wreath. It's going
to -- the standard will be changed in midair. Tell me about the significance.
CATHERINE HADDON, SENIOR FELLOW, INSTITUTE FOR GOVERNMENT: I mean, it just portrays her role as, you know, as was, as head of all four nations. And
the differences, the complexities of that role. Her relationship with each of the four nations was, you know, very personal to her, as well as very
significant and, sort of, formal constitution on government terms.
So, those little touches, no one does those little touches like the royal family and these kind of big state occasions. So, I'm sure it would have
been very important to her personally. She would have overseen many of these plans before her death, as well as really important for the new king.
AMANPOUR: Let me just turn to Elizabeth Norton. We've been talking over the last day or so, and you've written the book, "England's Queens".
Explain to people why she's also queen of Scotland and the history of that actual bond. It's not just a ceremonial title. It actually is, you know,
body of bloodline as well.
ELIZABETH NORTON, HISTORIAN: Absolutely. Scotland has an incredibly rich history of monarchy. In fact, Elizabeth's ancestors were kings of Scotts
and queens of Scotts first. So, England and Scotland was set for a kingdom throughout the medieval and sort of into the 16th century when Elizabeth I
of England died childless and her successor was James VI of Scotts. So, the king of Scotts moved south to become the king of England.
And for over a century, the kingdoms remain separate. They have the same crown but they're separate kingdoms of England and Scotland. And it's only
in 1707 that you get the creation of the kingdom of Great Britain when the monarch becomes effectively monarch over the entire area, the entire island
of Great Britain. So, Scotland is incredibly important to the queen and her lineage. And I thought it was really great to see some of the Scottish
regalia are on show in St. Giles' Cathedral.
AMANPOUR: What do you think is the significance -- it could have happened anywhere, let's face it. But it's said that she wanted to spend her last
days, weeks, months, her last moments in her favorite place, which was home in Balmoral. What do you think the significance of the fact that she passed
away there? And for the last four days or so, the focus of the world and the focus of this choreography has been on Scotland?
NORTON: It's really significant. And then queen, not just for this, sort of, weight of history and the fact that her ancestors have been kings and
queens of Scotts. But I think for her on the personal level, she very much identifies as a Scott, just as she identifies as a member of the other
parts of her kingdom.
But Balmoral was always a special place for her. It was acquired by her ancestors, Queen Victoria. And it's always been a place since where the
royal family where they can, sort of, kick back and relax, if you like. You know, in some respect, she can put the crown aside.
I mean, there are plenty of stories from, sort of, tourists that come upon the queen at Balmoral and that you don't even recognize her because she
looks, you know, just like an ordinary person. So, I think for the queen, it was really, really important that she had this place. And Scotland had a
really special place in her heart.
AMANPOUR: I'm turning to Catherine Haddon again now to talk about the idea of -- because you're the expert in government. She and now King Charles,
obviously they knew their constitutional role. And we have heard endlessly from the new king that he will abide by that, not only in terms of the law
but also in terms of the example he got from his mother.
He was in Northern Ireland today. Of course, she was the first British queen, English queen to go to the Republic of Ireland. And then on to
meeting with the nationalist as part of the whole peace process. We've talked about the importance of Scotland. How about Northern Ireland and the
whole Irish question?
HADDON: Yes. It absolutely is, sort of, fundamental, you know, knowledge that she brought to it. You know, deeply immersed, not only the long
history but also in the more recent troubles. That visit you were talking about, that was a very momentous moment. Shaking Martin McGuinness's hand.
These were, sort of, key moments, not just for the monarchy but also for the peace process.
And a really symbolic day today, I think, you know, seeing the different parts of the community come together. A lot of respect shown for the queen
at the moment. Obviously Northern Ireland, you know, it's still got difficulties. There is no sort of, government formed there at the moment.
Pressure on them and on the British government to resolve that and all the issues we still have from Brexit and that sort of trading relationship.
So, she would have been very conscious of that. King Charles would have been very conscious of that. But also, with their A, political status, not
wanting to get dragged into, you know, those types of issues because it isn't the place of the monarch to try and resolve the political issues
AMANPOUR: I want to ask you about a little bit about how faith played a role in this. We hear from a lot of Irish politicians now, and even
Northern Irish politicians, from both sides of the aisle, that they recognized her faith. She talked a lot about her faith.
And as also as a peacemaker, as a bridge. And certainly, it's considered, certainly, by the local politicians there, that even her visit to the
Republic of Ireland, which was the first in a hundred years for a British monarch, it had the impacts at least, the sort of, the visuals of bridge
building and reconciliation. How important was it really beyond the visuals?
HADDON: It's difficult to know because I'm sure there are many people in Ireland who are feeling, sort of, complex emotions at the moment. There
will be many people from different parts of the divide, but particularly those who want to see a united Ireland who will -- who are probably
republicans and don't, you know, subscribe to the idea of, you know, the royal family continuing in this role.
But like I say, a lot of it was about respect. I think a really important thing to remember is, Prince -- King Charles, we're all going to do that,
King Charles in his accession council the other day, he made note to the Church of Scotland. But also in that moment, there's a point at which he
talks about being a defender of the faith.
There was a point where they were discussing changing that. And I think it's something he would want to do in the future, to defend of faith. The
idea that it isn't just about the Church of England or indeed the Church of Scotland, it's actually more fundamental in respecting different faiths
across all united Ireland.
AMANPOUR: That, I think, is such an important point because, you know, certainly, this has become a much more multicultural, multifaith land in
the 70 years since the queen's reign from beginning to end. And I just want to turn to you, Elizabeth Norton, who's written again about the queens. And
we go back all the way to, you know, in the late 1500s, Queen Elizabeth I and who ushered in the golden age. But religious civil war was practically
upon the land or could have been at that period. Now, it's not the case. But tell us and remind us what this country has gone through in terms of
NORTON: Yes. So, the 16th century was a time of enormous religious upheaval. I mean, Elizabeth I's father, Henry VIII, who I think needs no
introduction, very much started this. So, he wanted to null his marriage to his first wife, the pope wouldn't allow it, and so he broke the English
church from Rome. And --
AMANPOUR: Elizabeth, one second. We just need to tell and explain exactly what's written on the screen there, that the hearse carrying the queen's
coffin is in fact arrived at the airport. We're going to listen in.
So, as we await the salute and we await the lifting of the queen's coffin into that, you can see the royal air force jet right there. We note that
Princess Anne, the princess royal is waiting there. Seeing her mother into the plane. She will then accompany her mother along with her husband, Vice
Admiral Tim Laurence -- Sir Tim Laurence. And there standing also bidding the queen farewell from Scotland is the Scottish first minister, Nicola
Sturgeon. And she has been along every inch of the way of these solemn ceremonies and moments in Scotland.
And again, the pallbearers now with the coffin on their shoulders, ready to take it into the plane. Whereupon, will see the changing, we won't probably
see it ourselves, but we will see when it comes -- reveals itself again here in England. The changing of the flag that is draping that coffin
there, from the Scottish standard to the English one.
As you watch this, Catherine, and as you are the expert in the transition and the procedure of not just monarchy but also government. What are your
HADDON: Well, I mean, you know -- again, you've got the solemnity of these moments, sort of, of these moments which, you know, are very personal to
the royal family. Princess Anne there playing that role, you know, accompanying her mother on this, sort of, not quite final journey, but
certainly final journey back to England and away from Scotland. This will be very poignant for her. Because Balmoral wasn't just the home for Queen
Elizabeth. It was where she had this, sort of, most intimate family time.
You know, we've seen in these documentaries the last few days, her children talking about what a special time it was for them all in Scotland. Where
they could be themselves and just relax and have family time and be informal. And I think, you know, hugely poignant for all of them that it
was in Scotland that she had her final days and that they were able to spend that bit of time with her, certainly, Princess Anne and King Charles.
AMANPOUR: Elizabeth Norton, we were talking about the first Elizabeth. So, there have been two great Elizabethan's. The first Elizabeth, as we know in
the 16th century, ushering in the golden era and making this island nation a global seafaring power and the global trading power. She did that.
As the coffin moves on to this plane now for its flight back here to RAF Northolt, which is about 45 minutes to an hour away by road from where we
are, Buckingham Palace. How do you judge on what we can see right now? Again, is the back of the first minister, and we're going to listen in now.
So, now of course, Princess Anne, the princess royal, the queen's only daughter, along with her husband, Vice Admiral Sir Tim Lawrence are walking
to the plane now that Queen Elizabeth's coffin is onboard. And they will accompany her back here to England.
It'll be her first moment back in England since her death. And here people and crowds are waiting to greet the coffin. They will line parts of the
route. The -- take it through various parts of the city of London and -- until it reaches here where crowds are already gathered outside Buckingham
Palace behind me.
Overnight, in Edinburgh, we understand that some potentially nearly 30,000 people queued all night to pay respects there at the Cathedral of St.
Giles'. And they went in, they spent their moments there, their allotted time walking up to the casket around it and out. But it was a big crowd.
And there's a sense of loss in Scotland for a woman that people called one of their own, given how long she spent up there and how much part of even
their daily lives she was. Even and farms and villages and local churches, as well as other more ceremonial duties up there.
Elizabeth Norton, as we wait for this plane to take off now, where does Queen Elizabeth II, to your mind, fit in the pantheon of Britain's female
NORTON: I mean, she must be one of the highest ranking. We've only had a handful of queens in Britain. In England, though, it's Mary I and Elizabeth
I. And then in Scotland, Mary, Queen of Scotts and then there have been some British queens.
But I think, really, the top three must be Elizabeth I, Victoria, and Elizabeth II. And I mean, Elizabeth II, she reigned for 70 years. I think
she is -- you know, she became a real, sort of, legend and a personification of her age in a way that Elizabeth I and Victoria also did.
And I think we can very much draw parallels with Elizabeth I who's arguably the greatest monarch that England ever had. In the sense of stability that
Elizabeth II, the queen, gave to her country because the late 20th century, the early 21st century, of course, has been a time of considerable change.
And, you know, difficult periods.
But the queen was always there and a force of stability, and I think we see that with Elizabeth I as well. Elizabeth I's motto was in fact always the
same. And I think we can see that with our own queen, Queen Elizabeth II. So, I think she compares very, very favorably with the greatest of the
queens of England or Britain.
AMANPOUR: And again, we're still watching the honor guard, the military formations there who are guarding ceremonially and seeing her off as well.
It is a remarkable sight, actually, and equally remarkable is how all of this is going off like clockwork, practically to the minute. It is
remarkable because there's so many moving pieces and it's all over the place.
HADDON: Yes, I was talking to someone today. You know, we know that there have been many in the royal households who have been planning for this for
decades. You know, since the 1960s, they started putting plans together for the queen's funeral. Many in parts of government doing the same.
But you never know until it hits reality. And I mean, even this is in the sense, sort of, innovating because there were plans for her to go on a
train so that crowds could, sort of, follow her. But whether for security reasons or in order to have more time for the lying and state back here in
London, they've changed the plans.
So, you know, they are sort of having to develop this. You know, it shows one of those things. You put the army in charge, you put the armed forces
in charge, and things do work like clockwork. And you'll be seeing that for the next few days that there will be so much, a height of activity.
Somebody today said it was like a swan. It all looks on the surface serenely just moving along, but underneath the surface just, you know,
utter sort of, not chaos, but a hive of activity, as I say.
AMANPOUR: And I would also say that the broadcasters are doing the most remarkable job.
AMANPOUR: I mean, you'd think there was a camera at every inch --
AMANPOUR: -- you know, the length and breadth of this nation. It is incredible how much is being captured.
HADDON: Yes, and I mean, we've been reflecting on it. Our officers are only, you know, a few hundred meters from where we are. And we've seen big
events. We saw the jubilee earlier this year, the Olympics, you know, but I have never seen anything like this in terms of the sheer scale and speed of
which it's been put together.
And you know, yet that sort of complete focus, because we're all focusing on the same thing, you know. Not multiple different occasions. Just a lot
of the time watching the travel of royals, or in this case of the queen's coffin around the country. So, it's utterly extraordinary, really.
AMANPOUR: And we await the national anthem. And we will, of course, break for that when it starts. But not just the visual -- here we go.
So, as we spoke with the choreography and the visuals, and the, you know, clockwork precision of this entire operation -- and it is an operation.
AMANPOUR: They call it Operation London Bridge.
AMANPOUR: So, it's -- as you've said, meticulously, meticulously planned.
HADDON: Yes. This part of it actually Operation Unicorn which is the plan if she should die in Balmoral. There were separate plans if it was
Sandringham or Windsor or, you know -- and obviously, London if she was here. But I think they must have known for some time that she wants to
spend her final weeks and months in Scotland as she, sort of, worsened over recent weeks.
AMANPOUR: And so, does that first name, London Bridge, come into effect at all?
HADDON: Yes. So, the wider plan, the state funeral, the national mourning, all those things are under London Bridge. This particular part,
transporting her that, you know, what arrangements they would have for those first few days, the lying-in rest in Scotland, all of that was
And then you have a simultaneously operation going on, Spring Tide, which was the king succession. So, the national service is him traveling around
the different countries, the reason why he's in Northern Ireland today. So, you've got all these multiple different levels going on.
AMANPOUR: I mean, Elizabeth, again, I may have to cut out in mid-talk because of the national anthem that we will break for to listen to. But
this idea and the evidence, so far, of the numbers of people who have lined up to see their queen for the last time in their lives, is quite
phenomenal. It speaks beyond just her. And we're bound to see more of it and on a bigger scale here in London.
NORTON: Absolutely, I mean, it is unprecedented levels of browse and I think it's going to get higher and higher. And I think -- I mean, these are
unprecedented scenes. Because of course, monarchs have had state funerals before. Queen Victoria was really the first monarch to have the biggest,
sort of, grand state funeral when she died in 1901.
But this is the first funeral of a monarch to be fully televised, as you know, you were discussing earlier. The fact that actually see every moment
of it. And I think that really is important to people. You know, it sort of helps with -- sort of, understanding the process and what's happening. And
I think to some extent it brings us closer to the queen and this period of royal mourning and perhaps people in previous generations have felt.
So, I think it's likely that there will be really big browse part (ph) and largely because people are so -- want to respect the queen and they want to
pay their respects to her. But also, I think because they're, sort of, drawn in, they're seeing the event on television and sort of want to be a
part of it because it feels like we're making history.
AMANPOUR: Do you feel that, Catherine Haddon, that we are making history as opposed to, I don't know, transitioning? And maybe seeing --
HADDON: It's a --
AMANPOUR: -- what kind of history are we making?
HADDON: It is. I mean, it's a historic moment because, A, we've never had this for 70 years. I mean, my mother talks about, you know, she has
memories of the previous king's funeral, the coronation, and so forth. But that generation is itself, you know, there are not many that are still
alive 70 years ago.
So, in that sense, yes, it's a huge and historic moment. And it is sightly people are watching this on TV and want to come and get involved. But it is
also something poignant. I mean, I came up here on, you know, the evening after her death. We had known all afternoon that this could happen. And
then the moment happened where you have some things to, sort of, get sorted but then just wanting to come and see, you know, Buckingham Palace. Not
even, you know, it was -- a lot of it was seeing other people, seeing the crowds. I mean, that's --
HADDON: Community. And it is --
AMANPOUR: In mourning.
HADDON: -- a reason why people are coming up here at the moment. It's -- there is something about that, sort of, shared experience. And we have that
in good times as we saw with the jubilee, and also in bad times as people mourn somebody who was so intrinsic to this nation.
AMANPOUR: And she was, of course, the last living link in terms of sovereigns and leaders to the war generation.
AMANPOUR: Some are calling -- greeting in America the greatest generation. And potentially -- and of course, we don't know, but we know how people are
feeling before this, before the queen died that there was sort of a somewhat accelerating view that maybe the monarchy should be further
stripped down. That it should maybe be a slightly more modern, slightly more every day, as they say like the Scandinavian's.
AMANPOUR: I know that some Brits don't like that. And they call it, you know, the cycling monarchs, or the biking monarchs. They're not so much
part of everyday life there.
AMANPOUR: Certainly not ceremonially like this.
HADDON: Yes. It's a really interesting point for us because I think, certainly from King Charles's point of view, he's very conscious of that.
And there had been talks that he might slim down the monarchy. Try to reduce the costs, you know, make Buckingham Palace very much a place for
the public, for people to visit, and so forth.
But at the same time, obviously, a lot of what we're seeing at the moment, and one of the reasons why people come to this country is the shear
pageantry of it. So, the scale of it. You know, the armed forces, the regalia, all of these things. You know, they are part and parcel of
monarchy. And one of the reasons that we have long argued it is a reason to keep monarchy. So, there is a bit of attention in how far you modernize and
how much you keep up that history in tradition.
AMANPOUR: To that end, Elizabeth Norton, the monarchy is brand Britain, isn't it? I mean, it is what people come to this country to have holidays
for. To come to Buckingham Palace, to see the changing of the guard, to be part of any of these events if they can be in terms of jubilees or other
such walkabouts or things like that. Going to the royal --
HADDON: The change of the guards.
AMANPOUR: Change of the guard, yes. Westminster Abbey and Windsor Castle, tourism, merchandise, the whole lot.
NORTON: That's such an important element. And the queen was, I would say, the most recognizable person in the world. I mean, I think that's probably
not exaggerating too much to suggest that she was -- hers was the face that pretty much everybody in the world would recognize regardless of whether
she's our queen or not.
So, she was incredibly important. And the monarchy was incredibly important. And I think it will continue -- I mean, I -- certainly, it's,
you know, it's always a difficult transition. But I mean, if we go all the way back to Queen Victoria, it was really Queen Victoria who, sort of,
created the concept of a royal family. You know, really placed her husband and her children, sort of, center stage as well. So that you have this,
sort of, broader group. And I think we've seen that through the 20th and the 21st century.
So, there are lots of other familiar faces. We've, of course, got the new Prince and Princess of Wales, William and Catherine. So, I think, you know,
I think the brand will continue, if you like.
You know, the people come for the monarchy. They come for the ceremony. They come for the personalities. And I think, you know, it's a difficult
transition for the new king because he is less recognizable on the world stage than his mother was because, of course, he hasn't been sovereign for
But I think, you know, he's been trained by her. He's had a really long apprenticeship. And I think that, you know -- actually he, sort of, create
his own monarchy around both himself and the royal family, in a way that his mother did before him.
AMANPOUR: Again, as we await the next step of this ceremony seeing off the aircraft, which I mischaracterized as a jet before I saw it. It looks like
a military cargo plane for troop carrying, for carrying equipment during military operations. And it's often deployed for the royals as well in
terms of travel, in terms of this kind of event, sadly, but it is.
As we await that, you know, I guess the question of one of the things that people have said is that they also feel this sense of loss, national loss,
at a time when actually the country is also on a rocky setting, like much of the world, in deep economic pain.
AMANPOUR: With energy prices, with an uncertain winter, war in Europe raging, and battlefields shifting there which is very interesting right
now. But nonetheless, a new prime minister, untested, unknown.
HADDON: Yes, and I mean, it was, you know, in a political sense a very strange but also poignant that the first inkling we had of all of this was
when the new prime minister was outlining the one policy that everyone was waiting to hear from her. What she was going to do about energy prices in
this country, and that was when people started to notice her getting a note to the Labour Party, the opposition party getting a note on -- in the House
of Commons. And murmurs starting to happen and everyone thought, something's happened.
And yet, you know, we've now got into this period of national mourning in - - for a lot of the country, it feels almost like everything else has stopped. It hasn't. There is still a lot going on in government. Parliament
has stopped sitting and obviously this is dominating the airways. And in fact, even this trick (ph). There had been an awful lot of organizations. A
lot of talk on social media about have they handled it right? Should they have canceled the football? The soccer?
All these kinds of questions about how different organizations are marking this moment and what was right. Because nobody knew how the public would
react. You know, all of the contingency plans were, sort of, based on the last one, but also thinking about what are -- sort of, what is the public
mood like at the moment.
And you know, the answer we are seeing from the crowds here in London, the expected crowds to follow past her body when she's lying-in state is the
huge numbers of people really care about this and really want to be a part of it, as we were just discussing.
AMANPOUR: And we quoted earlier this week, in the aftermath of her death and the condolences coming from the International Community. President
Biden was (INAUDIBLE) in his grace. President Macron gave the statement that I think has become now etched in memory, to you she was your queen. To
us, she was the queen. And possibly to the whole world she was just the queen.
AMANPOUR: And I think -- well, I wonder what you think will be the impact of the state funeral in a few days from now on Monday where so many senior
members of the International Community will be here. World leaders will be here. At a time also -- and not just in these difficult political and
economic crises, but the very idea of democracy is at stake right now in Europe, on the battlefield in Ukraine.
HADDON: Yes, there is a phrase in diplomatic circles which is called a working funeral. The idea that these big state moments bring so many
diplomats together that, actually, you know, that's where a lot of diplomacy happens.
In this case, I think it will be so large. So, you know, tumultuous in terms of the activity. And so much happening that it would be difficult for
anything. There are various, sort of, receptions and other meetings that are being planned. But I think the more important thing is that, again,
it's -- you know, it really is in fitting with her memory because a state visit from or to Queen Elizabeth was a huge moment.
This was something that all U.S. presidents wanted to, sort of, participate. A lot of world leaders, you know, it was a big diplomatic pull
for the United Kingdom. That ability to not just to, sort of, again the pageantry of the state visit, but actually meeting the queen. And a bummer,
you know, he talked about that. He talked about how important it was for him to come and meet her in person, and what a personal relationship they
built up. So, I think for a lot of them, it's paying tribute to that as much as it is to the longevity of her reign.
AMANPOUR: Let's just listen in a little bit and see if we can tell what and when will happen next. We were anticipating the national anthem.
HADDON: It might be that they're wanting to do it as the plane moves off, you know, that sort of poignant moment. There, as we see a band there
waiting. As ever with these things, you can't predict the timing.
AMANPOUR: But we saw at least one of the crew members, a flight crew, walking up, maybe just pulling in the stairs. And this great lumbering
aircraft will take off with a very fragile cargo.
HADDON: Yes. And, you know, that will be so much in the minds of all the people who are transporting her, whether it's the drivers of the hearses,
the pilots of this aircraft, or as we saw earlier those pallbearers. There's, you know, there's going to be any number of young members of the
armed forces who were brought into these arrangements. You talked earlier about the state funeral and the --
AMANPOUR: Here's the salute.
I just want to turn to Bidisha Mamata who is a British journalist, broadcaster, and has been talking a lot to us about the significance of
this moment and what this transition might mean. Especially for a younger generation of British people. Especially, Bidisha, for the people who've
grown up knowing her as the mother figure, the matriarch of the country. But also, a much different complexion of, you know, of citizens then what
existed when she first, you know, ascended to the throne 70 years ago.
BIDISHA MAMATA, BRITISH BROADCASTER: I think that's just so incredibly pertinent. If you look at the way Britain, the U.K. has changed since 1953,
look at the kinds of people, the demographic of people who are laying flowers at Buckingham Palace and wandering through Green Park. These
wonderful rich, diverse, mixed families, people who have come from all over the world.
If you imagine that if you're 70 or under, you have never known any other royal principal than the queen. It didn't occur to me for a second when I
was doling out my pennies, paying for something, that at some point there would, of course, naturally be a changeover. And the profile on the side of
the coin would one day be different.
The queen herself has been forced by necessity to move with the times, just as the nation has changed. And in fact, that is the challenge for the
monarchy now, to not be stuck in the 19th century practices or the 20th, but to leap forward into the 21st century. I think what's so shocking to
all of us is the word is a transformative, often a very troubled place these days. It seems as though things are happening all the time. And
almost by default, without even thinking about it, the queen was a principle of stability. Of unchangingness.
AMANPOUR: Bidisha, I was really struck by the stat, really, the census stats that showed that when she first ascended the throne in '53, one in
200 Britons where people of color, with someone of color. Whereas now, it's one and seven. This adds a huge change. I know that several generations
that have passed but nonetheless.
And I was struck by how many of the other religions, you know, yes, she is the head of the Anglican church, but Muslims and Jews and Indians of Hindu
or Sikh religion were also pouring out their grief. And talking about how she reached out to them. How significant she was to them as well in this
And Prince Charles, now King Charles, but certainly is Prince Charles, went out of his way to court and welcome and embrace the multicultural face of
this country. How do you think that'll play out, Bidisha, in -- during his reign as monarch? And do you think enough has been done or it's not just
more steps that need to be taken, but maybe great big leaps.
MAMATA: Of course, more needs to be done. More always, always needs to be done for our liberation from racism, which is, I think, the subtext of what
we're talking about. But I think that what you said about King Charles is exactly right. And it's a political decision. It was a political decision
on the part of the queen as well. Why? Because she came out to the fractures of the war years.
Both the queen and King Charles have got to headline unity, community, progressivism. We are all the same under the skin. We stand shoulder to
shoulder. We cannot repeat the crimes and abuses and exploitations of the past because there are so many outside parties now. Political parties, bad
actors, sloganeers, whoever it is, who want to say, no, we're different from each other. You must fear whatever is on the outside, whatever is
incoming, the influx of people who are utterly alien to you. You should have nothing to do with them.
There are so many powerful voices that you really do need someone right up there at the top of the hierarchy, the old-fashioned hierarchy to say, no,
those aren't our principles. Those are your values. They're not our values. And we can pull together and fight this divisiveness.
AMANPOUR: It's really fascinating. And on that issue, I want to turn back to Elizabeth Norton, because we were talking about the great women queens
of this nation. And they were great, objectively, in terms of everything that was achieved.
As the plane takes off to return here now to England. And as I said, when her coffin emerges from that plane, we expect to see it covered with a
slightly different standard, the standard of England.
Elizabeth, as we watch it take off, again, just the significance of this monarch, the length of time that she has reigned over this United Kingdom
and Northern Ireland.
NORTON: So, nobody has reigned as long as Queen Elizabeth II. 70 years is a record in Britain -- in Europe. She's only mean beaten by Louis XIV of
France, who came to the throne as a child. So, it's an unprecedented length of time.
So, that alone really makes her standout. And the fact that she reigned for so long -- I mean, she promised back on her 21st birthday that she was
going to do her duty and do it for as long as possible. I doubt she though that it would be 70 years. But the length of time itself has been really
important to her reign because that she is such a feature. And I think that's what a lot of people are really struggling with, there's a sense of
And we see this in history with the deaths of other long reigning queens, Victoria who reigned for 63 years, isn't it? There was an enormous sense of
loss. Elizabeth I who reigned for 44 years. Again, both of those women, the same as the current queen, many people just couldn't remember a time before
they were monarch. And I think that's part of the importance in these women.
And Elizabeth II very much takes her place amongst these three queens. They stand in a period of great change, particularly Elizabeth I and Elizabeth
II. But they are very much stabilizing forces. So, I think she really does rank amongst one of Britain's greatest monarchs. And she's certainly one of
Britain's greatest queens. I think it's a real achievement.
AMANPOUR: And as you finish that thought, we saw the plane just fly out of vision. It's gone. It was a beautiful, beautiful sunset. Beautiful sky in
Scotland. Little rainier here where she'll be landing perhaps in just under an hour from now. Elizabeth Norton, Bidisha Mamata, and also Catherine
Haddon, thank you so much for joining me at this moment.
And now, we want to go back to talk to one of the prime ministers who did spend some time with the queen, obviously. And few people really, truly get
one-on-one time with the queen herself. My next guest, it was a weekly occurrence, Theresa May was the 13th out of 15 prime ministers who served
under Queen Elizabeth II. And the last one in office before the COVID pandemic, which meant that she may have got to spend many more meaningful
in-person moments with the monarch than anyone that's come since. It was known as the weekly audiences. They've been popularized in cultural
institutions. Now, Theresa May join me this morning in our London studio with her reflections and memories.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Prime Minister May, welcome to the program. Can I ask you just to reflect on your feelings and how you judged the mood of the nation since
the news of the queen's death up until now?
THERESA MAY, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Well, first of all, tremendous shock. I mean, this was a day that was always going to come, the day of her
death. But I think everybody in their heart of hearts hoped it never would. Because, of course, for so many of us, she has been the only monarch that
She's been on the throne for all of my life, and that's the same for so many people. So, shock and then immense sadness at her passing. And I think
that -- I feel that immense sadness but I think the whole country does.
AMANPOUR: You were all in parliament when things started to get -- the news started to filter through. Can you take us through how you learned
about it, what was the mood as I saw notes were being passed. And the prime minister leader of the opposition, everybody left.
MAY: Yes, I mean, it was one of those moments that -- in fact, I think I was speaking at the point at which they were leaving the chamber. And when
I sat down, one of my colleagues said, I think this is something to do with the queen. And -- because it would have to be something momentous for both
the prime minister and the leader of the opposition to leave the chamber early in that way. And obviously I had seen people scurrying around.
So -- and then we didn't really hear much more the speaker made an announcement at Buckingham Palace, obviously, had said that I think at that
stage, her majesty was under medical supervision. And then obviously we all -- you know, many of us went back to our offices. Watch what the news was
saying at the time. That she was at Balmoral. But then gradually came clear the family had been asked to go up to Balmoral. And I think at that point,
most of us thought maybe this is it.
AMANPOUR: This is the moment. And you actually did something quite extraordinary because you -- you know, you took in the gravity, the
solemnity, the sadness of the day. But you actually also delivered a pretty funny anecdote that had parliament laughing. Tell me about that and why you
chose that anecdote at that time.
MAY: Well, it was -- when parliament came together the next day to pay tribute to her majesty, the -- there was absolutely very somber feeling in
parliament. Obviously, huge sadness. But I wanted to reflect not just the queen that most people had seen, but the queen that I've been able to see.
Because as prime minister, you have access through weekly audiences. But you also take -- have the opportunity to spend some time at Balmoral.
And of course, her late majesty really loves Scotland. She loved Balmoral. And she liked to relax there. And she liked her guests to relax. And that's
why I wanted to tell the story which also showed a down to earth queen.
AMANPOUR: And what was the story?
MAY: You want me to repeat the story?
AMANPOUR: Yes, because I don't -- I didn't -- I've been told about it.
MAY: All right. Well, it was one of the traditions at Balmoral is you go and have picnics and barbecues. And it was one of the picnics we were
having. It was in of the little boffice (ph) which is, sort of, little building, various little buildings on the estate. People walking around can
rest in and so forth.
But we've -- we're having the picnic there. And the hampers had come with all the food from the castle. And we were putting this out on the table.
And I picked some cheese up and I put it on a plate. I went -- put the plate on the table and the cheese fell on the floor. So, I had a split-
second decision to make. I put the cheese back on the plate and I put it on the table. And then I looked around and I realized that my every move had
been watched by her majesty, the queen. And I looked at her, and she looked at me, and she just smiled.
AMANPOUR: She approved.
MAY: And the cheese left -- was left on the table for people to eat.
MAY: There we go.
AMANPOUR: The five second rule.
MAY: Five-second, that's right.
AMANPOUR: If it hits the ground, you get it back up in five seconds, it's ok.
MAY: But it showed, you know, she's very down to Earth.
AMANPOUR: And woman to woman, by the way.
MAY: Yes, yes.
AMANPOUR: You know, family, leader to family leader. So, let me ask you because I think a lot of people are fascinated by the concept of the weekly
audience. So much so that, as you know, a play has been made the audience of all her prime ministers and the imagination of the conversation. I know
you're not going to give us the conversations.
But what is it like? Do you go and talk about government substance? Do you talk about the breaking news on what might be happening that day? Is it
just personal? What is the point of these audiences?
MAY: Well, it ranges across a whole variety of issues. It is absolutely incredible. Because the first time you go as prime minister, certainly for
me, it was a sense of trepidation. I wasn't quite sure how it was going to pan out what was going to happen.
It is a conversation. It's a conversation between the head of state and the head of government. But it's a conversation between two people. And it is
about to the issues of the day. Not just in the U.K. but perhaps in the world issues. Her majesty is very well informed -- was very well informed.
The key thing was that I think many people didn't realize, like government minister, she had a red box every day with government papers and other
papers in that. And she would read through that. So, she knew and understood what was going on and had immense experience. I was our 13th
So, you know, by the time I was there, she had seen prime ministers come and go. She had seen issues come and go. She knew a lot of the world
leaders I was dealing with, and in some cases, she knew their father's. So, she had this immense experience and wisdom. So, it was a conversation
between -- and a very calm conversation. A moment of reflection for prime ministers in a -- the hurly burly of politics.
AMANPOUR: I heard her say in a quote that's been played since her death, that she felt that she was able to give a prime minister a, sort of, a
neutral shoulder. An objective ear. They, you knew that whatever was said that room would not go any further than that. And I think you've said it
was the only conversation I knew that would never be leaked to the press. What -- that was a, sort of, a security blanket, right, for both of you?
MAY: Well, in a sense, yes. I mean, it was absolutely -- we both knew that there was no way in which what you said to each other was going to go
outside the room. And that was hugely important because did enable that more relaxed conversation to take place.
And it was because the monarchy is above politics. It has nothing to do with politics. Therefor the monarchy is seeing issues from a slightly
different angle. In a slightly different reflection. And that's very helpful to a prime minister.
AMANPOUR: So, at this point, I'm going to then play something that King Charles IIII now has said almost from the get-go and he keeps repeating it
that he will also abide by this constitutional prerogative where they do not step into politics. Let's just listen.
KING CHARLES III, KING OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: My life will, of course, change as I take up my new responsibilities. It will no longer be possible
for me to give so much of my time and energies to the charities and issues to which I care so deeply. But I know this important work will go on in the
trusted hands of others.
AMANPOUR: I find that so interesting. Because of all the royals he did step out, didn't he? He really did step out on many issues that are now
fundamental to the British people and people around the world, whether it's climate, whether it's organic, whether it's urban planning, all sorts of
issues. And yet he knows that it will be, maybe his son, an heir, maybe others will take up that.
And the queen, herself, in her last interview -- not really an interview, but sort of an interview with Sir David Attenborough about the treason in
Buckingham Palace. She took care to talk about things in a nonpolitical way. How does -- were you impressed by the way they all thread that needle?
MAY: Absolutely. And I think it's something that as his majesty has said, he role -- he recognizes his role is now different. And it crucially -- you
know, what is an absolute fundamental of the British constitution? And in constitution situation is that when one monarch dies, immediately the next
monarch comes to the throne, and there is that continuity. But also, obviously, his majesty made clear in that that he recognizes that the role
he now has is different from the slightly greater freedoms that he had when he was Prince of Wales.
But you're right, he took up some critical issues on the environment and climate, actually. He was very much taking up issues that his late father,
Prince Philip, took up at a time when nobody really thought of this as an issue.
AMANPOUR: And he also -- there was a famous spider memos, or whatever they're called, you know, because of a spider-like scrolls. And, yes, I
mean, it is interesting. He was quite interventionist. It probably will be less natural than for the queen for him to back off.
MAY: Well, no, I don't think so. I think you must always remember that King Charles is his mother's son.
He has spent many years watching her on the throne and how she handled and dealt with the issues and held, you know, held herself on how she gained
the respect around the world. And I think he recognizes that. And he knows that.
And if I may just say, you use the word interventionist. I don't think that's quite the right word to use. I think as Prince of Wales, he took
various causes in hand and worked on those. And there were causes that people perhaps don't talk about so much, such as the prince's trust, which
did enormous work over many years with young people were perhaps disadvantaged.
I met somebody who have been in prison who have been given an opportunity by the prince's trust. He has a -- he has what his mother had which is a
deep interest in people.
AMANPOUR: And to thwart, I remember being at an event where, you know, under the auspices of the prince's trust, he hosted a welcome event for
Syrian refugees. And put his, you know, put his support behind welcoming them here, which was pretty profound, given the politics of the moment here
The king is also, today, traveling. We've seen him in Scotland, where he not only paid tribute at St. Giles' Cathedral and did all the ceremonial.
But he also had an audience with the first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, he's been in the parliament there. I think the queen is the first to address the
newly independent Scottish parliament. He's in Northern Ireland where he'll do similar things, as well as receiving condolences.
The queen herself, again, the person of the queen was able to be so loved and respected, even as these constituent nations of the kingdom were
getting increased evolution. Do you think they'll rally behind the king? Do you think that that would change in any way, because a lot of people are
talking about greater independents for the nations of the kingdom?
MAY: Well, I think what we have seen in the outpouring of grief and the desire of people to not just actually recognize and show their respects to
her late majesty, but also the spontaneous singing of God save the king that we've seen around the country. I think the country is running behind.
Because it is this crucial element of our constitutional structure is that the new monarch takes over immediately, the previous monarch dies. So,
there is an absolute threat of continuity, and I think people recognize that.
And it's absolutely right that the king was in Scotland yesterday. He is in Northern Ireland. He's going to Wales as well. And it's -- this is a sort
of -- if you're like, historic thing about the king showing himself to his people across the land. And that's exactly what he's doing. But I think
everybody will be reassured by the continuity that he provides.
AMANPOUR: And I think it's seared and everybody's memory, the queen making for us that historic trip to the Republic of Ireland. And then later going
to Northern Ireland. Not only that, shaking hands with Martin McGuinness, who as everyone knows, became a peacemaker but was previously in the IRA.
And yet, she really went over there with a big smile, the green outfit, and the Northern Irish politicians talk about how she was a bridge, how she was
a peacemaker, and how she worked for reconciliation. Talk a little bit about that aspect of what a monarch can do in such fraught times.
MAY: Yes, well, the monarch is, I think there'd be various references to her late majesty as, you know, the best diplomat the country had. I mean,
it has a tremendous power, the monarchy. And it was -- the visit to the Republic of Ireland was hugely important because it was that coming
together of the two countries. And at a time, I was, you know, I'm old enough to have been brought up around the troubles in Northern Ireland. And
huge concern about when it would be possible to have peace and to see this reconciliation.
And her majesty did play a part in that, that visit to the Republic of Ireland was hugely important. But also, shaking hands with Martin
McGuinness. I think what her majesty did and what his majesty will do is recognize those moments when it is in the monarch's ability to actually
help people move on.
AMANPOUR: I would be remiss not to talk about what it's like to be a woman at the pinnacle of power. You were her second female prime minister. And
we're so used to seeing pictures of the queen, whether it's with Commonwealth, heads of state, which were all men, or whether at G7s, G20s,
whatever it might be, she's often one of the only women, certainly the beginning of the only woman, probably. Did that inspire you? The fact that
she was at the pinnacle of power as a woman and often alone?
MAY: Well, I think it's -- you're right. She was often alone. And particularly in the early days. If you think about it.