Royal expert and former BBC journalist Jennie Bond reflects on what lies ahead for the monarchy and some memorable moments from her career. The Queen celebrates her platinum anniversary this week
As we arrive at the Devonshire home of former BBC royal reporter Jennie Bond, she greets us in a patriotic outfit of a blue tea dress, pearl necklace and red lipstick.
Originally a WWI Army barracks, Jennie’s home – which she bought in 1992 with husband Jim, 83, – was originally a WWI Army barracks. It’s huge and colourful, with furniture and walls all hand-painted by her.
The 71-year-old quit her BBC role in 2003 to move to Devon. At the height of her royal reporting, she traveled 10 hours to London and back, suffering guilt at leaving her baby daughter Emma, now 32, behind. “They also stopped asking me to read the news,” she says. “I feel like 50 was a turning point back then. Men were okay, but women were not.”
Today, Jennie is thriving as a royal commentator on daytime television. When she’s not working, she enjoys taking a Zoom Pilates class or looking after her three Shetland ponies. “They poop 19 times a day!” She laughs. Here she talks about the future of the monarchy and the greatest moments of her career…
Hello Jenny. Do you think we’ll see a noticeable step back from the Queen now?
We have already. It is clear that we are in transition.
I don’t think the Queen will abdicate, but the norm will be that she won’t be at all the events we’re used to her attending. She can keep in touch with charities and ambassadors via Zoom, and we get a more intimate look at her. It is very visible and will continue to be so. Basically, she keeps going because the queen enjoys being queen.
She looks in excellent health. How is your diet?
She eats fresh, simple foods that don’t upset her stomach, like seafood and garlic.
What are Her Majesty’s amenities?
She likes to have a blanket over her knees. A blanket and a hot-water bottle are often hidden in the carriages. She likes to stay warm.
POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
What else is on your bucket list?
After welcoming James Bond into her salon [in her film skit for the London 2012 Olympics], I believe in winning the derby. Unfortunately, like all three, it won’t happen this year [of Her Majesty’s] Horses were pulled out.
You have met the Queen many times. How was it?
She’s so charming, but even a seasoned old journalist like me gets embarrassed when she comes around. In general, I try to tell a story. I once told her that I had seen her wedding dress at a show and said, ‘What an incredibly small waist you had, what a wonderful figure!’ She looked surprised but smiled at me. I think she liked it.
What do you think is your favorite decade of your reign?
The 60s. By this time she was very experienced and had the joy of having two more children, Andrew and Edward, 10 years from her first brood [Charles and Anne]. She was more relaxed and could handle being a working woman while being a good mother.
In your opinion, how will the monarchy be modernized under Charles?
Change within the monarchy is accelerated because he wants to put his own stamp on it in what will inevitably be a relatively short reign. He wants the monarchy to be more concentrated and lean.
But there will be a total change of style with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. They’re already inviting people to call them William and Catherine and drop their titles, and expect no bows or curtseys. They are much more relatable.
The Queen and Camilla’s relationship has improved significantly over the years. What do you make of it?
The Queen has always had a lot more in common with Camilla than Diana, but allowing an adulterous relationship was a very difficult decision and she had to keep her distance. I think the Queen has great respect and affection for Camilla. They get along well.
What do you think is the greatest threat to the Queen’s happiness?
The threat to the institution’s popularity. She cares deeply about the monarchy and to see her being criticized over domestic unrest, the allegations against Prince Andrew and the court case makes me feel sorry for her. It is not just the monarchy but her family that is being torn apart. She has done a good job of keeping Harry and Meghan, she said, as beloved family members!
They reported on Prince Charles’ visit to Australia in 1994 when a “gunman” targeted him. That must have been scary…
It was Australia Day and he ended up at this boring concert. Most of the journalists went to get a transcript of the speech he was going to give, but I hung around. I heard this “Pang, bang, bang”. I thought I just saw an assassination attempt on the future king. It wasn’t – it was a starting pistol and a protest – but it was scary to see his bodyguard jump over and almost knock Charles to the ground. It was extremely dramatic. I spent 40 hours awake reporting it.
Have you ever worried about your own safety?
The only time was after [TV presenter] Jill Dando’s death [in a shooting at her home in 1999], which I announced on the air. She was a friend and colleague. Coming home late over the next few weeks worried me.
And finally, we’d like to know – is the Queen a fan of Prime Minister Boris Johnson?
I think her favorite PM was John Major. She adored Winston Churchill and had a soft spot for Harold Wilson. There are certain characters that she gets along well with and I didn’t think Boris was one.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/jennie-bond-queens-inside-secrets-27134882 Jennie Bond on Queen's insider secrets and the future of the monarchy after her death