20 November 2010

Prince Charles knew that what he said about Camilla becoming Queen was extremely delicate

Yesterday, I blogged about how the 'pre-delicate hitches' in some of the questions put to Prince William and Kate Middleton by ITN's Tom Bradby could be heard as indicating that he was rather more nervous than his interviewees (HERE).

Little did I expect that more pre-delicate hitches from Prince Charles were about to feature in a big news story on both sides of the Atlantic.

Newspapers don't often print detailed transcripts of what someone said in an interview. But several of the reports of the way Prince Charles answered the much publicised question from NBC's Brian Williams - about whether Camilla would ever become Queen - provided rather more detail than usual, accompanied as they were by dots along with comments to the effect that he'd been 'hesitant' or 'caught off guard'.

Daily Telegraph
Asked by NBC’s Brian Williams if the Duchess would become queen, the Prince, who seemed taken aback by the question, said: “That’s, well…we’ll see, won’t we? That could be.”
Although aides insisted the Prince had been caught off guard and there had been “no change” in the official position, the comment will be seen by many as an indication of his inner thoughts.

Daily Mirror
In a shift from previous statements, the Prince of Wales did not contradict an American interviewer who asked: "Does the Duchess of Cornwall become Queen of England, if and when you become the monarch?" Until now, the official position has been that the Duchess of Cornwall would have the title Princess Consort.
Hesitating, the prince replied: "That's well... we'll see won't we? That could be."

The Guardian
During an interview with the American network NBC, due to be aired tomorrow, Charles did not correct the presenter of NBC's Dateline programme, Brian Williams, when he asked: "Does the Duchess of Cornwall become Queen of England, if and when you become the monarch?" The prince hesitated, then replied: "That's well … we'll see won't we? That could be."

More hitches than a few dots
As you'll see from the video clip, the dots used in these news reports hardly do justice to the extraordinary number of 'pre-delicate hitches' - i.e. at least eleven of them (in blue) - that led up to his most widely reported sentence: "that could be":

"Wehh -uhhh-that's-umm that's (1 second pause) well (0.5 second pause) let's see won't we. But-uhh (1 second in-breath) Ummm (0.5 second pause) that (0.5 second pause) could be."

Hardly surprising, then, that his 'hesitancy' featured in news reports. But one interesting question is whether 'the comment will be seen by many as an indication of his inner thoughts' (Daily Telegraph), or whether it became headline news because of the way he led up to and made the comment - as is implied by the inclusion of dots in the rather inadequate media transcripts.

Whatever the answer, research in conversation analysis suggests that Prince Charles was displaying an awareness that he knew perfectly well that he was about to say something that would be heard by others as very delicate indeed.

1 comment:

garybau said...

,,there's only one thing worse than not being talked about...Oscar Wilde

Charles knew what he was doing, he has been a media performer for years! Every utterance he makes is calculated, though one must wait for the words to sputter forth. Can he share the limelight? or is there a chance he will never be king!?