Transcript: Tina Brown On The Royal Family
The famed magazine editor has a new book on the British royals. We dish.
She needs no introduction — but in magazine history, Tina Brown is rightly deemed a legend. She revived Tatler, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, before turning to the web and The Daily Beast (where I worked for her). Her latest book is The Palace Papers. We talked journalism, life and royals.
The episode aired on May 13, 2022. Some money quotes from Tina:
“I think that it will be a giant void when [the Queen] goes, because … how do people think about being British anymore, when she’s gone? She has come to epitomize the nation’s identity in such a profound way.”
“Still, to this day, have no idea what [the Queen] thinks about anything. She has managed to maintain the discipline of never letting us know.”
“The monarchy is a kind of safe space, if you like, of composure and non-partisanship at the top a country. At a time of enormous turbulence, this seems even more valuable.”
Andrew: Hi there. Welcome to another Dishcast. I have been looking forward to this one for a very long time. I've been nagging her forever.
We have Tina Brown and I am more than thrilled. You don't need a real introduction to Tina Brown: the legendary editor and great and funny writer — which I think is often underplayed. She’s the former editor of the Tatler, then Vanity Fair, which she basically created, and The New Yorker, which she completely reinvented for the better.
Now, she's just written a book called The Palace Papers, which is a review of the Royal Family as it now teeters towards the death of the matriarch. Which is going to be this enormous moment, I think, in the history of the monarchy, in the history of Britain, really. And we'll talk about that later. I wanted to start with saying thanks for coming.
Tina: Thank you, Andrew. We go way back, and I've been looking forward to this for a long time too, so this is great.
Andrew: You, like me, in your high school, you were writing journalism. You were pumping out a little magazine, you were criticizing your head mistress. You describe yourself — you only have to look at Wikipedia to find this — as an extremely subversive influence in your childhood and high school. This also seems to be the spirit of your journalism. It is doing this to people in authority. Having fun, essentially. Tell me about your early childhood.
Tina: Well, I was the child of a film producer and a very witty, funny sort of outsiderly mother. She was an upwardly mobile person in the British class system. It kind of put her outside a little bit, she felt, I think. So I had this nice kind of inside/outside childhood. I went to very posh boarding schools, but always kind of felt a bit on the outside, because of my background, I suppose. That I think helped establish me as a kind of observer of the kind of upper classes, the others. I always felt that I was a bit of a renegade in all of that, and that sort of stayed with me, I think.
Andrew: You were also never intimidated by these people. That's what sort of staggers me, that you could talk to the royals, you could talk to these leading writers. And this is what really amazed me from a very young age, you reached out and found some brilliant writers. In your college years, and afterwards, you are in touch with Auberon Waugh. Your network spreads out. The sheer chutzpah of this young woman — I'm in awe of it! How did you do that? Tell me about Auberon Waugh.
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