With the Jubilee celebrations in full swing, we took 5 minutes to have a chat with Viscountess Hinchingbrooke, Julie Montagu, on life as a Royal Correspondent.
Favourite moment you’ve covered?
Well, before the Jubilee, which I’ll be covering this week, it would have been The Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle as I was lucky enough to commentate for BBC News Channel and BBC World inside the wall and on the grounds of Windsor Castle. It was magic! The outdoor space where I was reporting had a real sense of peace and joy. Each network had a very small tent and I think there must have been only about 50 of us from around the world. We were the first to see Harry and Meghan seated on the carriage before they went Outside the gates and into the sea of jubilant well-wishers. And the weather…. Was picture perfect too. Despite where things are with Royal relations, this is a day I will never forget.
How often do you get to meet the royal family?
Never! I only commentate about them but haven’t had the chance to meet them….yet!
Who makes you laugh the most?
The Queen of course!
These events are watched by millions of people, do you ever get nervous and if so, how do you deal with the nerves?
When I was commentating on the Royal Wedding of Harry and Meghan, yes at first I was nervous, but my husband has this great saying that having nerves means you care. Luckily, after 30 seconds of being ‘on air’ the nerves subsided.
Have you got a favourite royal … are you allowed to say?
Again, The Queen of course!
How does someone get into the life of royal correspondence?
I have Meghan Markle to thank for my Royal debut. As I’m an American who married into the British Aristocracy, there were a few similarities between her world and mine and therefore, networks were keen to uncover what it was like for me and what it might be like for Meghan. From one interview with the BBC during their engagement, things snowballed and I’ve reported on the Royal family ever since.
Do you get to travel lots, and if so, where is the most interesting place you’ve been?
Luckily I do get to travel all across the U.K visiting some of Britain’s finest castles, manors, and stately homes as I present a YouTube series and podcast called American Viscountess. Here I meet the extraordinary homeowners and get a real look inside how these places function. Plus, of course, the storied past and present, gardens, architecture, and how these homeowners are pioneering their historic homes into the 21st century.
Your YouTube channel and TikTok series ‘American Viscountess’ detail life in a stately home that dates to the Doomsday book. What is something people don’t know about maintaining these great houses and why do you, being American, feel so passionate about preserving English culture?
As an American, I’ve always been incredibly interested in British culture, and in particular, fascinated with the vast collection of Historic Houses in the U.K. Not quite a fairy-tale, but I do now live in one – Mapperton, the Nation’s Finest Manor House. However, keeping this house alive is not a picnic, even for the family that invented the Sandwich! There are constant leaks, repairs, restorations and forward thinking to stay ahead of the long game. It’s a privilege yes but incredibly tiring too. And weekends don’t really exist for us as we have weddings on most Saturdays and the house, gardens and our rewilding project is open to the public on Sundays.
What’s the Queens secret to reigning so long?
Surely it must be KEEP CALM and CARRY ON! Really I think that must be it – Keep Calm at ALL times. And she’s clearly had to maintain this reverently over the past few years in particular.
Does Mapperton have anything planned for the Jubilee?
As I’m commentating at Buckingham Palace over the Jubilee weekend, I sadly won’t be at Mapperton. However, we are having a small celebration on Sunday with the entire Mapperton village.
How will you be celebrating the Platinum Jubilee?
Wearing my best bright floral dress as I will be inside the Buckingham Palace press gates commentating for networks around the world. But in particular, I am the Guest Presenter for Sky News Breakfast 7-10am on Saturday 4th June. I can’t wait!