Anger as Palace bans papers from funeral

The Sun page which led to snub

The Newspaper Publishers’ Association wants talks with Buckingham Palace after it was effectively snubbed over providing rota places for Princess Margaret’s funeral.

The Palace press office decreed that The Sun, The Times and Daily Express should not be allowed places within the grounds of St George’s chapel, Windsor, because of "highly insensitive" reporting and gave the rota places to The Mirror, The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail.

At the centre of the row were pictures of Slough Crematorium where the Princess was cremated. The Palace had asked newspapers not to publish them. The three banned newspapers did.

NPA director Steve Oram said he had received a call from the Palace late on Wednesday of last week saying the press office was taking a "non-negotiable position" on allocating places that would normally have been balloted on by the NPA.

"All the others weren’t given a chance," said Oram. "The Mail, The Mirror and the Telegraph were obliged, because they are rota positions, to pool their material so the others weren’t denied reporting or pictures.

"I stressed to the Palace that the NPA does not comment on editorial content by its newspapers. Any complaints about editorial content are between the organisation or individual and the newspapers concerned. If they feels it’s so serious, they have recourse to the Press Complaints Commission.

"I said that we obviously could not accept that kind of unilateral decision and we would be forced to pursue it further in the future interest of members," said Oram.

"I also said the NPA could not, in the light of the unilateral decision, have a role in that allocation.

"We regard people taking decisions as a result of disagreeing with the editorial content as being a very slippery, dangerous slope."

Defending the use of the picture, Sun editor David Yelland said: "That is a picture of a public place.  It’s quite disgraceful that the Palace should ask us not to use it."

He claimed it was the action of a press officer who reported directly to Princess Margaret.

Yelland, angry at the ban, was made even angrier by The Mirror’s claim his paper had been banned because of its headline "Crem De La Crem" on a splash about the cremation.

He said: "The Mirror story is simply untrue. We have not been banned because of the headline." He insisted the headline, written by Ted Young, was "a great, great headline" and said there were no complaints from readers.  According to Yelland, the Palace partly relented. Photographer Arthur Edwards was put on another rota at the Henry VIII gate.

 He is also angry because The Sun had been helpful to the Palace over the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, launching a campaign to encourage its celebration, which, Yelland claimed, had "saved the Jubilee".

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