TV viewing figures for the first day of the Queen’s Jubilee were down significantly on previous royal occasions, although millions are still tuned in.
A peak audience of 7.5million watched the BBC show Trooping the Color on Thursday as it kicked off a long weekend of coverage to celebrate 70 years of the Queen’s reign .
Later that evening, the BBC’s broadcast of the beacon lighting to mark the Queen’s 70th anniversary on the throne drew a peak of 5 million viewers, according to figures produced by ratings agency BARB.
By comparison, viewership for Prince Philip’s funeral last year peaked at more than 13 million people, while Prince William’s and Harry’s weddings drew 26 million and 18 million viewers respectively.
The relatively muted numbers suggest audiences took advantage of the extra bank holiday and good weather to get out, rather than glued to their televisions.
While Trooping the Color was still the most-watched program on terrestrial television, ITV’s Coronation Street and Britain’s Got Talent were not far behind, with almost 4 million viewers each.
The BBC has at times struggled with the tone of its royal coverage, having been criticized during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012 for trying to use younger presenters in a bid to appeal to wider audiences. Last year, the national broadcaster also received a record number of complaints from members of the public who felt it had gone too far with wall-to-wall coverage of Prince Philip’s death.
Kirsty Young has returned to TV to anchor BBC Jubilee coverage after a four-year absence after being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis with secondary fibromyalgia.
The BBC live commentary was provided by Huw Edwards and strayed into controversy when a former Irish Guards officer described the soldiers as ‘one big cocktail mick’.
Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton said: “The micks have this fantastic mix of guard discipline and the pursuit of excellence, with that Irish ‘irrational tenth’ if I can quote Lawrence of Arabia, making them the best regiment in the planet.”
Edwards chimed in to say that while viewers might find the term offensive, “it’s worth pointing out that’s what you Irish Guards call you”.
Sinn Féin’s Joe Dwyer wrote on Twitter: “It’s 2022…and a BBC presenter and someone from the British Army explain why ‘micks’ isn’t actually an offensive term for Irish people .”
The relatively subdued interest in watching royals wave to cars and soldiers in formation may also be a symptom of fine weather on a public holiday. Much of Britain was dry on Thursday, with many attending street parties and others using the long weekend to travel.
More than 20 million people watched the Queen’s coronation in 1953, surpassing radio listeners for the first time in television history.
A BBC spokesman said: “The Trooping of Color was the most-watched program of the day with over 7 million viewers, and we are proud to bring audiences coverage of these unique events. to mark the platinum jubilee with a range of specials programming on the BBC over the bank holiday long weekend.