TV insiders ‘stunned’ by Lisa Wilkinson fronting The Project’s coverage of the Queen’s funeral


Channel 10’s decision to dispatch its star presenter Lisa Wilkinson to the UK to cover the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II has raised eyebrows among television insiders.

Wilkinson is, of course, the wife of journalist and commentator Peter FitzSimons, Australia’s most vocal republican and the chair of the Australian Republic Movement.

The ‘irony’ of her arrival in London to front Channel 10 and The Project’s coverage of Her Majesty’s funeral on Monday was apparently not lost on many industry figures, reports The Australian’s Media Diary.

Channel 10’s decision to dispatch its star presenter Lisa Wilkinson to the UK to cover the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II has raised eyebrows among television insiders

While the Australian Republic Movement (ARM) has temporarily suspended its push for a republic until after the Queen’s burial, its leader FitzSimons has long campaigned for the British Royal Family to be eradicated from Australian political life.

He has previously made statements criticising King Charles III, formerly the Prince of Wales, telling Daily Mail Australia in June he expected republican sentiment to ‘get a surge once Australia leans in close and looks at’ the new king.

FitzSimons also drew the ire of monarchists earlier this month by issuing a statement about the Queen’s death before Prime Minister Anthony Albanese had a chance to.

However, sources at Channel 10 said there were no misgivings about sending Wilkinson, who has impeccable knowledge of royal matters from her decades as a magazine editor.

Wilkinson is, of course, the wife of journalist and commentator Peter FitzSimons (right), Australia's most vocal republican and the chair of the Australian Republic Movement

Wilkinson is, of course, the wife of journalist and commentator Peter FitzSimons (right), Australia’s most vocal republican and the chair of the Australian Republic Movement

The 'irony' of her arrival in London to front Channel 10 and The Project's coverage of Her Majesty's funeral on Monday was apparently not lost on many industry figures

The ‘irony’ of her arrival in London to front Channel 10 and The Project’s coverage of Her Majesty’s funeral on Monday was apparently not lost on many industry figures

The Queen’s funeral is also a ‘logical’ assignment for the veteran broadcaster, a network insider told Media Diary, as she covered the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle for The Project in 2018.

Before that, she spearheaded Nine’s coverage of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding in 2011 when she co-hosted the Today show with Karl Stefanovic.

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Christopher Bendall, The Project’s executive producer, claimed to not know whether Wilkinson was a monarchist or a republican, like her husband.

Daily Mail Australia has contacted Channel 10 for comment.

It comes days after Wilkinson’s former Today co-anchor Stefanovic and his on-air partner Allison Langdon criticised ‘rude’ republicans calling for a debate on the monarchy before the Queen has even been buried.

Stefanovic said on Saturday it was inappropriate to even be having the conversation during a period of mourning, before taking aim at FitzSimons and former Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, a founding member of the ARM.

He remarked that having ‘pasty white guys’ as the figureheads for the movement would guarantee its failure.

‘There’s still people out there doing it [pushing for an Australian republic]. I just think it’s so rude,’ Stefanovic said on air. 

While the Australian Republic Movement (ARM) has temporarily suspended its push for a republic until after the Queen's burial, its leader FitzSimons has long campaigned for the British Royal Family to be eradicated from Australian political life

While the Australian Republic Movement (ARM) has temporarily suspended its push for a republic until after the Queen’s burial, its leader FitzSimons has long campaigned for the British Royal Family to be eradicated from Australian political life 

‘Let me tell you, it is not going to happen while you’ve got pasty white guys like Peter FitzSimons and Malcolm Turnbull fronting up in Australia.’

Langdon agreed, adding: ‘I did tell Peter if he was at the front of the movement, I would always vote for a monarchy.’

Australia last held a referendum on becoming a republic in 1999, with the country deciding to remain a constitutional monarchy.

Britain, world leaders and royalty from across the globe will on Monday bid a final farewell to Queen Elizabeth, the last towering figure of her era, at a state funeral of inimitable pageantry.

At 5:30am GMT, an official lying-in-state period ends after four days in which hundreds of thousands have queued to file past the casket of Britain’s longest-reigning monarch at London’s historic Westminster Hall.

They, like many across the globe including U.S. President Joe Biden, had wanted to pay tribute to the 96-year-old who had spent seven decades on the British throne.

‘You were fortunate to have had her for 70 years,’ Biden said. ‘We all were.’

The 'irony' of Wilkinson's (left) arrival in London to front Channel 10 and The Project's coverage of Her Majesty's funeral was apparently not lost on many industry figures

Sources at Channel 10 said there were no misgivings about sending Wilkinson (left, with The Project’s UK correspondent Lucy McDonald) to England to lead the network’s coverage. She has impeccable knowledge of royal matters from her decades as a magazine editor and also covered the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle for The Project in 2018

Shortly before 11am GMT, the oak coffin, covered in the Royal Standard flag with the Imperial State Crown on top, will be placed on a gun carriage and pulled by naval personnel to Westminster Abbey for her funeral.

Among the 2,000 in the congregation will be some 500 world leaders, including Biden, Emperor Naruhito of Japan, Wang Qishan, the Vice President of China, and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The Queen’s great-grandchildren, Prince George, nine, and Princess Charlotte, seven, the two eldest children of now heir to the throne Prince William, will also be attending.

‘Over the last 10 days, my wife and I have been so deeply touched by the many messages of condolence and support we have received from this country and across the world,’ Charles, Elizabeth’s son and the new king, said in a statement.

‘As we all prepare to say our last farewell, I wanted simply to take this opportunity to say thank you to all those countless people who have been such a support and comfort to my family and myself in this time of grief.’

Elizabeth died aged 96 on September 8 at her Scottish summer home, Balmoral Castle.

Her health had been in decline, and for months the monarch who had carried out hundreds of official engagements well into her nineties had withdrawn from public life, although just two days before her death she had appointed Liz Truss her 15th and final prime minister.

Such was her longevity and her inextricable link with Britain that even her own family found her passing a shock.

‘We all thought she was invincible,’ Prince William told well-wishers.

It comes after Today co-hosts Karl Stefanovic and Allison Langdon (pictured) criticised 'rude' republicans calling for a debate on the monarchy before the Queen has even been buried

It comes after Today co-hosts Karl Stefanovic and Allison Langdon (pictured) criticised ‘rude’ republicans calling for a debate on the monarchy before the Queen has even been buried

The 40th sovereign in a line that traces its lineage back to 1066, Elizabeth came to the throne in 1952, Britain’s first post-imperial monarch.

She oversaw her nation trying to carve out a new place in the world, and she was instrumental in the emergence of the Commonwealth of Nations, now a grouping comprising 56 countries.

When she succeeded her father George VI, Winston Churchill was her first prime minister and Josef Stalin led the Soviet Union. She met nearly every major figure from politics to entertainment and sport including Nelson Mandela, Pope John Paul II, the Beatles, Marilyn Monroe, Pele and Roger Federer.

Despite being reputedly just 5ft 3ins (1.6m) tall, she dominated rooms with her presence and became a towering global figure, praised in death from Paris and Washington to Moscow and Beijing. National mourning was observed in Brazil, Jordan and Cuba, countries with which she had little direct link.

‘Queen Elizabeth II was without any shadow of a doubt the best known figure in the world, the most photographed person in history, the most recognisable person, and the fact that world leaders are going to be pouring into London for the funeral… is saying a lot about this iconic figure,’ historian Anthony Seldon told Reuters.

Transport chiefs said one million people were expected in central London for the funeral, while police say it will be the biggest security operation ever in the capital.

King Charles, his siblings and sons Princes William and Harry and other members of the Windsor family will slowly walk behind the coffin as it is taken on the gun carriage to Westminster Abbey, led by some 200 pipers and drummers.

The tenor bell of the Abbey – the site of coronations, weddings and burials of English and then British kings and queens for almost 1,000 years – will toll 96 times.

In addition to dignitaries, the congregation will include those awarded Britain’s highest military and civilian medals for gallantry, representatives from charities supported by the Queen, and those who made ‘extraordinary contributions’ to dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tens of millions in Britain and abroad are expected to watch the funeral of the monarch, something which has never been televised before. It will end with the Last Post trumpet salute before the church and the nation falls silent for two minutes.

Australia last held a referendum on becoming a republic in 1999, with the country deciding to remain a constitutional monarchy. (The Queen, who died on September 8, is pictured in 2018)

Australia last held a referendum on becoming a republic in 1999, with the country deciding to remain a constitutional monarchy. (The Queen, who died on September 8, is pictured in 2018)

Afterwards, the coffin will be brought through central London, past the Queen’s Buckingham Palace home to the Wellington Arch at Hyde Park Corner, with the monarch and the royal family following again on foot during the 2.4-km procession.

From there, it will be placed on a hearse to be driven to Windsor Castle in west London for a service at St George’s Chapel. This will conclude with the crown, orb and sceptre – symbols of the monarch’s power and governance – being removed from the coffin and placed on the altar.

The Lord Chamberlain, the most senior official in the royal household, will break his ‘Wand of Office’, signifying the end of his service to the sovereign, and place it on the casket.

Britain, world leaders and royalty from across the globe will on Monday bid a final farewell to Queen Elizabeth, the last towering figure of her era, at a state funeral of inimitable pageantry. (Pictured: U.S. President Joe Biden, right, accompanied by First Lady Jill Biden, centre, are welcomed by Master of the Household Sir Tony Johnstone-Burt, left, as they arrive at Buckingham Palace for a State Reception in honour of the late Queen on Sunday)

Britain, world leaders and royalty from across the globe will on Monday bid a final farewell to Queen Elizabeth, the last towering figure of her era, at a state funeral of inimitable pageantry. (Pictured: U.S. President Joe Biden, right, accompanied by First Lady Jill Biden, centre, are welcomed by Master of the Household Sir Tony Johnstone-Burt, left, as they arrive at Buckingham Palace for a State Reception in honour of the late Queen on Sunday)

It will then be lowered into the royal vault as the Sovereign’s Piper plays a lament, slowly walking away until music in the chapel gradually fades.

Later in the evening, in a private family service, the coffin of Elizabeth and her husband of more than seven decades Prince Philip, who died last year aged 99, will be buried together at the King George VI Memorial Chapel, where her parents and sister, Princess Margaret, also rest.

‘We’re so happy you’re back with Grandpa. Goodbye dear grannie, it has been the honour of our lives to have been your granddaughters and we’re so very proud of you,’ grandchildren Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie said.

FitzSimons previously made public statements criticising King Charles III, formerly the Prince of Wales, telling Daily Mail Australia in June he expected republican sentiment to 'get a surge once Australia leans in close and looks at' the new king. (King Charles III is pictured with Camilla, Queen Consort, on September 13 during their visit to Northern Ireland)

FitzSimons previously made public statements criticising King Charles III, formerly the Prince of Wales, telling Daily Mail Australia in June he expected republican sentiment to ‘get a surge once Australia leans in close and looks at’ the new king. (King Charles III is pictured with Camilla, Queen Consort, on September 13 during their visit to Northern Ireland)

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk