The Wick - Sarah Hewson by Damien Bailey The Wick - Sarah Hewson by Damien Bailey
Monday Muse

Interview TalkTV Royal Editor Sarah Hewson

Interview
Sarah Hewson
Photography
Damian Bailey
29 May 2022
Interview
Sarah Hewson
Photography
Damian Bailey
29 May 2022
Earlier this year, the Queen became the first British monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee after 70 years of service. In the run-up to this week’s four-day bank holiday in celebration of Her Majesty’s historic reign, we couldn’t think of a better Monday Muse than one of television’s most respected broadcasters and expert on the royal family, Sarah Hewson.

Hewson joined TalkTV as royal editor in April and is a regular commentator on stories about the royal family on the station’s flagship evening news and current affairs programme. She draws on more than 20 years of experience as a journalist and broadcaster, where she spent most of her career at Sky News anchoring some of the biggest national and international news stories.

No stranger to big occasions, during her time as Sky’s royal correspondent she headed up the coverage of two royal weddings, royal births, the Diamond Jubilee and the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh last year. Sarah has also interviewed six senior members of the royal family, the last five UK prime ministers, and other high-profile figures from the worlds of business, sport and entertainment.

THE WICK:   Talk us through your typical Monday.

Sarah Hewson:   I can honestly say that there is no such thing as a typical day. I tend to wake up sometime between 5-6am – a legacy of many years of shift work I guess – and listen to Times Radio’s early breakfast show and then the Today programme to ensure I am across the news agenda for the day.

After that, it’s less predictable. Sometimes we’re aware of upcoming events, like the Platinum Jubilee or the State Opening of Parliament, but more often than not news happens unexpectedly and I have to be ready to react.

When things are quieter on the work front, I’ll be found running around after my three young children. Between school drop-offs and pick-ups, swimming, football, rugby, ballet, parties etc, they keep me pretty busy – I’m sure their social lives are better than mine these days.

TW:   What does your role at TalkTV entail?

SH:   The new role is something of a return to my roots – I was royal correspondent for Sky News for many years before I moved into the studio as a news presenter. It’s a great time to be back covering royal news – I can barely remember such a busy time, what with the Jubilee, concerns over the Queen’s health, the ongoing fallout from Megxit, and Prince Andrew and the Jeffrey Epstein scandal.

It’s really exciting to be part of a launch and while TalkTV might be a brand-new channel, it’s part of the News UK stable, which includes The Times, The Sunday Times and The Sun with long-established journalistic credentials.

As well as TalkTV, I’ll also be providing royal analysis and commentary for other outlets, both in the UK but also the US and Australia.

TW:   How did you get in to broadcast journalism?

SH:   I knew I wanted to be a journalist from a really young age. I used to record my own bulletins at home on an old VHS camera (showing my age). I had a weekly column for a local newspaper in Kent and then worked on student radio. After university I worked for a small business channel in London before moving to Sky News. My first job there was as a junior producer in the early days of what we would now call digital news. It was a great introduction to a 24-hour newsroom and enabled me to climb the ranks, becoming a news reporter, royal correspondent and then presenter.

TW:   What was the most exciting moment in your time as a Sky News royal correspondent?

SH:   Working in journalism is a huge privilege because it gives you a front row seat to history. Being at Buckingham Palace for the marriage of William and Kate and inside the grounds of Windsor Castle for Prince Philip’s funeral are two such occasions I will never forget.

I’ve travelled to far flung corners of the world with the royal family – to Lesotho with Prince Harry, Uganda with the Queen and the Galápagos Islands with Prince Charles. I’ve broadcast live from the White House lawn, from Sydney Opera House and from the Amazon rainforest. The schedules on royal tours are crazy and they are far less glamorous than they might sound – but they provide memories to last a lifetime.

“Working in journalism is a huge privilege because it gives you a front row seat to history.”

TW:   What do you think this Jubilee means for the greater public?

SH:   This is a truly historic occasion – the Queen is the only British monarch to reach such a milestone. It’s a chance to come together to show admiration and gratitude for her long reign. But it will inevitably also be a time of reflection as we look towards the future of the monarchy and what the next era might look like.

TW:   What should we look out for in the Jubilee celebrations?

SH:   I think the big question is how much we see of the Queen. The hope, of course, is that she can play as full a part as possible in her Platinum Jubilee celebrations and certainly the signs in the last week or so have looked more promising. The family dynamics will also be fascinating – we know there will be no balcony appearance by Harry and Meghan or Prince Andrew – but what role will they play and how will they be received by the public?

TW:   What does the monarchy mean to you?

SH:   Stability and continuity. Most of us have never known any other head of state – the Queen has always been there. Through her seven decades on the throne, she has seen 14 prime ministers enter Number 10 Downing Street, met 13 US presidents and witnessed many crises facing the country and the world.

When the Queen addressed the nation with her ‘we will meet again’ speech during the Covid pandemic, she was a much-needed voice of reassurance and calm at a time of great uncertainty.

The quiet dignity displayed as she sat alone at the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral showed not just her stoic commitment to a life of service but also the frailty and sadness of a woman who had lost her ‘strength and stay’. I found it immensely moving.

Her passing, when it happens, will be a profound moment of change for the nation but also the Commonwealth.

TW:   What are you reading right now?

SH:   Common Ground by Rob Cowen. It’s something of a literary departure for me but I sat next to the author at a wedding recently and he spoke with such passion and energy that I decided to give it a try. I’m so glad I did. The book is a beautiful, poetic account of his return to his roots in Yorkshire and how nature and landscape shape us. Post-pandemic this somehow feels even more relevant.

TW:   What is your favourite culturally curious spot?

SH:   As a family we spend as much time as we possibly can in Norfolk and Houghton Hall is one of our favourite places to visit. It has a fantastic collection of contemporary sculpture and has hosted exhibitions by Anish Kapoor, Henry Moore and Chris Levine among others. The children love it because they can run around the incredible grounds making as much noise as they like. And I get to escape into its beautiful walled garden – heaven!

TW:   What’s your favourite artwork or object that you own?

SH:   I have a portrait of my children on the wall in my kitchen which I adore. It was a surprise from my husband for my 40th birthday and captures them all perfectly. It makes me smile every time I look at it.

TW:   Who is your ultimate Monday Muse?

SH:   This is a hard one. I’ve worked with so many people who have inspired and awed me, in different ways. Right now, I watch friends and colleagues risking their lives in Ukraine to ensure that the truth is told. Their courage and commitment are humbling.

And in the week of the Platinum Jubilee, I can’t help but think of the Queen and what she represents to many millions of people around the world. She has dedicated her life to duty and service and continues to do so aged 96 without complaint. She is quite remarkable.


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