The Queen has mastered the art of the walkabout in the 67 years she has been on the throne, a custom bringing the Royal Family closer to the people. The tradition of engaging with the public on official outings has long been one of the tools the Royal Family has employed to maintain a good relationship with their audience. But BBC documentary Lucy Worsley’s Royal Photo Album revealed the practice was born out of “desperation” and worry about the future of the monarchy.
Historian Lucy Worsley said: “The classic royal walkabout photo-op dates back to 1910, with the arrival of King George V and was born out of desperation.
“Son of the camera-loving Alexandra, George was a cautious and conservative figure, a stamp collector and an arch-enemy of pheasants. But he also could see where the wind was blowing.
“The early 1900s were a scary time for royalty, the working classes were increasingly disaffected. Socialism and republicanism were on the rise, things hadn’t been this bad in the monarchy business for decades.
“Something had to be done or the whole institution would find itself being dismantled.”
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George V saw two of his cousins, Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany and Tzar Nicholas II of Russia, lose their thrones because of war and revolution.
Wanting to avoid the same fate for the British monarchy, the king and wife Queen Mary launched the tradition of the walkabout to win over the support of the public.
Ms Worsley continued: “The King and his advisors came up with a survival strategy that would be amplified through photography.
“The Royal Family would visit industrial areas, with poverty, unrest, and they would try to get working-class people on side.”
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“The walkabout is the twitchiest moment for the bodyguards because you don’t know if there’s somebody in that crowd who had bad intentions.”
The Royal Family has been facing growing risks over the past few years due to global tensions and threats, and security officials have become increasingly more skilled in ensuring their proteges come to no harm.
Ahead of their five-day tour of Pakistan in 2019, Prince William and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge forced their bodyguards to plan out a minutely detailed security plan.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited Islamabad at the height of tension between the country and India over the contended Kashmir region.
And the Queen has been forced to strengthen security at Windsor Castle, where she remains shielding with Prince Philip.