“Surely all you had to do was hit send, right?”
I can guarantee you that’s what every magazine editor has been asked following the death of Queen Elizabeth II earlier this month.
Yes, Her Majesty was 96, and yes, there had been talk of her fragile health for some time. But far from sending out pre-prepared content last week, the editors of Australia’s biggest magazines went to their offices, some the minute they heard the news in the early hours of Friday morning. They were ready for days of hard work as they sought to produce hundreds of pages of special editions that would pay homage to a 70-year reign and a historic death.
So why couldn’t they just print on pages of prepared summaries of the monarch’s life? At the heart of it all is the fact that the magazine’s loyal readers expect so much more.
Long before Instagram reels and YouTube clips of the royal family were readily available to royalists and those who live only for the drama surrounding the monarchy, magazines were the sole authority on all things royal.
With a unique connection to generations of Australian women, the magazines have been a staple in homes across the country for decades – shared between mother and daughter, gifted by friends and passed from neighbor to neighbor. In short, there is history.
When Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip have visited Australia countless times, magazines have shared all the incredible images of the monarch visiting our most recognizable places. When Princess Diana’s devastated sons walked behind her coffin at her heartbreaking funeral, yet again it was magazines Australian women turned to in an attempt to say their final goodbyes to the people’s princess. When Prince William married Kate Middleton, yes, you guessed it, the magazines were there with all the stunning images of the new princess, printed, in gloss, to keep and cherish forever.
It was this legacy that meant that when the sovereign’s death was announced on September 8, second choice simply would not suffice. Instead, magazines had to do better. Their loyal readers, and even those not so loyal, expected them to do something more – be the authority, share the news, photos and tributes they knew would flow. of the whole world.
It’s not just the weight of expectations that has pushed editors to work around the clock, but also the knowledge that what magazines offer is something that no other medium can offer: permanence. While TV, radio and social media coverage is often fleeting, magazines act not only as sources of information, but also as memories. They are tangible, and readers in years to come will dig into them to show future generations a snapshot of a moment in time. Unlike newspapers, this snapshot will be glossy, the images big and beautiful, and the pages filled with emotion.
In a world saturated with news and ruled by social media, Queen Elizabeth’s passing reminded us of the special place magazines will always hold in the hearts of readers, in Australia and around the world.
Erin Holohan, Are Media Editorial Director, Celebrity Headlines.