BBC bows to queen over docu


LONDON -- The BBC was forced to issue an apology to the queen Thursday after claiming she had stormed out of a photo shoot with Vanity Fair photographer Annie Leibovitz that was being filmed for an upcoming BBC documentary.

The monarch was clearly not amused by the story, which led front pages here Thursday, and the pubcaster was forced to admit that the piece had been incorrectly edited.

The incident has triggered an investigation by the BBC Trust, and BBC director general Mark Thompson will have to give his account of the mix-up at a meeting of the Trust next week.

BBC1 controller Peter Fincham showed reporters the scene from RDF-produced "A Year With the Queen" at the channel's fall-season launch Wednesday.

"Definitely a memorable bit is Leibovitz getting it wrong and the queen losing it a bit and walking out in a huff," Fincham told reporters.

The clip showed a scene in which the queen is asked by Leibovitz to take off her tiara and velvet cloak for the picture.

The monarch is shown replying: "Less dressy? What do you think this is?" The next scene showed her walking away, clearly cross, complaining to an assistant and her page: "I'm not changing anything. I've done enough dressing like this, thank you very much."

But the BBC was forced to admit the way in which the scenes had been spliced was misleading -- and that the scene in which she complains to her retainer had been filmed before, not after, the photo shoot.

"In this trailer, there is a sequence that implies that the queen left a sitting prematurely," the BBC said Thursday. "This was not the case and the actual sequence of events was misrepresented. The BBC would like to apologize to both the queen and Annie Leibovitz for any upset this may have caused."

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said, "We can confirm that the queen did not leave the sitting prematurely," according to wire reports.

In a statement, the BBC's governing body said it will investigate the matter.

"The BBC Trust has requested the director general to give an account at next week's trust meeting of the events which led to the BBC issuing an apology about the trailing of a documentary about HM The Queen," the statement said. "As is routine, the director general will provide the trust with a report on all significant editorial issues arising since the trust's last meeting in June."

It will bring to an end a bad week for director general Thompson, one in which the pubcaster was handed its first-ever fine for breaches of the program code, after faking a winner in a quiz show on kids program "Blue Peter."
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