When longtime BBC anchor Huw Edwards announced the death of Queen Elizabeth II to the U.K. and the world on September 8, he looked grim and genuinely shocked. In an interview with the Radio Times this week, Edwards explained that he only heard the news right before he made the announcement. “About ten seconds before,” he said when interviewer Rosie Millard asked how much advance notice he got. He added that the perception that the BBC presenters were intentionally dressed in black was incorrect. “It was a navy tie,” Edwards said. “A dark navy tie, which then became a black tie after the confirmation on the wires.”
He added that he knew how important the moment was immediately. “I was sad, because I felt I was announcing the end of something very special, something that really meant a lot to people,” he said. “It was the end of an era in British history, the end of a presence that has been with many people throughout their entire lives, and the removal of a person who was a source of reassurance and constancy. I felt very strongly that it was a big moment.”
Edwards has been with the network since 1984, when he started as a news trainee, and has helmed its 10 p.m. news broadcast since 2003. In the interview, he explained that the mood in the studio was unusual on the day of the queen’s death. “Usually, when you have a breaking story there’s a lot of shouting in your ear from the gallery, saying, ‘Go to the news, go to the news,’ but this time was different,” he said. “The announcement came up on the wires and the gallery said, ‘The announcement is here. Take your time. Speak when you are ready.’”
He said his mother told him he looked exhausted during the next few weeks of constant broadcasting, but he stayed sane with a bit of self-care. “My spare time was limited, but in between I did some long walks, and a couple of boxing sessions,” he said. “With all those hours on air, I was desperate not to make a terrible mistake. When you are on for that long, and tired, you are very nervous about tripping up.”
Edwards dismissed speculation that his performance in the wake of the queen’s death has put him on a shortlist for a knighthood. “I have been involved in nominating people for honors and, in a few cases, people who have spent a lifetime giving time to deserving causes and don’t get anything,” he said. “So, although I don’t mean it disrespectfully, the idea of a knighthood embarrasses me.”
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