BBC royal correspondent who Charles once described as ‘awful’ retires

The BBC’s royal correspondent who was famously described by the King as an “awful” man is retiring after nearly five decades with the corporation.

Veteran broadcaster Nicholas Witchell, who has covered the royal family since 1998, will retire next year after joining the broadcaster as a graduate news trainee in 1976.

In 2005, the-then Prince of Wales was caught on a microphone making remarks about Witchell who had asked a question about the royal’s upcoming nuptials to Camilla Parker Bowles during a photoshoot in the Swiss Alps.

He said: “Bloody people. I can’t bear that man. I mean, he is so awful, he really is.”

The BBC said: “After 47 fantastic years we will be bidding farewell to royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell, who will be retiring next year.

“Nick has reported from across the world and presented key BBC News shows.

“Thank you for your remarkable service!”

Charles with his sons William and Harry during another skiing trip in 2000
Charles with his sons William and Harry during a skiing trip in 2000 (PA)

Witchell broadcast the confirmed news of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales on August 31 1997 and provided live radio commentary from outside Westminster Abbey at her funeral.

The 70-year-old first joined the BBC after finishing a law degree at Leeds University, later becoming a BBC reporter in Northern Ireland in 1979 covering the assassination of Earl Mountbatten and the IRA hunger strikes during his several years in the role.

He then became a news reporter for television news in 1982 where he covered the Falklands conflict, as well as covering Margaret Thatcher’s 1983 general election campaign for the BBC, before returning to Belfast to become the BBC’s Ireland correspondent.

He was one of the founding presenters of the Six O’Clock News with Sue Lawley in 1984, before becoming the main presenter of the re-launched Breakfast News programme from 1989 to 1994.

Witchell then returned to frontline reporting for the BBC, for Panorama, and then as the BBC’s royal and diplomatic correspondent from 1998.