By Royal appointment: how an ITV hack won the prince's trust

Tom Bradby tells Matthew Bell why Prince William gave him the scoop of his career

There were three of them in that interview, though it wasn't exactly crowded.

Tom Bradby, political editor for ITV News, was the only journalist to be granted access to Prince William and Kate Middleton when they announcd their engagement on Tuesday, and the first to have interviewed our future Queen. It was, he says, "a terrifying responsibility", not least because the weight of the past hung heavily on their shoulders: all three were conscious not to echo that infamous interview from 30 years ago, when Prince Charles became engaged to Lady Diana. "Everybody had that "what is love?" moment in the back of their minds," Bradby says, "and that was what everyone wanted to avoid."

It was the biggest scoop of his 20-year career, but Bradby, 43, was determined to play as small a part in it as possible. "I felt it should be as if I wasn't really there, that they were just having a conversation with the hundreds of millions of people watching all over the world." That he was there, though, is no coincidence. Contrary to suggestions that the opportunity came out of the blue, he had known for some time that he would get an interview if and when an engagement was announced. He had had years to prepare, though, like everyone else, he only learned the news on the day.

Bradby is known to be on joshing terms with Prince William, a relationship that dates back to his stint as ITV's royal correspondent, from 2001 to 2005, when he built up an unusually good rapport. It was his friendship with William, and their joint realisation that the Prince's voicemail had been listened to, that uncovered the News of the World phone-hacking scandal in 2006. Despite this, he believes there is nothing to be gained from further prosecutions and is on good terms with Andy Coulson.

Fresh-faced and with boyish good looks, there is even something of the teenage Prince about Bradby. He too was married by 28, and comes from a military background, his father having been an officer in the Royal Navy. He attended Sherborne, then Edinburgh, and had ambitions for a life of adventure, not as a helicopter pilot, but as a foreign correspondent.

"I think they liked the idea that I had been shot," he says, explaining his instant popularity with the Royal Family by referring to an incident in Jakarta when he was wounded in the leg during a riot. What they like most of all, though, must be Bradby's diehard belief in the line between on and off the record, between what's public and private. "From the outset I made that very clear: I said I am a journalist, but I am a human being before I'm a journalist. So anything that is said in confidence remains private, and I would never confuse the two. When trust is such a massive issue, someone like William needs to know he can say something privately. If they have confidence in you they will treat you differently. I don't even tell my wife." He applies this principle as rigidly in his present incarnation as ITV's political editor, a job he has done for nearly six years. He often, he admits, goes to dinner at politicians' homes, but insists such seemingly cosy relationships have no bearing on how "robust" any interview he does will be. "William got that straight off. He is sophisticated like that."

Bradby reveals he spent over three and a half hours at Clarence House preparing for just 17 minutes of film; although he discussed the areas they would cover beforehand, the interview was uncensored and broadcast in its entirety.

Bradby is, however, a reluctant royal confidant. He never wanted to be a royal reporter, only taking it on after he gave up his career as a foreign correspondent. "I had young children and I realised I wanted them to have a father. So I came back and it was the only job available that didn't involve getting shot."

He was surprised to find that he enjoyed the royal beat, though he wouldn't want to return to it. He reveals, however, that he will cover the wedding next year. Tuesday's interview was the latest in a series of unexpected triumphs for ITV, which have included Downton Abbey and the new series of I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here.

Bradby is ITV's biggest fan, and he has no plans to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor, Nick Robinson, to the BBC. He is married with three children, and a four-day week allows him time to write novels; he is currently writing his seventh. The first, Shadow Dancer, based on his time in Belfast, is due to be made into a film next year, though he remains tight-lipped about who he wants to star in it.

Could his book-writing skills one day make him a candidate to write Prince William's official biography? "I don't know. That's years ahead. I suppose I will always be around, but I genuinely haven't given it a second thought." If the positive feedback he has had from the palace after Tuesday's interview is anything to go by, he may have to.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksNow available in paperback
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: Finance Account Manager

£Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Finance Account Manager with...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Sphere Digital Recruitment: Display Account Manager

£25,000 to £35,000: Sphere Digital Recruitment: The Company Our client are th...

Sphere Digital Recruitment: Sales Director

£80 – 120K : Sphere Digital Recruitment: Sales Director – Ad tech - £80 – 120K...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas