Who are these 'bloody people'?

Last week Prince Charles poured scorn on the Royal press pack. Ian Burrell profiles the Windsor-watchers and Charlesÿs former press secretary Mark Bolland rates them
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Arthur Edwards, The Sun royal photographer

Arthur Edwards, The Sun royal photographer

Regarded by some colleagues as more royalist than the Royals, "Arfur", 64, was devastated last year when he was banned by the palace after The Sun published pictures of Prince William (not taken by Edwards) on the ski slopes with his girlfriend Kate Middleton. "I think the Royal Family is being a little petty," complained Edwards, who was restored to the beat after his paper launched an Arthur is Innocent campaign. Arthur Edwards MBE began working on the royal beat with James "Red Tomato" Whitaker in the mid-Seventies. He was referred to by Diana as "Our Arthur". Has a quick-fire wit, but is not just a cheeky chappie. He also took the first picture showing Charles' bald patch.

Bolland's verdict: Arthur really cares about the Royal Family. If you are doing the job I used to do, Arthur is a wise person to take advice from.

Robert Jobson, London Evening Standard

As royal reporter for the Daily Express, poor Jobson had the impossible task of competing with the Daily Mail's Richard Kay, who was famously a confidant of Diana, Princess of Wales. Now that he's joined the Associated stable, the dashing Jobson has come into his own with several scoops, including the news that Charles and Camilla were to wed. Thanks to his deadlines, he was first into print with "You Bloody People!" last week. Jobson worked as royal commentator for CNN, covering the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret funerals. With Diana's former bodyguard Ken Wharfe, he wrote a book about her called Closely Guarded Secret.

Bolland's verdict: An impressive, aggressive journalist with very good sources, especially among the police. He never listened to a word I said to him, which is probably to his credit, although he sometimes got things wrong.

Peter Hunt, BBC royal correspondent

Regarded as the consummate BBC man, he is described by colleagues on the royal beat as being "businesslike" and "to the point". Hunt - who, like his colleague Nick Witchell, is ginger-haired - is respected by royal press hacks for always being strenuous to include balance in his reports. During the 2003 war in Iraq, he reported from coalition HQ in Qatar. Hunt has also reported from Kuwait, Croatia, Moscow, New York, South Africa and Hong Kong, and has worked extensively in Northern Ireland. According to ITV colleague Tom Bradby, Hunt, 42, is "a real pleasure to be on the road with".

Bolland's verdict: After my time.

Nicholas Witchell, BBC TV

Prince Charles regards him as "so awful" and says he "can't bear" him. But Witchell, 51, has endured far worse than the rough edge of the Prince of Wales's tongue. Whether it be reporting from hot spots like Beirut or sitting on lesbian protesters while trying to present the news, he has never walked away from difficult situations. But he had to correct himself after telling BBC Breakfast News that Harry had been caught using cocaine, when the Prince had been smoking cannabis. Witchell was a founding presenter of the Six O'Clock News in 1984 and was the first journalist to broadcast the confirmed death of Princess Diana in 1997. Colleagues in the royal media pack say he makes every effort to fit in.

Bolland's verdict: I always found Nicholas very professional. He asked difficult questions, although the one at Klosters wasn't particularly. He was persistent.

Tom Bradby, ITV News UK editor

He is the only member of the royal media corps to be on genuinely good terms with the young princes, thanks to last year's ITV film made with Prince Harry in Lesotho. There is something about the boyish Bradby, 38, that the princes can relate to. "It's no secret that I like Harry. He's a good bloke and we get on well," says the correspondent. As well as being a successful novelist, Bradby has a brief that includes terrorism, intelligence and crime. He recently produced a report on binge-drinking that was filmed with 31 cameras and showed Britain's town centres in all their Saturday night glory. Bradby, a former Ireland correspondent, nevertheless has no plans to give up the royal turf. "When the Royals are a big story, they are the biggest domestic story around," he says.

Bolland's verdict: He's a class act.

Clive Goodman, News of the World royal editor

Famed for his pin-striped suits and slicked-back hair, the dapper Screws royal editor rarely goes on excursions with "the Firm" these days, preferring to rely on his extensive contacts book. Goodman learnt his trade on Nigel Dempster's column in the Daily Mail. According to photographer Jason Fraser "he is such a good writer that with a flick of the wrist he can make the Royals look like either the Manson family or the Partridge family".

Bolland's verdict: A dangerous man, is all I can say.

Alan Hamilton, The Times royal correspondent

With a clipped Scottish accent that recalls The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Hamilton is the veteran royal correspondent of the quality press. His first trip was the Queen's visit to China in 1986, which he describes as an "epoch-making story". Hugely admired for his fine writing and his propensity for including in copy the names of the rare wines quaffed at banquets (despite the Royal family's famed lack of interest in matters of the grape). Hamilton, who is well-liked on the circuit, uses his vast experience to tread a careful path: his elegant prose is admired by his peers but he manages to also retain the respect of the palace.

Bolland's verdict: Very much of the old guard. Writes beautifully, but always what Buckingham Palace wants and, therefore, he never wrote anything that we like him to write. He didn't like me very much.

Duncan Larcombe, The Sun royal reporter

New arrival on the scene. Colleagues in the royal pack believe he has been given a mission to shake things up and, if possible, to bring about the downfall of Paddy Harverson, the royal press secretary who had a fall-out with Sun editor Rebekah Wade last year and banned the paper's long-standing photographer Arthur Edwards. Larcombe, who is attempting to emulate great Sun royal reporters, such as Harry Arnold, is only 29, and took up his post in February. Described by other royal reporters as "affable", he assisted colleague Jamie Pyatt with his scoop on Prince Harry wearing a Afrika Korps uniform to a fancy dress party. Larcombe describes Harry as "a 20-year-old with a great sense of humour; very misunderstood."

Bolland's verdict: Too new for me.

Jane Kerr, Daily Mirror royal reporter

Succeeded the famous James Whitaker as Mirror royal correspondent at the time of the death of Diana. Kerr, who adopts what is described as a "very, very gentle approach", was regarded as being less pushy than Whitaker and more suited to getting royal scoops in the tender post-Diana era. She is due to leave the royal beat to take a post on Richard Wallace's newsdesk, but has delayed the move to cover Charles and Camilla's wedding.

Bolland's verdict: A rarity, in that she's one of the few women royal journalists. She was in James Whitaker's shadow for a long time, but she's good.

Harry Page, Daily Mirror photographer

A gentle giant of a man who formerly covered the Royals in the West Country for The Sun. Page is a determined operator who is admired by colleagues for his technical ability as a photographer. Baby-faced Page has been covering the Royals longer than Prince William has been alive, but he is less experienced than the Sun's Edwards. Page has had to adapt to the task of filling the shoes of the legendary Mirror royal photographer Kent Gavin, who had been snapping Prince Charles since his bachelor days.

Bolland's verdict: I didn't know him. I didn't know all the photographers.

Rebecca English, Daily Mail royal correspondent

Has had the difficult task of taking over from Richard Kay. English is surrounded on the Mail by royal experts. The Mail writer Robert Hardman was the writer and associate editor of the extraordinary documentary The Queen's Castle, which, incredibly, appeared to show that he gets on well with Prince Philip. Hardman was The Daily Telegraph's royal correspondent for 12 years and thinks of himself as the Queen's favourite correspondent. English, a highly experienced journalist, has been covering the Royals for the past seven months, and she is convinced that a new generation of royal reporters is now emerging. She was especially pleased with her report on Prince Harry's "first true love" Chelsy Davy.

Bolland's verdict: After my time.

Peter Archer, Press Association, court correspondent

Well-mannered and a well-liked royal veteran, Archer is known for having acquired an extensive collection of autographed menus from royal banquets, which could signify obsession or an eye on his retirement fund, or both. He has, in some ways, a harder task than the other royal hacks, having to play a straight bat and maintain good relations with the palace in order to retain the access that is vital to PA. He has interviewed William three times (more than anyone else), on his 18th and twice on his 21st birthday. He published a book called William to coincide with the latter. Archer has a notoriously dry humour and a stock of anecdotes about such subjects as the Queen's corgis.

Bolland's verdict: He's a PA professional. It's hard to say anything more about PA journalists.

Geoff Meade, Sky News royal and defence correspondent

Had the opportunity last week to report over and again on Charles's comments about the "awful" Nick Witchell. Meade, like his BBC rival, is a veteran and hard-nosed broadcast journalist. Until 2003 he was Sky's Moscow correspondent, and he broke the news that American forces had attacked the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001. During the 1991 Gulf War he was stationed in Qatar, where his direct questioning caused some discomfort to US Central Command. He was also chosen by Sky to report from Normandy on the 60th anniversary of D-Day. Like his TV colleagues in the royal pack, he retains a wide brief that stretches to covering the inner workings of the Ministry of Defence.

Bolland's verdict: After my time.

Caroline Davies, Daily Telegraph news reporter

Although she has a broad brief covering general news, Davies has been assigned to the royal beat for the past four-and-a-half years, covering all the Queen's tours and most of those undertaken by the Prince of Wales. One of Davies' colleagues, Charles Clover, the Telegraph's environment editor, is one of the few journalists who could call the prince a friend, but he chooses not to write about it. Davies has worked at the Telegraph for 10 years.

Bolland's verdict: She became royal reporter when my relationship with the Telegraph got very bad, and I refused to speak to her. She wrote a number of stories about me and my partner Guy Black, driven by the Telegraph's then agenda against Guy.