TV star Lisa Wilkinson seems to be growing taller by the day, or The Project’s UK royal correspondent Lucy McDonald is shrinking, as the pair continue their nightly coverage of the Queen’s funeral week.
Wilkinson – who is pro-Republican but also loves the British royal family – flew to London last week following the death of of the Queen at Balmoral Castle aged 96 on Thursday evening, UK time.
The 61-year-old host, who in 2018 jetted to Britain to cover the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, was dressed appropriately in black as she fronted the camera for Sunday evening’s edition of The Project.
Wilkinson made headlines on the first night of her coverage with her claims to McDonald that Queen Consort Camilla looked ‘nervous’ at the proclamation ceremony of her husband King Charles III.
Camilla stood beside Prince William with her hands tensely crossed for much of last Saturday night’s ceremony at St James’s Palace, with both signing the proclamation as witnesses following the monarch’s death.
‘Camilla looked a little bit nervous during that proclamation ceremony yesterday. Did you notice that or was that just me?’ Wilkinson asked Lucy McDonald as the pair broadcast live from outside Buckingham Palace.
Sunday: Lisa Wilkinson and The Project’s UK correspondent Lucy McDonald (right) discuss King Charles’ weekend proclamation and the Queen Consort’s apparent nervousness
Monday: Again outside Buckingham Palace, Lucy McDonald and Lisa Wilkinson are covering the Queen’s funeral week, although the height difference between the pair seems to be diminishing
‘She kind of looked like she wanted to go home and have a cup of tea… or a glass of sherry,’ Ms McDonald joked.
‘Well that would be absolutely understandable,’ The Project host agreed.
By Monday night, The Project’s royal coverage had turned to the tide of people leaving notes and flowers in Green Park, adjacent to Buckingham Palace .
Wilkinson interviewed children, an Australian, an American and a British officer about their feelings for the late Queen before discussing the London crowds with McDonald.
Again the two were by Buckingham Palace, but McDonald’s height advantage over Wilkinson seemed to have diminished slightly in 24 hours.
By Tuesday night, the height difference between McDonald and Wilkinson was almost non-existent as the two stood across the Thames River from Westminster Hall.
It is at this location where Queen Elizabeth’s coffin will be taken on Wednesday to lie in state for four days before Her Majesty’s funeral next Monday.
They discussed the scenes in Scotland of the Queen’s children, King Charles, Princess Anne and Princes Andrew and Edward accompanied their mother’s hearse along Edinburgh’s Royal Mile.
Lisa Wilkinson noted what she thought was Queen Consort Camilla’s nervousness during the proclamation of her husband as King Charles III in a ceremony at St James’s Palace (above) last weekend
Tuesday: By Lisa Wilkinson’s third night of coverage for The Project (above) the petite TV star appeared almost at eye level with Lucy McDonald, despite the UK correspondent’s height advantage
Wilkinson has discussed the growing support in London for King Charles (pictured above with the Queen together at her platinum jubilee in June)
The Project co-host Kate Langbroek asked McDonald about the young man arrested for jeering at Prince Andrew, which she said was ‘one voice of dissent in a very quiet crowd’.
As McDonald and Wilkinson discussed King Charles’ upcoming trip to Northern Ireland, his gruelling schedule and the undoubted groundswell of support for him, the diminutive host appeared almost a head taller than she was two days previously.
Wilkinson is believed to be about 161cm tall, and is towered over in family pictures alongside her husband, writer, former rugby player and Australian Republican Movement chair, Peter Fitzsimons who is around 200cm tall.
It is not unusual for TV stars to use a box or platform on which to stand to report such events, as was the case at Princess Diana’s 1997 funeral.
With the sea of flowers and people outside Kensington Palace to pay respects to Diana, Australian television commentators like Ray Martin stood on platforms above the scene.
While Wilkinson has been reported in the past as backing her husband’s campaign to make Australia a republic with its own head of state, she has also expressed her love for the royal family.
Wilkinson interviewing children in Green Park adjacent to Buckingham Palace, where a sea of well-wishers have been leaving cards and flowers for the late Queen Elizabeth II
Petite TV host Lisa Wilkinson is towered over by her rugby player Republican husband Peter Fitzsimons, who is believed to be around 200cm talk compared with Lisa’s 161cm
It took just 24 minutes for the Australian Republic Movement to release a statement after the Queen’s death was announced to social media by Buckingham Palace.
At 4.28am on Friday, it tweeted that it ‘backed the right of Australians to become a fully independent nation’ at the previous republic referendum in 1999.
In its statement released 19 minutes before Prime Minister Anthony Albanese issued his own, Mr FitzSimons as chairman said: ‘Queen Elizabeth respected the self-determination of the Australian people.
‘During her reign the Australia Act 1986 was passed eliminating many of the remaining opportunities for UK interference in Australian government. Appeals from Australian courts to British courts were abolished.’
Mr FitzSimons said he was ‘deeply saddened’ by Queen Elizabeth’s passing and expressed his ‘deep gratitude’ for her service to the Commonwealth.
He described the Queen as an ‘extraordinary woman’, adding: ‘On her coronation she pledged her life to the service of the Commonwealth, and she absolutely fulfilled that commitment.’
Growing by the day: Lisa Wilkinson with Lucy McDonald on their third day broadcasting for The Project from London during the Queen’s funeral week following the monarch’s death aged 96
Wilkinson and McDonald have discussed several times live on The Project the growing support for Charles, with the British correspondent saying she was impressed by how he had presented himself to the public in recent days.
‘He does seem like a more loving and emotionally attuned pair of hands than many of us thought,’ she said.
‘There is a lot of political and economic upheaval here in Britain and we are looking for some stability and we hope he can provide that.’
‘I was actually quite nervous for him, it’s a lot. He’s the longest heir in waiting he’s had a lot of time to think about what he would do when he became King and I thought it went brilliantly.’
She said his first public address as King ‘was about love, loyalty and respect’ and the tone of unity against a backdrop tension was pitch perfect.
Wilkinson and McDonald also discussed the surprise appearance of Harry and Meghan alongside William and Kate as they took a 40 minute tour of the floral tributes outside Windsor Castle.
Catherine, Princess of Wales, Prince William, Prince of Wales, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex on the long Walk at Windsor Castle to greet well-wishers
Charles, Camilla and the Queen as they depart Westminster Abbey after attending the annual Commonwealth Service in London on March 9, 2020 (pictured)
William and Harry appear to have fallen out in recent years, while Harry has relocated to Los Angeles with Meghan.
‘I think that was an edict from the King actually. He wants to give the message that he wants his family close. He doesn’t want the story to be around division,’ Ms McDonald said.
‘So I think it was a great move. This could be a new future for the brothers reunited and we’d all love to see that. And Charles not so far away from his son.’
Ms McDonald added that the wider scene in Britain felt ‘very surreal’ seeing the crowds on the street and the outpouring of emotion for the beloved Queen Elizabeth.
This was the touching moment that a young girl handed Prince William a Paddington Bear toy. The bear has become widely associated with the Queen after their hilarious sketch together for the Platinum Jubilee just a few months ago
‘You can just see from the number of floral tributes and letters people have left, not outside the palace anymore cause there’s not space, but in Green Park. Just the huge depth of affection people had for the Queen.’
Wilkinson said many of handwritten notes were so personal it was ‘as if everyone knew this woman’.
Ms McDonald replied that Queen Elizabeth had been monarch of Britain for as long as most people could remember.
‘I’ve had her all my life. She ruled for seven decades I think everyone had a very personal relationship to her.’
The Queen’s funeral will take place on Monday September 19 at Westminster Abbey at 11am.