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Sweeping AP coverage captures the life, death of Queen Elizabeth II and a nation in mourning

A balloon with a picture of Queen Elizabeth II floats at a memorial to the queen at Green Park, near Buckingham Palace in London, Sept. 10, 2022. Queen Elizabeth II, Britain's longest-reigning monarch and a rock of stability across much of a turbulent century, died Thursday Sept. 8, 2022, after 70 years on the throne. She was 96. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

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Years of preparation had AP well-positioned to cover the story of Queen Elizabeth’s death when the time came: 6:30 p.m. local time in London, Thursday, Sept. 8: An AP Flash went out within a minute and a push alert within another. Then photos and videos chronicling the life of Britain’s longest serving monarch were expedited to AP members, subscribers and customers, with the first videos available nine minutes after the APNewsAlert.

The sheer breadth of all-formats content that followed was stunning, from a comprehensive obituary to video and photo retrospectives; profiles of Charles and Camilla; an explanation of royal succession; a look at global tributes; a deeply reported, elegantly presented piece on the complex response to the queen’s death in former British colonies; live video and photo galleries of mourners; and much more,stretching into the following week and representing more than a decade of preparedness work.

Countless AP staffers across bureaus and continents contributed. In London,U.K. News Director Susie Blann and journalists Danica Kirka,Jill Lawless and Sylvia Hui worked around the clock,critical to the AP’s core coverage,as were Samira Becirovic,head of video news production,and editors Brian Friedman and Pete Brown.

Becirovic took charge of the video obit and other extensive advance work,while Friedman worked and reworked the obit prep,including an update after the death of Prince Philip. And on the first full day of coverage, Brown handled continuous filing and updating of Friday’s fast-moving spot story. Much of the team’s work was made possible by editor Naomi Koppel’s years of carefully curating the obit files.

Photo editors Anne-Marie Belgrave and Martin Cleaver were similarly responsible for obit preparedness and were instrumental to AP’s breaking photo coverage in coordination with Tony Hicks, London-based deputy director for international photos.

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In AP’s London bureau, editor Frank Griffiths sends the alert that Charles has become Britain’s new king, Sept. 8, 2022. – AP / Sara Gillesby

Photo,video and text staff assigned to the story immediately headed to the U.K. while local staff were dispatched to key locations for spot coverage. AP’s reporting produced dozens of news alerts filed by Europe editors — London’s Frank Griffiths counted 60 that he had personally filed a week into the story. Griffiths was also instrumental in helping prepare and move the prepped material,and he ensured AP’s coverage was filed with urgency.

The meticulous planning paid dividends in photo coverage,where AP at times had better and closer photo positions than the photo pool, including images of Prince William and Harry and their wives when they appeared for the first time to mingle with mourners.

Performance for the all-formats coverage was outstanding,helped by rich content,speed of delivery and strong social media engagement,all contributing to strong metrics for AP’s content.

The main obit had 1.1 million pageviews on AP News,and video coverage was equally well received, including live shots on AP News and social platforms. An hourslong livestream from outside Buckingham Palace had more than a quarter-million views on YouTube.

The impressive all-formats work and the response from AP’s audience and customers bear witness to exhaustive preparation and sharp coverage by AP staffers. For remarkable journalism still unfolding as the queen’s funeral approaches,the team of Blann,Kirka,Lawless,Hui,Becirovic,Friedman,Brown,Koppel,Belgrave,Cleaver and Griffiths,and colleagues near and far, receive AP’s Best of the Week — First Winner honors.

Visit AP.org to request a trial subscription to AP’s video,photo and text services.

For breaking news, visit apnews.com.

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