The British newsreels were slavish royalists. In the Topical Budget era, the monarch was King George V, crowned in 1910, the year before Topical Budget began. The key royal figures were George V and his consort Queen Mary; their five children, the Prince of Wales (the future Edward VIII and Duke of Windsor), the Duke of York (the future King George VI), Princess Mary, Prince Henry and Prince George; and the widow of King Edward VII, Queen Alexandra. In the 1920s the Duchess of York (the future Queen Elizabeth, consort of George VI, later the Queen Mother) became similarly popular.
In the newsreels' early years, royalty featured only infrequently, and effectively the royal family didn't recognise or value the newsreels at all. This changed with the First World War, as official sources realised the need for home propaganda. Topical Budget was taken over by the War Office in May 1917, and was increasingly used to deliver positive messages to the home audience. More permits were offered to the cameramen, and the subject that they most wished to film, the royal family, started to become far more available, and to be depicted in closer shots than before.
From the end of the war, the royals became regular subjects in Topical Budget. King George V and Queen Mary proved surprisingly adept before the cameras: patient, obliging, with an apparent interest in people.
Their eldest son, the Prince of Wales, was followed relentlessly, and he came to resent the presence of British newsreel cameramen in particular. To contemporary audiences, however, he seemed to be a globe-trotting, cultivated and energetic young man with a radical edge.
The next most popular royal subjects were the Duke and Duchess of York. The photogenic Duchess and her dutiful husband appeared regularly in the newsreels following their marriage in 1923, and the arrival of their two children towards the end of Topical Budget's time set a new target for cameramen to capture the cutest pictures.
The British royal family provided Topical Budget with the biggest stars it could present on the cinema screen, and the royal family, by its devotion to routine and its reliance on visual ceremony, made excellent newsreel subject matter. The newsreels became an important means by which the British royal family came to be paraded before and understood by the general public, and paved the way for the still more influential medium of television.