ITV’s Chris Ship speaks to Ian Taylor about move from politics to monarchy

Chris Ship might have been on our screens every night through the Brexit crisis had he not switched roles to become ITV News’ royal editor last year. Yet he has few regrets.

Ship, who will moderate next month’s Travel Convention, acknowledges: “Brexit is the biggest story in town, [but] the job I have now is hugely interesting.

“When I started in the Westminster news room, Tony Blair was prime minister. I covered Blair, Brown, Cameron and May, three general elections and three referendums. It’s great to do something different.”

He says: “The royals are the light to the shade in a news bulletin. Everyone told me, ‘It’s so controlled, you’ll be tearing your hair out.’ I really like it. Seeing what they do every day helps build a picture of them as people.”

The stories Ship has covered in the run-up to the convention contrast sharply with the kind of reporting he has done in the past. This month he reported on the Duchess of Sussex launching “her first major project” and Prince Charles taking “delivery of the royal family’s first electric car”.

However, Ship points out: “The royals allow you to explore other subjects. The heir to the throne using an electric car throws open a wider debate. Have we now reached a tipping point on electric cars?”

The Duchess of Sussex’s project involves raising funds for the Grenfell Tower community through a recipe book produced by women running a community kitchen.

Ship also accompanied Prince William on a trip to Stourbridge last week to unveil a statue to Frank Foley, nicknamed “the British Schindler” for his role in saving Jews from the Nazis. He says: “The role of royal editor enables you to tell wider stories.”

It is a privileged role. Ship says: “You’re very close to the royal family. I’m about to spend three weeks with Harry and Meghan on a tour of the Pacific.

“The most-accessible royals are Charles and Camilla. They’re the most likely to come to the back of the plane and talk to you, the most likely to host a reception for the press. Harry and William are still very cautious after what happened with their mother.”

Ship tends “to pick and choose” the events he appears at outside his TV work, saying: “I do a limited number.” The Travel Convention is one he is delighted to make an exception for. He says: “I look forward to it. Travel is a great industry. I’ve been made to feel really welcome.”

Yet Ship views his last appearance as moderator, when he lost his voice, as “a disaster from a personal point of view”.

Brexit is not part of this year’s programme, but Ship argues: “The theme of the convention, ‘Who do we trust now?’, is very relevant to the wider political world.”

It’s a statement in keeping with Ship’s claim not to take his convention role lightly. He insists: “I treat this job no different to my day job.

“No one wants a moderator who is not across the issues.” You can bet he will be.

■ The Travel Convention 2018, October 8-10, Barceló Convention Centre, Seville: