Covering the crown

Covering the crown

Stephanie Petit ’13 has a royally cool job at People magazine.

On September 8, Stephanie Petit ’13 sat at the desk in her New Jersey home anxiously anticipating the news that was to come from overseas. And as soon as she saw the official tweet from the British royal family announcing Queen Elizabeth II’s death, Petit clicked “publish” on her biggest story to date as staff editor for People magazine.

Petit, who has been part of People’s royal family beat since 2018, collaborates daily with a global team to share the day-to-day happenings — from palatial celebrations to rumor-mill scandals — within the monarchy. But no news was bigger than the queen’s passing, with People’s obituary about her receiving more than half a million views. In total, Petit’s team wrote more than 400 stories in the weeks leading to Elizabeth’s funeral, chronicling everything from her timeless fashion sense to her high-profile friendships.

“She was such a huge figure around the world,” says Petit. “I wanted us to be a reliable source for people who were fascinated by the human interest and historical aspects of her life.”

Because she’s on a beat that is constantly in the public eye, Petit is sometimes subjected to unsolicited news tips from family and friends. Take this post on her personal Twitter the day the queen died: “Big shout out to my mom who texted me, ‘It’s official. She died,’ two hours after the news was publicly announced, as if I hadn’t been paying attention.”

Petit’s enchantment with the royals started as a TCNJ sophomore when she and her Decker Hall suitemates vowed to stay up late to watch Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding. But the time difference prevailed; they all fell asleep. She got a re-do in 2018, now officially working for People and tasked with reporting all the pomp as William’s brother, Prince Harry, tied the knot with actress Meghan Markle. Petit’s favorite detail to share: the hand embroidered flowers on the bride’s veil included California poppies from Markle’s home state and wintersweet from Kensington Palace.

Today, Petit routinely wakes before 5 a.m. to begin curating the news from across the pond. (A bit ironic, considering that although she cut her teeth in Professor Emilie Lounsberry’s journalism classes, she never took a magazine writing course because it started at the wee hour of 8 a.m.) She and her team will follow the family’s transition to a new era, including the lead up to King Charles III’s coronation later this year and William’s rise in prominence as he stands next in the line of succession. “We’re writing the next chapter of the monarchy as it unfolds,” she says.

That includes her recent travel to Boston to cover the Earthshot Prize, a prestigious environmental award that Prince William and the Royal Foundation created. It was the first visit to the U.S. for William and Kate since 2014 and their first overseas tour with the title Prince and Princess of Wales.

“To see them in action was pretty exciting,” says Petit who was also tapped as a pool reporter for the event, meaning her notes were distributed to all U.S.-based outlets who were there, including Vanity Fair, The Huffington Post, and Town & Country Magazine, to name a few. “What’s not exciting about being just a few feet away from a future king and queen?” she says.

Picture: Peter Murphy

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