Tina Brown tells Louise Flind about Martin Amis, the Royal Family – and the bullying ways of Harvey Weinstein
What is your favourite royal palace?
Windsor Castle by a long shot. I was there as a presenter at the Sussex wedding.
Was the Charles-and-Diana marriage doomed?
Yes. Diana’s crumpled taffeta train was the signifier of all the crushed hopes to come.
Does Diana still haunt the Royal Family?
Through Harry’s recent actions, yes, but in Kate there’s a new female icon. Diana’s ghost is less potent than it was.
What do you think of Meghan?
You have to wait for my book The Palace Papers, about the years since Diana.
What was it like editing the New Yorker?
Intellectually exhilarating, fulfilling, life-changing.
What was it like working with Harvey Weinstein on Talk magazine?
The greatest mistake of my life. He never sexually harassed me, but he was a terrifying bully. He was a human wrecking-ball.
Which was the most enjoyable magazine to edit?
Loved them all. But perhaps Tatler was the most fun, with its staff of enfants terribles and nothing to lose.
Which is your favourite magazine now?
One of my former ones: the New Yorker. I adore the FT weekend section. How to Spend It is maybe the best glossy, though the current Tatler is on a winning streak.
What did your late husband Harry Evans (1928-2020) teach you about editing?
Everything. He literally showed me how to do a double-page spread by projecting a picture on to the living-room wall of our house in Pimlico, drawing a frame round it and writing a headline and caption.
What is the difference between British and American magazines?
The high-low mix of British magazines and newspapers is the biggest difference – something I tried to remedy when I took over Vanity Fair.
Which is better – London or New York?
I dream of a world that is permanently suspended in between, which I think of as Transatlantica – New York diners and an English pot of tea.
What is your favourite building in New York?
350 Madison Avenue, site of the old Condé Nast offices.
Was your childhood spent on film sets?
I did go to sets of my father’s films, a treat when the male lead was primed to tell me I looked so grown up. [Her father was George H Brown (1913-2001), producer of the Miss Marple films, starring Margaret Rutherford]
What is your favourite building in Oxford?
The Sheldonian. I hosted a fundraiser concert for the Bodleian Library there when I was at Vanity Fair.
What was Martin Amis like at Oxford?
Exactly the same as he is now. The best mimic in London. Screamingly funny.
Where did you go on your honeymoon?
We didn’t have one. We got married on Ben Bradlee’s [the Washington Post editor who published the Watergate story 50 years ago] lawn in East Hampton with six people present. Our honeymoon was a night at the Algonquin Hotel, but the rest of our life together made up for it.
Do you go on holiday?
I used to, I haven’t for two years, and I yearn for it.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?
I never eat food to which I haven’t been formally introduced! I did once eat a wasabi ball, thinking it was avocado dip – unfortunately just before Harvey Weinstein introduced me to Leonardo DiCaprio.
What is the strangest place you’ve ever slept in – while being away?
At the top of a turret in Glamis Castle in Scotland – very haunted.
What are your top travelling tips?
Always take the first flight out, even if it means getting up at three in the morning. The first plane is rarely delayed.
Is there anything you can’t leave home without?
My phone and my Stella McCartney sunglasses for the glinting streets of Manhattan.
Is there something you really miss?
Life as it used to be.
Do you travel light?
No. I am neurotic about ‘What if?’
What’s your favourite destination?
London. I miss it more than I can say.
What are your earliest childhood holiday memories?
My parents built a house in the hills over San Pedro de Alcántara in Malaga, and the smell of bougainvillea and the barking of village dogs always take me back.