THE BBC has been criticised for creating a new royal editor role – while making swingeing cuts to one of its flagship news programmes.

The corporation announced on Wednesday that Newsnight would get rid of its dedicated team of reporters while reducing the programme by 10 minutes to become a half-hour show.

But buried in the detail of the announcement – which came as part of a £500 million cuts package for BBC News – it was revealed the corporation would also be creating a new role of "royal editor".

It comes before the expected retirement of long-standing royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell next year.

Graham Smith (below), the chief executive of the anti-monarchy pressure group Republic, said the move was “extraordinary” and called for the BBC to include coverage of the royals in its political output.

The National:

While Dr Emma Briant, an associate professor of journalism at Australia's Monash University, suggested the move implied a shift of priorities from the BBC.

"It’s a curious decision if they are gutting their hard hitting long-form journalism by pleading poverty," Briant said. 

"It sounds like their priorities are shifting to royal gossip – we may be looking at the tabloidisation of the BBC."

Republic CEO Smith went on: “They need fewer royal specialists and people who haven’t gone native.

“The BBC treats royal news as a branch of entertainment news rather than politics and I can’t see any possible justification for adding to that team of people dedicated to promoting the royals.

“They should be looking at investigative journalism that digs up stories about the royals to hold them to account.”

It comes after it was revealed King Charles profited through the death of people without next of kin in parts of England.

People who die without wills and next of kin in Lancashire have their assets claimed by the Duchy of Lancaster.

READ MORE: New poll shows 'record' support for abolishing the monarchy, campaigners say

It has long maintained it donated the proceeds to charity but The Guardian reported last week it had uncovered evidence which suggested large parts of the funds collected were being spent on renovating properties owned by the King to be rented out for profit.

Support for the royal family appears to be declining since Charles took to the throne following the death of his mother.

A poll by Ipsos at the beginning of the year found support for replacing the monarchy with an elected head of state stood at the then-record high of 28%.

More recent polling from Savanta released earlier this week showed that support for a republic now stood at 34%.

The BBC was approached for comment.