Harry lacked a guiding PR hand

Harry the hero ... Harry the hellraiser ... Harry the prince. How the media love the sound bite of a boilerplate description that enables them to pigeonhole, according to caricature, those who offer the lifeblood of circulation and audience.

Ian Monk: "It was a mistake for media managers to allow Harry to sound so openly vitriolic in his contempt for sections of the media."
Ian Monk: "It was a mistake for media managers to allow Harry to sound so openly vitriolic in his contempt for sections of the media."

Despite his obviously enviable lifestyle, Prince Harry must have attracted at least a sliver of sympathy from many PR professionals as he returned from Afghanistan with all PR guns blazing.

'Killed the enemy - of course I have,' was the message behind the PlayStation analogies used by the warrior prince answering questions on his frontline action.

'Too much soldier, not enough Prince,' said Harry of his conduct leading to publication of his naked snaps online, in The Sun and in countless foreign publications.

And there really you had it. A supremely privileged young man, blessed with a clear sense of duty, caught between the rock and the hard place of complementary yet oddly conflicting roles. The playboy prince. The hero soldier. Even the next Mother Teresa, as the TV and press interviews teased out Harry's devotion to continuing his mother's charity works.

Harry is the media's pin-up boy in every role. Privacy? Forget it. This is a princely life destined to be lived in the full spotlight of attention of a media whose visceral instincts involve building up heroes and demolishing reputation at the flick of the switch marked 'circulation'.

The massive PR operation around Harry's return to Blighty sat uncomfortably next to Captain Wales' own insistence that, operating under his army nom de guerre, he was just one of the regular guys.

Equally, those in control of the media output should surely have tempered, pre-publication, some of the more gung-ho comments about taking enemy lives. Failure to do so exacerbated the security considerations that will probably make Harry and his loved ones lifelong targets for vengeful fanatics.

It was a mistake too for the media managers to allow Harry to sound so openly vitriolic in his contempt for sections of the media. It was an error that does not augur well for future media relationships.

Ian Monk is founder of Ian Monk Associates and a former executive at the Daily Mail and The Sun.

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