Opinion: Royals should not bully tabloids around

Everyone involved in PR knows the power of photographs and how much they can be worth to a tabloid, especially a picture of a prince and a gorgeous woman. Prince Charles's new spin doctor Paddy Harverson is fighting a losing battle if he thinks he can stop pictures appearing of Prince William and his latest girlfriend.

When The Sun published the photo of the second heir to the thrown and fellow student Kate Middleton holding hands on the Klosters ski slopes, Harverson, we are told, was fuming.

The ridiculous private arrangement whereby the press pack are given access to a boring photo opportunity and then supposed to leave the Royals alone has been broken. Harverson, the ex-Manchester United spinner, took the Alex Ferguson approach and immediately banned the official Sun snapper from future photocalls, even though he didn't take the offending photograph.

Harverson should know that you upset The Sun at your peril. When he was working at Old Trafford, he banned hacks from press conferences and refused to talk to journalists who had upset his boss. That attitude won't work for the Royal Family because we pay their wages.

It is also no good going on about how William's mother was a victim of the media. The People's Princess was the most intelligent manipulator of the press in royal history. It wasn't the paparazzi who killed her: it was a drunk driver and the absence of a seat belt.

Paddy Harverson had better learn fast how to deal with the snappers.

They can be ruthless - I learnt the hard way. The Daily Mail had written a profile of Gordon Brown and needed a picture to go with the interview.

It wanted to photograph the Shadow Chancellor perched on a stool. I thought nothing of it and agreed. Imagine my horror when the paper came out with a superimposed picture of Tony Blair on Brown's lap as a ventriloquist dummy. The future leader's office never believed I had been stitched up.

Even today the Chancellor is falling foul of photographers. Who can forget the snap of him sitting with his cabinet colleagues and being the only one not clapping enthusiastically at Blair's speech? Harriet Harman also had a bad experience when she was persuaded to be photographed standing on the edge of her office balcony. The picture was captioned 'Will she jump or be pushed?'. A few weeks later, she was indeed sacked.

I'm not suggesting that politicians have the same intense paparazzi pressure as the Royal Family, but Harverson can't expect the photographers to do what they are told. Prince William is now over 21 and, while I have absolutely no interest in who he is sleeping with, apparently millions of people do.

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