Opinion: Bolland adds fuel to Charles's fire

To date, a majority of ex-royal advisers - from Dickie Arbiter to Simon Lewis and Jane Atkinson to Simon Walker - have retained a largely dignified silence, or at least restraint, in the face of media fascination with the sheer awfulness of recent royal PR. Which is why Mark Bolland is such a gift to the media. What royal correspondent could ask for more? He is (although not perhaps for much longer) a confidante of the probable heir to the throne, who is not only willing to offer a tantalising glimpse of the inner workings of Clarence House, but even to pass comment on the psychological make-up of his former employer. Given free rein - and a newspaper column - Bolland not only adds insight to the story, but gives it a whole new momentum.

The latest crisis to hit Clarence House is no exception. There's no doubt that the row that has broken out over Prince Charles's apparently feudal views about education had legs without Bolland's intervention.

And Charles is doing quite a good job on his own of stoking the fire of debate by entering a dangerous discussion that breaches all protocol on the involvement of the monarchy with the political system.

What Bolland has done is to provide some colour, by painting a picture of a self-pitying prince whose courtiers are too cowed to question his peculiar vision of the world or to question his willingness to voice it.

All of which of course is highly reprehensible. From the other side of the looking glass, one can only be appalled at how Bolland's indiscretion will be viewed by other senior figures who have taken their advisers into their confidence - and then parted ways.

There is no doubt that Bolland represents a growing danger to Charles, a man who he once described as kind, stubborn but lacking in arrogance, but who he now says has 'developed an arrogant and petulant view of his "vision" on almost any matter that is raised'.

But for all his shortcomings, Bolland was perhaps justified when he claimed at PRWeek's PR and the Media conference that Charles's relationship with the media had nosedived since his departure. It was precisely his 'dangerous' closeness to the prince and his influence in all areas of policy and communication that made him more successful than most in restraining Charles from expressing his more controversial views.

Perhaps all we are seeing now is the real heir to the throne, unvarnished by Bolland's gloss. In retrospect, Charles must have been wondering at the wisdom of letting Bolland leave his side.

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