Ian Monk: Be prepared for a royal soap opera

Princess Diana famously noted in one of her enduring media sound bites that her marriage was doomed because there were 'three of us' in it.

Ian Monk
Ian Monk

In the aftermath of last week's announcement, Palace media advisers must know that there will always be three parties to the next royal marriage - William, Kate and the world's media. They are unlikely to be comfortable bedfellows. Indeed, there currently exists no definite proof that it is possible for royalty and media to jointly prosper in modern Britain.

The War of the Waleses in the in 1990s, characterised by leaks, secret tapes and manic media manipulation, drove circulation and crushed the reputation of the heir to the throne. Andrew Morton's book, written in cahoots with Diana, shattered any idea that what went on in a marriage should remain private.

Diana died with paparazzi scavengers in hot pursuit. Much of the media, apparently without irony, saw her death as setting the seal on her sainthood and promised po-faced never to deal with paps in the same way.

Each event in the drama sold copies and drove audience. Now the show starts again.

Princess Kate (Catherine won't be used because it does not fit as well into noisy tabloid headlines) has made a wonderful start to her public relations. Kate is the subject of favourable acres of newsprint, magazine covers and airtime, but the overexposure is already grotesque and too much for anyone to cope with.

The rules of the modern celebrity age dictate that the media must at some stage kick the image they have helped create to see if it is real.

How long before the media decide that the 'fairy tale' is not all they had cracked it up to be? When will editors, several reporting to Republican ownership, decide future sales lie in revelation rather than reverence?

Then William will follow Fabio Capello, 'The Prat in the Hat', as 'The Clown in the Crown' or worse.

A media-driven agenda will inevitably spawn a soap opera. Palace spin doctors must realise that. Proportion and an element of distance should be the hallmarks of their dealings between media and monarchy.

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

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