OPINION: Bitter rivalry ultimately forced Bolland's hand

I was enjoying a few drinks in the pub at the weekend when my journalist friend took a call on his mobile. To my amazement it was Camilla Parker-Bowles.

What on earth could be so important for the future King's partner to be calling him? All became clear the next day when I read in the papers of the final departure of Prince Charles's spin-doctor Mark Bolland.

Next to Alastair Campbell, Bolland is the country's most high-profile spinner and is the man credited with making Parker-Bowles acceptable to the nation. She will no doubt be relieved that he is staying on to give her free private advice. Prince Charles and the other Royal Princes will not be so happy.

Bolland originally thought that he could spin for Charles as a consultant, but found out how difficult this could be while abroad as the Burrell trial collapsed. The plain fact is that the job is a full-time one and can't be done by remote control.

Bolland's biggest problem, though, was not the fact that he had taken on too much other work, but rather Sir Michael Peat, Prince Charles's new private secretary.

Peat was recruited from the Queen's household and his appointment would be a bit like Campbell taking over as Gordon Brown's press secretary.

Buckingham Palace and St James's Palace have been at war for some time now and it's an open secret that Bolland's ways are frowned upon by the Old Etonian lot who look after the Queen.

When a Royal spokesman is quoted as saying that Bolland and Sir Michael 'have the highest of respect for each other' this really means that they hate each other's guts. One of Sir Michael's first acts in his new job was to call a press conference with Royal journalists to tell them that in future the Palace would be more 'open' and that there would be less 'unattributable' briefings. This was a direct attack on Bolland who was well known for his 'private chats' with friendly journalists, and not just the Royal corps. Bolland was close to tabloid editors and even went on holiday with Rebekah Wade, editor of the News of the World.

Just as in politics the Royal wars are played out through journalists who back the different camps. Sir Michael was suspected by Bolland of a clumsy attempt to blame him for a smear story about a foreign paper's plans to snatch a DNA sample from Prince Harry, to prove that Prince Charles was not his real father. Anyone with half a brain cell would know that Bolland had nothing to do with this bizarre story. Bolland got his revenge on Sir Michael though, when one of his pals at The Times monstered Sir Michael and his lack of judgement.

The loss of Bolland could not come at a worse time for Prince Charles.

All the good PR work from the Queen during her Jubilee year and sympathy over the death of the Queen mum was wiped out by the collapse of the Paul Burrell and Harold Brown trials, and nasty allegations about members of Prince Charles's household. Bolland may not have been able to change some of the Prince's barmy political views but at least he managed to keep some of his more eccentric behaviour out of the papers.

More importantly he 'sold' Camilla Parker-Bowles to a nation in love with the memory of Diana, or at least managed to stop a hostile press from attacking her. For that Bolland deserves his reputation as one of the best spin doctors currently practising. He will no doubt miss all the intrigue of the Royal Family but at least now he will have more time to sort out the mess at Camelot.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in