Opinion: So far so good for William and Kate...

When Kate Middleton becomes engaged to Prince William, as she surely soon will, the handling of the PR will be seminal in redefining the monarchy. It may even decide whether it survives in its current state.

Amid the yearning for another free-spirited People’s Princess, Palace spinners will have to ensure that Ms Middleton remains broadly on-message with her future family.

They will have to reinforce the natural perception of William and Kate as the embodiment of a modern, in-touch monarchy. Inevitably that will mean creating an image at odds with that of William’s father who, despite the makeovers, carries something of the early 20th century about him. William and Kate should choose their own PRO and not someone wedded to the court of Charles and Camilla.

It must be said that the presentation of Kate so far has been a triumph. No lurking skeletons, no kiss-and-tells, and minimal public comment. Simply, according to one leading diarist, a steady flow of generally favourable snippets carefully placed without apparent fingerprints by friends. Published pictures are happy and relaxed. Even the recent much-publicised ‘leggy car exit’ was so wholesome it could have been a posed shot to add further glamour to the image mix.

The couple’s frequent early morning nightclub exits are bereft of hangers-on and rows, and paint a picture of happy normality. But the real PR challenge will come when the engagement is announced.

Thankfully the PR adviser should enjoy some major advantages denied to those handling Diana. In particular the balance of the law towards privacy will place a powerful tool in his or her hands. The UK media remain haunted by a sense of collective guilt over the hounding of Diana and her ultimate fate. And while the appetite for news and pictures will remain insatiable, the lust for intrusion through, for instance, taped conversations of dubious provenance should be diminished.

The adviser will also be operating against a backcloth where Royal divorce has become the norm rather than the unthinkable of 20 years ago: hence a successful marriage will appear as a remarkable pinnacle of achievement.

The War of the Waleses was not helped by the fact that the PR strategists got so much wrong, notably misleading the media about the true state of their marriage. Hopefully both marriage and PR will prove a more fulfilling experience for William and Kate than they did for Charles and Diana.

Ian Monk is founder of Ian Monk Associates and was formerly a senior newspaper executive at the Daily Mail and The Sun.

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