Apart from the rare pleasure of seeing the Sun with egg all over its
front page this week, the Royal family still has very little to smile
about. As far as its PR is concerned every year is now an annus
Much of the blame for its woes must be laid at its own door - in
particular, its failure to take a grip of its communications during the
in-fighting between the Prince and Princess of Wales, and its handling
of the Duchess of York. By alienating the two women rather than taking
them under its wing, the Palace has ensured an endless stream of
uncontrollable and damaging publicity.
The question is where does it go from here? The received wisdom in PR
circles is that the Royal family must at all costs restore some of the
dignity that has been frittered away.
The departure of Prince Charles’ private secretary Commander Richard
Aylard would seem to indicate that the spirit of Royal glasnost he
advocated may be out of favour. But the trouble is you cannot put the
genie back in the bottle. It would be a big mistake if the Royal family
tried to retreat once more behind the barricades of no comment while the
tabloids run riot around them.
Openness itself is not the problem. Indeed the careful briefings about
the recent ‘summit’ on the future of the monarchy will have added to the
respect for an institution which is seen to be addressing its
difficulties. The problem comes when a policy of openness is used, as in
the case of the Dimbleby interview, as a PR tool for the heir to the
throne to score points off his estranged wife. Without a proper
communications strategy behind it, openness can be dangerous.