COMMENT: EDITORIAL; Decision time for Palace PR

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 horribilis.

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

horribilis.



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.



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