Profile: Mark Bolland, assistant private secretary to Prince Charles: Charles calls in his Mr Fixer - On Mark Bolland’s advice Prince Charles hopes to overhaul his public image

By all accounts Mark Bolland, assistant private secretary to Prince Charles, is clever, shrewd and a master of diplomacy. But he is also something of an enigma.

By all accounts Mark Bolland, assistant private secretary to Prince

Charles, is clever, shrewd and a master of diplomacy. But he is also

something of an enigma.



From a Middlesbrough comprehensive he has risen, quickly but quietly,

through a series of increasingly high-flying jobs. But apparently with

none of the brash, naked ambition you might expect from one who has

climbed so high. Former colleagues describe him as ’a bit of a thinker

and and very cautious, particularly about anything to do with

himself’.



The few personal details that have emerged are of a fairly normal

bachelor of 30. He is said to be something of a Dr Who fan; likes cats,

political biographies and eating out. But while most graduates of his

age are just getting into their stride Bolland has hit the jackpot. He

joined the Palace last August and, if the headlines over the last few

weeks are to be believed, will be a prime mover in the latest bid by HRH

to project a more sympathetic image.



In fact the truth may be rather more prosaic.The Prince’s press

secretary Sandy Henney is quick to rebut any claims of yet another media

’relaunch’ of the Prince and says Bolland’s exact role is evolving as

Stephen Lamport, Charles’ newly-arrived private secretary, reviews his

portfolio and reassigns duties.



Bolland will, says Henney, be: ’exceptionally useful to Charles’s staff

because of his knowledge and contacts’, but as a communications adviser

rather than a PR man.



Indeed a behind the scenes role would seem to be much more suited to

Bolland’s character. ’He’s a fixer not a PR man,’ says a friend from the

world of public affairs.



Bolland went straight into a career in public affairs after graduating

from York University, first with a Canadian PR consultancy and then into

marketing with IBM in the UK. It would be fair to say that until this

point his career was fairly undistinguished. But by the time he joined

the Advertising Standards Authority in 1988 his potential was becoming

apparent to his bosses. According to Caroline Crawford, now director of

communications for the ASA: ’He clearly had the ability to succeed in

his ambitions.’



Crawford highlights the political awareness for which he is well known

and which was put to good use as adviser to the ASA’s director general,

Lord McGregor. So much so that Bolland followed Lord McGregor to the

Press Complaints Commission when he became its chairman. Subsequently,

aged just 26, he became the director of the PCC.



One seasoned media correspondent commented: ’He has sharp political

antennae and this incredible nous to realise what is going to run and be

embarrassing and what is going to go wrong. He developed that skill at

the PCC.’



It was, apparently, McGregor’s successor Lord Wakeham who pulled a few

strings and recommended Bolland as a press aide to the Prince. Many will

not envy him such a demanding role but as one friend says ’he likes

being at the centre of things’.



His maturity belies his years - as one journalist observed: ’For someone

aged 30 he has the sophistication of a 50-year-old.’ Crawford says that

even when she knew him in his early twenties, ’he never conveyed the

impression of being young.’ But far from being a young fogey she says:

’He had a mature and sensible approach to work.’



Industry sources suggest that he will take a fairly innovative approach

to the job of presenting Charles in a better light.



He is certainly no stranger to Royal affairs and it has been rumoured

that he warned Diana’s advisers against the Panorama interview. But, as

one Royal PR adviser points out, the idea that Bolland is telling the

Prince what to do is more media invention than reality. ’He (Charles)

doesn’t even like PR people,’ he says.





HIGHLIGHTS

1987: Adviser to director general of the ASA

1988: Executive assistant to chairman of PCC

1992: Director of PCC

1996: Assistant private secretary to Prince Charles.



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