NEWS: Atkinson calls a halt to Royal contract

Jane Atkinson resigned as the Princess of Wales’ PR adviser this week, ending weeks of speculation.

Jane Atkinson resigned as the Princess of Wales’ PR adviser this week,

ending weeks of speculation.



Her departure follows clashes between the two women over the handling of

the Princess’ media relations.



There have been some major successes during Atkinson’s tenure - such as

Diana’s Chicago trip. But the Princess is renowned for her belief in her

own ability to handle the press and, although she has often outfoxed the

staid Palace press machine, not all her initiatives have succeeded.



Earlier this year she was heavily criticised for appearing in a hospital

operating theatre. And last week’s decision to end her links with around

100 charities also met with disapproval.



Although Atkinson says she was consulted on these issues, it is not

clear how far the Princess was prepared to act on her advice.



It is not the first time the Princess has fallen out with her press

advisers. While last year’s Panorama interview  finally goaded the

Palace into talks, it also prompted the resignation of press secretary

Geoff Crawford.



PR industry colleagues were unsurprised by Atkinson’s resignation.

PRCA chairman Jackie Elliot said she was right to quit. ‘One of the

problems was that Jane is a professional and Diana clearly is not,’ she

said. ‘Diana realised she needed proper help in media management but, if

you commit yourself to such help, you have to take advice and realise

you do not play games with the press.’



Since January, Atkinson has also found herself in the media spotlight

uncomfortably often. And, despite the prestige, the demands of the job

far exceeded the pounds 35,000 in fees it brought to her firm, Atkinson

Courage.



Former colleague Peter Cunard of Tolman Cunard said Royal PR advisers

need to provide tough advice but ‘keep well out of the line of fire’

themselves, If you get a client like that, you’re dealing with an

unguided missile.’ he said. ‘They are always going to make up their own

minds, and it’s always going to be a master/servant relationship.’

‘Jane dealt with the press in the way most good PR consultants do, which

is to be honest and up-front. But you can’t always do that in a job

where traditionally the only response is to be non-committal.’

Atkinson would not comment on her resignation.



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