WELCOME to the world, Prince Arthur/Albert/James/Philip (delete as appropriate). Whether you or your parents like it or not, you have just become a pawn in the most fascinating PR campaign of recent times.
It could be said that the Royal Family have always been in the business of self-promotion, but recently it seems that they have upped the ante surreptitiously and ultimately, successfully.
The new Prince has arrived as the crowning glory (pun intended) of almost non-stop coverage of the Windsors over the past couple of weeks.
It began with the much publicised documentary with the Queen and Sir David Attenborough chatting casually in the gardens of Buckingham Palace, which ended up being the dampest of all damp squibs.
Once you got over the initial warmth of seeing these two ageing titans of modern Britain standing together, the subject matter was, with the best will in the world, utterly dull. It was just some trees for an hour.
And the segments with the sainted duo were only an aperitif for long sections of the new blood, Wills and Harry, gallivanting across the Commonwealth and spreading the word of the so-called ‘Commonwealth Canopy’, large areas of protected forest to help the environment. Which is fair enough.
Putting the pieces together
However, the week after this slightly random program and subject matter, it all began to make sense. As the leaders of the 53 nations of the Commonwealth met in London to discuss the delicate matter of who would lead the Commonwealth when the Queen dies, a penny dropped.
There is no hereditary right for leadership of the former British Empire. They could choose any of the leaders, like handsome Justin Trudeau, or, God forbid, Theresa May.
The Royal Family, with their waning influence in politics here, were staring at the possibility of losing another link to the good old days of absolute monarchy and raging imperialism.
So they have had to prove their relevance in a modern context. The Queen choosing protecting the environment as her crusade is unsurprising, as it’s very much in the zeitgeist.
And sticking Sir David by her side was also a canny move. His Blue Planet II episode about plastic pollution in the oceans was one of the biggest TV events in years, even spurring the British government into action.
Plus, he’s David Attenborough.
And so the narrative of a pro-active, inspirational leader of the Commonwealth was planted in our minds and the minds of the countries that were visited in the documentary.
The Queen even went as far as naming who she wanted to replace her, giving the rest of the leaders very little choice. It was Prince Charles, of course.
The chosen one
He had his part to play in the game. He opened the Commonwealth Games in Australia, and then toured a few of the tiny island states that make up the group, dressing traditionally and looking about as out of place as an asthmatic at a smokers’ convention.
But it all worked. He was selected as the next Commonwealth leader (not unanimously) and the first part of the campaign was a success.
The second part has not been.
Last night’s ‘intimate’ look at the life of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall was a shocking example of a PR too far.
Layer on layer of smothering positivity from a woman who appears to be aware of her own standing with the public.
She may as well have worn a big sandwich board with ‘Please love me’ written on it. And even that would not have worked.
Given who she replaced, and how she replaced her, both she and Charles will forever be tainted by their actions, and it is to the immense credit of Diana that her sons are not totally insufferable like their father and step-mother.
Struggling watching @itvhub “normalizing” Camilla Parker Bowles and Charles’s relationship! And telling us we should “get over”Diana. Diana all the way … Camilla will never be accepted by the public.
— marcia pardy (@MarciaPardy) April 23, 2018
So this is the world that the new Prince finds himself in.
A family constantly trying to retain their status with more critical voices than ever before. A new generation that are better than who they will follow. And a non-stop PR machine that rolls on with Harry and Meghan’s wedding next month.
And given the press frenzy that the birth has produced, it seems the machine is freewheeling the Royal Family to a brighter future.
Guardian: It’s a boy!
The Times: It’s a boy!
The Telegraph: It’s a boy!
Daily Mail: Has Kate lost the baby weight yet?!
The Express: DIANA’S GHOST WILL BE PLEASED SAYS ANTI EU PSYCHIC
— TechnicallyRon (@TechnicallyRon) April 23, 2018
How the Prince grows up in this complex game of chess will be of great interest.
God Save the Queen, God help the rest of us.