Emma Raducanu is rumoured to be in talks with jewellery brand Tiffany & Co to become the high-end brand’s new ambassador.
Rumours of a potential deal began over the weekend after the 18-year-old from Bromley was seen wearing various pieces of the brand’s jewellery during her victorious US Open final.
The tennis champion stunned the world by winning the US Open on Saturday, beating Canadian Leylah Fernandez, 19, in straight sets.
She wore a set of £4,500 pearl and diamond earrings during the match, a white gold £3,275 ring and a £2,750 cross pendant. Ms Raducanu also wore a £17,100 diamond hinged bangle.
The star also wore jewellery by the brand when attending Monday night’s Met Gala alongside Jennifer Lopez, Billie Eilish and Kristen Stewart at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Ms Raducanu is also being linked with Chanel after she wore the French fashion house to the exclusive party.
Already the tennis player has a sponsorship deal with Nike and it is likely she will have received a bonus following her US Open win.
The details of her deals are likely to remain private. She is being managed by Max Eisenbud, vice-president at IMG sports management group, who was behind Maria Sharapova’s reported £200 million career.
Experts have predicted Ms Raducanu – who only sat her A-Levels this summer – could be Britain’s first billion-dollar sports star.
The PR guru Mark Borkowski, who has worked with Michael Jackson, Joan Rivers and Led Zeppelin said: “This is the start of something epic. She is a billion-dollar girl, no doubt about it.
“She is the real deal. It’s not just that she plays extraordinary tennis, it’s also her background, her ethnicity, her freedom of spirit. People also love the fact that she is vulnerable, but laughs the pressures away.”
The money-savvy teen – who achieved an A in A-Level economics this year – comes from a financial background. Both her Chinese mother and Romanian father work in finance.
And, according to The Times, she registered Harbour 6 Limited – which is said to be the vehicle to manage her finances – when she was just 17.
On Tuesday, Raducanu ticked off another of her bucket list visits during her stay in New York.
Raducanu – who made history by becoming the first qualifier to win the US Open on Saturday – was pictured talking to trading floor staff during her tour of the New York Stock Exchange.
New York Post
Emma Raducanu’s future looks very bright.
The 18-year-old tennis sensation is on cloud nine after her historic US Open victory on Saturday night, when she beat fellow teenager Leylah Fernandez, 6-4, 6-3, to bring home Britain’s first women’s Grand Slam singles championship in 44 years.
Raducanu, who earned $2.5 million in prize money, never dropped a set throughout her 2021 US Open run — 10 matches, including three qualifying matches — and stole the hearts of fans everywhere. After her grand slam win, publicist to the stars Mark Borkowski tweeted, “And so the journey begins for the billion dollar girl.”
In a separate interview, he explained why the young talent will be a magnet for brands.
“Potentially, I see her as a billion dollar girl,” Borkowski told The Sun. “She’s everything that is really positive about the new icons that this age has got to throw up. In the conflicting culture wars, here we have someone who is young, incredibly talented, has a multicultural background.
“Everything about her is what every brand would like to get their hands on right now. Everyone will want a piece of her. Tough times ahead.”
Borkowski went on to compliment how Raducanu has handled herself throughout various public events — including her withdrawal from Wimbledon in July when she suffered breathing issues while down 6-4, 3-0 to Croatian-Australian star Ajla Tomljanovic.
“In terms of coming out of a pandemic, the way she handled the Wimbledon incident, the way she’s come back, the way she tackles interviews, the way the crowd responds to her, the way she plays the game … if she is as good as the form suggests the sky is the limit,” Borkowski said.
“You get a sense with Emma that she’s got a really powerful personality to go along with the talent.”
Raducanu’s whirlwind summer of success has made her one of tennis’ most-watched stars. She’s climbed the ranks from No. 336 in the world, to 150. Over the summer, her social media presence has reportedly doubled, with her Instagram follower count at 1.6 million and counting.
Just a few weeks before she stunned the tennis crowd in Flushing Meadows, Raducanu had finished her high school A-Level results. According to ESPN, she received an A grade in both math and economics.
In the days leading up to her US Open championship, Raducanu was featured in British Vogue. She posed with her tennis racket in a fashionably sporty photoshoot, and in an accompanying interview, described herself as “the quiet one.” On the night before her Vogue shoot, Raducanu attended her high school prom in Orpington.
And to think, Raducanu’s initial goal was to advance in the US Open, so she could replace a lost pair of AirPods.
Emma Raducanu’s fairytale run to the US Open final has put her on track to become the hottest property in British sport, according to brand and sponsorship experts.
The 18-year-old, who swept aside her semi-final opponent, Maria Sakkari, in straight sets, will be the first British woman to reach a grand slam final for 44 years when she competes for the US Open title on Saturday night. For that victory she has made $1.2m (£864,000), four times her career earnings to date, and if she can triumph in the final her pay day will hit $2.5m. But that will just be the beginning.
Making it to the last 16 at Wimbledon on her grand slam debut confirmed her as the next British tennis talent but a win at the US Open would make her a global media star and a magnet for multimillion-pound sponsorship and advertising deals.
Tim Crow, a sports marketing consultant who advised Coca-Cola on football sponsorship for two decades, said: “I haven’t had this many calls from clients, major brands, who are interested in her since Lewis Hamilton broke through in Formula One. If she wins she will become one of the hottest properties in British sport, if not the hottest.”
Crow said Raducanu’s combination of youth, sporting prowess, charismatic personality and international appeal – she was born in Canada to parents from Romania and China and is a product of the British tennis system – makes her commercial gold for brands. She has a shoe and clothing contract with Nike and racquet sponsorship with Wilson.
“As far as brand appeal is concerned I think you can draw parallels with Naomi Osaka [born in Japan to a Haitian father and Japanese mother and raised in the US],” said Crow. “Because of the multicultural aspect of her heritage she is able to resonate in so many markets. She is a world citizen: she appeals so far beyond a typical white, British, middle-class female tennis player.”
Osaka is the world’s highest-paid female athlete and has total earnings of $37.4m (£27.2m), according to Forbes, and has a total of 15 corporate sponsors.
Raducanu’s earnings potential is also enhanced by the fact that she is excelling at tennis, one of the few truly global sports with the biggest endorsement deals and prize money for women, which Crow says “makes it the best sport for a woman for marketability and market potential”. The nine highest paid female athletes in the world are tennis players, according to Forbes.
Experts agree, however, that for her to become a long-term earner at top level she needs continued success.
“In order for her to really achieve the potential she has, she needs to be successful on a consistent basis,” said Neil Hopkins, global head of strategy at M&C Saatchi Sports and Entertainment.
He said the sheer brilliance she had displayed so far would interest sponsors, particularly in the UK. Tf she wins the US Open, she will be thrust into the top echelon of female players, he said.
“[Raducanu] has gone straight in at the top of tennis. You’re going to have sponsors looking at her for the potential she has. And there’s no limit to the type of organisation that could be looking at her,” said Hopkins.
“If she wins [the US Open], her earning potential will get a real boost. When we look at potential athletes for our clients to sponsor, she wouldn’t have been in the conversation a year ago, but she will feature now in lots of conversations.”
Matt Gentry, long-term agent and co-founder of Andy Murray’s agency 77 Sports Management, said she had broad global appeal and if she had continued success there was huge potential. But, he said, “given her age, it’s about being careful and considered, rather than burdening her with lots of brand partners over the next 12 months”.
Gentry said: “It’s about working with companies that, maybe she likes, or in areas she feels passionately about. Not necessarily taking the most money, the marketing investment from big brands is also important. So there are lots of considerations as to who she partners with.
“It should be tennis development first and foremost, and a slow longer-term focus on brand building.”
Financial services, consumer goods and fashion would all be interested, Gentry said. “It’s sky high in terms of potential for her, and not just in the UK. There will be many global companies keen to be part of her journey.”
Meghan and Harry’s first Netflix series was announced earlier this year, marking a major step in their pursuit of independence in their new life away from royal duties. The programme – which is called Heart Of Invictus – will be produced by Harry and Meghan’s Archewell Productions company and follow competitors as they prepare for the 2022 games. Harry remains passionate about the Invictus Games which he established in 2013 after witnessing the US’s similar Warrior Games for veterans with physical and mental disabilities.
As part of their deal with Netflix, the couple plan to make documentaries, docu-series, feature films, scripted shows and children’s programming.
But a PR agent warned in September 2020, when the deal had just been announced, that the Sussexes’ new venture could be hard to stomach for the Royal Family.
Mark Borkowski told The Sun: “Viewers will be interested to see what they are up to but there needs to be authenticity.
“They have laid out a grand plan and are fulfilling it. They are doing this all on their own terms.
“Their determination to have their voice heard sustains them.”
He added: “The big hits on Netflix are ones based in reality so it makes sense.
“But this is something the Royal Family will find hard to stomach.”
Netflix said in a statement at the time “The couple already have several projects in development, including an innovative nature docu-series and an animated series that celebrates inspiring women.
“But we are not disclosing any of the programming slate at this time.”
Meghan’s animated series – titled “Pearl” – is already in the works.
Archewell Productions, the company formed by Harry and Meghan, said in a statement that the programme will centre on the adventures of a 12-year-old girl who is inspired by a variety of influential women from history.
The series will be produced by Meghan, and she said in a statement that she is “thrilled that Archewell Productions…will bring you this new animated series, which celebrates extraordinary women throughout history.”
Upon the announcement of the Netflix deal last September, a source close to Meghan also said the Duchess wants the world to see the “real her”.
They added: “Much of the docu-series will be about their philanthropy rather than what they get up to behind closed doors.
“But it will still be a fascinating insight and Meghan hopes viewers will get to see the real her.”
But the agreement with the streaming giant was also met with criticism from some quarters, as royal author Ingrid Seward argued it contradicted their wishes for privacy.
She said: “We were told they had gone to California for greater privacy so it all appears rather hypocritical.
“It is extraordinary. This is exactly what they said they wouldn’t do.
“The more they talk about themselves the more people will want them to do just that and won’t be interested in anything else they have to offer.”
Duke of York has repeatedly denied sexual assault allegation at heart of lawsuit recently launched against him
The civil suit launched a few days ago against Prince Andrew may be new, but the allegations at its core — that he sexually assaulted one of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein’s longtime accusers when she was 17 — are not.
And there is nothing new in how Queen Elizabeth’s second son, who has repeatedly denied the allegations, has responded to the latest legal situation: with public silence.
That’s not to say there’s been silence around the suit filed by lawyers for Virginia Giuffre in Manhattan federal court.
“It has caused a media storm, as would be predictable,” said Judith Rowbotham, a social and cultural scholar and visiting professor at the University of Plymouth in southwestern England, via email.
Rowbotham said it is highly unlikely that the suit came as a surprise to either Andrew or the Royal Family.
The official line, she said, is that this is a personal matter for Andrew, and not something for the Royal Family to handle in an institutional sense.
“He has his own team of legal advisers and there is no suggestion of any involvement from the Royal Household’s legal retainers, further underlining that it is being handled as a purely private and personal matter for the prince.”
Andrew stepped back from official royal duties in the aftermath of his disastrous BBC interview in November 2019 about his friendship with Epstein.
The spectre of that interview, which was excoriated for its arrogance and Andrew’s seemingly tone-deaf focus on himself, as well as the lack of empathy he showed for Epstein’s victims, has hung over him ever since.
“If he hadn’t done the interview, there would have been a lot of noise, [but] it would be more difficult … to keep the narrative going,” British PR expert Mark Borkowski said in an interview.
While Andrew may have stepped back, there has also been a sense he may be interested in resuming a more public role. At the time of the death of his father, Prince Philip, in April, he spoke to the media — a move that in particular sparked speculation he might be eyeing a return.
But in the eyes of many observers, such a return is unlikely. Borkowski considers chances of it happening “very slim, microscopic.”
“It’s a story that is not going to go away. Any time he raises his head above the parapet … it’s not a good look. And the tactic he deployed to supposedly draw a line over this has done anything but that.”
Andrew’s circumstances are hardly the first time a member of the Royal Family has been caught up in high-profile legal matters over the centuries.
The real question here, suggested Rowbotham, “is not whether or not Prince Andrew is guilty of something, but rather, how will public opinion view not only him, but also the wider Royal Family, as a result of the outcome — whatever it is — of the suit brought against him.”
Looking back in time, she points to the case of George IV and his wife, Caroline of Brunswick. In 1820, he arranged to have her put on trial in the House of Lords for adultery.
“Public opinion was hotly engaged, with most people very firmly on Queen Caroline’s side,” said Rowbotham, who is also a legal and constitutional historian.
Ultimately, George IV didn’t get his divorce, and both the monarch and the government survived.
“At that time, attitudes to the sexual mores of the elite were very different, but the public discerned an unfairness over suing the Queen for adultery when the King had, for years, been an open and flagrant adulterer himself,” said Rowbotham.
Borkowski sees Andrew’s situation as a “recurring scar” for the Royal Family.
“It makes it more difficult for the Royal Family to start rebuilding and projecting positively when we’ve still got these negative stories swirling around.”
Rowbotham said the situation for Andrew, who is now ninth in the line of succession and essentially a minor royal, “is undoubtedly embarrassing and problematic for him, and for his family in the personal sense.”
“But it is honestly difficult to see that it is a threat to the Royal Family as an institution surrounding the monarchy.”
Many minor royals have been caught up in scandal over the years, she said, noting, for example, a previous Prince George of Cambridge in the 1800s. (This George had illegitimate children, mistresses and a mixed reputation regarding his time in the military.)
“While the family — with a lowercase F — may be affected [by Andrew’s situation], the Royal Family will be in the long term not significantly affected,” said Rowbotham.
Prince Andrew Cannot Escape Sexual Allegation Lawsuit; Queen Elizabeth Leaving Him to Defend Himself?
There’s no escaping Prince Andrew’s latest sexual assault lawsuit this time.
Despite his best attempts to distance himself from the controversy, the Duke of York is facing “death by a million daggers” with the new suit. Now, it seems like the entire thing keeps coming back to haunt him.
According to PR expert and crisis management consultant Mark Borkowski, the favorite son of Queen Elizabeth II had an “albatross gripping his neck” regarding Virginia Roberts-Giuffre’s latest US lawsuit filed against him.
The expert also claims that no matter what Prince Andrew would do, he wouldn’t escape the allegations and it was already justified because of his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein.
Prince Andrew also didn’t fully cooperate with the US authorities during their Epstein investigation. Giuffre is taking matters into her hands by filing a lawsuit against the royal, claiming he sexually assaulted her when she was only 17 years old.
Speaking on Sky News, Borkowski explained, “This a horrendous albatross gripping his neck, it’s hanging around his neck like some evil totem.”
“And sadly this is death by a million daggers, every time there’s any distance from the story another knife is put into the back.”
Prince Andrew, who’s the third child of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, has denied all the claims and said he has never met Giuffre despite a picture of them made its rounds online but added that the image of them together was “doctored.”
According to Giuffre’s lawyer David Boies, the royal couldn’t ignore the claims anymore and would have to, at least, acknowledge that there is a case now against him.
Boies told Sky News, “He can’t ignore the process. He can ignore me and ignore my client. He can ignore other victims and their lawyers, but he can’t ignore the court.”
“The court process now is going to compel him. If he were to try to ignore the court the way he’s ignored us, there would be a default judgment entered against them.”
Queen Elizabeth II may not be able to do anything anymore, but she can protect the royalfamily.
Though he is her favorite child, she had to let him go after allegations came to light in 2019.
Prince Andrew had to step back from his royal duties, but he is still being taken care of backstage by the Queen.
Now, though, it seems like Her Majesty can’t do anything anymore but protect others in the royal family as her son takes the fall.
PRINCE Andrew is facing “death by a million daggers” amid the latest sexual assault lawsuit filed against him as despite his best attempts to distance himself from the controversy it keeps coming back to haunt him.
Author and crisis management consultant Mark Borkowski explained Prince Andrew had an “albatross gripping his neck” with regards to the latest US lawsuit filed against him and claims no matter what he could not escape the allegations. Mr Borkowski said to some it was quite justified considering his relationship with paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and the fact Prince Andrew has not fully cooperated with US authorities during their Epstein inquest. Virginia Guiffre has filed a US lawsuit against Prince Andrew, alleging he sexually assaulted her when she was 17.
Speaking about the topic on Sky News, Mr Borkowski gave his opinion on the dire situation Prince Andrew finds himself in.
He claimed: “This a horrendous albatross gripping his neck, it’s hanging around his neck like some evil totem.
“And sadly this is death by a million daggers, every time there’s any distance from the story another knife is put into the back.
“Some people would say justifiably so.”
Prince Andrew denies all claims and says he has never met Ms Giuffre, adding a picture taken of the two is doctored.
Ms Giuffre’s lawyer, David Boies, told Sky News Prince Andrew could no longer ignore the claims of Ms Giuffre and would need to at least acknowledge the case put against him.
Mr Boies said: “He can’t ignore the process. He can ignore me and ignore my client. He can ignore other victims and their lawyers, but he can’t ignore the court.
“The court process now is going to compel him. If he were to try to ignore the court the way he’s ignored us, there would be a default judgment entered against them.
“That could be enforced in the United States or in England or elsewhere in the world. So I don’t think he’s going to ignore the court.
“And as a result, he’s going to be held to account.”
A statement published by Buckingham Palace in 2019 read: “The Duke of York has been appalled by the recent reports of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged crimes.
“His Royal Highness deplores the exploitation of any human being and the suggestion he would condone, participate in or encourage any such behaviour is abhorrent.”
Currently, Prince Andrew is reportedly in Balmoral with the Queen and Sarah Ferguson after pictures were shown of them driving to the house.
It has been a long time since Ms Ferguson has met with the Queen or attended royal residences with royal author Angela Levin telling Sky News the accusations against Andrew will “hang like a dark cloud”.
Ms Guiffre filed the lawsuit in New York where time restraints on making the case are not applicable when compared to England where they are.
The US court will have the power to call upon any evidence to help the case including phone records, communications, pictures, and any other important records provided they still exist.
Ghislaine Maxwell, who worked for Jeffery Epstein, is currently under arrest for sex trafficking charges and will face court in November.
However, it could be the case she is called upon as a witness as one of Ms Guiffre’s claims took place in the house of Ms Maxwell.
It feels portentous now watching Johnny Depp in Edward Scissorhands, seeing the peculiar tenderness he brought to a role that turned him from ’80s heart-throb into ’90s indie icon (and earned him his first major awards nomination – a Golden Globe for best actor). In Scissorhands (1990), Depp plays a fragile loner whose strangeness makes him captivating, yet ultimately isolates him. It was a part for which Depp seemed destined (although, weirdly, Tim Burton wanted Tom Cruise to play it), propelling him to other roles as eccentric outsiders that came to define him. In What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993), Ed Wood (1994) and Donnie Brasco (1997), he was sealed in the public imagination as a wounded hero, personifying the ’90s grunge backlash against ’80s pop. For biographer Michael Blitz, Depp encapsulated an era: ‘The curious by-product of conflicting forces in American popular culture and, to a lesser extent, European pop culture.’
On screen Depp played misunderstood outsiders, amplified off-screen by his wild-child image. His reputation for heavy drinking and rumoured drug-taking later saw him confess to Rolling Stone, ‘I spent years poisoning myself. I was very, very good at it.’ His dysfunction seemed bound to his relationships. He was engaged to Winona Ryder within five months of meeting her, having ‘Winona forever’ tattooed on his bicep, later amended to ‘Wino forever’. He dated supermodel Kate Moss – being arrested for vandalising a hotel room they were staying in, causing £8,000 worth of damage. He only seemed to find some stability when he met (in 1998) long-time partner Vanessa Paradis, who wrote love letters to him in French Elle. They had two children, Lily-Rose, now 22, and Jack, 19.
Actor Greg Ellis, who has known Depp since their children attended the same preschool and kindergarten in LA, describes him as ‘humble, down-to-earth, funny, generous, a wonderful dad’. In 2003, as Lieutenant Theodore Groves, Ellis appeared with Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. It was Depp’s first outing as Captain Jack Sparrow, who he based on Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood. ‘Jack Sparrow is a piece of cinematic history,’ says Ellis. ‘To play an effeminate, drunk, bejewelled pirate was risky – but it worked.’ It turned Depp into the mega-star of a blockbuster brand. Pirates earnt Depp his first Oscar nomination and – over five instalments – a reported $300 million. By 2010, when Depp commanded $55 million for Alice in Wonderland, he was one of Hollywood’s highest-paid actors.
Yet now, just over a decade later, the 58-year-old’s career seems to have crashed. Amid a bitter divorce, allegations of abuse from his ex-wife Amber Heard and a devastatingly public libel trial that labelled him a ‘wife beater’, he has been dropped from film projects. With his latest movie Minamata, a biopic of photographer Eugene Smith, being released on 13 August with a fizzle, it’s unclear if this is Depp’s comeback or swan song.
Some might suggest that Depp’s career had long been on the downturn. He’d had flops with The Tourist (2010), Dark Shadows (2012) and The Lone Ranger (2013). For some fans, the actor’s downfall began in 2009 when he met Amber Heard – 23 years his junior – on the set of The Rum Diary. Within three years, Depp and Paradis had split. By 2015 Depp and Heard wed. Just 15 months later they filed for divorce amid stories of a tumultuous and toxic relationship, with Heard accusing Depp of domestic abuse and obtaining a temporary restraining order against him.
Depp fans refused to believe the allegations; his team denied them. Pointedly, a joint statement released in 2016 when Depp and Heard reached a $7 million divorce settlement read: ‘Our relationship was intensely passionate and at times volatile, but always bound by love… There was never any intent of physical or emotional harm.’
It was a message confused by reports that Heard would donate a chunk of her settlement to a domestic violence charity, and the subsequent op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post about domestic abuse. In it she described how she’d ‘felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out’. (An article over which Depp is now bringing a $50 million libel suit.)
But the pivotal moment came when a 2018 column published in The Sun questioned Depp’s casting in Fantastic Beasts, calling him a ‘wife beater’. For Depp, a line had been crossed. ‘When your son is coming home in tears because he’s been bullied about never-ending news stories about his father’s alleged “violent” behaviour, I think a parent, particularly a father, gets to a point where you’ve had enough and say, “I have to take a stand now,”’ says Greg Ellis. ‘Depp has two kids, they look at social media, they’re aware of the outrageous things that are written. I think for his kids’ sake, for their futures, so he could look them in the eye and say, “I tried,” he felt he had to take a stand and say enough was enough.’
Depp brought a defamation case against The Sun. It was a move international media law specialist Mark Stephens, of firm Howard Kennedy, describes as ‘self-immolation’. He explains such libel cases are ‘extremely rare’ because they carry such huge reputational risk: ‘Even if you win on legal merit you lose the reputational war.’
Defamation cases attract what is known as the Streisand Effect: named after singer Barbara Streisand’s attempt to suppress photographs of her Malibu home, which only publicised them further. ‘Bringing this case meant attracting the attention of every single journalist worldwide – you’re going to ignite an explosion,’ says Gary Farrow, one of Britain’s best-known entertainment publicists, whose clients have included Sir Elton John. ‘Footage of you at court is going to be all over every TV station and is going to be forever associated with you.’
‘In his best interest would have been to swallow his pride and put his head down,’ adds leading talent manager Jonathan Shalit OBE (who discovered Charlotte Church). ‘Depp has never been charged or convicted of a criminal offence, so when The Sun wrote [that Depp was a ‘wife beater’] some would have believed it and some wouldn’t have believed it.’
Until Depp brought his libel case, it was a he-said, she-said. Now Depp effectively challenged The Sun to prove he was a wife beater in court.
‘He could have apologised, said he was going to rehab and everyone would have forgiven him,’ says Mark Stephens, ‘but instead he mounted this full-throated attack. Nobody is a winner in a situation where a break-up of a relationship is picked over by top QCs in public.’
Crime journalist Nick Wallis live-tweeted the trial. He called it a ‘Hollywood opera’ played out in the middle of lockdown, amid London’s desolate streets, with the stage the otherwise empty Royal Courts of Justice. ‘It was a very surreal experience, and I’ve covered a lot of trials,’ Wallis says. ‘Having this Hollywood circus, two Hollywood stars, their flunkies and the press at the High Court is unusual but it’s even weirder when it’s the only show in town – it’s almost as if you’re on a film set yourself.’
Wallis’s tweets reached 100 million views, his ‘mentions pinging like a fruit machine’; fans gathered outside court holding placards reading ‘Justice For Johnny’, others dressed as Edward Scissorhands.
The trial ran across five courts – two for lawyers, two public courts, and one press court where international journalists sat stunned as ‘within about 10 seconds these amazing revelations were spilling out’, Wallis says. Revelations about Depp’s drug abuse; his detox on his island in the Bahamas; rows on a private jet flying from Boston to LA, where Depp allegedly kicked Heard and called her a whore; and in a rented mansion in Australia, where Heard flew to join Depp, there filming Pirates of the Caribbean – she claimed he trashed the house with smeared food and broken glass, and by writing with blood on the walls, causing $150,000 damage. ‘It was extraordinary,’ Wallis says.
Depp arrived at court in a silver people carrier, with collar-length hair and a mini-goatee. He changed his outfit every day. He wore aviator sunglasses and pulled his bandana over his face ‘like an outlaw’, Wallis says. ‘He looked really good!’
Heard arrived at court with her sister Whitney, her girlfriend Bianca Butti, Australian barrister Jennifer Robinson and American attorney Elaine Bredehoft. Newspapers labelled them her ‘girl squad’. Wallis found Heard ‘incredibly sharp and poised. Often quicker than the barristers in finding references and recounting what she had or hasn’t said.’
Depp was ‘lucid’, ‘entertaining’, ‘his charisma and level of articulacy was impressive’. He was ‘scrupulously polite’, calling the barrister ‘Ma’am’ and judge ‘Sir’, before correcting himself ‘M’Lord… protocol’.
‘He was very respectful of the court process and everyone in it. He was a courteous southern gentleman,’ says Wallis. Indeed, Depp has previously described himself as a southern gentleman and ‘played that card for all it was worth during the time he was in court. If he was acting then it felt like a role he’s been playing for 20 years.’
‘He’s a brilliant actor,’ says Depp’s biographer Blitz, ‘some say that he is nearly always acting, whether on or off screen.’
Once, Wallis clocked Depp in a corridor, sweeping towards court with his entourage, coffee in hand. As Depp walked towards the courtroom door an usher held it open for him. ‘And Depp handed his coffee to his bouncer and put his hands together in a prayer, like a bow, to the usher and swept into court. It was this beautiful little Hollywood vignette of a star behaving both graciously and to the manner born,’ Wallis says.
The trial lasted 16 days, during which Heard accused Depp of attacking her on at least 14 occasions, between 2013 and 2016, under the influence of drink or drugs. Heard’s team alleged Depp hit Heard, headbutted and slapped her, threw things at her, tore her clothes and grabbed her hair. They claimed in one row he hit her ‘so hard that blood from her lip ended up on the wall’. In another he ‘slammed her against the countertop and strangled her’ in an attack that left her ‘scared for her life’.
The evidence included photographs of Heard’s injuries and texts Depp had allegedly sent actor Paul Bettany describing drowning Heard and burning her, writing, ‘I will f—k her burnt corpse afterwards to make sure she’s dead.’
During the case Depp revealed his abuse of alcohol, marijuana, MDMA, magic mushrooms and cocaine and dire financial mismanagement, which had cost him $650 million. Although this wouldn’t have shocked fans who’d have read about his famous high spending: his $10 million yacht, the $55 million French chateau, the $5 million he paid to shoot his friend Hunter S Thompson’s ashes out of a cannon and the Rolling Stone interview where Depp joked it was ‘insulting to say that I spent $30,000 on wine… because it was far more’.
Depp’s team meanwhile mounted a defence that Stephens says left lawyers ‘incredulous’. They presented the grand theory that Heard was a ‘gold digger’ perpetrating an opportunistic ‘hoax’. They released photographs of Depp with a black eye after Heard allegedly punched him, and accused her of throwing glass bottles at him which severed his finger; of having affairs with James Franco and Elon Musk and defecating in their bed – leading him to brand her ‘Amber Turd’ (all of which she denied).
Depp’s former partners Winona Ryder and Vanessa Paradis submitted witness statements stating he was never violent towards them.
Depp lost. Perhaps he considers it a pyrrhic victory to have had his day in court, although it cost him an estimated £5 million and an initial payment of £700,000 towards The Sun’s legal costs. In a 129-page judgment, Mr Justice Nicol dismissed Depp’s ‘hoax’ theory, finding The Sun’s story ‘substantially true’, stating that: ‘The great majority of alleged assaults of Ms Heard by Mr Depp have been proved to the civil standard’ and ‘I accept her evidence of the nature of the assaults he committed against her. They must have been terrifying.’ The legal case’s conclusion was just the start.
As legal experts speculated over whether Depp would face criminal repercussions for his admissions of abuse and drug use, the fallout for his career was immediate. Days after the verdict, Depp revealed he’d been ‘asked to resign by Warner Bros’ from Fantastic Beasts. The Hollywood Reporter claimed that even before the libel trial Disney had distanced itself from Depp, declining to commit to future appearances of Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates films, and suggested Depp was being sidelined from a prestige Harry Houdini TV project.
Meanwhile, however, Dior kept Depp as the face of its Sauvage fragrance; while loyal fans continued to fight vociferously for his name under the hashtag #justiceforjohnny-depp. Depp, it seemed, had become a cultural totem in a wider gender war going on.
Heard and Depp’s fight came amid a growing backlash against Hollywood misogyny, and a rising awareness of male abuse fuelled by movements like Time’s Up and MeToo. Some legal experts found Depp’s court tactics out of step with such movements. Stephens was disturbed by the way Depp’s defence was ‘run around aggressive tropes about women’.
‘It was a character assassination of Heard,’ Stephens says, noting the similarities to how rape victims were once re-victimised on the stand. ‘If the accusation is that he’s a wife beater, what does it matter if she’s a gold digger? Or if she put a turd in the bed?’
Stephens was concerned by hashtags used to abuse Heard, who ‘had to be escorted into court every day because of the fans outside, whereas Johnny was walking up the front steps being adulated’.
After the libel verdict, domestic violence charity Refuge issued a statement praising the ‘important ruling… which we hope sends a very powerful message’. Describing how domestic abusers often used power to control and silence victims, they said: ‘We stand in solidarity with Amber Heard who has shown immense bravery in speaking up and speaking out.’
Depp’s supporters saw things very differently. Greg Ellis describes Depp’s case as ‘a conflation of cancel culture, the rush to judgment and mobbing on social media – and a particularly pernicious branch of the legal system, the family court, that doesn’t offer presumption of innocence’. Ellis, to whose recently released book The Respondent: Exposing the Cartel of Family Law Depp wrote the introduction, believes Depp’s ‘reputation savaging’ began in the family court in 2016, when Heard accused him of domestic violence. Ellis calls this the ‘silver bullet playbook of high-conflict divorce – it’s become the go-to strategy for spouses and the attorneys because it’s the easiest way to destroy your opponent and win the game before conflict in the courtroom has even begun.’
However, Depp’s loss in London was merely round one. In April 2022, Depp brings an even more substantial case – the $50 million defamation suit over Heard’s Washington Post column, which Depp claims damaged his reputation. The case looks set to be just as salacious, with evidence from celebrities reportedly including Keira Knightley, Elon Musk and Angelina Jolie. Meanwhile, Heard is counter-suing Depp, following his allegation she lied about spousal abuse. Where will this revenge spiral end?
Perhaps not in court. The legal outcome for Depp won’t necessarily correlate with the conclusions of the court of public opinion. Neither Woody Allen nor Kevin Spacey have been convicted of a crime but both have seen their careers impinged by accusations of sexual misconduct. Singer Chris Brown, who apologised after being convicted of assaulting Rihanna, has continued his career. Others, like Weinstein and Cosby, seem beyond redemption.
‘I don’t think you can put Depp and Weinstein in the same sentence,’ Shalit argues. ‘Weinstein was charged with a series of horrific criminal offences for which he was found guilty. As unpalatable as his private life seems, individual film-makers and studios will take their own view as to whether Depp will be box-office gold again.’
Ellis is optimistic. He ‘absolutely’ thinks Depp should be able to return to Pirates of the Caribbean as Captain Jack Sparrow. ‘Given Depp was a large part of making that million-dollar franchise it’d be nice if Disney didn’t desert him.’
Farrow – who met Depp on numerous occasions and found him ‘charming’ – says: ‘The best policy is to be honest, to come out and say, “I did have problems at the time, it doesn’t excuse what I did but I want to make amends.”’
Would an apology be enough to launder Depp’s reputation? So far, he doesn’t seem inclined to make one. ‘I intend to prove that the allegations against me are false,’ Depp wrote on Instagram – just before his lawyers lost their appeal against the London libel case.
Some men, notably Depp’s idols and friends, Hunter S Thompson and Keith Richards, have built careers on unapologetically wild reputations. Perhaps this is the mould in which Depp sees himself. ‘Depp is and almost always has been a heavy drinker, smoker, drug-user and excess-seeker,’ says Blitz, noting Depp’s characters ‘are deeply flawed, often profoundly damaged and/or tortured souls… That his roles reflect his life, and vice versa, is not likely to come as much of a surprise to his fans.’
British PR expert Mark Borkowski notes Depp has ‘a phenomenally loyal and very active fan base calling for justice for him’. Although Depp’s ‘hell-raiser pirate boy image might be anachronistic’, he believes with the right ‘hot director’ Depp could find ‘a challenging, dark script that allows him to prove to people why he is such an enigmatic, compelling personality on-screen. You let the work do the talking by proving Depp can still have an impact and that, commercially, he’s moved on. I think there’s going to be an interesting next period of his life. Don’t write any obituaries for Depp yet.’
On Instagram, Depp insists, ‘My life and career will not be defined by this moment in time.’ His refusal to apologise appeals to his fans – tilting at windmills in a quixotic war gives him credence. Writing about how his ‘resolve remains strong’, Depp has positioned himself as a wounded hero in a dark fairy tale. A misunderstood man who wants to be loved – but, like one of his most famous characters, can only reach out with weapons. Whether this is a story that will win the public over only time will tell.
Chief executives are being warned to “think twice before they tweet” after the boss of takeaway company Just Eat Takeaway was told his Twitter spat with Uber threatened to undermine the firm’s reputation.
Jitse Groen this week became the latest in a growing list of chief executives to be rebuked by customers, investors and even regulators over ill-judged tweets.
Cat Rock Capital Management, an activist investor which has a 4.7% stake in Just Eat, highlighted Groen’s Twitter battle with Uber boss Dara Khosrowshahi as an example of outbursts that damaged the brand. The investor said Groen’s tweets had partly led to the firm being “deeply undervalued and vulnerable to takeover bids at far below its intrinsic value”.
Earlier this year Groen had a rant at financial analysts on Twitter, claiming that “some can’t even do basic maths”. He tweeted that he was “amazed how bad these analysts have become … All of them mix up definitions. It’s unbelievable.”
Brand and marketing expert Mark Borkowski said Groen’s case highlighted the difficulty executives face when trying to engage with customers on the platform.
“Everyone sees Twitter as a huge marketing opportunity that can drive a business forward, and it really can,” Borkowski said. “But these bosses must stop and think twice before they tweet, as just one misjudged tweet can send their share price plunging.”
Possibly the most expensive tweets ever sent were posted by Elon Musk, the maverick boss of electric car company Tesla, in 2018. The US Securities and Exchange Commission fined Musk and Tesla $20m each after he tweeted that he had “funding secured” to take the company private at $420 a share. The regulator said the tweet, which sent Tesla’s share price up by as much as 13%, violated securities law. As part of the settlement, Musk was ordered to step down as Tesla’s chairman.
Musk’s tweets continued to anger some investors. Pirc, an influential adviser to shareholders including the UK’s local authority pension funds, last year recommended that investors voted against Musk’s re-election to the Tesla board because his tweets posed “a serious risk of reputational harm to the company and its shareholders”.
Pirc said his controversial outbursts on Twitter had cost Tesla millions of dollars in settlements, but Musk easily won the vote, and has continued to tweet several times a day to his 59 million followers.
“Twitter is all about personality,” Borkowski said. “While Musk’s tweets can be very controversial, they fit with his brand. Twitter is perfect for renegades, mavericks and disruptor brands. It’s much harder for well-established brands with solid reputations, if something goes wrong for them they risk damage to their hard-earned brand.
“People now think that to run a successful business, you have to be on social media and every brand has to have a Twitter account,” he said. “The chief executives see that the bosses of their rivals have a Twitter profile, and they feel they have to have one too.”
Borkowski said some bosses have been very successful at building a presence and personality on Twitter, and using their platforms to promote social issues such as LGBTQ+ rights and the Black Lives Matter movement (as well as promote their brand and products).
James Timpson, the chief executive of cobbler Timpson, this week celebrated passing 100,000 followers on his account on which he weaves photos of his colleagues working in shops with posts tackling tax avoidance and prisoner reform.
This week, he responded to Boris Johnson’s proposal to create “fluorescent-jacketed chain gangs” of people found guilty of antisocial behaviour with a tweet suggesting offenders should be helped into work instead.
Tim Cook, the chief executive of Apple, has won praise for using Twitter to successfully pressure the governor of Indiana into revising proposed legislation that had threatened to allow discrimination against gay people on religious grounds.
Researchers at Harvard Business School and Duke University said Cook “effectively framed the debate using social media at a time when opinions were being formed and the impact went beyond the political”.
Borkowski suggested that before chief executives tweet they should “consider whether they have the personality and temperament to get the tone right each time”.
“There is nothing more inelegant than a chief executive going after rivals publicly on Twitter,” he said.
It was exactly that sort of behaviour that Cat Rock had accused Groen of undertaking. When Uber Eats announced earlier this year that it would take on Just Eat in Germany, Groen lashed out in a tweet directed at Khosrowshahi, accusing him of “trying to depress our share price”.
Khosrowshahi replied that perhaps Groen should “pay a little less attention to your short term stock price and more attention to your Tech and Ops”. That sparked Groen to reply “thank you for the advice, and then if I may .. Start paying taxes, minimum wage and social security premiums before giving a founder advice on how he should run his business”.
Alex Captain, Cat Rock’s founder, said: “The response should not happen on Twitter. It should happen on a credible forum with the facts, data, and analysis that the company has at its disposal.”
A Just Eat spokesperson said: “Just Eat Takeaway.com has a regular dialogue with all its shareholders and we take all their views very seriously.”
The New European
Their eventual defeat to Italy in the Euro final at Wembley notwithstanding, Boris Johnson said on Twitter that Gareth Southgate’s squad put in a “fantastic” performance.
Before the England manager lets it go to his head – unlikely, I know, for such a shrewd judge of character – he should be aware of one thing:
That Johnson has, over the past few weeks, also used the word “fantastic” to describe a youngster who sleeps in a tent to raise money for charity; a visit to a green energy provider; a Dutch electric vehicle manufacturer; a group of volunteers and NHS workers he met; a trip to Nissan’s Sunderland factory; the work of the Armed Forces…
I could go on, but it’s like Johnson’s Tweets are computer-generated and the same buzzwords – others he likes are “great” and “brilliant” – recur over and over again.
The PR supremo Mark Borkowski tells me: “Johnson’s style of mass communication suggests he’s following the Donald Trump handbook. That’s the Trump who used the word “beautiful” 35 times over the course of 30 days.
“In an age of 280-character-tweets and 15-second soundbites, political leaders seem to be developing dialects of their own,” continues Borkowski. “Who has the time – or column space – for eloquence in a fast-paced news cycle? ‘Fantastic’, ‘huge’, ‘beautiful’ are all part of a new 21st century Morse code, ghastly to some, but readily recognisable and easily legible to most others.
“For such a supposedly great wordsmith, Johnson seems happy to use language that’s thin, insincere and patronising, but, if you believe the polls, it’s working. I suspect it’s like verbal junk food; when times are tough, we lap it up even knowing how little substance it offers.”
Prominent ad campaigns once dictated water-cooler talk and set the cultural agenda. Today, they’d be far too risky to ever be approved
Looking at advertising campaigns on television today, an extraterrestrial from another galaxy would think we are a severe species. Furthermore, this visitor would assume, perhaps correctly, that it was the role of advertising agencies to inform, educate, and impart moral lessons on societies – anything other than sell goods.
This visitor would report back to their extraterrestrial superiors that ad execs on Earth form a sort of priestly class, who give hope to their subjects by presenting us with a fictional representation of a better world to come. An extraterrestrial ad exec may rightly wonder how Earth companies sell anything at all.
The legendary ad executive Trevor Beattie – responsible for the iconic Wonderbra’s “Hello Boys” and French Connection’s “Fcuk” campaigns – put it this way: “Ads that are made today are not commercials, but mood films. There is only one emotion in advertising now – and it is to indicate that brands are virtuous and worthy of your business.”
If woke has conquered adland, then we are all the poorer for it.
“The tone of voice is the same for every brand,” says Beattie. “I try to tell them that other emotions – including humour – are available while stocks last.”
To be sure, adland is struggling. Across industries, advertising budgets are being slashed as marketing execs generate more and more byzantine metrics to demonstrate their value. There are more ways than ever before to identify and target audiences, yet it is increasingly rare for an ad campaign to capture peoples’ imagination.
Even at their most risqué, prominent ad campaigns once dictated water-cooler talk and set the cultural agenda. Beer commercials once engaged and satirised national stereotypes – like Carling’s memorable “sunbeds” spot from 1993. They took risks in terms of sexual norms, like the provocative 1985 Levi’s 501 ad with Nick Kamen. And they went against the grain of cultural taboos, imagining mixed-race and same-sex families like Oliver Toscani’s revolutionary photography for Benetton.
All of these campaigns, forever embedded in the cultural memory, are far too risky for an ad exec ever to approve now.
The celebrated creative Dave Trott explains that brands might be shooting themselves in the foot by focusing too much on targeting audiences based on identity. This approach fractures messaging and hampers efforts to create a distinctive tone of voice for the brand.
“Brands are not focused on people any more, they prefer to communicate issues,” he says. “This means a sad loss of humour.” From Trott’s perspective, the way to forge effective communications is to focus on the core truths that unite people of all races, sexes, classes, ages, religions, or nationalities. “Those categories,” he says “are just superficial differences.”
There is a growing sense among my colleagues that the virtue-signalling that guides advertising decisions is hurting sales. Excessive focus-grouping, the echo chamber created by the industry’s Hackney-hipster homogeneity and awards-crazed processes have detached the creative process from the end result – to produce captivating, witty, humorous, makes-you-think-twice ad campaigns that challenge and stimulate the imagination.
No doubt, there has been much positive change since the freewheeling, devil-may-care attitudes of the Eighties and the risqué campaigns that they produced. Many of these campaigns were laden with misogyny and stereotypes that wouldn’t pass muster today. It was only in 2011 that Yorkie still sold it’s “Not For Girls” chocolate bar, and Mr. Clean encouraged women to “get back to the job that really matters”. One marvels that these campaigns were ever approved, and in today’s gender-, race- and sexuality-diverse workplaces, it’s more than likely they would have been axed long before they could see the light of day.
But brands have not always fared better, in recent days, when there’s too much hand-wringing about causing offence. This has made advertising bland, afraid to engage satirically with society as it exists, and, at worst, blatantly cynical.
Pepsi’s TV campaign, released at the height of the #BlackLivesMatter protests, featured Kendall Jenner reconciling police and protesters over a can of Pepsi. It drew widespread for trivialising the movement and was finally withdrawn. And Gillette, who recently published a short film referencing bullying, the #MeToo movement and toxic masculinity, was widely lampooned its opportunism and triteness. Both hurt sales figures.
Young people today know when they are being sold to, and attempts to cash in on social movements have proven tricky territory for brands trying to make themselves relevant by taking a position on divisive subjects.
Part of the cynicism of these campaigns comes from the fact that, in today’s globalised economy, brands project different values in different markets. Advanced algorithms mean there are ways of ensuring that people get the messaging they want to hear. Not many brands’ feverish rainbow-washing throughout Pride month extended to their Russian or Middle Eastern operations.
Consequently, consumers smell a rat. The resultant negativity surrounding attempts to project social values has prompted some in the advertising world to say “go woke, go broke” – that a lack of true backbone in brands will inevitably be sniffed out and dent sales.
Though our cultural attitudes have shifted, the goal of advertising has not. And if woke advertising cannot deliver the sales by every ad exec will be judged, then brands will have to find a new creative mode which allows them provoke, make laugh and shape cultural narratives rather than cynically seize on them.
Advertising can still – and indeed must – provoke and engage audiences with a wide range of emotions if it is to return to its former role of shaping cultural conversations. Companies need to be able to navigate controversial topics with the conviction, lightness, edginess and sarcasm which has always characterised great advertising.
And they can. As Hermeti Balarin, partner at Mother London, put it: “Edgy creativity not only can, but does exist in this age of cancel culture. All that brands need is a complete understanding of who they are, what they represent and what their voice is like. Once a brand fundamentally understands that, they can appear almost anywhere at any time and join any conversation they want. Edgy or not.”
As we come more and more to realise the social consequences of media siloes and echo chambers, I am of the belief that advertising has a role to play in catering to and thereby cultivating a mainstream. It does so by focusing on what American advertising legend Bill Bernbach called “simple, timeless human truths” – gripes and groans, reversals of fortune, the universal ironies that unify us and make us laugh.
This is not just about effective marketing, but also about what role advertising has to play in an increasingly fractious society.
The final word goes to Dave Trott: “To understand people,” he says, “we need to understand not what makes them different, but what makes them the same.”
Raheem Sterling is poised to become a global megastar like David Beckham after firing England to Tuesday’s Euros clash with Germany.
Marketing experts say the forward has all the ingredients he needs to build ‘Brand Sterling’ – including son Thiago, who has embarked on a modelling career at the tender age of four.
PR guru Mark Borkowski called Sterling, 26, a “sponsor’s dream”, and told how he could replicate Beckham’s success.
The former England captain and his wife Victoria are now worth £380million. Mr Borkowski said: “This could be Raheem’s moment. He could make millions.”
Sterling is the only England player to so far score in the Euros, striking against Croatia and the Czech Republic in the group stage.
His goals secured first place – and the crunch match with one of our oldest rivals.
The clash has brought back agonising memories of the Euro 96 penalty shootout in which Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate missed the decisive spot-kick.
And pub bosses predict eight million pints will be downed on the day of the match – either in joy or sorrow – despite a 5pm kick-off.
The Germans are weak by their own standards, boosting hopes of a historic Sterling-inspired victory that would only further enhance his appeal to big-name brands.
Mr Borkowski said: “If this is to be the championship that puts to bed the ghost of so many failures and he’s the man popping in the goals, he’s in a totally different world. Money no object. Sponsor’s dream.”
Sterling, who won his third Premier League title with Manchester City last season, earns a reported £300,000 a week – £15.6million a year.
He is the face of shaving brand Gillette and recently got a boot deal with New Balance.
Last month the Sunday Times Rich list estimated his net worth at £38million.
Aside from his commercial success, Sterling is also one of the loudest voices in the fight against racism in football.
And Mr Borkowski also praised the player’s efforts on social media – which have earned him 10.5 million followers on Instagram and Twitter – and his skill at handling negative publicity.
He said: “He’s very authentic, and this narrative around the boy from Brent all adds to the story of the boy made good.
“You could certainly look at Beckham as a baseline, what he was earning at his height, and replicate that sort of money. But you can’t do it alone. This is lawyers, managers, agents, publicists, sponsorship.”
When Becks retired in 2013, aged 38, he was reportedly raking in £33million a year through his salary, sponsorships and business ventures.
The former England captain became a global sensation for both his footballing abilities and his marriage to Posh Spice.
Now he and wife Victoria get help building their brand from their social media-savvy children – including photographer Brooklyn, 22, and 18-year-old model Romeo.
Similarly, Sterling’s four-year-old son Thiago is already adding to the family’s fortunes with a recent shoot for Italian luxury house Fendi.
He also appeared alongside his dad in the latest Gillette advert. Mr Borkowski said: “Make no mistake, it’s all part of the team. It’s all about creating a family legacy and embedding that. Look at the Kardashians.”
Sterling has a second son, Thai-Cruz, with fiancée Paige Milian, 25, and a daughter, Melody Rose, from a previous relationship. And Danny Rogers, a PR expert and author, said he can match the Becks off the pitch.
PRINCE Harry and Meghan Markle are unable to raise the money needed for their big projects in the UK due to the Duchess of Sussex’s ambitions being much bigger – which could eventually lead to a race for the White House, a public relations expert and author says.
PR expert Mark Borkowski said both Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are unable to raise the funds for their ambitious projects in the UK and have chosen America as to where they will “hitch their wagon” to build their brand. Mark Borkowski explained the couple’s ambitions are far greater than many might realise and may never turn around their negative reputation among certain demographics. The author added the large goals and desire of Meghan Markle may even culminate in a US presidential campaign and said he would “not bet against” such a thing happening.
Speaking on GB News, Mr Borkowski discussed the recent ventures of the Sussexes including the couple purchasing domain names of their daughter Lilibet before they asked the Queen for her approval of the name.
He told the channel: “I don’t think [Harry and Meghan] can ever really recover, particularly to an older audience, a boomer audience, here.
“The question is whether or not the younger audience, the Gen Z’s, people who completely emphasise with their arguments about some mental health issues and diversity.
“It is very much where they’ve hitched their waggon to and we’re going to see a very big competing brand.
“But the UK is not where they’re going to win the type of money they’re going to need, to carry forward their aims and traditions and setup very ambitious partnerships.
“I’ve often said it and people think I’m joking but who would not bet against Meghan Markle of running for president in years to come.”
Rumours of Meghan Markle’s presidency ambition began earlier this year when the Duchess of Sussex was reportedly in conversation with prominent Democrat figures.
A senior Labour Party figure told the Mail on Sunday that they heard Meghan was networking with Democrats to build campaign teams.
Meghan allegedly may only run in 2024 if current US President Joe Biden does not choose to run for a second term.
The rumours began in mid-March but there has been no major development or comment on the reports.
According to the Mirror, Meghan is set to have a “brutal showdown” with Buckingham Palace as the institution launched an independent inquiry into bullying claims against Meghan.
She is expected to demand a breakdown of the claims against her so that she can answer each one.
Meghan has yet to be interviewed by Buckingham Palace of the allegations and has not returned to the UK since her departure in early 2020.
Two royal staff members quit with a third saying their confidence was “undermined”.
The Mirror also reports at least ten former place employees are “lining up” to assist the independent inquiry against Meghan.
Buckingham Palace said in a statement: “We are clearly very concerned about allegations in the Times following claims made by former staff of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.”
“Accordingly, our HR team will look into the circumstances outlined in the article.
“Members of staff involved at the time, including those who have left the Household, will be invited to participate to see if lessons can be learned.”
Prince Harry and Meghan’s daughter Lilibet (Lili) Diana has a name reflecting tradition and emerging trend
With the arrival of Lilibet (Lili) Diana Mountbatten-Windsor, the newest member of the Royal Family has a name that reflects both tradition and an emerging trend.
The daughter of Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, who was born this month in California, has names with deep family ties — something that is a regular occurrence in the Royal Family.
Diana recalls her grandmother, the late Diana, Princess of Wales. But in the case of Lilibet — a nickname for her great-grandmother Queen Elizabeth — there’s also a reflection of a newer trend among the monarch’s great-grandchildren.
“What we’re seeing with the current generation is some instances where the nickname is the formal first name,” said Toronto-based royal historian Carolyn Harris.
Nicknames have always been popular in the Royal Family, in part because so many royal children have had the same name. Queen Victoria, for example, let it be known she wanted her grandchildren and great-grandchildren to have her name or that of her husband, Albert, in their monikers.
“Going back to Queen Victoria’s descendants, she had so many granddaughters who were named Victoria that we see nicknames such as Vicky, Toria, Moretta, Ducky,” said Harris.
Harry and Meghan’s daughter is the Queen’s 11th great-grandchild, and the third born in the past few months. A 12th is expected this fall with the arrival of the first child for Princess Beatrice and her husband, Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi.
Among the 11 great-grandchildren, those higher in the line of succession — Prince William and Kate’s children George (third in line), Charlotte (fourth) and Louis (fifth) — have more traditional royal names.
But further down the line, things change, with great-grandchildren named Savannah, Isla and Lucas appearing on the family tree. The eldest daughter of Zara (Princess Anne’s daughter) and Mike Tindall has the first name Mia.
“Now, that is an accepted name on its own, but in the 18th century, Mia might have been seen as a nickname for Amelia,” said Harris, author of Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting. “That certainly was a royal name in Georgian times; George the Third’s favourite daughter was named Amelia.”
For Lilibet (Lili) Diana, the announcement of her name two days after her birth sparked considerable reaction on social media. There was much chatter over whether the choice of the nickname was a touching tribute to the Queen or an insensitive decision, particularly given Harry and Meghan’s recent criticisms of the House of Windsor.
“There are those who feel that this is a really sweet gesture and it’s Prince Harry honouring his grandma, who he maintained a personal relationship with even as he and Meghan stepped back from their duties as senior members of the Royal Family,” said Harris.
“But there are others who feel that this is a nickname that is unique to the Queen and that perhaps [Lily or] Elizabeth might have been a better choice.”
Confusion has ensued over to what degree Harry and Meghan consulted the Queen about the use of the family nickname.
“What seems clear is that the Queen and the Royal Family knew about the name before the rest of the world were told, but it is much less clear whether permission to use Lilibet was sought in advance,” wrote ITV royal editor Chris Ship on the network’s website.
Such scrutiny for a royal baby’s name is unusual, although speculation of just what name might be chosen ahead of any royal birth is rampant. Sometimes it’s also names that aren’t chosen that spark considerable interest.
Before Diana and Charles named their first son William in 1982, Oliver was one of the monikers that Diana liked.
“Diana favoured some of the trendier names of her time,” said Harris.
But a name like Oliver would not have been considered suitable for a future British monarch, Harris said, because there would inevitably be the comments about Oliver Cromwell, a controversial figure in 17th-century English history, and the time period of the interregnum, “whereas Charles was looking to royal history, and both William and Harry have these timeless royal names.”
In the case of Lilibet (Lili) Diana, the scrutiny is ramped up because of the intense focus on her parents, particularly following their decision to step back from official royal duties.
Even if Harry and Meghan hadn’t chosen a nickname so closely connected to the Queen, it seems likely the name would have attracted attention.
“I think there would have been scrutiny, there would be a conversation about names, whatever the names would have been,” said British PR expert Mark Borkowski.
And it’s a scrutiny that will likely continue on the child as she grows up.
“That’s the sort of nature of celebrity, the nature of having two of the most famous people in the world as your mother and father,” said Borkowski…
Cristiano Ronaldo’s decision to remove two Coca-Cola bottles from view at a press conference, and dent the value of the fizzy drink maker’s sponsorship of the European Championship, has highlighted the risks brands face associating with sports stars made powerful by the social media era.
The Portugal captain, a renowned health fanatic who eschews carbonated drinks and alcohol, underlined his point by holding a bottle of water while saying “agua”, Portuguese and Spanish for water. The water brand in question happened to be owned by Coca-Cola too, but the damage – by a major sports star with 550 million social media followers – was done.
“It’s obviously a big moment for any brand when the world’s most followed footballer on social media does something like that,” says Tim Crow, a sports marketing consultant who advised Coca-Cola on football sponsorship for two decades. “Coke pays tens of millions to be a Uefa sponsor and as part of that there are contractual obligations for federations and teams, including taking part in press conferences with logos and products. But there are always risks.”
Major brands have never been able to control the actions of their star signings. Nike decided, stoically, to stand by Tiger Woods as the golfing prodigy lost sponsors including Gillette and Gatorade after a 2009 sex scandal. However, Ronaldo’s public snub signifies a different kind of threat to the once cosy commercial balance of power between stars and brands, one born of the social media era.
“Ronaldo is right at the top of social media earners,” says PR expert Mark Borkowski. “It is about the rise of the personal brand, the personal channel, it gives so much bloody power. That’s what has allowed Ronaldo to make a point [about a healthy lifestyle].”
Now 36, the world’s most famous footballer has built an empire that has seen him make more than $1bn (£720m) in football salaries, bonuses and commercial activities such as sponsorships. What is crucial is the global platform social media has given him – half a billion followers on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook – which has freed him from following the commercial rules of clubs, tournaments and their sponsors. He is the highest earner on Instagram, commanding $1m per paid post, and with more than $40m in income from the social media platform annually he makes more than his salary at Juventus.
“People are saying this is about athlete activism and there is some truth to that,” says Crow. “Athletes are taking a more activist view, we are seeing that, most recently in press conferences. And we will see it again.”
On Tuesday, the France midfielder Paul Pogba, a practising Muslim, removed a bottle of Euro 2020 sponsor Heineken’s non-alcoholic 0.0 brand from the press conference table when he sat down to speak to the media after his team’s 1-0 win over Germany. Three years ago, he was one of a group of Manchester United stars who boycotted a contractual event for sponsors to protest at the club’s poor travel arrangements that had affected Champions League games.
Crow says the most important example of athlete activism came last month when Naomi Osaka, the No 2-ranked female tennis player, pulled out of the French Open after being fined $15,000 and threatened with expulsion by organisers for saying she would skip contractual media obligations because of the effect on her mental health.
Osaka, who has more than 4 million social media followers, used Twitter to explain her “huge waves of anxiety” and the “outdated rules” governing players and media conferences, and announce she was pulling out of Roland Garros.
“Activism is now on every sponsor’s radar,” says Crow, who believes Ronaldo’s move could mark the beginning of the end of product placement-laden press conferences.
“My view is that for a long time now having sponsors’ products on the table in front of athletes in press conferences looks outdated and inauthentic and it’s time to retire it,” he says. “This incident highlights that fact. Many of my sponsor clients have mentioned this in the past, particularly those targeting younger consumers. It’s not as if sponsors don’t have enough branding throughout tournaments and events anyway.”
Sir Keir Starmer believes he is “turning the party around” as he said Labour needed to stop looking inwards to make inroads to electoral success. But brand and PR guru Mark Borkowski outlined the big problems the Labour leader is facing. He suggested that the timing of the interview indicated to him that his party are “in trouble”.
Speaking to talkRADIO, Mr Borkowski said: “The problem with Keir Starmer is he doesn’t connect to people and he has zero charisma.
“I think he has the personality of a supply teacher, probably a geography supply teacher and this is what the panic is.
“When we looked at Hartlepool and the other recent elections, that is a real indication of no connection.
“People don’t go anywhere near him and television is not his medium that’s a big problem.
“The bottom line is I was surprised to some extent that he was doing the Piers Morgan Life Stories because it’s one of those interviews you give at a very crucial time like running for an election.
“It indicated to me that they’re in trouble with him and they would do anything to get him to be someone the public think he is.”
The Labour leader was presented with the analysis of former prime minister Tony Blair, who said the party needed a “total deconstruction and reconstruction”.
And asked by Morgan whether that was advice he needed to listen to, in a clip released ahead of the full programme on Tuesday, Sir Keir said: “Yes.
“The biggest change we need to make is a Labour Party that stops looking in on itself and looks out to the electorate, to the voters.
“I’m going to go and talk across the country this summer to people who are no longer voting Labour and hear for myself what they have to say and show that reconnection.”
Sir Keir said the three things which would describe a Britain under his leadership would be “pride in our country, dignity… dignity for children growing up, dignity at work, and change”.
And he said already he was proud of his work to rid anti-Semitism from the party.
“We had to make changes, so on things like anti-Semitism, it was really important to me and to the party, I think, to the country that we dealt with anti-Semitism,” he said.
“We’ve begun to do that, taken some really, really important steps. We’re turning the party around.”
In a second clip released ahead of the interview, he spoke about taking time out from his leadership campaign early last year to support his wife Victoria, suggesting it was an example of him putting his family before politics.
Asked whether he was a romantic, Sir Keir said: “I think probably yes.”
Viewers of “The Voice” will see a surprising new commercial this Tuesday.
John Legend — one of the judges on the NBC competition show — will appear in a spot for vacation-rental site Vrbo, along with his wife, Chrissy Teigen, their two young children, and Teigen’s mother Vilailuck “Pepper” Teigen.
It should have been a clever piece of cross-promotion. Instead, Teigen is embroiled in a scandal that is casting a dark shadow over her career — not to mention the business deals she shares with Legend and even her mother, who has benefited from Teigen’s fame with a newly released cookbook of her own.
Teigen has been exposed for sending shockingly cruel messages to other women on social media, telling TV personality Courtney Stodden in 2011 to “Go. To sleep. Forever.” and mocking Lindsay Lohan, who has admitted to cutting herself in the past, by tweeting that same year: “Lindsay adds a few more slits to her wrists when she sees Emma Stone.” In 2013, Teigen publicly called “Teen Mom” star Farrah Abraham “a whore.”
The revelation of these long-forgotten messages led to her Cravings cookware line — which Teigen tirelessly promoted to her 13.6 million followers on Twitter and 34.8 million followers on Instagram — being pulled from Macy’s. Although it was previously reported that Target had also dropped Teigen, a rep for the store said: “We made the mutual decision in December to no longer carry the cookware line.” Macy’s has not confirmed if the line is shelved for good.
Teigen is now holed up with her family at their Los Angeles home and a source who knows her told The Post: “She’s so raw and vulnerable … I don’t know if she can come back to social media.”
The Teigen source admitted that the store brands had their hands forced to sever their relationships with the model after being bombarded by customer complaints on social media. “As you can imagine, last week was wild,” the source said. “When people start going after brands, whether warranted or not, it creates a mess for the brands to deal with.”
Page Six reported that Bloomingdale’s was hours away from signing a contract with Teigen to host a promotional event for the store, but pulled the plug on Monday.
Although a source with knowledge of the Vrbo partnership told The Post there were “no issues” and the deal is “moving forward as planned,” branding expert Mark Borkowski isn’t so sure Teigen will be forgiven by her fans or the people who hired her. (Vrbo did not respond to requests for comment.)
“No one tolerates the idea of a bully. Within the business values of many of these brands it causes problems,” Borkowski said. “It’s all about authenticity. If you’re found out not to be what you [claim] to be, that always leads to an Icarus moment and everything comes crashing down. One day you’re hot and the next day you’re canceled due to stupidity, arrogance or ego.
“America is the worst place to be shamed — and the first people to jump ship are agents [who arrange deals], if they don’t see money in you.”
Stodden, who first came into the public eye in 2011 as a 16-year-old wed to 51-year-old actor Doug Hutchinson, brought the scandal to light on May 10 in an interview with the Daily Beast.
“She wouldn’t just publicly tweet about wanting me to take ‘a dirt nap’ but would privately DM me and tell me to kill myself,” said Stodden. “Things like, ‘I can’t wait for you to die.’”
In March Stodden, now 26, also posted a video to Instagram in which 2011 tweets from Teigen were revealed that ranged from “I hate you” to “my Friday fantasy: you. Dirt nap.”
And while Teigen is known for her sparky humor, it didn’t jibe with the image on which she has built her brand — as a loving mom and wife, and a champion of women. The 35-year-old model has made it her deal to be open and honest about everything, from getting sober to the tragic stillbirth of her baby son Jack at 20 weeks into her pregnancy, even publishing a series of raw photos from her hospital room in September 2020.
It’s all helped her build a huge social media following and, it turns out, some of those followers are just as vicious as she has been.
As The Post previously reported, retired military nurse and self-confessed social-media troll Kari Rhyan found herself in a Twitter war with Teigen in 2019 after commenting “You are waaaaaay overrated” to the star — and while that wasn’t so nice in itself, Rhyan was still shocked to be bombarded with messages from Teigen’s followers saying they wished she were dead.
When she read about what Teigen had said to Stodden, Rhyan said, “What has to happen to someone to get them to a place where they’d tell a 16-year-old to kill themselves? I don’t know if mean is just her baseline, or if she went through some tough stuff that got her to that point.”
Meanwhile, former Us Weekly reporter Jon Warech, who was let go from the publication after an online spat with Teigen, said: “Celebrities like Teigen don’t realize the power of their words on social media.
“She and plenty of others don’t think about the person on the other end. They think about the likes or comments and don’t realize there are real people that their words affect. They get mass approval and have zero regard for the damage being done,” Warech said.
Teigen attacked him after a red carpet interview ended up with the headline “Chrissy Teigen: We’re hiring a night nurse for baby.”
When she accused him of trying to make her “look like a poor, uncaring mother and getpeople talking,” Warech told her that he didn’t write the headlines and forwarded her a screenshot of the quotes he had sent to an Us Weekly editor. He was soon given his marching orders.
“I was on a freelance salary, getting paid per event, trying to make rent,” Warech said: “She carried on the next day and probably didn’t remember any of it.”
After Stodden’s revelation, Teigen tweeted: “Not a lot of people are lucky enough to be held accountable for all their past bulls–t in front of the entire world. I’m mortified and sad at who I used to be. I was an insecure, attention seeking troll … I’m so sorry, Courtney … ”
Stodden accepted the apology and forgave Teigen on Instagram, but added: “I have never heard from her or her camp in private. In fact, she blocked me on Twitter.”
“All of me wants to believe this is a sincere apology,” Stodden posted, “but it feels like a public attempt to save her partnerships with Target and other brands who are realizing her ‘wokeness’ is a broken record.”
Teigen’s parents, American electrician, Ron, and Pepper, met in Pepper’s home country of Thailand. They moved to Utah, where Teigen was born, then later to Snohomish, Wash., where they operated a tavern called Porky’s.
As a teen, Teigen began modeling, eventually posing for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and working as a “briefcase girl” — just like Meghan Markle — on the game show “Deal or No Deal.”
She met Legend on the set of his “Stereo” music video in 2007, and they married six years later, then had daughter Luna, now five, and son Miles, who just turned three this week.
Ron and Pepper are now divorced and Pepper lives in style with her daughter and son-in-law. She’s said to often cook dinner for the family, and Pepper’s frequent appearances on Teigen’s Instagram — not to mention on the model’s show, “Chrissy’s Court,” on the short-lived Quibi platform — led to her getting her own cookbook deal and appearances on network morning shows. She even appeared with Teigen on a cover of People’s “Beautiful Issue.”
Teigen and Legend have also built a brand as a beloved family unit, with her making cameos on “The Voice” and the two of them sharing a Christmas special on NBC in 2018. She has co-starred in his music videos and, last year, appeared clad in a towel atop his piano as Legend played a live stream concert to raise funds for charity.
A senior producer within NBC Universal entertainment told The Post that Teigen’s issues would not affect Legend, adding: “NBC loves and supports John. It is a separate relationship. I feel bad for Chrissy — what a mess.”
But Borkowski noted that a scandal like Teigen’s “can create huge issues, even beyond shared deals, as it sucks in the family.”
However, he added, “Anyone has the ability to have a second chance … if they handle it right.”
Careers, business deals and, of course, Chrissy’s reputation all hang in the balance.
As the source who knows Teigen said: “Look, it’s not Chrissy’s finest moment. All she can do is try and make amends now.”
The BBC and ITV have been urged to review how Martin Bashir landed his other big interviews after the damning report into how he deceived Diana, Princess of Wales.
Dorothy Byrne, a former head of news at Channel 4, said yesterday that the revelation in Lord Dyson’s finding that Bashir had used “deceitful behaviour” to secure his Panorama interview in 1995 was scandalous.
The family of Michael Jackson has demanded an apology for his ITV interview with Bashir and the ex-wife of the late footballer George Best claimed that Bashir had exploited him.
Bashir left the BBC in 1999 to join ITV before working in the United States. He was rehired in 2016 as the BBC’s religion correspondent before resigning this month citing ill health.
The Duke of Cambridge and Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, have accused Bashir of using deceit to prey on her paranoia, which left her without the support of close friends or royal aides.
Bashir, 58, told The Sunday Times that Diana was never unhappy about the content of the interview and that they had remained friends. She visited his wife, Deborah, in hospital after the birth of their third child in 1996.
“I never wanted to harm Diana in any way and I don’t believe we did,” Bashir said. “Everything we did in terms of the interview was as she wanted, from when she wanted to alert the palace, to when it was broadcast, to its contents . . . My family and I loved her.”
He said he was “deeply sorry” to Princes William and Harry but disputes William’s charge that he fuelled her isolation and paranoia.
William, who had condemned Bashir for making “lurid and false claims about the royal family which played on her fears and fuelled paranoia”, refused to be drawn on the issue during an official visit to Edinburgh yesterday.
Byrne told Trevor Phillips on Sky News: “I think that both BBC and ITV need to look at all his scoops. Other people who have been interviewed by Martin Bashir have complained that he lied to them and we know that the BBC wrote a formal letter to ITV about his conduct on several stories.”
There are questions over Bashir’s ITV interviews with Jackson in 2003, in which the singer admitted sharing a bed with children. Mark Borkowski, Jackson’s UK publicist at the time, said that Bashir had used a letter from Diana while seeking access.
Jackson’s nephew Taj, 47, tweeted: “Bashir’s manipulated footage and unethical journalism is one of the main reasons my uncle Michael is not here today. Shame on those who provided cover for Bashir. Shame on those who rewarded him. My family deserves an investigation & apology too.”
The singer’s brother and former bandmate Tito said: “Bashir created a fake narrative about my brother, which becomes crystal clear when you view the outtakes Bashir kept secret. He used Michael’s trust and friendship with Diana to get the interview, manipulated Michael throughout the interview, then deceptively edited the footage.”
Alex Best, 49, told the Daily Mirror that her late ex-husband believed that he had been “manipulated” and “cheated” by Bashir into giving an ITV interview in 2000 while suffering chronic liver damage brought on by alcoholism. “It’s sad that George isn’t here to see Bashir finally exposed for what he is, because he would be delighted to see it,” she said.
Tim Davie, director-general of the BBC, wrote to staff on Friday: “I know that we now have significantly stronger processes and governance in place to ensure that an event like this doesn’t happen again. However, we must also learn lessons and keep improving.”
The Prince of Wales has told friends that the BBC should stop showing clips of the 1995 interview, according to The Mail on Sunday. Prince Charles did not follow his sons in publicly denouncing Bashir’s deceit. The paper quotes a friend as saying: “There is time needed to think about this but there is a feeling that the BBC shouldn’t be showing any footage at all from the interview.”
Last night Terry Venables, the former England football manager, accused Bashir of using the “same dubious tactics” against him. He is hoping to clear his name over two Panorama episodes presented by Bashir about his financial dealings in 1993 and 1994.
At the time, he complained that documents featured in the broadcast were “cooked up”. Venables, 78, said: “The BBC has an absolute duty to make a clean breast of everything, otherwise how else can we believe their word ever again?”
A former publicist for Michael Jackson has said he refused to allow Martin Bashir access to the star, adding he felt the journalist had an agenda.
It comes following a turbulent week for Bashir, after the Dyson Report found that he faked financial records to secure an interview with Diana, Princess of Wales for the BBC.
He later went on to work for ITV, with the broadcaster commissioning a now-infamous interview with Jackson in 2003, where the singer admitted he shared his bed with children.
Mark Borkowski, Jackson’s UK publicist at the time, told Sky News that he met Bashir when he was trying to secure access with his client.
“He said ‘look what I did with Diana, it became a great event and she’s very pleased’ and at this point he brought out a letter… it was certainly signed by Diana and I read it and it was a fulsome praise of him and the interview.
“And it was a thank you letter to him and it was pretty dog-eared… that didn’t persuade me and I kept him at arms-length and we had a second meeting and he pushed me into what I was going to say.”
However, Mr Borkowski said his overall opinion was that Jackson should not let Bashir carry out an interview.
“I just felt he was clearly someone who’s working off an agenda to create another cultural moment. Nothing dissuaded me from that.”
He added that the decision to eventually offer Bashir access to Jackson was made by someone else, and claims that the interview changed the course of events for the singer.
On Friday, former head of ITN (which provides news programming to ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5) Stewart Purvis told Sky News that despite his previous controversies, Bashir continued to be employed by the likes of the BBC and ITV because of his ability to secure big interviews.
He said: “Broadcasters like people who deliver big stories, big exclusives. Will they look the other way, as Prince William said, about what the BBC bosses did in the case of the interview?
“Sometimes they probably used to do that. Would they do it nowadays? I’m not so sure.”
Jobs appear to be like buses for Prince Harry. Wait a lifetime for an opening and two come along at the same time.
The former Royal’s first foray into the corporate world has seen him take up the role of chief impact officer at Silicon Valley coaching firm BetterUp, while also sitting alongside Rupert Murdoch’s daughter-in-law on a commission aiming to fight “misinformation”.
Neither role appears to have required the 36-year-old former Army captain to submit a CV or go through the usual vetting processes as he adds mental health coach and anti-fake news campaigner to his résumé.
Yet in keeping with a new breed of “celebrity responsibility”, which has increasingly seen the rich and famous flex their corporate muscles for the greater good, the highly prominent positions look set to propel the cash-strapped Prince to ever more lucrative heights, as LA’s most sought-after recruit.
Just as when Jennifer Aniston became the ‘chief creative officer’ of a natural supplement range or when David Beckham backed a cannabinoid skincare company, these mutually beneficial ‘ethical’ tie-ups can be worth their weight in publicity gold. And not just for the company that gets their endorsement.
As showbiz agent Jonathan Shalit puts it: “Like corporate responsibility – this is celebrity responsibility. There’s been a shift in people’s mindsets. Two, three years ago the mindset was: ‘What’s in it for me, how can I get paid a shedload of dosh, how can I maximise my income?’ Now people desire to give back and give back support to the community.”
While pointing out that Harry is “above celebrity,” he adds: “Many celebrities are very responsible in trying to use the strength of their platform to help others.”
The announcement of both roles last week certainly played into the idea that this was more than just a money spinner for the Montecito-based ex pat – although there is no doubt all sides are set to benefit financially.
While BetterUp may be carrying out noble work in its offer of “personalised coaching, content and care designed to transform lives and careers” – it all comes at a price.
Having spoken about his struggles with grief following the death of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, Harry said of his appointment to the “unicorn” tech firm: “(I) want us to move away from the idea that you have to feel broken before reaching out for help,” insisting he intends to use the job to “create impact in people’s lives”.
The Duke added: “Being attuned with your mind, and having a support structure around you, are critical to finding your own version of peak performance. What I’ve learned in my own life is the power of transforming pain into purpose.”
He said his goal was to “lift up critical dialogues around mental health, build supportive and compassionate communities, and foster an environment for honest and vulnerable conversations” and he hoped to “help people develop their inner strength, resilience and confidence”.
It might strike the cynical as Californian word salad akin to Aniston’s declaration, upon joining Vital Proteins, that: “Collagen is the glue that holds everything together. I’ve always been an advocate for nourishing your wellness from within.”
Yet as Alexi Robichaux, who co-founded BetterUp in 2013, points out, Harry does bring a unique perspective. “He comes from a very different background,” to other executives, he says, adding: “He’s synonymous with this approach of mental fitness and really investing in yourself. It was not a hard internal sale. He will obviously have the whole organisation sprinting to help him.”
Robichaux confirmed Harry was joining the company’s leadership team as an “officer of the corporation”, which suggests it is a paid role, although public relations expert Mark Borkowski thinks it “highly likely” he has been offered equity in the firm, which values itself at $1.73 billion.
“This previously unknown start-up has now got instant recognition,” he says. “I always said that if Harry and Meghan wanted to generate income, they should look to Silicon Valley. Getting eyeballs onto the company like this, with all the competition, is the hardest job in PR – but now the whole world is talking about it. That’s the effect signing up someone like Harry can have.
“If he’s got points in this firm and it goes gangbusters, he could make some serious money.” Borkowski cites the example of shares in Cellular Goods, the synthetic cannabis firm backed by Beckham, shooting up by 310 per cent after it launched on the London Stock Exchange in February following news of the star footballer’s investment.
“This is all about the ongoing narrative, now,” adds Borkowski, referencing the Oprah Winfrey interview in which the Sussexes raised serious concerns about the Royal family’s handling of racism and mental health issues.
“The impact of generating more connections to his brand is an ongoing struggle for him. But by taking that narrative, which is embedded with that interview along with mental health issues, then he can certainly have a credible corporate platform.”
Yet considering some of the discrepancies that have surfaced since the interview aired in the US on March 7, can Harry really be considered a reliable voice when it comes to combating what he has described as the “avalanche of misinformation”?
Critics have been at pains to point out that his appointment to the Aspen Institute’s new Commission on Information Disorder, a six-month project that will examine the “modern-day crisis of faith in key institutions” appears somewhat at odds with the Sussexes’ repeated insistence that they do not look at newspapers, magazines or social media.
Equally awkward is the fact that the Prince will be sitting alongside Kathryn Murdoch, who is married to James Murdoch, the former chairman of News of the World publisher News International, who resigned from his father Rupert Murdoch’s media empire last year.
As with Harry’s decision to appear on CBS, despite the US network once sparking outrage in 2004 for showing a “distasteful” photo of his mother after her fatal Parisian car crash, the move suggests the exiled Murdochs are now considered reformed characters thanks to their new found work on democracy reform and climate change.
As Harry himself put it, information disorder is an issue that demands “a multi-stakeholder response from advocacy voices” including, apparently, the wife of a man who was found by a Parliamentary report in 2012 to have shown “wilful ignorance of the extent of phone hacking” and being “guilty of an astonishing lack of curiosity” over the illegal practice that Harry, William and Kate were all subjected to along with Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall and a string of palace aides.
It is not thought Harry is being paid for his work with the think tank, founded in 1949, which will look at everything from last year’s US election to vaccine safety and marginalised communities.
It is his listing on the Aspen Institute’s website, however, which perhaps provides the biggest clue to the sixth-in-line to the throne’s direction of travel as he settles into life in the US.
Referenced by his full title, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, the soon to be father-of-two is described as a “humanitarian, military veteran, mental wellness advocate and environmentalist.”
Despite his blood-born Royal status, Shalit believes this repositioning is actually intended to put him on a par with his high-achieving wife. For unlike her husband, who left school with two A-levels before training at Sandhurst Military Academy, it is Meghan – a Northwestern University graduate with a successful acting career under her belt – who is arguably the more employable of the two, on paper at least. As an American, the pregnant mother-of-one also doesn’t carry the burden of Harry’s complicated visa and tax arrangements, amid confusion over whether he is living and working in the US as a “diplomat” or as a person with so-called “special talents”.
“I’ve met Meghan on a number of occasions and she is a hugely astute woman, very bright, incredibly impressive,” says Shalit.
“So for Harry to keep up with his wife, he’s got to find his own name and identity and this is the start. He doesn’t need celebrity. When you’re Royal, you’re the biggest celebrity in the world. But what this does is allow Harry to have relevance.”
When it comes to making an impact, Royal relevance is clearly going to be the jewel in the crown of Harry’s very LA relaunch.