So the royal baby was finally introduced to us within the walls of Windsor Castle at about the same time as Sara Latham informed us that the PR disaster surrounding the announcement was due to the failure of an email to send. That one is as old as “the cheque’s in the post” and nobody will believe it. It is inconceivable that someone didn’t check, after all, this was an announcement awaited globally with bated breath. But still, perhaps both things are a small recognition that the media handling by the Sussex’s of the birth has been a disaster.
The inclusion of American news network CBS at the unveiling of the Royal baby today is a marker of the control that the Sussex’s have tried to impose on the media and that’s before we get to the fact that the news anchor is a close friend of Meghan. Operating as a silo risks a PR crisis behind palace walls which, if not sorted quickly, will de-stablisise the pragmatic and good working relationship that exists currently with the British media. As things stand, news of the Royal baby will continue to drive clicks and the negativity will be temporarily suppressed, but you can’t keep a lid on a boiling pot forever. It’s worth noting that any other celebrity would have found themselves on the wrong side of the headlines by now.
The monarchy is a brand with all sorts of factions working together for a common purpose. This strategy has had its moments, but on the whole, it works. Post Diana, the palace learned how to work with the media, giving just enough access to be cooperative but retaining a boundary that has been key to long term sustainability.
Until about a year ago when along came Meghan fresh from Hollywood: divorced, bi-racial and informed. A hustler and a woman well versed in taking on a role, making it her own and doing it entirely on her terms. For Harry, she must have evoked a million feelings…
But for all the star power, this isn’t Hollywood. They can’t control the media as a singular faction behind their own closed doors. That’s the first rule. The second is they can’t have it all their own way using the star power (and wealth) of the monarchy when it suits them and ignoring it when it doesn’t.
The birth of the royal baby and subsequent media relations has been a disaster and exposed a lack of joined-up thinking, strategic control, and collaboration. From within Frogmore, Harry and Meghan attempted to control the information surrounding the birth to the extent that even the Palace remained uninformed, resulting in confusion and misinformation. If you want to antagonise a willing media and a cooperative publicity machine, this is a great start.
They will risk losing their sex appeal very quickly if they continue to distrust and make an enemy of the media and the palace by remaining behind closed doors and running their own machine.
Meghan must quickly understand that she can’t be the star of this show. Her celeb friends may be able to put out their own content and points of view and get away with it, but if any of them are advising her to do the same, they are giving misguided advice. She can’t. But she can be the star of her own show if she plays her hand more subtly and carefully and keeps the old guard on her side.
Let’s see if she gets it.