I always knew they’d get the PR right for the day. Nobody does events on that scale like we British do, so the prince and the princess (as the wife of a prince is known) could always rely on the organisational skills of the various serfs and comptrollers to deliver the goods when the moment came.
And what a wedding present they got from the press come Monday morning.
Glowing praise, lovely snaps, no drunken uncles and no embarrassing comparisons with St Paul’s Cathedral 24 years ago. It must feel strange for Charles once again to see himself portrayed sympathetically, and so soon after the Grade 1 PR disaster of being overheard slagging off BBC royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell through not-clenched-enough teeth.
They got just about everything right, from the funny hats to the friendly walkabout. I wasn’t sure about the buses (except that the royal family was as excited as a party of primary school children who’ve never travelled by bus either) nor the BBC commentator at St George’s Chapel, who has a very long way to go before he turns into Tom Fleming, but the overall tone of the coverage was friendly yet suitably formal, precisely as Charles must have demanded.
Demanded? Quite so. We are told that behind the scenes the prince can be extremely demanding, and it has to be accepted that he was pulling all the strings on Saturday, not his parents.
Right now he must be basking in the pleasure of a job well done, seeing the morning’s papers as confirmation he did know what he was doing all along, despite the catalogue of cock-ups and plan changes which seemed to dog the engagement like so many angry rottweilers.
And talking of journalists, make no mistake: they haven’t gone away; they’ve merely been tranquilised by some well-aimed darts. When this honeymoon the tabloid editors have afforded them is over, that’s when the focus and the pressure are going to return to the royal couple like they never have before.
If they think they’ve cracked it by getting the wedding right, all they’ve done is take the first tentative step out into the open.
If they think they can retain the good wishes, and the positive welcome they’ve just experienced, indefinitely, they’d better think again.
The aloofness which the public feel is so evident in the pair is the single element which makes the memory of Diana so appealing. Her in-built PR instinct and natural touch was slow to emerge, but once it blossomed in her thirties, despite the rotten marriage, she glowed with an irresistible warmth, and didn’t the tabloids love her for it.
Charles and Camilla, according to some, are the souls of charm among their own, but only behind closed doors and that isn’t where it matters. In the modern media world a public figure is public property and whatever charms exist use them or be torn to shreds.
Where it matters is on the streets and in the playgrounds and on the hospital wards and backstage with the naffest command performance “celeb” you can think of.
Word has been leaked about a proactive PR front that they’re planning, a nationwide tour of some kind, with Camilla pencilled in to accompany her husband on all his appointments, many of which are planned literally years ahead.
All an upfront effort for HRH to present his new spouse to the sceptical British public, a wise move, but it must herald a consistent proactive approach to keep one step ahead of the hunting pack.
During Mark Bolland’s PR stewardship, we saw signs that the Prince of Wales might have cocked an ear to the idea of striking deals with the hyenas he distrusted. But this was extinguished by those who inhabited the dark corners of St James’s Palace, who found the spin sordid. But make no mistake, the future depends on a modernistic pose in media dealings.
It’s going to be tough from here on in and close-up, will the Duchess of Cornwall balk at the sheer scale of his job? At the thousands of hands to be shaken, the millions of smiles to be summoned, whatever the weather, whatever the mood?
She may or may not find the helicopter rides, the nice clothes and the ridiculous but pretty-much unusable wealth suitable compensation for the mind-numbing small-talk she’ll need to muster with all the worthies and the creeps and the hangers-on jockeying for position around her husband and mother-in-law.
And, inevitably, the comparisons will come, especially the first time she fails to raise her game. Like the princess royal, I rather imagine Camilla is quite capable of telling photographers and unwelcome questioners precisely what they can do with their inferences and instamatics, but Her New Royal Highness had better wise up.
There isn’t just a nation, but a whole WORLD just waiting to watch you slip and tumble on the banana skins the monarchy so effortlessly attract.
So enjoy the next 100 days Ma’am: things are going to get decidedly hotter in the PR world of the House of Windsor.