The potential presence of Camilla at the forthcoming 10-year memorial service for Princess Diana dominated the media for a number of days. Was it a PR disaster or just a hapless attempt to further assimilate the Duchess of Cornwall into the hearts and souls of British royalists?
Clearly, it is the former. The opportunity for a quick PR win has been missed, and the duchess has found herself centre stage. OK, royal protocol might have demanded a presence at the side of the future king at the service, but the media and public alike have yet to find a comfortable place to put Camilla. She has done the right thing and spun a fast U-turn.
The perennial problem is that if you’re part of the “firm”, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. However, it wasn’t rocket science working out that the woman, who Diana called the “third person in the marriage” didn’t have a place at the service. Why didn’t the Clarence House PR team predict the storm and argue for common sense to be heard?
The reaction to the uproar from the media and general public initially suggested that the “firm” was trying to demonstrate that it was moving on. But the media, which has a huge commercial stake in keeping the flame of Diana shining brightly, and can’t let the soap opera plot become too pedestrian, certainly didn’t want to allow this progressive stance.
Clarence House should have allowed Camilla to play the diplomatic card by making her excuses when she was invited. The overconfidence of the House of Windsor in thinking it could sail through only resulted in it running aground.
It has once again highlighted “Project Camilla”. The plan was perhaps to try to leverage a place for the future Queen to sit in the hearts of the nation, instead of skipping a generation and letting William take the throne.
Clearly he is the future monarch that will restore the reputation of the monarchy. The Prince of Wales is dented goods. Although he does some extraordinary work, his wife still costs the Duchy brand.
It’s an impossible dream to outshine Diana. While the newspapers, magazines and TV stations all want to keep that flame alight, Camilla will always be part of the story. The real culprit in this furore is not Camilla, but the Royal family who disregarded their country’s feelings, those of Diana’s fans and those of the media, and put the unfortunate duchess through the wringer in the process.