Slightly off-topic, granted, but I think the rest of today is going to be mainly speculation as we wait to learn Baby Boy Sussex’s name and for the release of official photos. As such, I thought I would share a little bit about what is going on with reporter chatter online surrounding the birth announcement, as well as some interesting takeaways from an article I stumbled across interviewing Miguel Head, the former chief of staff for the Dukes of Cambridge and Sussex.
The York girls are coming in hot! Or whatever it is when you give a “rare interview” to British Vogue. Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie met with writer Ellie Pithers at the Royal Lodge in Windsor, an estate used by their father, the Duke of York. The result is a brief profile on what it means to grow up as not just royal, but royal women, with the added touch of a photograph draped in Dolce & Gabbana.
On Tuesday the New York Times ran an article from Ellen Barry titled, “Britain’s Wedding-Mad Tabloids Feel a Cold Royal Shoulder,” which detailed the uneasy relationship between the Royal Family and the British tabloid media, focusing specifically on its treatment of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and, in return, the couple’s exclusion of the press at their upcoming wedding.
Yesterday marked the 23rd anniversary of the most famous interview the Prince of Wales has ever given, though I think it’s safe to say it’s not a milestone marked by either him or his staff. On June 29, 1994 a two-and-a-half hour documentary on Charles premiered, touching on his philanthropy, his role within the Royal Family, and his views on religion, policy and Britain’s future. It is best known, however, for being the interview in which he admitted to cheating on his then-wife, Diana, Princess of Wales.
While I have certainly discussed the Wales marriage in the past, this wouldn’t normally be a topic I would cover on its own. However, in light of Prince Harry’s recent Newsweek profile (as well as its backlash) and a slight change of course in how the younger set of royals are handling public interviews, I think it’s worth considering the ramifications of this event.
Back in January I wrote a post about the Royal Family’s relationship with their public personas – about how the younger generation was better-positioned to use interest in their personal lives effectively. I argued that in humanizing themselves, in today’s climate, they had a better chance of effectively reaching people. At the time I pointed to Prince Harry as an example of one Royal already doing so, though it was three months before his watershed interview with The Telegraph was published. I also noted that while the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, particularly William, have flirted with private anecdotes, they had spent the first five/six years of their marriage focused on guarding their own privacy, particularly as they brought up their young children.
It’s become part of Prince William’s narrative that he hates the press. Now, William has never publicly said, “I hate the press,” so this is not a statement of fact. It is, however, a fairly safe assumption based on, you know, his behavior and that of his office. But from where does it stem?
The obvious answer, of course, is the death of his mother in 1997 and the role that paparazzi are believed to have played in that fatal car accident. Then there is the blatant intrusion that they have caused in his life – speculating about his parents’ marriage in the ’90s, his and his brother’s antics throughout their respective teens and 20s and his own relationship with Kate Middleton.
Last week, in a post about some of the criticism the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been receiving, I suggested that they “say something.” I said something similar after Kate’s EACH engagement yesterday. That’s pretty vague, so I thought I would expand upon that point.
What the monarchy signifies and how they function is constantly in motion, a statement that perhaps runs counter-intuitively to how they are usually described, which is symbolic of continuity, history and heritage. They are, but how the monarchy embodies that – and carries out its agenda – changes, sometimes almost imperceptibly, with every generation. This has been particularly true for the royal family of the 20th and 21st centuries, which has had to align with and press against the constant presence of the media. Since the dawn of time, monarchies – like any political institution – have been reacting and adapting to popular opinion, but there are few other factors that have had more of an impact on the perception and behavior of a monarchy than the evolution of the modern press and how it disseminates its information.