Prince Charles and Prince William up PR presence
By Ricky Browne
The Royal family is not in a great position at the moment, and it realises it – so Prince Charles and Prince William appear to be in overdrive trying to project an image of greater relevance.
The Royal family’s troubles have been caused by several recent developments.
One of them is from the island of Barbados, which is planning to remove the Queen as its head of state and become a republic. The country has been a part of the Royal realm since first being settled by the English in 1625 – except of course for that period when Oliver Cromwell was Lord Protector in the 1650s.
And when Barbados got its independence “Little England” remained a constitutional monarch right up to today. But that is scheduled to change next month.
This, on its own, may not be a big deal for Royal family. Barbados has a population of only 290,000 people – about the size of Newcastle. But really, it is one of the oldest realms for the Royal family – way older than Canada, Australia or New Zealand for example.
The move by Barbados is creating greater talk elsewhere – especially in fellow Caribbean countries like Jamaica – about the benefits of a republic over having a hereditary British King or Queen as head of state. So the domino theory becomes a potential likelihood, where the monarchy could end up losing several of its smaller realms in the Caribbean and perhaps elsewhere.
But the Royal family has been facing other challenges. One is the unseemly mess that Prince Andrew is currently in, where an American woman who is now from the realm of Australia is accusing him of sexual abuse when she was underage in connection to his friendship with the convicted (and dead) American paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
It could turn out that Prince Andrew will be cleared of all accusations – but in the meantime it has been reported that other Royals don’t believe he should ever return to public duties.
And then there is the problem of Prince Harry, who was previously a star within the family who would represent the Queen in several trips abroad, and who had great popularity with the masses. His popularity and work allowed Prince William to take more of a back seat, getting the image of a quiet family man who would one day be King, though that probably wasn’t something he wanted.
His popularity also allowed Prince Charles to stay a bit in the background as well, and to have greater relevance to younger royal subjects than his 70-something father could possible muster.
But when he got married to an American B-lister Hollywood celebrity things changed rapidly – and now the Sussexes are living in La La Land working hard to establish themselves as some sort of cross between Royalty and traditional American A-lister celebrities. While trying to warm up to the American public, they have cast aspersions on the British Royal family – to the point where the two brothers are believed to be barely speaking to each other.
Prince Harry’s withdrawal to America has created a gap, and Prince Charles and Prince William are now trying to fill that gap.
So you have Prince Charles on the BBC talking more about the environment, and how he uses surplus English wine and cheese whey to fuel his Aston Martin – something that not even James Bond had previously thought of.
And you have Prince William launching his Earthshot prize, looking for solutions to climate change – and chastising billionaires such as British citizen Sir Richard Branson, for wasting energies on travelling to space instead of investing in saving Planet Earth.
So Royalty is trying to reinvent itself to make itself more relevant to a younger population that doesn’t much relate to an institution that it feels far removed from.
Of course there is high regard for Queen Elizabeth, and to build on that there is much planning around celebrating her Platinum Jubilee next year. At 95 years old, the Queen can’t be expected to have as full a diary as she has had in the past – which means that others must take up the slack.
But just as the citizens of Barbados have lost interest in having a monarchy, and just as citizens in Jamaica seem not to understand that their head of state lives in London, it can be assumed that many younger people in Canada, Australia and even within Great Britain don’t think much about the monarchy at all.
If Barbados can rid itself of a Queen for whom it has much regard, how likely is it that other countries will see fit to rid themselves of a future King who they have no deep connection to? That might not be so bad for the Crown if countries like Jamaica and St Vincent and St Kitts – but not so great if Canada or Australia go that route.
So expect a greater effort from the heirs to the Crown to position themselves as relevant and likable while trying to pull the public’s attention away from former stars Prince Andrew and Prince Harry and republicans in places like Barbados and even the UK.
Prince Charles and Prince William will also want to avoid any negative PR – which may take a bit of skilful manoeuvring. That will mean taking care in how their family lives and business lives are projected.