Man who rescued Prince Charles's image in the media to step down

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The adviser credited with the sharp improvement in the press's treatment of the Prince of Wales is to step down.

Mark Bolland, 35, as deputy private secretary to the Prince, was instrumental in developing his media strategy and brokered deals between newspapers and the Palace.

Mr Bolland is a former director of the Press Complaints Commission (PCC), and is the partner of the present director, Guy Black.

Both helped to set up a party a year ago for Prince Charles and Prince William to thank the press for their restraint during the young Prince's gap year.

The close relations between PCC and palace, strongly encouraged by Lord Wakeham, chairman of the PCC until he stood down over the Enron affair, have been evident in several tabloid stories.

The publication of the "Sophiegate" tapes occurred after an attempt to stop the News of the World publishing them by granting the paper an exclusive interview with the Countess of Wessex.

The recent stories of Prince Harry's former problems with drink and soft drugs were printed after discussions between the News of the World and Prince Charles's staff. And it is widely believed that Mr Bolland helped to broker a deal in which Prince Charles would not oppose publication provided the paper (again the News of the World, whose editor, Rebekah Wade is a friend of Mr Bolland) showed some restraint in how it presented the story.

There is not yet any sign that Mr Bolland's voluntary departure from his £160,000 a year post will necessarily change anything. He is to set up his own public relations consultancy and the Palace says he will spend "a substantial amount of time" working for Charles, Camilla Parker Bowles and Princes William and Harry.

Insiders say Mr Bolland's departure was foreshadowed by a reorganisation of Prince Charles's staff, but that the Prince of Wales will continue to rely on him.

Mr Bolland is widely credited with transforming the image of the Prince of Wales since the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, and masterminding behind the scenes the public acceptance of Mrs Parker Bowles. She was present at the PCC party for Prince William and the press.

Mr Bolland has worked for the Prince for six years and was supposed to leave three years ago, but was persuaded to stay on.

The Prince paid tribute to Mr Bolland, saying: "Mark has been a senior and much-valued member of my staff for nearly six years and is now ready to move on to develop his career in new areas, but I'm delighted that he will continue to provide help and advice to my office in his new role."

The Prince's private secretary, Stephen Lamport, 50, is also leaving his service and will be replaced by Sir Michael Peat, the Keeper of the Privy Purse at Buckingham Palace.