The Monarchy in Turmoil: Family 'losing' by marital feud

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The Independent Online
ALTHOUGH little (apart from their marriage) separates the Prince and Princess of Wales in the public feud they are waging in the media, their quarrel, according to commentators, is undermining the monarchy.

Trevor Harris, managing director of the Quentin Bell Organisation, a firm of public relations consultants, said: 'Strategically they are both losing in terms of the Royal Family's long-term position. One of the key brand values of the Royal Family is mystique and distance and that has gone. The more they talk the more they go.'

Anthony Holden, the Prince's first biographer, said the Prince had fashioned a public relations disaster. 'Royalty's best policy is to be invisible and silent as far as possible.'

The couple's attempts to manipulate the media date back to the publication in 1992 of Andrew Morton's Diana: Her True Story, based on accounts by the Princess's closest friends with her blessing. Prince Charles emerged as a distant father, uncaring husband and adulterer.

The Prince was reportedly furious at the one-sided portrayal, but refused to engage in tit-for-tat replies. Not for long. By January of the following year, Sir David English, former editor of the Daily Mail and chairman of Associated Newspapers, was saying publicly that the Prince's friends and advisers were feeding stories to the press 'putting his side of the marriage troubles'.

However, the Prince launched his campaign to stake some credible claim to the throne this year, beginning with an appeal to the Government to be used more effectively in overseas trade and continuing with the tour to Australia, the investiture anniversary in July and the two-hour television documentary in the summer. The final plank is the book.

According to Mr Holden, the Princess has 'shrewdly' stepped down from the contest and left Prince Charles to bungle his rehabilitation. 'You will not hear a response from her to Mr Dimbleby's book,' he said.

He said that, like the documentary, the initial public reaction may be positive, but as time passed it would be remembered for the confession of adultery - 'a gross betrayal of his wife and gross betrayal of his children'.

Max Clifford, an astute media relations operator, said that although the documentary worked well, the book was a 'total disaster'.

He said: 'For a man in his thirties to be forced by his father into a marriage is not the kind of image to project as future King of England.'