Leave the Royals alone? If only it was that simple

The monarchy has played the PR game for generations

Share
Related Topics

Those bloody hospital doors. With the TV on at work all Tuesday, it was hard to ignore the brushed oak panels, Windexed windows and gleaming Brasso’ed accessories of the Lindo Wing’s entrance - in all their 1930s utilitarian elegance; framed splendidly, but restrainedly, in sandstone with the single, tasteful flourish atop the lintel - as the cameras of BBC and Sky panned in and out and in and out and in and out…

Clocking off, I went to the gym - and there, on the screens, were the same doors. I watched them some more. Charles and Camilla came and went, with the promise that the family would be out soon. Like waiting too long for a meal to be served, or for a package to be delivered, it was hard not to get tetchy about all this waiting; as much as I self-identify as pretty much indifferent. And there and then on the treadmill, as I wished on the Cambridges to appear, it struck me – I’d been coerced!

Grace Dent in Tuesday’s Independent, like many other commentators, beseeched the media to let the royals be. I couldn’t agree more, but this is to miss an important point: the royals don’t want to be left alone. The monarchy has put centuries of hard work into their public image, and they ain’t stopping now. Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1952 was, at the time, the most watched televised event in history. You think they’d have made all that fuss if it was just for those inside the four walls of Westminster Abbey? In fact, as historian Sir David Cannadine points out in his chapter in The Invention of Tradition, horse-drawn coaches were rented from a film production company to enhance the on-screen spectacle.

Forty years later the royals still had their nouse for PR. Shook by her ‘annus horribilis’ in 1992, the Queen assembled the ‘Way Ahead’ group, replacing the old military advisors at Buckingham Palace with savvy ex-journalists who advised on making the royals relevant. Out went Fergie, in came the slimmed-down, youthful and telegenic family we know today. Buckingham Palace threw its doors open to the public, the Windsors got a YouTube channel and the Queen parachuted out of a helicopter with Daniel Craig. And One’s popularity ratings soared.

With the easel, the town crier, and all the rest, they’re at it again. The royals know that their role is, in part, to provide international entertainment with a touch of the mystical.  They can give a comforting sense of permanence, especially welcome at a time of economic uncertainty and breakneck technological change. This is fine - but we shouldn’t let the fluff distract from the hand they hold in British politics, as, for one, Charles continues to enforce a media blackout over his involvement with parliament.

As Kay Burley is finally allowed to go to bed, there’s no doubting that the monarchy will bask in an antenatal popularity glow for time to come – as well as having secured their lineage for the foreseeable. And yes, they should be left to it of their own accord; but just remember they play as important a role as the media in frothing up the ‘national appetite’ for their marriages, deaths, births – and hospital doors.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Administrator is requ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - Commercial Vehicles - OTE £40,000

£12000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - Sheffield - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer position with a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Leader - Plasma Processing

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Operations Leader is required to join a lea...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: Most powerful woman in British politics

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
All the major parties are under pressure from sceptical voters to spell out their tax and spending plans  

Yet again, the economy is the battleground on which the election will be fought

Patrick Diamond
Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders