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

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

Project Officer (HMP Brixton Mentoring Project)

£24,000 per annum pro rata (21 hours per week): Belong: Work as part of a cutt...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £45000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Key featuresA highly motivated ...

DT teachers required for supply roles in Cambridge

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: DT teachers required ...

Secondary supply teachers required in Wisbech

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Secondary teachers ne...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Fifi Geldof (left) with her sister Pixie at an event in 2013  

Like Fifi Geldof, I know how important it is to speak about depression

Rachael Lloyd
'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering