If you have ever dreamt of being a princess or a prince, you should watch the BBC documentary ‘Reinventing the Royals’. This two-part series is far from showing the Royal Family in the typical historic and glamorous context. Instead, Steve Hewlett who wrote and presented the documentaries examine the stormy relations between the members of the British Monarchy and the media after the death of Princess Diana.
As Hewlett claimed, the situation of the Royal Family after the tragic death of Diana can be described as a “PR crisis of historic proportions”. It was a critical moment for both the Monarchy and the press. The Royal Family was inaccessible and unwilling to make any comments in the time of mourning for the millions of Brits. On the other hand, the media deprived of the direct information from the Monarchy started to make up stories and fabricate suggestions. The ‘philosophy of intrusion’ of tabloid media had started from this point in the late 90’s. It not only contributed to the car accident which caused the death of the Princess of Wales, but also affected the later relations between media and Prince William who had the worst experience with press from the early years of his life.
There is yet another character in the turbulent story of the Royal Family and the press. Mark Bolland, a so-called royal press advisor but in fact a spin doctor was hired by Prince Charles to rebuild his public image. Until this point in 1997, Prince Charles haven’t got the good media coverage. He was described as a bad father and even a worse husband. In addition, he always lived in the shadow of Princess Diana and the press coverage reflected this. Mark Bolland was there to spin things. He was a background individual having amazing contacts with editors. He knew media care about stories and he managed to deliver it. His manipulative methods helped to create a new narrative for Charles position him as a loving father, and to legitimate his relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles.
The necessity of good media relations and the cruelty of the tabloid press are perfectly depicted in the Hewlett’s film. Sometimes the documentary seems unbelievable and it makes you question everything you’ve ever read in the press and seen in the TV. At the end of the day, the fourth estate and the Monarchy had to somehow come to an agreement which often happened at the expense of the private lives of Prince William and Harry.
You can watch a video here until the March 19.