The Royal Household advertises for a travel guru and boosts its eco credentials with a nod to environmental concerns while a far bigger PR issue they have failed to address is closer to home, the ongoing Prince Andrew scandal.
Whoever is appointed to take on the newly-advertised role of the Queen’s travel guru, one thing is certain, someone’s going to be upset.
Most likely it will be one of the spares of the royal family that still enjoys the perks of being a global ambassador for Britain while sounding off on whatever cause has piqued their interest of late as they jet about the planet on taxpayer-funded charter flights.
In advertising the new post of ‘director of royal travel’ there is the usual blurb about the need for “safe, efficient, cost effective, and appropriate travel services” but it is the “taking into account security, safety and environmental considerations” that is the interesting part.
When the present incumbent, Patrick Lacey, took up his role in 2011 it would have been surprising to hear any discussion of the environment versus the travel requirements of Britain’s royal family.
While the royal family has always exhibited a bit of a blindspot as to how the public perceives their ‘biggin’ it up for Britain’ roles allocated to minor royals, its legendary tin ear does seem to be attuned to the climate change clamour with the successful candidate for travel boss asked to consider environmental concerns when booking trains, planes, and automobiles for the Queen and her family’s travel arrangements.
While this part of the £85,000-a-year ($110,000) job is clearly a nod to the climate change brigade of the woke, you have to think that maybe the HR department of the Royal Household looking to fill the role is actually paying attention, and you have to wonder why the same sort of attention has not been evident in other areas of palace PR considered to be problematic and a cause of some anxiety to their loyal subjects.
Let’s take Prince Andrew for example.
Now, he faces fresh embarrassment and even more questions (likely unanswered) about his relationship with Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who claims that as a 17-year-old she had sex with the prince three times. A claim he felt he had to deny in a trainwreck TV interview that served to only fuel, rather than quell the allegations.
The photo of Andrew with his arm around the teenage Virginia has been in circulation since 2001. Why have the royals let this scandal run on and on? One top PR aide to the prince reportedly resigned after advising against his TV interview, while another aide who okayed it was sacked. Meanwhile, the person actually responsible for the disaster, Prince Andrew, continues with business as usual.
It seems that if it’s one of their own, the family will wear the hideous fallout. Look at Harry and Meghan’s decision to sue the Daily Mail over stories which appeared in their pages. While this is yet to come to court, has any real thought been given to how this might turn out for the young couple? Guaranteed further royal revelations as part of interrogation under oath will not be pretty.
It is going to be a good, old-fashioned media circus dishing up dollops of excruciating detail for the duration of the trial.
You have to wonder why the senior royals let issues like the Prince Andrew scandal, like concerns for the mental health of Prince Harry and his wife, and their dealings with the press, become such big issues that they dominate the media for weeks, when senior figures at Buckingham Palace already know that it only takes a small gesture, like acknowledging the carbon footprint of travel through one word in a job advert, to have a positive impact and turn all that bad publicity into good.
Unfortunately for those close to the troublemakers, it is far better for them, and their continued employment, to simply agree and cross your fingers that they will weather the fallout when it comes. Just make sure you don’t get caught in the crossfire.
By Damian Wilson, UK journalist & political communications specialist
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