Omid Scobie’s Yahoo UK column this week is a doozy! I love Scobie’s well-earned and well-used shadiness too. This week’s column is all about Prince William’s 40th birthday, or more specifically, about the Kensington Palace-sanctioned (and commissioned) pieces about William’s birthday. Scobie read Rebecca English’s Daily Mail exclusives, where “sources close to William” spent a lot of time bitching about Prince Harry, lying about the strength of the Cambridge marriage and blaming the Queen for William’s failures. Scobie points out the same thing we’ve all pointed out here on this blog: William’s birthday keenery is not doing what he thinks it’s doing. William comes across as petty, immature, obsessed with his brother, nasty, racist and delusional. Scobie doesn’t use those words but they’re definitely implied! Some highlights:
Palace keenery: The safe space of a birthday profile usually sees palace aides keen to get involved. Rarely in an official capacity (William’s co-operative moment was saved for Big Issue—a move that tied in nicely with his ongoing interest in tackling homelessness), but more often quiet, behind-the-scenes help in the form of allowing former staff to speak on or off the record, or helping fill gaps with anonymous source quotes… When Kate turned 30 in 2012, I remember being pleasantly surprised at how—only a year into my time covering the young royals—Kensington Palace officials were more than happy to assist as I put together a special issue of a popular US magazine.
The Daily Mail exclusives: The big one for the Duke of Cambridge this time around came in the form of an “intimate portrait” in Britain’s Daily Mail—a paper whose complicated relationship with the royals has ebbed and flowed over the decades but is currently very close. Splashed over several pages, it promised to reveal the “true story” of a king in the making, thanks to generous contributions from those closest to William. Sharing intimate details about or speaking on behalf of a royal as senior as William usually only happens after express permission has been given. My experience with the Duke of Cambridge is that his tight circle of friends will only talk after a nod from the man himself. In the past, those who haven’t received such authorisation have found themselves in deep trouble.
William’s thoughts on Harry were “front and centre” of the Mail’s exclusives: When royal aides and off-the-record friends turn coverage of the prince’s birthday into a list of familial complaints about brother Prince Harry, I was left scratching my head at the bizarre direction they chose to take things. And the opportunity that was missed. Instead of hearing more about the Duke’s ambitious environmental plans, we were told in detail by close sources that William feels Prince Harry “has 100 per cent crossed that line” by speaking publicly about his struggles within the family.
LMAO: Rather than share how William is preparing for his role as Prince of Wales and taking over the Duchy of Cornwall, we heard from William’s nearest and dearest about how his brother has been “sucked into an alien world [in California]. . . and there’s f*** all [William] can do about it.” And it looks like you’ll have to wait for his 41st if you want to discover how William transformed from a reluctant heir to a dutiful king-in-waiting, because sources were too busy dishing on how he “alternates between grief and anger” over Harry’s life decisions.
A disservice to William: It’s true that the situation between the brothers continues to be grave, but I can’t help but feel this assortment of sanctioned mouthpieces are doing William a huge disservice here. “William is absolutely allergic to drama,” one close friend proudly told the newspaper. . . while ranting about the Duke of Sussex. Could have fooled me!
This in a nutshell: From a PR perspective, Prince William’s birthday milestone was the perfect chance to paint the picture of a man focused on preparing for the big job. After all, he has been genuinely putting the work in. But instead, readers were presented with the hypocritical story of how awful it is for Harry to speak publicly about his experiences… told via sanctioned folk appearing to share the private and personal opinions of William to Britain’s most-read tabloid.
Always complaining, always explaining: After April’s failed Caribbean tour, William’s senior staff rushed to brief royal reporters that he plans to phase out the family’s “never complain never explain” rule when he becomes king as it leaves no room for accountability when mistakes are made. That outdated rule absolutely does need to go, but starting the process with leaked tales of family fractures you once criticised someone else for sharing probably isn’t the best way of going about it.
Thanks, Omid! This is great, honestly. The way he connects all the threads plainly, the fact that Kensington Palace authorized the Mail’s exclusives, and that William personally authorized his friends and associates to speak. And instead of a “Harry who?” flex or a portrait of a king-in-waiting slowly and deliberately accumulating power and authority, we have a clownish PR mess from an immature man-child hellbent on smearing his brother. William and his KP sycophants can’t PR their way out of a paper bag.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Backgrid and Instar.