The Daily Telegraph

Two royal households with a very different approach to public scrutiny


It has been three short weeks since we learnt the true extent of the Sussexes’ frustratio­n with the Palace PR strategy. Laid out in court papers was the belief that Meghan was left “undefended” by the institutio­n, with a “no-comment” policy on what their lawyers described as “hundreds of thousands of inaccurate” stories.

Well, there are certainly no such restrictio­ns now. And here, side by side, are the old and the new in action: two royal households, and two very different reactions.

The inspiratio­n? A not-very-scandalous story in The Daily Telegraph, told in a brief 227 words at the bottom of Page 9 yesterday, in which Republic, a republican campaign group, asked the Charity Commission to look into royal charity finances.

The complaint may be investigat­ed, it may well be dismissed within days.

To which the only sensible response is words to the effect of: it is completely legitimate for high-profile charities to be scrutinise­d, please go ahead, but you won’t find anything amiss here, Guv.

The Royal Foundation – representi­ng the Cambridges – replied with two sentences roughly to that effect, briefly explaining how they were “fully in line” with the rules.

The Duke of Sussex issued a statement via lawyers detailing how insulting, defamatory, salacious and unjust it was, with a promise it will be dealt with via “the weight of the law”.

It conjures the impression of personal hurt, and the idea that, yet again, he is being cruelly targeted by critics who do not understand his true calling.

The language too is becoming familiar. A “hunger for media attention”, an “attacking agenda” and the “impact and success” of his work – all echoes of recent efforts to “set the record straight”, including in the Duchess’s forthcomin­g court case.

This time, it seems a sledgehamm­er to crack a nut (and that’s not to cast aspersions on the people of Republic, misguided though many might find their cause). The campaign group – which hardly makes a secret of its anti-monarchy aims – could not have hoped for better publicity.

The true nature of its complaint, which in fact centred on the Cambridges’ Royal Foundation, has been eclipsed by enough noise that the casual observer could think it was all a direct criticism of Prince Harry.

There is a time for noise, and no one can rival Harry and Meghan for whipping up attention for good causes. But there is time for “no comment” too. In their new freedom, which will make them happier?

The Sussexes may resent the palace’s PR strategy. But the truth is, sometimes it works.

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