Let them eat cake: The English Press versus The Royal Family
Interviews with the royal family have seldom succeeded in PR favours: Henry discusses whether the most recent example will fit the pattern, or be unique as Meghan and Harry are.
In a nation now ruled by government, not royalty, the royal family seems to merely be a lavishly adorned ‘cherry on top’. The cherry doesn’t really do anything apart from sit there and be looked at. And as the press has found out, if you take the cherry away from the cake and analyse it on its own, it’s rather sickly and horrible. Who likes maraschino cherries in their own right?
Food metaphors aside, it’s difficult to see what the point of the royal family is nowadays apart from a fancy spectacle. And in recent times, they’ve been a spectacle for entirely the wrong reasons. The press seem to love a good scandal, and nothing is better than finding out the cherries-on-top are not as good as they seem. Meghan Markle’s interview with Oprah Winfrey smothered the Royal Family in accusations, and given the scandals that have been uncovered throughout the years, it comes as no surprise that the Royal Family is not as pristine as it seems.
But with all these exclusive interviews done outside of Buckingham’s influence, such as Princess Diana’s, Prince Andrew’s, or Meghan Markle’s, a hefty stack of wrong-doings seems to be collecting on top of Buckingham Palace. Equally, with each scandal, the press seems more embroiled in sensationalism and further exposes just how far a newspaper will go to be seen. If the reader will allow another cake or food analogy, the whole spectacle of the royal family and the press is like a cake that’s been dropped on the floor: it’s a mess.
For someone at the ripe old age of 19 like myself, the royal family seem like a load of old people who do old people things. Channel 4’s satirical series ‘The Windsors’ does a great job at jokingly portraying the royal family as dopey and utterly out of touch from public life. But is that really that far away from the reality? If you look at any interview with a royal that hasn’t been meticulously planned by a PR team, it usually ends in disaster.
Princess Diana’s confession that Prince Charles was committing adultery certainly caused a stir, while Prince Andrew’s fumbling attempt to justify allegations of paedophilia to the BBC hardly scored points for the royal family either. Prince Andrew’s sheer arrogance in ignoring his PR team and giving one of the most confused and bizarre defence interviews in history is a massive indicator into how out of touch the royal family are. It’s also notable that a Telegraph article claimed Buckingham Palace thought the interview went rather well before seeing the public reaction.
And now, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s interview with Oprah accuses the royal family of being racist, rigid and rather unwilling to adapt to modernity. Apart from our beloved Queen, it seems there are very few people left in Buckingham Palace who aren’t stained by scandal in some way.
And this is where the problem lies: scandal. The press love scandal, everyone loves scandal, I love scandal as I’m writing an article about scandal. The Royal Family is supposedly meant to represent British perfection, the purest bloodline in our nation which is sent throughout the Commonwealth to do our country proud. But as it turns out, even the royal family aren’t perfect, and even they can be involved in some scandal or another. For the press, scandal means money, and digging around for dirt under Buckingham Palace is a great way to go.
The problem is, the English press are notoriously scummy. After Diana’s tragic death, stories arose of the press being more interested in photographing the crashed car than helping the princess. Equally, as we’ve seen in recent times, eating an avocado if you’re a white royal like Kate Middleton is great, but if you’re Meghan Markle and you eat an avocado you ‘fuel human rights abuse, drought, and murder’.
Apart from our beloved Queen, it seems there are very few people left in Buckingham Palace who aren’t stained by scandal in some way.
In an interview with Ian Murray, who was executive director of the Society of Editors for the English Press, an attempt was made to claim the press wasn’t bigoted. After being offered some examples, he fumbles around and ends up giving some answer along the lines of ‘if you look around, you’ll find a few racist articles’. Unsurprisingly, he resigned soon after that interview.
So, back to that cake on the floor. What I’ve tried to establish is that any attempt by the royals to do an exclusive interview on their own to come across as honest hardly ends well, and any attempt by the press to cover the royal family in scandal hardly ends well either. Meghan Markle’s interview was incredibly illuminating, but there remains a bitter aftertaste – they attempted to come across as likeable by doing an interview with Oprah Winfrey. In a mansion. After signing deals with Spotify and Amazon for exclusive series.
While she does come across as more ‘normal’ than the others in the royal family, her claim that she had never Googled the Queen did seem rather aloof. Overall though, I think it’s great that the youngest couple in the royal family has left Buckingham Palace and revealed even more of the crumbling structure inside that very palace.
Nothing’s perfect, but this quintessential English cake of royalty and press bigotry is hardly appealing, especially when you look abroad to perhaps a French pastry, which has no royalty at all. In a rather convoluted way, the aim of this article is to suggest the royal family either needs to adapt to the changing times, or become even more defunct. If not who knows, we may have another ‘let them eat cake’ moment.