Royal media machine protects newborn prince

July 24, 2013 4:17 pm
Crowds of tourists gather outside Buckingham Palace in central London on July 22, 2013/AFP
Crowds of tourists gather outside Buckingham Palace in central London on July 22, 2013/AFP

, LONDON, July 24, 2013 (AFP) – The British monarchy’s formidable media machine handled the birth of the royal baby smoothly but huge challenges lie ahead to protect the young prince’s privacy, commentators said Wednesday.

The frenzy that erupted when Prince William and his wife Kate gave international journalists their first glimpse of the child on Tuesday is just a taste of the lifetime of media attention that awaits the future king.

Buckingham Palace now faces a dilemma as it balances the need for privacy with its use of a photogenic new generation of royals to secure the future of an ancient institution in the modern world.

Patrick Jephson, former chief of staff to William’s late mother Diana, said the palace had handled the royal birth well so far.

“My impression is that this was a relatively straightforward royal operation which the palace machine handled with its usual smooth efficiency,” Jephson told AFP.

The dark decades of scandals and press intrusion that culminated with Diana’s death in a car crash in Paris in 1997 while being pursued by paparazzi seem far behind today’s gilded monarchy.

The royals are on a roll after three successive summers in the spotlight, with William and Kate’s wedding in 2011, the diamond jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in 2012 and now the birth of a new third-in-line to the throne.

The palace has in particular used the image of William and Kate as a modern young couple to move the monarchy into the 21st century and now, with the birth of their son, possibly into the 22nd.

Much of that is down to the palace machine run by the queen’s private secretary Christopher Geidt, a former diplomat and military man.

He supervises not only the press offices for the queen but also Clarence House, the residence of heir to the throne Prince Charles, and Kensington Palace, where William and the new baby reside.

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