The Princess of Wales has been keeping herself busy this March, with a series of public appearances following a similarly active January and February. Last week, she visited a Muslim center in Hayes, West London, to pay tribute to fundraisers for earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria. The day before that, she was seen on exercises with the Irish Guards on Salisbury Plain, clad in army camouflage. Despite the superficial contrast between these two visits, she would have looked just as comfortable attending a space station or yoga center, her ever-present smile and earnest demeanor intact.
These kinds of photo opportunities have become a staple on newspaper front pages in recent months, accompanied by glowing reports of the princess’s uncomplicated, unshowy, and selflessly loyal nature. From photo ops with the Welsh Guards in Windsor to a spin class in heels in Port Talbot, a visit to a drug rehabilitation center, and even a visit to the England team’s dressing room after they beat Wales (the nation of which she is princess), the princess has been keeping up a remarkable pace of public appearances.
This is, of course, the kind of work that members of the royal family have performed for decades, but the princess has enjoyed an unprecedented level of media attention this year. Not since her predecessor Diana’s heyday at the AIDS unit or on a landmine walk has a female royal garnered such positive attention.
While the princess’s handshaking exploits may not conjure up the same kind of iconography as Diana’s, she can’t be faulted for her work rate. The Observer picture editor has received photographs from 21 different events featuring the princess since January 12th.
Mark Borkowski, a publicist, notes that “being tactical about visibility is a key craft of the publicist.” While relentless positive coverage might seem desirable, he says, it also leaves the “sword of Damocles” hanging over the subject’s head.
Between the packed schedule that Kensington Palace has put together and the willingness of a significant section of the press to plaster the princess’s progress across its pages, it almost seems like a coordinated PR campaign. Or perhaps a counter-PR campaign, one constructed with the specific purpose of neutralizing a less conformist message disseminated by the Wales’s arch-enemies, the Sussexes.
Ever since the Duke of Sussex launched his global multimedia denunciation of his family (and the press), with a December Netflix documentary series and the January publication of his damning memoir Spare, the Windsors have been waging a battle to regain control of the narrative. Not by responding to the duke’s lavishly remunerated primal scream, but by presenting an image of quiet resolve and understated devotion in as many media outlets as possible.
It seems that the person chosen to embody these stoical qualities, leading up to King Charles’s coronation, is not the king himself, whose equilibrium cannot survive a leaking pen, nor his heir, William, who, according to his younger brother, is possessed of a dangerously volcanic temper. Instead, the face of all that is good and constant, determined and calm, is the saintly Kate, an angel in combat fatigues, a heroine in a hijab.
As Lieutenant Colonel James Aldridge, commander of the 1st Battalion of the Irish Guards, said last week, speaking for women who were not in a position to voice an opinion: “It is particularly fitting on International Women’s Day that a few of our female soldiers met such an inspiring female role model.” Perhaps they will all be motivated to meet princes.
It rather feels like a genteel but not exactly subtle form of propaganda, a steady supply of handpicked events in which the Princess of Wales is able to remind us just how much she is not the Duchess of Sussex. Needless to say, there are plenty
of critics who view the recent media coverage of the Princess of Wales as an orchestrated attempt to overshadow the Sussexes’ explosive revelations about their life in the royal family.
Ever since Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s infamous interview with Oprah Winfrey, in which they exposed the toxic culture of the royal institution, the House of Windsor has been scrambling to rebuild its image. However, critics argue that the recent media frenzy surrounding the Princess of Wales is a calculated move to distract the public from the real issues at hand.
According to some commentators, the incessant coverage of the Princess’s engagements is part of a larger PR strategy aimed at neutralizing the impact of the Sussexes’ criticisms. By projecting an image of the Princess as the embodiment of loyalty and dedication to duty, the royal family hopes to win back the public’s trust and support.
But not everyone is convinced. Some have accused the royal family of using the Princess as a pawn in their public relations game, exploiting her hard work and dedication for their own gain. Others have criticized the media for their complicity in perpetuating the myth of the perfect royal, ignoring the more pressing issues of racism, mental health, and abuse within the institution.
Despite the controversy surrounding the recent media coverage of the Princess of Wales, there is no denying that she has emerged as a formidable force in the royal family. With her tireless dedication to her duties and her easy charm and grace, she has won over many fans and admirers.
As one observer noted, “The Princess of Wales may not be the most groundbreaking or revolutionary member of the royal family, but she is a refreshing and inspiring figure in her own right. In a time of uncertainty and upheaval, she represents stability, continuity, and grace under pressure.”