Never complain, never explain

In these troubled times, surely what the nation is crying out for is a bit of cognitive dissonance. We could all do with a bit of diversion from the fear of falling in the shower, or having a stroke while ambulance crews, nurses and shortly, junior doctors, withdraw their services in protest at (in part), the poor state of the health service. The latest series of Happy Valley can only give us a fleeting escape from worrying about the cost of heating or the anxiety of having to do a maths A-level.

Hurrah then, for Prince Harry and his contribution to the wellbeing of his father’s subjects. In the sort of accident that could happen to anybody, his yet-to-be-officially-published book, Spare (a sort of Mein Kampf) fell off a bookshelf in Spain. The ensuing brouhaha has consigned all the horrid news about people dying in hospital corridors, train strikes and the bloodbath in Ukraine, to relative obscurity.

As more sections of Spare is feverishly translated from the Spanish, so the airwaves resonate to the sound of a baying pack of commentators, the overwhelming majority of whom appear to be genuinely gobsmacked by its revelations. 

Taking a dispassionate step aside from “Harold’s” grisly lived experiences, the whole sorry saga raises a few questions from a communications perspective. 

A comms professional’s first question to a client should always be about the desired outcome of a campaign. Outcomes are frequently confused with outputs, and one can’t help thinking that Harold has fallen for that one.

What is his required outcome? Humiliation of the Royal Family? They don’t do humility. Exposing the media for the mendacious lot they are? Good luck with that.

If your desire, Sire, is for reconciliation with your brutish, bullying brother Willy, and the rest of the Royal Firm, we would counsel that a considered public silence, combined with a below the media radar diplomatic exchange might be more effective than penning a list of whinges. Oh, and then there’s the thing about a gentleman never gloating in public about the women he’s slept with, the quantity of pheasants he’s shot, or the number of chaps he’s killed.

Living your life through the media – whether it’s to boast about your fabulous lifestyle or to air your grievances, is akin to holding a tiger by the tail – it will always end badly. Just ask Katie Price. It’s also as addictive as heroin. Harry’s first big hit was the Oprah interview. Now it’s the book. That’ll numb the pain a while yet, but as any addict will tell you, attempting to recreate that first rush is futile.

Poor old Harold. Ironically, he might benefit from the oft repeated mantra held by the very people he claims are the cause of his pain and anguish: never complain, never explain.

But then he’d have to try and sell that idea to his wife. 

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