Harry and Meghan have made headlines this week due to their tell-all documentary with Oprah. In the interview they candidly discussed how they were treated by the royal family and the British Press. In a convenient ‘fight back’ from the palace prior to the interview, their head of communications announced that Meghan had been bullying members of palace staff. But, was this claim sincere, or is it simply a spin attempt from the palace PR team?
Well, a spokesperson for Harry and Meghan had called the bullying claim, “a calculated smear campaign based on misleading and harmful misinformation,” adding that the report coming out days before the Oprah interview was “no coincidence.” They thereby suggested that this claim was not at all true and a spinning of the narrative.
As a PR student, I am often frustrated by the notion of ‘spin’. Of course it occurs and has notoriously occurred within politics, but I believe spin and manipulation should no longer have a place in PR. Particularly as the industry is striving to be seen as a legitimate and ethical progression. For me, this fight back from the palace PR team is so clearly an attempt to spin their own narrative and discredit Meghan’s character.
Some people may argue, the royal family is not political, is it a completely separate entity. I would disagree. I would say that the entire existence of the royal family in today’s society is political. Their image and position as a higher class in a country that seemingly strives for equality is arguably an anomaly.
I would argue that the response from the palace PR team was an attempt to defend their client’s reputation, and ultimately defend the monarchy’s right to carry on existing. Palace communications pre-empted the interview, which we now know, made very serious comments about the ‘institution’, regarding race and mental health. This will potentially be very damaging for the Royals.
The monarchy is so fragile at the minute. According to the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer, business is now the only institution that is seen as both competent and ethical. Trust in general, is at an all-time low. The use of spin and deceit from Palace PR, moves the monarchy further away from society. It’s just a further reminder of how old fashioned the system is.
In my opinion, this claim was an example of spin and bad practice. The future of PR in today’s society should be to use our voice as communicators to tell the truth.