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Royal PR battle rages as Harry spares no one

Just weeks after the wildly popular “Harry and Meghan” tell-all special dropped on Netflix, the House of Windsor must now weather additional fallout from Prince Harry’s much-leaked memoir “Spare.”

With speculation about the book’s impact on the Royal family already at a boiling point, all eyes are focused on the normally stoic monarchy. What remains to be seen is whether Buckingham Palace will respond to the rebel Prince’s sensational claims about family conflicts or continue to be tight-lipped about its PR crisis.

So far, England’s Royal Family has resigned itself to the ignoble role of punching bag, refusing to hit back publicly. Unfortunately, this weak strategy has played directly into the hands of the media-savvy Harry and Meghan who are all-in when it comes to escalating their PR battle.

Harry and Meghan know full-well they are unlikely to get serious pushback from Harry’s family, because such engagement has historically been viewed as undignified. The royal rebel Harry and his wife know how to wield the power of the press. The first salvo came in 2021 with their bombshell interview with media mogul Oprah Winfrey.

With so much public sympathy on their own side at the moment, it is entirely possible that Harry and Meghan have misjudged or over-estimated public support for their cause. Commentator and British loyalist Piers Morgan has called Harry a “traitor” and Meghan a “liar,” while others have labeled their criticism of the royal family “seditious.”

Here are some key points to consider.

Silence is not an option. If the House of Windsor continues to remain mute, it will continue to be on the losing end of this ugly PR face-off, which is not a good look. By refusing to counter punch, the Royals are feeding into the narrative that the palace is out of touch. Looking the other way when it comes to controversy, but never directly contradicting some of the most scandalous assertions will never provide resolution and invites more attacks.

Perspective is everything. Sibling rivalry is nothing new, but if Prince William fails to weigh-in on younger brother Harry’s claims that he attacked him over Meghan and laughed about the controversial Nazi costume Harry wore to a party in 2005, Harry and Meghan will continue controlling the narrative. A statement of some sort from William could easily clarify reports about the brothers’ troubled relationship and tamp down the hurtful rumors that continue to swirl and paint him as a bully.

No response IS a response. The power of no comment is powerful, but not always in a positive way. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge run the risk of appearing tone deaf if they shrug off all interview requests about everything in Harry’s book. Did the brothers separately ask their father not to marry Camilla Parker Bowles, then reconcile with her when she and her father married, as reported? Seems like setting the record straight could only help provide some clarity and halt the speculation.

Enough is enough. What is Harry and Meghan’s ultimate end game? Have they truly considered the implications of their actions? By publicly and relentlessly attacking the royal family, the California couple may have reached a point of no-return but with limited benefit. Permanently excommunicating themselves appears more likely than ever, but to what end?

For every action there is an equal and opposite action. In other words, Harry and Meghan should consider pursuing a more cautious approach — or run the risk of one day facing a withering storm of criticism directed at them. From the British public or the palace remains to be seen, but it stands to reason that hurling insults and publicly shaming the royal family could come back to bite them eventually, especially if their own poor decisions or bad behavior comes to light.

Going head-to-head with the British monarchy could very well prove a risky business in the end. After all, the institution has survived for centuries and is not likely to crumble or disappear. Harry and Meghan may have put some dents in its armor, but they are not going to deliver a killer blow. 

Harry’s and Meghan’s attempts to present themselves as the aggrieved and to claim the moral high ground may play well in the age of victimhood but will likely prove costly in the end. Harry’s book may be titled “Spare,” but he has so far been unwilling to spare his own flesh and blood the ignominy of humiliation. William Shakespeare famously noted that “uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.” The same may prove equally true for the younger brother of the future king.

Evan Nierman is CEO of crisis PR firm Red Banyan and author of “Crisis Averted: PR Strategies to Protect Your Reputation and the Bottom Line.”

Tags British Royal Family Buckingham Palace Camilla Parker Bowles England Great Britain King Charles III meghan Meghan and Harry Meghan Markle Prince Harry Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex Prince William Prince William, Duke of Cambridge Public opinion Public relations royal family

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