PRINCE WILLIAM LEARNS THE ART OF THE PHOTOCALL FROM PRINCESS DIANA

William is king of the photocall… by learning from Diana’s mistakes, says  former media adviser to Princess of Wales

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It is a key moment in our changing Monarchy,  perhaps a defining one.

The world was watching when Prince William  presented his wife and newborn son to a wall of microphones and lenses – and he  responded with aplomb.

There were smiles, there was diffidence, even  jokes, including that self-deprecating reference to his thinning  hair.

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Comfortable: Prince William's jokey demaeanour with the press was a winner outside the Lindo Wing on tuesday evening as he and the Duchess of Cambridge introduced their son to the world

Comfortable: Prince William’s jokey demaeanour with the  press was a winner outside the Lindo Wing on tuesday evening as he and the  Duchess of Cambridge introduced their son to the world

 

 
Prince William cradles Prince George
Princess Diana
 

Lessons: Prince William, left, has learned lessons from  his late mother Princess Diana’s (right) handling of the media

 
Well brought up: Prince William, pictured with his mother as a baby, owes Princess Diana a debt of gratitude says Jane Atkinson

Well brought up: Prince William, pictured with his  mother as a baby, owes Princess Diana a debt of gratitude says Jane  Atkinson

By the time he had strapped Prince George  Alexander Louis into a Range Rover and departed in a lightning storm of flash  bulbs, Prince William had delivered the sort of rounded performance that many  film stars might struggle to achieve.

The lack of formality was striking. Prince  Charles, on the same steps at St Mary’s some 30 years before, addressed the  nation in a suit and tie, looking rather like a prep school housemaster. 

In contrast, last week we saw a relaxed young  man in jeans and an open-necked shirt (with the sleeves rolled up) – the  everyday clothes of his countrymen.  

Kate and William bring out baby George for first  time
 

 
 

 

The effect was completed when the Duke of  Cambridge strapped Prince George into the Range Rover, and took the wheel  himself.

A true Boden Dad at work.

Some have described it as a public relations  exercise, but I don’t think it was. William does not have to handle the  media.

He just handles himself. And in this he owes  a special debt to Diana, from whom he has clearly learnt a great  deal.

 
Fatherly: Prince William was seen to strap his son into the Range Rover outside the hospital on Tuesday

Fatherly: Prince William was seen to strap his son into  the Range Rover outside the hospital on Tuesday

I was employed as media adviser to his  mother, and saw both her strengths and weaknesses in public presentation. 

Like Diana, William is confident and  selfassured, dignified without being stuffy, funny without being forced, and  obviously very happy at this moment in his life.

He is the first member of the Royal Family to  look comfortable in denim.

It shouldn’t be forgotten that Kate, too, is  highly skilled. She does not play up to the media – no artful glances to attract  the camera, no dressing to steal attention.

Kate recognises that she has a job to do. She  does it well. So what if she had makeup on and her hair blow-dried – wouldn’t  you?

 
Hands on: Some dismissed Prince William driving his family home from hospital as a publicity stunt, but Jane Atkinson believes it was genuine

Hands on: Some dismissed Prince William driving his  family home from hospital as a publicity stunt, but Jane Atkinson believes it  was genuine

It is this determination to be natural that  has helped turn William and Kate into global superstars, and has done much to  secure fresh popularity for the Monarchy in a modern age.

In global recognition, William is a match for  Tom Cruise or George Clooney.

His mother created the role – William and his  brother Harry have built on it.

Diana ensured her children were aware of the  power of the media in shaping public perception.

And like Diana, William is in charge. I have  no doubt his advisers told him what was going on outside the  hospital.

Fight: Princess Diana was wrong to think she could control the media says Jane Atkinson

Fight: Princess Diana was wrong to think she could  control the media says Jane Atkinson

They would also have talked through the  options – from disappearing through the back door to the assured appearance they  eventually gave. It was a recognition that their son is a public figure forever. 

If they try to hide themselves away they will  be chased and their motives will be misconstrued.

William has learned from Diana’s mistakes,  too. Diana had to fight for her right to control her image and to create a media  relationship she could manage.

Sometimes she did it well; mostly she  manipulated it too far.

She learnt that you can’t be open one minute  and expect to be able to withdraw the next.

She created an out-of-control media circus,  particularly towards the end of her life, which she fooled herself into thinking  she controlled.

It would have been fascinating to see how she  coped with the proliferation of online media which is so difficult to control in  any way.

Through the tragedy of his mother’s death,  William has created a media relationship on his own terms and in a modern way. 

He actually speaks to the media – not through  formal speeches and set-pieces.

He answers questions and is very  open.

Diana and Charles gave speeches and  constructed interviews, but they were never encouraged to speak openly. They  both made disastrous attempts at this when they were separated, but even these  appearances were scripted.

They spoke to the media through spokesmen,  friends and advisers.

In return for the Cambridges’ generosity and  recognition of the terms in which they do their jobs and make their appearances,  the media is generous in return.

William and Kate have forged a flattering  public image because it is authentic.

They have learnt, as Kipling put it, ‘to walk  with Kings nor lose the common touch.’

 
Learning: Through his mother's death, Prince William (second left) has created a relationship with the media on his own terms

Learning: Through his mother’s death, Prince William  (second left) has created a relationship with the media

 

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