Royals Admit They’re Down to Last Million

 Royals Admit Theyre Down to Last Million

THE PR VERDICT: “C” (Distinctly OK) for the Royal Family.

Public relations for Britain’s Royal Family seems to take one step forward and two giant steps back. For every bit of good news, such as Prince William’s marriage to Kate, there are the photos of topless Kate and bottomless Prince Harry. After England enjoyed the christening of Prince George comes the setback: the Royals are almost broke.

The obvious jokes about all things being relative and selling some of the crown jewels fall flat when the numbers are run. The Household is down to its last £1 million ($1.6 million). This account is meant for travel, staff salaries, and maintenance of the family’s residences, including Buckingham Palace. Replacement of the heating system in the palace alone could cost nearly all the Household has. There’s removal of asbestos, a new roof for Windsor Palace… What happened? The answer is rather commonplace: overspending.

And here the Royal family finds itself at a rather interesting PR juncture. As Royals, they were never meant to be considered “of the people.” However, Princess Diana began a tide of relatability carried on by her sons. Could this low bank account – relative to royals – be a chance to get closer to the people, who are much in the same boat?

THE PR VERDICT: “C” (Distinctly OK) for the Royal Family. The low bank account is embarrassing but puts them in a position of telling their subjects, “We’re just like you.”

THE PR TAKEAWAY: Look for the silver lining. Much of the world is still being affected by the global recession; no one is living high on the proverbial hog. The new Pope is the champion of humble living, making it seem a virtue to live on less. The Royals could use this opportunity to win the hearts of Britain with fiscal solidarity. They might even get a lower estimate on that asbestos removal.

Guest Column: The Trouble With Prince Harry? None At All

 Guest Column: The Trouble With Prince Harry? None At All

The PR Verdict: A (PR Perfect) for Prince Harry.

The headlines are too easy: “The Trouble With Harry.” “Dirty Harry.” Prince Harry’s escapade in Las Vegas—a strip poker game that ended with photos of a naked royal—was almost a gift to the tabloids. And yet the Crown may have a PR ace up its sleeve in Harry.

Harry has always been the heir apparent for royal scandal. As third in line for the throne, the pressure to conform to royal standards of propriety is relatively low. Need we go into his father’s anatomical declarations of love for Camilla Parker Bowles? Please, let’s not.

And yes, the young prince occasionally acts out. But this latest adventure had a curious side effect: Harry’s generation seems smitten with him. He is like his peers, caught in some NSFW (Not Suitable For Work) photos. Among Harry’s generation, fame—in any context—is gold. Sealing the turn from scandal to success was Harry’s appearance at a charity event, where he acknowledged his escapade with self-effacing humor (read about it here). Scandal averted, Harry is now the unlikely hero.

The PR Verdict: A (PR Perfect) for Prince Harry. If Buckingham Palace is smart, they’ll continue to rap Harry’s knuckles—and keep him in front of his adoring public, continuing his mother’s legacy: Could he become the People’s Prince?

The PR Takeaway: Mini-scandals can move the PR dial. After doing something naughty but harmless, a public appearance for charity and self-effacing humor are the golden tickets to winning the public’s, and the media’s, hearts. The ploy was used to excellent effect by Fred Willard in the US; days after the actor was caught with his pants down in an X-rated movie theater, he joked about the incident brilliantly on late night TV. Prince Harry should continue to do good works, which offset his occasional lad-like behavior; both bring a younger generation closer to the Crown.