The Royal Firm's PR overdrive

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What's really happening at the royal wedding? Craig Young provides an insightful sociological and corporate summary.

The Firm

What more is there that can be said about the forthcoming royal wedding? Viewed from a dispassionate anthropological perspective, this is what's actually happening:

A young, designated heir apparent of an hereditary and unelected, figurehead constitutional monarchy's current dynasty seeks to legitimise his long-term heterosexual relationship with his chosen life partner within a religious and civic ceremony within the established denomination and faith in his country, which will constitute religious and dynastic approval on this relationship and legitimise any prospective heirs born of this living arrangement.

However, there's also the public relations standpoint which may be mischievously summarised as follows:

Elizabeth Windsor is the ageing CEO and matriarch of an organisation her husband calls ‘The Firm’, an organisation that has been in existence for about three centuries and has undergone many changes of moniker and media spectacles during this time. At times, like the Second World War, they were united with their people for the common good. But from the House of Hanover to Sax-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor, it has been a lengthy course. Along the way, there have been royal weddings, royal mistresses, infidelities and divorces, photogenic princes and princesses, lavish investitures, golden, diamond and silver jubilees and other presentations for public consumption, diversion and celebration. Modern mass communication technologies have had a role in this  process, from the early newspapers of the eighteenth century to film in the early twentieth century, and television by the mid-twentieth, As time has gone on, the audience scale has steadily increased, and made The

Firm a lucrative proposition in terms of its merchandising spinoffs for its own members' private business interests and the overall corporate proceeds of the The Firm's branded and licensed items itself.

At eighty-five, Elizabeth is concerned that her own media presentation isn't drawing the crowds that The Firm used to. Fortunately, however, her grandson William, the Deputy Vice-President of The Firm, is about to engage in a media spectacle that will boost ratings and insure the continued viability of the generations-old Firm for a few decades more. As a young, handsome straight male, he is guaranteed to insure that The Firm will profit from broadcast rights, merchandising and other licensed goods related to the planned event. There is also an altruistic dimension involved, given mention of the charities that Prince William chairs, especially given the Cameron administration's impending social service cuts.

Now, the latter may sound facetious, but it is, in fact, what will happen. Buckingham Palace employs a sizeable public relations staff to burnish impression management and public presentation, and the forthcoming royal nuptials will mark a golden opportunity to do so. It is no accident that William is being groomed as the new face of the British monarchy as Elizabeth ages, and it should be remembered that his father Charles, the designated heir, is now sixty-two and no longer in fresh bloom. Moreover, there is still the Diana, Princess of Wales factor to contend with in terms of the heir apparent’s public image, whatever his environmentalist and multiculturalism merits.

And thus, onto the Firm's key event this year, the royal wedding. But make no mistake- this is about public relations as much as two late twenty-something’s pledging love and lifelong fidelity to one another.

(This story was originally published in the Newsletter of the Republican Movement of Aotearoa New Zealand, April 2011 edition and has been republished with full permission.)

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