A couple of interesting developments about the British royal family this week. You know how celebrities have been known to dump announcements late on Friday afternoons in the hopes of burying the story on the weekend so as not to be as big a headline? For the last few days, the biggest headline around the world, even outside of North America, is the at-long-last exit of Donald Trump and the inauguration of Joe Biden, with Kamala Harris as the Vice President. A strategic move from Houses Clarence and House Cambridge? Because these are curious staffing updates.
Earlier this week, Julian Payne who has been Prince Charles and Camilla’s top press aide for five years announced he was leaving for a position at Edelman, a global PR firm. And yesterday it was reported (via The Telegraph) that Christian Jones, who has worked with Prince William and Kate, and also Prince Harry and Meghan Markle before they peaced out, is now also leaving. Christian has been a member of the KP press team since 2018 but only became the Cambridges’ private secretary – so their lead PR person – last March. And now, less than a year later, he’s stepping down. Just because he wants to pursue other opportunities? Or… is something else afoot?
The last time we talked about Christian Jones it was back in the summer of 2020, about six months ago, when his name came up because his partner, Callum Jones, allegedly was paid £4,000 from Dan Wootton at the Sun – which Dan and Callum denied. But Dan is the reporter who broke all kinds of stories about Harry and Meghan that could only have come from inside the Firm. And now… Christian is on his way out?
Is this about the leaks? Or is it a combination of leaks and other factors?
Remember too that the last few months have not been great on the PR front for the British royals. The Crown was a big conversation. And then Will and Kate’s three day mini-tour was supposed to be a major public relations win – and it wasn’t. Royal tours are normally set up to be smash hits. This fell far short of one. They travelled during a pandemic, when COVID-19 cases were surging in the UK (and still are). Scottish politicians openly side-eyed them. The point is… from a PR perspective, it was not good work. And the PR team has to wear some of that.
But back to the point about the timing…
Not as many people are paying attention to this because of what’s happening in the United States. That said, even with the limited coverage, is it getting the same treatment? So far, from what I’ve seen, the British royal staffing changes are being reported pretty matter-of-factly. Whereas when there were staffing changes in the Sussex household, you’ll recall how it was reported: Harry and Meghan were difficult, they drove employees away, they couldn’t keep staff.
Christian Jones quitting after less than a year is noteworthy, especially since the British tabloids have tried to present the Cambridges as the best leaders, the people easiest to work with, the most professional, the most organised. And now one of their key aides is bouncing, unexpectedly. What’s the story here?