The Lady has behaved like a tramp; not actions befitting a Duchess and mother of two Princesses!!

May 25, 2010

The news that The Duchess Of York, Sarah Ferguson was caught out in a News of the World sting, offering an undercover reporter posing as a businessman access to her former husband, Prince Andrew (who is a trade ambassador for Britain ), for £500,000 gives us all a depressingly familiar tinge of deja vu. Have we not been here before, with The Duchess’s indiscretions and lack of judgement and taste?

On the positive side, Ferguson’s PR team quickly issued a statement yesterday, which said she was ‘regretful’ and ‘devastated’ by her actions. Former News of the World editor and founder of PHA Media Phil Hall said: “I believe from a PR point of view the Duchess did the only thing she could in the circumstances. With overwhelming evidence against her a ‘mea culpa’ was her only option. She then has to carry on with her life, not run away. The British public have a history of forgiving human frailties, as they have done with her before”.

The problem in 2010 is that the power of video and the internet is all illuminating and encompassing. When the public can see the sting with their own eyes and hear the subject boasting and displaying naked avarice, public opinion ebbs away and the tabloid newspaper is no longer pilloried and condemned for entrapment in the same way it used to be. It legitimises the News of the World’s argument that exposing the Duchess of York in this way, is in the interests of public opinion and enlightenment, and as such the end justified the means.

From a public relations perspective, any damage limitation that could be achieved, was done so through a speedy, frank, open and honest apology. However the PR machine is only as good as the product!! And the trouble is that the product, although still under a form of Royal licence as the mother of the two princesses, is flawed and faulty in it’s design!! Sarah Ferguson has consistently displayed poor judgement in her public life since 1986. The reality is that she is a kind, caring, compassionate woman who has clearly generated huge amounts of money for charities around the world. The public image however, is that of a reckless, self destructive wastrel, and no amount of public relations dressing can mask this fact. Sarah Ferguson is a dichotomy, and as such is impossible to manage from a public relations perspective.

We have to conclude that she is either naive or desperate, or probably both. Most of us, if we were in the public eye, when confronted by an Arab in a hotel room with a briefcase full of money, would immediately think “Fake Sheik”, and “News of the World” in the next breath!! Not Sarah Ferguson, and that’s why she cannot be bridled and guided by the “PR Machine”. Equally it is this folly and wide eyed naivete and gullibility that endears the Duchess to the British public, and will be the reason we will always forgive her for her foibles and idiosyncrasies!!

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