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Harry, Meghan and the finely tuned royal wedding PR machine



"The Prince of Wales is pleased to announce the engagement of Prince Harry with Mrs. Meghan Markle," it said.

While journalists around the world were trying to publish their half-written stories, Kensington Palace – home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Prince Harry's brother and sister-in-law) – rescued the announcement.

The 3.3 million followers of the Palace Instagram account were also treated to pictures and a video clip of the couple – they have "liked" hundreds of thousands of times.

A few hours later, the two were on television revealing details of the proposal and Markle's first meeting with the Queen (and her corgis) ̵
1; and a few days later they were on their first official tour, meeting with the public.
READ MORE: The Royal Wedding: Harry and Meghan

In the months since the announcement, the palace's social media accounts have given the voracious press and public a steady diet of wedding news and pictures, details of which who would bake the wedding cake to announcements about the route of the wedding procession and the musicians who were selected to attend the ceremony.

  The crowd was greeted by cheering crowds on their arrival in Nottingham, four days after announcing their engagement.

And it's not just social media. Carefully-planned visits to South London, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland were planned to ensure that none of the UK's constituent nations had reason to rumble.

So who controls the royal PR machine and how is Harry and? Meghan uses it to make a profile

READ MORE: Meghan Markle is the unconventional bride of the royal family

Who's behind all the tweets?

The communications team at Kensington Palace consists of six people, led by Jason Knauf, an American who joined the Royal Bank of Scotland in 2014. They handle public relations for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, as well as for Harry and Meghan.

They do not like to attract attention and prefer not to behave. "I'm not sure we can comment, we're not the story," a member of the press team said in response to a request for assistance with this article. They have offered only a few – and already publicly known – details about the team.

How much of what we see is choreographed?

Most of it. From the timing and wording of every Tweet or Instagram post to the shoes that Markle wears in every public engagement, every element is part of a strategy.

But according to royal experts, it is a strategy that is very much guided by the couple. "She's independent, she's a career woman," says Royal biographer Penny Junor. "I think it would be very strange if she would take a full back seat and she marries Harry … who is much more independent in a very traditional household, he is a very modern guy."

Duncan Larcombe, former royal correspondent for British newspaper "The Sun" and author of a book on Prince Harry, believes that this seemingly practical approach will continue until the ceremony itself. "Your wedding will be the Harry and Meghan show," he says.

In fact, both Prince Harry and his older brother William play a big role in deciding what to do and how to communicate, Larcombe says] "Yes, it's choreographed, but the Royals always have the last word," he says. "There is a real limit to what press officers can do, and they do not tell them what to do."

But the relationship is good, explains Junor. "Your team is very well aligned with them," she says. "There is a good dialogue between everyone."

Harry's influence is clearly visible in his public appearances with Markle. With Nottingham attending World AIDS Day for their first official joint engagement, the prince was able to leverage media zeal to "pay attention to the causes," Junor said.

Harry, like his late mother Princess Diana, is a passionate advocate in the fight against HIV / AIDS stigma – and Nottingham hosts a program Harry has set up to combat youth violence.

"He uses his power intelligently, his gentle power," says Junor.

In another sign that the younger royals are playing a more active role, all the wedding communications are handled by Kensington Palace, while the press teams at Buckingham Palace and Clarence House, the home of Harry's, are handled by Father Prince Charles, moves back.

READ MORE: Why Harry and Meghan Will Be the Best Royal Couple

And what about Markle? Does she have something to say?

Harry's future bride has abandoned her acting career, closed her social media accounts, and now has a long list of royal protocols to follow. But Markle seems to do things whenever she can, just like her fiancee.

She was photographed wearing torn jeans during her first official appearance as Harry's girlfriend, caught a note to a fan during a tour of Cardiff, and took a selfie with others, high fives, hugging a charity worker, and even passers-by on Christmas Day stick out

"I get the impression that Meghan's approach is" Try to be me, "says Larcombe

  During a trip to Cardiff in January, Markle wrote a note for 10-year-old Caitlin Clarke. [Marklewassentanoteto10-year-oldCaitlinClarkeduringatriptoCardiffinJanuary

According to Pauline Maclaran, Professor of Marketing and Consumer Research at Royal Holloway, University London, and co-author of "Royal Fever: The British Monarchy in Consumer Culture," Markle's naturalness is a blessing for the royal family e and will probably be deliberately involved in the PR strategy around the couple.

"Meghan is able to enchant the public, and that's a very good thing for the royal image right now," she says. "Sure, she gets to follow protocols and pieces of etiquette, but in terms of her natural spontaneity with the public, there would be no sense in curbing this."

Markle's openness also fits in well with the new image of transparency and normalcy that the young royals have cultivated in recent years, supported by social media that exclude intermediaries in the form of journalists and direct access to the princes and the public enable their partners.

Harry and Meghan bring this spirit to their own wedding and invite 2,640 members of the public to the Windsor Castle grounds, "to share in the joy and fun of the day". The message was of course announced via Twitter.

Unlikely that Harry will ever become king, he and Markle enjoy much more freedom than William and Kate, Maclaran explains. As heir to the throne – William is the second behind his father, Prince Charles – the Duke and Duchess "must be viewed as dignified as well as accessible," she says. "Harry and Meghan are allowed to be a bit more themselves, a bit more relaxed."

A case in point: While the Duchess of Cambridge in February could not wear a black dress at the BAFTA Film Awards without being there As a political stance – a no-go for the future king's wife – Markle could #MeToo and # Mention TimesUp at a charity event later this month, without inviting criticism.
READ MORE: What does Meghan Markle means to the royals?
The election of celebrity and fashion magazine Vanity Fair for Markle's first interview about her relationship with Harry also distinguishes her from more traditional royal brides. "That was really unusual," says Junor.

If she behaves more like a celebrity than a royal bride, Larcombe believes that Markle could endure criticism.

  Markle & # 39; s interview and photo shoot for Vanity Fair was an unusual move for a future royal bride.

[19659006] "I could see that she was criticized for being too humid, or, dare I say, too American," he says. "A Hollywood star is expected to be glamorous, glamorous, wealthy and indulgent." But as a king, "you have all the glory, but you must not show happiness."

This is a lesson that Markle already seems to learn, according to Larcombe. Criticized by some for wearing a couture dress that reportedly cost $ 75,000 for the official engagement photos, Markle has opted for more modest outfits that often wear British brands, including a £ 45 sweater from Marks & Spencer.

There is still so much we do not know about the young Royals. Why this?

Even with the "Fab Four" (as the British press called the two princes and their partners), every openness is tempered with a great deal of discretion.

With Harry and Meghan, the strategy could be described as "controlled communication," says Maclaran. "They show a willingness to communicate, but they do so on their own terms, so they do not have the intrusive media attention they are so trying to avoid."

William and Harry were teenagers when their mother Princess Diana died a car crash in Paris. A jury later ruled that their death was partly the fault of several French paparazzi who persecuted Diana and her lover through the city that night. As a result princes are attentive both to potentially fatal consequences of penetration of the press. 19659011] READ MORE: Why Americans Are Owned by the British Royal Family

  Media obsession with Princess Diana peaked in the years leading up to her death.

"One lesson I've learned is that you never let them go too far because it's very difficult to get them out," William said last year in a documentation mark 20 years since Diana's death. "You have to maintain a barrier and a border."

For Harry, this meant keeping his relationship with Markle secret for as long as possible, when the word went out publicly condemning the media for the "wave of abuse" directed at his girlfriend and harassing her and her family , Harry also accused social media trolls of "total sexism and racism" and warned, "The last week has crossed a line."

The statement published through Kensington Palace's Twitter account was an unprecedented piece of royal communications. "There were other appeals (to the media), but there were no appeals like these," said then-royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams.

Although his approach has since been less open-minded, Harry will be "very careful of what is written about Meghan," says Larcombe. "He will want to protect her."

One example was his decision to show himself "very public and affectionate" with Markle at the Invictus Games, according to Larcombe. "That was Harry's attempt – and a successful one – to boost the market."

The couple has followed the same strategy ever since. "They're trying to control the flow, so (coverage) is not going to get hysterical," Maclaran says, adding, "It seems to me it works right now."

CNN's Max Foster has contributed to this report.


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