Lisa Owen interviews Dan Wootton
Lisa Owen interviews Dan Wootton
Lisa Owen: Dan congratulations, you have won Show Business Reporter of the Year award, it is interesting this talking to you and rather than a royal correspondent. Because isn’t it the case that Will and Kate have crossed over haven’t they%3F They’re more celebrity first than they are future King and Queen%3F
Dan Wootton: Well ya, it is an interesting one because obviously there is a crossover with the young royals, I think there has been for the last few years. And when you look at the generation with Price Harry, obviously Prince Williams’ brother who is now in a serious relationship with Cressida Bonas who is very likely to become his fiancée we think within months and she is very much part of the celebrity party circuit. You know she is friends with the Bransons, she hangs out with a whole load of sort of society, celebrity figures so absolutely the royals are show biz, they are a show biz couple and they are covered as such. But I think particularly more around the world I mean definitely in the UK there is still a certain amount of difference that they are treated with because of the fact the Prince William is a future king, so they probably get a very easy ride in terms of coverage here.
So do you think they are purposely being marketed as celebrities or is it just that the media are involved with this love of them and they have just decided to cover them in that way%3F Or is the palace marketing, pushing this image%3F
Well I think the thing is the palace has learnt a lot of lessons from what happened with Princess Diana so while on the surface this tour to New Zealand and Australia may look very similar to the trip that Princess Diana and Prince William right back in the early 1980s in fact this is a very different royal couple. Kate and Will are very aware of the media scrutiny, they think about how their every more is going to be covered, the palace very much controls their image. There are so many stories that they try to shut down or pictures that they try and keep out of the press but then when they want a picture of Kate cuddling baby George looking like an ordinary mum, they will give permission for it to run. So absolutely this is a royal couple that is very media managed.
They are Tweeting things though aren’t they Dan%3F They gave one of their first main interviews to a US channel, so it’s about global coverage as well isn’t it, not just servicing the realm as such%3F
Absolutely, they know that they are going to get, for example sort of celebrity coverage in America, but they want it around the right projects. So for example, Prince William gave the big first interview to NBC in America, that was very telling. Prince Harry has just done a big documentary about his trek through Antarctica with a whole load of wounded soldiers there as well. But both the princes and also Kate Middleton or the Duchess of Cambridge are very aware of the media in a way that Princes Diana wasn’t, especially to begin with, but what they don’t do is have that direct communication with the media and I think for us in the British tabloids that can be disappointing at times. Because obviously throughout the 90s, it was an incredible time to be covering the royal family because Princess Diana would quite literally be on the phone to the show biz editors, to the columnists and to the royal reporters and I can tell you that doesn’t happen now.
You mentioned before, you described them as an ordinary couple, that is being pushed isn’t it%3F We saw William load George into the car seat when the left the hospital, they live in a modest apartment after moving from their cottage. Are we gullible to buy into that ordinary couple scenario%3F
%3FI think we are, because it isn’t really an ordinary apartment, I mean they have just spent about two million pounds doing up a very large area of Kensington Palace where they live. But absolutely their media message and their public image is very much of a normal couple. Because I think they are very much a loving couple, they were very sensible in the fact that they waited for a long time before they got engaged because Prince William I think after seeing what happened to his parents, he wanted to make sure that Kate was the girl for him. And also I think more importantly that Kate Middleton was actually ready for what was to come and ready for that public scrutiny, because it was obviously something that Princess Diana wasn’t ready for.
So in saying that, what are the risks with going down this line of crossing over into being celebrities rather than royals%3F
Well what the risks are is that in the future there is a very serious job to be done and will they be taken seriously but I think actually they are very, very careful about what engagements they do do, what charities they become involved with. And also where the royal family is very clever is they know for example Prince Harry, Princess Eugenie and Beatrice can have a little bit more of the common touch, so a little bit more of the show biz focus events almost to protect to a degree Prince William and Kate Middleton. But look, it’s absolutely clear that the Royal family are well aware that this couple is blockbuster it was an absolute fact that the foreign office could have sent Camilla and Prince Charles on this visit to Australia and New Zealand in place of the Queen. But everyone knew that this was the perfect place to get massive international headlines and a repeat of that incredible Royal tour from 1984 with Princess Diana and Prince Charles.
So this blockbuster tour that starts on Monday, how does that fit in with the marketing strategy%3F What are we going to get out of this%3F What is New Zealand going to get out of it%3F
New Zealand is going to get a lot out of this actually because what you can guarantee is wallpaper coverage in the UK firstly this will be on the front page of virtually every national newspaper probably other than The Guardian and The Independent which are known for their republican leanings. But its going to be all over the tabloids, all over every TV news bulletin, already the TV show I work on here today is doing pre%2Dcoverage of the visit talking about exactly where they are going and where they are going to be staying in Wellington, what Prince George will be wearing, how many outfits Kate Middleton is taking. This is a big deal because wherever they visited first, publicly with Prince George was always going to get massive blanket coverage.
So how popular are they going to be%3F Is it going to be like following Justin Bieber around through the streets of Auckland and Wellington%3F
I think it will be a little bit like when One Direction was there probably because the good thing about Prince William and Kate Middleton when they come face to face with the public they are candid, they do understand how to answer questions and there is an element of bashfulness about them too. Prince William still gets embarrassed, he still gets red faced. Kate Middleton sort of has to be there for him, protecting him along the way. I think they are a genuine couple and I think you will see that, of course they have an absolutely beautiful baby who is at the perfect age for some very, very cute images. So New Zealand will be all around the world.
Fantastic, thank you once again Dan, joining us from London.