2005-07-01 20:09:16 UTC
Diana and Kanga just two of many victims either dead or by the way
Excerpted from The London Telegraph :
Two and a half years after sharing her first married kiss in St
George's Chapel, Windsor - deliberately shielded from the cameras and
crowds - Sophie Wessex is close to breaking point.
After a comprehensive demolition of her personal and professional
reputation, one of her closest friends says "she is at her wits' end"
and resigned to being cast in the gold-digging role once ascribed to
the Duchess of York.
However, they ( the Wessexes ) have not been the sole architects of
their downfall in the public mind. Which "senior royal aide", they
wonder, told the Daily Mail that the Prince of Wales's attitude towards
his younger brother's wife "borders on contempt"?
Was it the same aide who, at the height of the kerfuffle over the
behaviour of the Ardent film crew at St Andrews, was quoted in the
Daily Mail as saying, "The arrogance of this man [Prince Edward] is
And when Sophie Wessex came to the defence of her pilloried husband,
arguing that the incident was being blown up out of all proportion and
observing that we "live in a democracy", which "St James's Palace
courtier" told the Daily Mail: "Fine, if it's a democracy she wants,
let's vote the Wessexes out."?
The Wessexes are in no doubt about who is responsible. Such briefings
bear the unmistakable hallmark of the Prince of Wales's own deputy
private secretary, Mark Bolland.
Despite his youth and ordinary background - he is still only 35 and
attended a comprehensive school in Middlesbrough - and his apparently
junior position at court, Mr Bolland is recognised as the real power
behind the future King of England.
He is the man credited with transforming public attitudes to Prince
Charles's problematic relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles.
Even Mr Bolland's detractors - and there have been an increasing number
of late - would admit that his skilful handling of the press, born of
his days at the PCC when he was in regular personal contact with the
most powerful editors of Fleet Street, has worked wonders with Prince
Charles's public image.
Unfortunately for Mr Bolland the campaigning has not been without
In the minutely-plotted world of spin and manipulation, it seems that
if the Prince's stock is to rise, another's must fall. The Earl and
Countess of Wessex are not alone in believing that they have been the
victim of an aggressive campaign to blacken their names.
The Prince is known to want to slim down the monarchy so that it
includes only him, his heirs and the Queen and Prince Philip. But there
are those inside the Royal Family who believe that Mr Bolland's
promotion of the Prince is taking place at the expense of the wider
interests of "the Firm".
Royal patience with Mr Bolland appears to have finally expired last
October following days of reports that Prince Charles was
"incandescent" with rage about Ardent's filming of Prince William.
The briefing by Mr Bolland to the Daily Mail was so intimate that it
included a detailed account of Prince Charles sitting in his drawing at
Highgrove refusing to take his younger brother's call.
The turning point - and Mr Bolland may subsequently reflect that here
he made a grave miscalculation - was when a report appeared in the
Daily Mail alleging that Prince Philip believed that Prince William was
being "over-protected" by his father and that he had "over-reacted" to
the Ardent film crew.
The story was sourced, once again, to that "highly-placed courtier" at
St James's palace. Only Richard Kay, the Mail's royal correspondent,
will know to whom he was referring but other family members, like the
Wessexes, are in no doubt.
A source said:"They know it's Bolland. Everyone knows who's running the
show." Prince Philip was so exasperated that he issued a rare public
statement in which he said that the views attributed to him by the
Daily Mail were "totally without foundation". However, Mr Kay stood by
his story and the authority of his source.
It is known that both the Wessexes and Prince Andrew have specifically
raised the issue of the leaks and the behaviour of Prince Charles's
staff with Prince Philip and the family's Way Ahead Group.
A friend of the Wessexes said: "The whole thing has got completely out
of control. The other members of the family are being pigeon-holed.
Edward is supposed to be this useless idiot who doesn't know what he's
doing, Andrew is characterised as this feckless, playboy prince. And
they all know who's behind it."
Mr Bolland's capacity for mischief-making is boundless. He is the type
of man, according to one former colleague, "who can't resist tossing
rocks into a perfectly still millpond. Sometimes he just can't help
himself, he loves the destabilised environment. He loves playing the
Diana, Princess of Wales was his first notable victim when, a year
after her death, the royal author Penny Junor published her book
Charles: Victim or Villain?. The Princess, we learned, was not the
Queen of Hearts but a neurotic, scheming woman prone to eating
disorders and throwing herself down the stairs.
The book attracted outrage and predictable denials that help had come
from St James's - even though Mr Bolland admitted he had spoken to the
There are others, including senior courtiers at Buckingham Palace and
the Prince of Wales's old friend, Hugh van Cutsem, who are alive to
defend themselves against Mr Bolland, but have stayed silent out of
loyalty to the Queen, Prince Charles and the monarchy as a whole.
Mr van Cutsem discovered, to borrow Penny Junor's phrase, that Mr
Bolland can be a "dangerous man" when he wrote complaining that he had
heard reports that Mr Bolland had made "highly damaging" remarks about
the behaviour of his sons, who are childhood friends of Princes William
His eldest son, Edward, was a page boy at Prince Charles's wedding. In
a solicitor's letter, Mr van Cutsem asked Mr Bolland to deny the
allegations, adding that his main concern was that "this highly
delicate and sensitive matter . . . be settled discreetly".
Mr van Cutsem was naive to think that the letter would remain private.
It appeared in the Mail on Sunday in an article which made clear he had
been ostracised from the Prince's inner circle.
His humiliation was not complete, however, until the following December
when a second article appeared, this time in the Daily Mail, noting
that for the first time in years the van Cutsems had not been invited
to Prince Charles's annual Christmas shooting party at Sandringham.
The article concluded with the observation that the van Cutsems had
recently moved from Anmer Hall, their house near Sandringham, to a new
property several miles away.
And then finally, again, the voice of that deadly "royal aide" applying
a final twist of the knife: "They can't hear the guns from there. If
they'd still been at Anmer the sounds would have been a bleak reminder
of what they are missing."
The story was factually incorrect. Although he does often shoot with
the Prince, Mr van Cutsem has never been a regular guest at the
Sandringham Christmas shoot.
A third story, which also appeared at this time, claiming that the van
Cutsems had been crossed off the Prince's Christmas card list was also
incorrect. Even Mr Bolland's own colleagues at St James's have suffered
during his tenure. His detractors will say this is no coincidence.
Sandy Henney, the Prince's former press secretary, who was installed
before Mr Bolland's arrival, was said to have the best relationship of
any courtier with Prince William, who is known to refer to Mr Bolland
as "Lord Blackadder".
She was dispatched during the row over the copyright of Prince
William's 18th birthday photographs, taken by Ian Jones, The Telegraph
photographer. Others who have suffered at the hands of the St James's
Palace machine are less worthy of headlines but, as Mr Bolland himself
often takes pleasure in admitting, the list of his enemies is long and
After the death of the Princess, it was Mr Bolland who was charged with
rationalising the many trusts, charities and projects which the Prince
had set up to pursue his interests in architecture, environment and
helping the underprivileged.
There was need for reform, particularly at the troubled Institute of
Architecture, but, as one former adviser to the Prince recalled, there
was soon a "sense of revolution at the door".
Before long the guillotine was working flat out. Under the auspices of
the great tidying-up operation, the old advisers, deemed too out of
touch and a retrogressive influence on the shaping of the Prince's new
image, were swept aside by the new man who now had the ear of the
One former adviser recalled how Mr Bolland - known as "Lip Gloss" for
his smooth talking - would deal with the out-going courtiers. He's very
effective. When you first meet him, he's very gossipy, open and you
think he's on your side.
"He runs down people you see as your rivals and leads you in. Then you
realise he's been behaving the same way to everyone else and the knife
is in your back before you realise it."
The well of Mr Bolland's power is said to run deep. Friends say that he
has formed a very close attachment to Camilla Parker Bowles, who
secures his favour with the Prince. And even more than the Prince, she
will hear nothing against the man who made it possible for her to
co-exist openly with the man she loves.
One acquaintance of Mrs Parker Bowles recalled a summer holiday spent
at the private villa of a wealthy mutual family friend during which she
regularly telephoned Mr Bolland "two or three or times a day".
The source added: "Bolland is really a Camilla appointment. The Prince
of Wales is a man who needs constant reassurance. Mrs Parker Bowles
tells him he's wonderful all of the time and Bolland is part of the act
to boost the Prince of Wales's confidence."
It was Camilla Parker Bowles's divorce lawyer, Hilary Browne Wilkinson,
who first proposed hiring Mr Bolland in the press office, according to
the account given by Penny Junor.
The Prince of Wales, who was prone to fits of gloom about his position,
was said to have found Mr Bolland's self-confidence infectious. The
account of their first meeting set the tone for the frank relationship
that was to follow.
"If you could bear to do this . . .", the Prince said to Mr Bolland, to
which he replied he would be delighted to take the job, and would have
fun doing it. If you don't have fun in a job there's no point in it. It
doesn't all need to be so terrible. Things can get better."
Another source, who was close to St James's for many years, attributes
Mr Bolland's apparently untouchable position to the Prince of Wales's
belief that that his man might one day be able to bring public opinion
to accept the logical conclusion of "Operation PB" - his marriage to
However, the Queen is understood to remain implacably opposed to this.
The source added: "When he arrived at St James's we were told that this
was the man to ensure that the marriage takes place. This is the man,
we were told, who could achieve it. It was almost like an official
So what now for Mr Bolland? For five years he has revelled in his role
as the puppet-master who pulls the strings at St James's Palace. But
after the events of recent months the magic is starting to wear off. Mr
Bolland is said to be looking for a new playground to practise his
undoubted skills - most likely a career in the private sector.
He was said by one authoritative source yesterday to be actively
planning to launch his own PR consultancy in which Mrs Parker Bowles
and the Prince of Wales would be the star clients, used as bait for
other high-profile signings.
Others said Mr Bolland might soon be heading for a job in the corporate
world, now that the main plank of his original mission - to enable
Prince Charles to step out freely with Mrs Parker Bowles - has been
( Bolland admits he worked closely with Penny Junor on her Charles
biography that trashed the late Princess in every paragraph. )