This is Jason Knauf, Communications Secretary for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.
He looks like the kind of well-groomed, non-threatening generic American model that J. Crew uses to sell cardigans. While it’s true that pr reps can only be as effective as their clients are cooperative, in recent weeks Jason has started looking like he is either a complete idiot or the most deliciously evil adversary the British Monarchy has ever faced, the kind that from a historical perspective could ultimately make Rasputin look like Funshine Bear.
The Cambridge’s spin doctor has a background in crisis management and started his royal gig in the beginning of 2015. Jason Knauf replaced former BBC producer, Ed Perkins, who had joined the Palace in 2007 working for the Duke of York, managing his scandals and overseeing the Diamond Jubilee before being assigned to Princes William and Harry and the Duchess of Cambridge where he lasted two and a half years before deciding on a new career path. The search for Perkins’ replacement lasted six months, reportedly Prince William wanted someone whose loyalties weren’t divided by connections to other members of the British Royal Family. So basically, William’s criteria was finding someone who couldn’t be influenced by the guiding wisdom of his father or grandmother. And really, Her Majesty has only built one of the most globally recognized brands in the world, what could she possibly know about public relations.
Recent pr mistakes by Jason Knauf’s office have led to even more media backlash towards the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The latest likely made both Jesus and Darth Vader facepalm.
The force of Captain Picard’s facepalm probably blew the Enterprise off course.
I didn’t even catch this latest goof, but the press sure did. The Daily Mail ran an article on the mittens Kate wore in the photos released this week by Kensington Palace on Twitter showing the Cambridges on a ski getaway from all that work they’re not doing. Kate’s Alexski gloves are lined with possum fur.
While it’s not surprising a woman who has been photographed wearing a fur hat while hunting pheasant bred for the royally lazy version of the bloodsport would wear fur-lined gloves, it’s shocking that the Palace would release photos of Kate wearing them to the world. Could they not find a clubbed baby seal for Kate to put a cigarette out on?
The ski glove’s possum fur comes from New Zealand where the marsupial is widely considered a pest because it is a non-indigenous species that was introduced in the 19th century by the fur industry and having no natural predator, possums have wreacked considerable havoc on New Zealand’s flora and fauna. One land’s pest is another’s protected species, there are even people who (mostly illegally and definitely ill-advisedly) keep possum as pets. Usually what separates aww from ugh is how much destruction a species causes, in Australia where possums are indigenous, sometimes foxes are regarded as pests even though they bring the internet this kind of snuggle buddy cuteness.
In NYC, our pests are rats and mice. Given their plague-spreading history, most wouldn’t put them on their most cuddly list but still wouldn’t stick their hands in the skinned remains of one.
Because of the exposed cruelties of the fur industry and the increased trendiness of its condemnation, spin doctors go to extraordinary lengths to shield their clients from the barrage of criticism that comes from being photographed in fur. Even celebrities who unabashedly wear fur like Kim Kardashian are aware it’s a controversial topic many feel passionately about. North West has gotten some serious shade for being papped in it and she’s only two. Based on the fact that in this photo she’s dressed like her first word was “Nevermore”, I think it’s safe to assume most of North’s fashion isn’t self-selected and we should give the kid a pass.
For a small child to even be unfairly called a “fur hag” by some illustrates why most in the public eye steer clear of the fur debate, regardless of their personal feelings, it is a hotly debated topic.
Bella Thorne recently posted a photo of herself on Instagram in a fur jacket and in response to the enormous backlash, claimed it was faux fur. When Instagram fashionistas identified it as an alice + olivia rabbit and fox jacket, the actress quickly deleted her faux fur claim and her reps dealt with the fall-out, releasing the statement Thorne “was told it was faux fur” with the promise she would never wear it again.
The Queen also provoked widespread criticism with her fur-clad Christmas appearance prompting many to take to social media to express their disappointment Her Majesty would even wear her vintage fur, especially since she is a representative of the UK which passed laws over a decade ago prohibiting “the keeping of animals solely or primarily for slaughter for the value of their fur”.
When public figures are already the subject of negative focus, it’s generally not a good idea to serve up more to find fault with on a gilded platter. Really the only thing the Palace has as a selling-point for Kate is the so-called Kate Effect when people who want to dress like Kate snatch up whatever inventory is left on items Kate waits to wear so people can’t Copy-Kate her. Every single outfit Kate wears is broken down and written about because she offers such little substance with which to work. Considering how contrived and manipulated these snaps are, how did no one even think to make sure the Paper Doll Duchess wasn’t committing a pr fur pas?
While I find these pr goofs highly amusing, the British Royal Family might want to check Jason Knauf’s bank account for large deposits coming from the Republican Party because it’s hard to believe anyone with pr experience could screw up this royally. Especially an American, we invented pr. Technically, the founding father of spin was Austrian-American Edward Bernays but we staked the claim convincingly enough that the rest of the world bought it. Quite frankly, the way the pr is being handled for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge is utterly un-American.