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Prince William unknowingly stopped CND protesters from reaching the front pages

It has long been a complaint from some political quarters that the Royal Family should not meddle in politics and be somewhat above that. It would, however, appear that those in the political sphere could contemplate using members of the Royal Family for a political gain or smokescreen.

Papers released from the National Archives in Kew relating to how Downing Street proposed to deal with publicity over CND demonstrations caused by the introduction of Cruise missiles in 1983. Perhaps it is also ironic that such papers should be revealed in the same week a decision is passed to extend the Trident nuclear programme.

The papers reveal that Sir Bernard Ingram, the then Press Secretary, was asked for ideas on how to starve the CND demonstrations of the publicity they craved over the Easter weekend. He did point out that the ultimate would be a natural disaster, or say an assassination attempt on the Pope, however, he said: “All this is in the lap of the gods and all tragedies are devoutly not to be wished”. But, on Good Friday pictures were released from Australia of a young Prince William with Prince Charles and Princess Diana in what was his first foreign trip. They were published on Friday evening so that they could deflect the interest, this was an idea he put forward.

It is not known whether this was a passing thought or plan that was carried out, but it failed and in fact a number of the national newspapers carried extensive coverage of the demonstrations. This was not the most serious concerns of the Government though concerning the bringing of Cruise Missiles into the country. The missiles themselves would be protected from plane to bunker by armed American soldiers. In what seems eerily foreboding in the light of current news from America, Defence Secretary Michael Heseltine expressed concern at what may happen should a demonstrator successfully break through to get close to the missiles. Hence, in the unlikely event that it did occur the demonstrator would have faced armed British military personnel.

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