Public Relations Paper on Crisis Communication: The Queen 2006 Film

Crisis Communication: The Queen 2006 Film

            The Queen is a 2006 film that attempts to depict the events that followed the death of Princess Diana on August 31, 1997. The film, directed by Stephen Frears, is a fictional adaptation of the royal family’s response to the Princess’s death. The aspect of crisis communication comes out clear in many instances where the movie attempts to depict the reactions of different people. Diana, Princess of Wales, died in a road accident in the early hours of August 31, 1997. The death of Princess Diana will be remembered for many years because she was renowned across the world as a representative of the people’s voice. Despite her status as a member of the royal family, Princess Diana was able to win over the admiration of the people she interacted with in her day-to-day adventures.

Other individuals who feature in the central themes of the film include Tony Flair and Queen Elizabeth. Blair is depicted after his landslide victory for the prime minister position. Blair is depicted as a person interested in modernization and freedom for the people. One of his notable attributes that help to illustrate his political model is the fact that he insists that people call him by his first name. On the other hand, the Queen is depicted as a representative of the traditional values of the royal family. As such, she wants the public to see her as the intelligent woman as opposed to the propositions from Blair that she should follow the people’s demands occasionally. Tony Blair and the Queen are seen as the two principal figures representing both sides involved in the crisis following Diana’s death. On the one hand, the public has significant authority over how the death of the “princess of the people” should be treated. Furthermore, the event is well covered by the media, meaning that the people are involved in the death of the princess just as much as the royal family is. The film’s depiction of crisis communication informs on the differences between social classes. Furthermore, the princess’ death depicts a clash between communication strategies, particularly comparing the use of administrative power versus the use of public influence.

The responses of the involved stakeholders on the news of Diana’s death reflect their understanding of communication strategies and individual characteristics. Upon hearing about the death, the Queen felt that she should stay calm and avoid communicating her feelings. Notably, the Queen had been born into power. This meant that any decision she made was in the best interests of the people. She was raised to be a leader. Everything she did was supposed to consider the interests of the royal family first. In this case, the Queen felt that if she mourned publicly, she would be acting against the code of conduct for members of the royal family. However, the situation would soon prove to be beyond the control of the influences of the royal family and the power they possessed. The escalation of the crisis was a result of the great intervention by the media. Princess Diana was a public figure and a close friend of the people. This was unlike other royal family members who distanced themselves from public affairs.

Princess Diana was not dubbed the “people’s princess” for no reason. During her days in Britain, Diana had warmed the hearts of many through her outlook as a vulnerable person. This was unlike the other members of the royal family who had adapted to having their power felt through the way they made every decision. For instance, the Queen held the view that the Prime Minister should not bow to the outcry of the public. Rather, she felt that the prime minister should make a firm decision, which the public would eventually accept and move on from their demands. The clash between these two ideologies is seen in the film’s depiction of the Queen and Tony Blair. Blair is seen as a representative of the modern day values that were earlier carried forward by the princess. Princess Diana had been outgoing and an interactive person. Being the princess of the people, Diana’s death attracted a lot of heartfelt condolences from the public.

The likelihood of crisis occurring after Diana’s death was very high due to the tensions that gripped the public. The princess was adored by the people and was considered as the favorite for the people, especially the young generation. The response by the queen further escalated the likelihood of crisis occurring because she was not disclosing to the public a lot of the details they wanted to hear.

The components of the storyline include the sorrow that spread across England and the world. The adventure of Princess Diana is also depicted in the storyline. The aspect of power is another component that is common throughout the film. The film emphasizes these components by setting the story in the royal palaces. Further, the component of power for the people is emphasized by the extent they go to honor Diana.

The film uses a combination of styles to create the scenes. For instance, some of the scenes use live footage and thus portray a documentary style of filmmaking. On the other hand, characters are chosen who represent the people in the story, thus also utilizing the docudrama style of filmmaking.

Based on the context of the film, it is clear that the queen made some errors in decision making. Most importantly, she was adamant to let the people have their way in the proceedings of mourning the princess. She was reluctant to let the people have fun with her in the same way they had Diana. She was afraid that by letting the people see her softer side she would lose her respect. This mistake proved to be potentially dangerous to the Queen and the royal family.

Based on the events depicted in the film, it has been learned that crisis communication is greatly reliant on the ability to identify the powers of the parties involved. Notably, the audience has a great power that should be considered when making a decision on how to address them or deliver certain information. Indeed, some of the people who hold the greatest powers do not have titles such as Queen or princess.

The independent factors in a crisis are those that remain unchanged by the events around while the dependent factors are influenced with the changing phenomena. In this case, the death of the princess was an independent factor while the reactions of the people around were the dependent factors. According to the apologia theory the crisis occurs in three stages. The first stage is the actual misdeed or mishap. In the next stage the individuals argue that their misdeed was not intentional. In the final stage the individual “wants a pass” based on the arguments of their honest intentions. The apologia theory operates on the methods of definition, dissociation, and reconciliation. In the case for Diana’s death, the royal family eventually acknowledges that the power is in the hands of the people, thereby they use the conciliation method. They do not deny the crisis as would other people preferring to use to dissociation method.

The image restoration theory method builds on the apologia theory in crisis communication. The theory examines the public as the variable factor in the discussion. The objective is to understand where the public stands on an issue and whether they are able to face the other parties, in this case the public mourning Diana’s death. In this context, the queen is seeking to restore her image in the face of high tensions running through the royal palace.

The diffusion theory provides that information is spread across people in a pattern. According to this theory, information passes through different groups of people in a manner that compares to diffusion of air or water particles. In this case, it is seen that the information of Diana’s death is spread through different mediums such as media and communication in the family castle. In this regard, the information was seen to be interpreted differently across the society due to the effect of filtering as it passed from one person to the other.

The apologia and diffusion theories have some identical aspects in the manner they address the issue of the intervention by other parties in the crisis. Both theories agree that information is passed from one social group to another, and that the initial message is meant to create a response from the audience. In either case, it is clear that crisis communication aims to change the perception of the audience towards the communicator.