Chinese milk ad sparks royal fears

 

The Queen's grandson, Peter Phillips, has appeared in a television advertisement for fresh milk in China, sparking debate over how members of the The Firm use their royal connections to generate a private income.

Mr Phillips, 41, is the son of Princess Anne and her ex-husband Captain Mark Phillips, but is not a working royal and has never held a royal title.

He is often hailed as an example of how royal family members can run private lives and has held positions with Jaguar and a Formula One Racing team. He is married to Canadian Autumn Kelly, and the couple have two daughters who don't have royal titles.

Mr Philips' latest endeavour shows him dressed in a dinner jacket and black bow tie, in a 30-second ad for China's state-owned Bright Dairies where he is described as "British Royal Family member Peter Phillips."

He is seen peering out the window of a stately country house in Britain's Wiltshire as a replica horse-drawn royal carriage pulls up outside the home. A butler then approaches him with a bottle of Jersey milk on a silver platter.

 

Mr Phillips is described as a member of the British royal family in the television ad. Picture: Supplied
Mr Phillips is described as a member of the British royal family in the television ad. Picture: Supplied

 

"Bright Dairies has got a fantastic reputation all over China and outside of China as well, for producing high quality dairy products," Mr Phillips says in a separate, behind-the-scenes video.

"As children, we used to spend a lot of time down at the dairy. There was a herd of Jersey cattle at Windsor and we were brought up on it.

"And it was always much fuller of flavour, much creamier, than other milks that we had growing up. That has something to do with the way the cows are bred."

 

Mr Phillips has never held a royal title. Picture: Supplied
Mr Phillips has never held a royal title. Picture: Supplied

 

British royal titles are only passed down through the male line, so Peter and his younger sister Zara Tindall, were both born "commoners".

As non-working members of the royal family, Peter and Zara were free to pursue their own careers. Zara, 38, is a champion equestrian who also earns money as an ambassador for luxury brands, including Rolex and Land Rover, while Peter, 42, is the managing director of a sports and entertainment agency.

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A recent article in The Times described Peter Philips has having "cracked it" noting how he was dubbed "the winner" by Prince Philip.

"Mr Phillips has managed to slide down the line of succession (he's now 15th) with dignity. He has shown that you can keep many of the benefits of royalty - still watching Trooping the Colour from the balcony and making use of Windsor, Balmoral and Sandringham - while leading a comfortable private life," the paper said.

However royals must be careful not to be seen exploiting their royal connections or tarnishing the family's meticulously managed brand.

 

Attention has now turned to how Prince Harry and Meghan will make money. Picture: AP/Matt Dunham
Attention has now turned to how Prince Harry and Meghan will make money. Picture: AP/Matt Dunham

The ad comes as royal staffers debate whether Prince Harry and Meghan should be allowed to cash in on their royal status after stepping down as senior members of the royal family in March.

Buckingham Palace has said they will no longer be allowed to formally represent the Queen nor use their HRH titles, but the pair will remain the Duke and Duchess of Sussex - the titles given to them as a wedding present by the Queen - and have already applied to trademark their Sussex Royal brand.

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The trademark will allow Prince Harry and Meghan to release their own line of branded products, including books, calendars and clothing, in the future. They have also been tipped to move into content creation and could potentially sign deals with the likes of Netflix or do further work with Disney.

The couple already use the name Sussex Royal on their website and Instagram account, which has 11 million followers.

But royal experts and insiders say they may eventually be asked to drop the 'royal' reference, given they'll no longer be carrying out official royal duties. Buckingham Palace will have no oversight of their commercial deals once the new reality takes effect at an unknown date in the northern spring 2020.

 

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have already applied to trademark their Sussex Royal brand. Picture: AP/Frank Augstein
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have already applied to trademark their Sussex Royal brand. Picture: AP/Frank Augstein

Thomas Woodcock, a senior adviser to the Queen, told The Times on Tuesday that he didn't believe the name was appropriate.

"I don't think it's satisfactory. One cannot be two things at once. You either are [royal] or you're not," he said.

As the Garter King of Arms, Mr Woodcock is the Queen's principal adviser on ceremonial matters and heraldry, but he is also involved in ensuring that commercial concerns do not make illegitimate use of royal symbols, according to the newspaper.

"It is such unusual times that it is a matter of waiting and seeing how things develop," he said.

 

The Telegraph's royal editor Camilla Tominey also believes the couple may be asked to rebrand.

"It remains to be seen whether they'll be able to keep that royal aspect because for all intents and purposes, they are not carrying out any engagements on behalf of the Queen or their military appointments," she told ITV's This Morning program on Monday.

"They are keeping their private patronages and their charitable work to themselves as they go off and have this new life in North America."

Prince Harry was spotted arriving back in Canada on Tuesday after a week of tense negotiations with his family.

He, Meghan and their eight-month-old son Archie are now expected to spend most of their time in North America.


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