Record’s Cox rewarded for campaign for more access to William
Prince William is expected to give his first interview since he started university to Scottish newspapers – and specifically to Peter Cox.
The Daily Record editor has conducted an eight-month campaign to get more access to the Prince after newspapers, and his title in particular, promised St James’s Palace not to intrude on his education at St Andrews University.
The pledge was given in return for photo opportunities arranged by the Palace but, after the whole of the first academic year had passed with zero publicity on offer, Cox decided to go on the offensive.
He will pool the copy from the interview and the pictures, by a Record photographer, with other Scottish editors who were informed this week Cox told Press Gazette: “I have been working for eight months on this, largely because we have Wills in our territory. There was a quite clear agreement, which I fully understand and supported, that we wouldn’t interrupt his education and wouldn’t look for paparazzi pictures, because St James Palace had put it to us, the Record, that if we didn’t go out hunting for pictures, the market in Scotland would collapse and everyone would play the game. So the Record was the barometer, if you like.”
He agreed to leave the Prince alone on condition that St James’s Palace gave photocalls and the odd interview to the Record and other papers, he said.
“Nothing happened for the first full year. Last October, when he went back for a second year, I thought, blow this for a game of soldiers.”
He put his grievance at a meeting with Prince Charles’s deputy private secretary, Mark Bolland, and press secretary, Colleen Harris. Cox was left with the distinct impression that William did not want to do the promised interviews.
Bolland left his position and Cox, at another meeting, also attended by Harris, then put pressure on new private secretary Sir Michael Peat. He asked what Cox wanted, to which the Record editor replied: “For a start, I want an interview.” He has met Harris at least twice since Christmas and at one point, enlisted Press Complaints Commission help to bring pressure to bear on the Palace.
Early this year he was told he would have the first interview. “It was to be largely Scotland-centric,” said Cox, “about his time in Scotland, the loneliness at St Andrews. I said: ‘Fine, I’ll take anything. I want to sit down and do it myself.'”
It is likely to take place at the end of this month before William’s 21st birthday in June. It will be at St Andrews and Cox hopes to get a minimum of 45 minutes with the Prince.
“We are in first and I think that is absolutely right because it was our campaign that got him to that position,” said Cox. “I am absolutely delighted because it makes St James’s Palace hold true to the agreement it had when he took up his course. The Palace press office has been wonderful, but it is clear Wills doesn’t like doing interviews. It makes all the discipline of leaving him alone worthwhile.”
In March, News of the World editor Andy Coulson published unauthorised pictures of William and told MPs of his frustration at the lack of press facilities from the Palace.
By Jean Morgan