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Margaret Thatcher aides used Prince William in media war via BBC News

Margaret Thatcher’s senior aides used photos of a baby Prince William to try to distract attention from a 1983 anti-nuclear march, official papers reveal.

Ministers feared protests might be so “widespread and powerful” that they could stop US cruise missiles from being based at RAF Greenham Common.

Newly-released files also show they were prepared for clashes between armed troops and objectors outside the base.

But they feared a public backlash if a protester was shot by US military.

To prevent that, Mrs Thatcher’s ministers ordered British troops to be ready to tackle protesters as the American nuclear warheads were delivered in November 1983, documents released to the National Archives in Kew, west London, show.

[…]

Whippet or tortoise racing’

Ahead of a massive demonstration planned for Easter Monday, Mrs Thatcher’s press secretary Bernard Ingham drew up a list of suggestions for getting media coverage and stealing some of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament’s thunder, files reveal.

They included photographs of Michael Heseltine visiting the Berlin Wall, and research on the many bank holiday activities which Mr Ingham thought were likely to be more popular than going on a CND demo.

Ideas included “motoring, watching football, racing, fishing… pigeon or whippet or tortoise racing”.

There was also another suggestion which is redacted in the main copy of his memo in the file – a note says it has been “temporarily retained”.

However, an unredacted copy of the same page appears elsewhere in the folder, from which it seems Mr Ingham’s propaganda masterstroke was to release pictures of Prince William, then aged 10 months and on his first visit to Australia.

Mr Ingham’s suggestion was acted on. When Prince Charles and Princess Diana landed at Alice Springs, a rather grumpy-looking William was duly brought down the aircraft steps by his nanny to be displayed to the cameras, before being quickly taken back on board.

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