Mark Bolland

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Mark William Bolland (born 10 April 1966) is a British public relations executive. Bolland worked for the Advertising Standards Authority and the Press Complaints Commission before serving as Deputy Private Secretary to Charles, Prince of Wales from 1997 to 2002. During his time with Charles, Bolland was credited with rehabilitating the prince's public image and enhancing the public image of the relationship between Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles, who would become the prince's second wife. After leaving the prince, Bolland established a public relations and communications firm, Mark Bolland & Associates, and has held several roles in the charitable and third sector.


Early life[edit]

Bolland was born in Toronto, Canada, the son of Arthur Bolland, who had emigrated from Middlesbrough in England, and his wife Joan. Before Bolland's birth his parents had had a daughter, Tracy, who had died aged six of a hole in the heart. Bolland was born a year after his sister's death. His parents later had a third child, Diana, and the family returned to England. Bolland was educated at the King's Manor School in Middlesbrough, and the University of York, where he received a BSc in chemistry.[1]

After university Bolland worked as a public affairs executive with Public Affairs International in Toronto before joining IBM's UK branch as a marketing executive where he worked from 1987 to 1988.[2]

After meeting Lord McGregor, Bolland worked as an adviser to him from 1989 to 1991 during McGregor's time as Director-General of the Advertising Standards Authority and followed him to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC), serving as an executive assistant during McGregor's chairmanship from 1991 to 1992. Bolland then served as director of the PCC from 1992 to 1996.[1] McGregor's successor at the PCC, Lord Wakeham, recommended to Charles, Prince of Wales, that Bolland should work as his adviser, and Bolland's partner, Guy Black, subsequently succeeded him as director of the PCC.[1]

Deputy Private Secretary to the Prince of Wales[edit]

Bolland was appointed Assistant Private Secretary to Charles, Prince of Wales in August 1996, and in 1997 became Deputy Private Secretary. Bolland has been described as a 'key figure' in the rehabilitation of Charles following his negative public image after the death of his first wife, Diana, in 1997 and helping to create public acceptance for the relationship between Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles which led to their marriage in 2005.[3] The popularity rating of Charles increased from a low of 20 per cent following the death of Diana to 75 per cent during Bolland's tenure.[1]

Bolland and the prince's Private Secretary, Stephen Lamport, helped devise a media strategy that enhanced the public image of Charles and Camilla's relationship. The pair orchestrated the media coverage of the prince's first photographed public appearance with Camilla at the Ritz Hotel in January 1999 (dubbed 'Operation Ritz'), and of Camilla's first meeting with the Queen in June 2000 at a private party at Highgrove House. A June 2000 article in The Times by Andrew Pierce said that the media coverage of the meeting between the Queen and Camilla had marked 'the culmination of three years work by Bolland and Lamport' who since the divorce of Charles and Diana had 'worked tirelessly ever since on the public rehabilitation of Prince Charles and Parker Bowles...In the past week Parker Bowles has lost the loaded word mistress. She is now referred to as companion or even partner'.[4] The first report of the Highgrove meeting was published in The News of the World, then edited by Rebekah Brooks, a close friend of Bolland.[4]

An October 1998 article in The Times called "The Prince's Circle" described Bolland as having been '...credited with "updating" the Prince's image' by encouraging Charles to meet the Spice Girls, Nelson Mandela, and Peter Mandelson but also said that he was blamed for the negative publicity that resulted from Penny Junor's biography of the prince, Charles: Victim or Villain?.[5]

Bolland also helped the establishment of special media arrangements to safeguard the privacy of Charles's sons, princes William and Harry at school and university, and was reportedly nicknamed "Blackadder" by the young princes.[1]

As a result of allegations by George Smith, a former royal valet, Charles was forced to deny an allegation that had not previously been public knowledge. Bolland felt that the story had become public because of courtiers who resented the close links between himself and the PCC run by his partner, Guy Black. In a 2004 interview with Mary Riddell, Bolland said that "If you start throwing lawyers at some newspapers, they think you have something to hide. The story had been around for two or three years, and we (St James's Palace) had all said it was utterly ridiculous and that we would make any paper who published it look incredibly stupid. I think there was a reaction against what was seen to be too cosy a relationship between the Palace and the press's self-regulatory mechanism; ie, me and Guy. They thought that was the wrong way of doing things, and bringing the lawyers in was the right way. They got overly aggressive... and that's why it all came out into the public domain."[1]

Lamport was replaced as the prince's Private Secretary by Michael Peat in 2002 and Bolland later felt that he should have left at the same time, but felt under pressure to stay. Bolland was also accused of leaking negative stories about British royal family members, with Sholto Byrnes writing in a 2005 article in The Independent that 'By making them look bad, it was said, he made his boss look good in comparison.' In the same article Bolland himself said that "The team that was there probably cared too much and got too emotional about it at times...We got in a sort of Prince of Wales bunker within the House of Windsor. But to an extent that reflected him."[6]

In The News of the World in 2003 Bolland claimed that in a phone call Peat had asked him if Charles was bisexual, to which Bolland said that he was astonished at the question and had told him "...emphatically that the Prince was not gay or bisexual."[7] Bolland later said in a 2004 interview that "What I was saying was that it had all got out of hand, because too many people around the Palace were asking that question. Clearly it is a preposterous question to ask. I think I helped end the story, because it actually died the next day...I'm sure other people wouldn't share that interpretation. Had I been a bit naughty? Well, probably. In hindsight, it maybe wasn't the smartest thing to have done because it put me into the middle of it all. I should actually have stayed out."[1]

Bolland believed that Peat's poor handling of a rumour involving Prince Harry proved fatal to his tenure with Charles. After a rumour that a tabloid newspaper was trying to obtain a lock of Harry's hair in order to perform a DNA test, Peat had informed the police before talking to the newspaper concerned. Bolland disagreed with how Peat had handled the story, saying that in an interview that "The trouble with telling the police is that news leaks out. Rebekah [Brooks] made it plain she was very cross. She was adamant the story wasn't true. It was even written that it was all a great scheme of mine to embarrass Michael. I had other things to do, and I wasn't motivated in that way. But it was the final straw. I was put in a very difficult position with the Prince in terms of having to defend Michael, because he (Charles) was not happy with the way the matter had been dealt with. I told Michael: 'This isn't going to work. It's too much aggravation for you, and for me'."[1] Bolland later worked as a consultant to Charles after his resignation until the end of 2003, whilst earning the same £150,000 salary that he had previously been paid.[1] Bolland's consultancy work for Charles was also affected by Peat, with Bolland saying that "As human beings, we got on perfectly well. But Michael didn't want any vacuums in his operation. I think he developed a concern that I was there in the background. That was not helpful to him, and he wouldn't put up with it."[1]

His role was recognised by the PR industry in 2001 when he was awarded the prestigious PR Week "Professional of the Year Award".[8]

A two part television series on Bolland's work for Charles, Reinventing the Royals, was due to be broadcast on BBC 2 in January 2014 but was postponed. The programme was written and presented by Steve Hewlett and was made without cooperation or the involvement of the royal family.[9]

Post-royal work[edit]

Bolland established the public relations and communications consultancy, Mark Bolland & Associates.[10]

Bolland has held numerous positions in the third sector, having joined the Journalists' Charity as its vice-president in 2007, and serving as a trustee of the Open Futures Trust from 2010 to 2014 and the Middlesbrough and Teesside Philanthropic Foundation from 2012 to 2014.[11][12] Bolland has also served as a trustee of several high net worth family charitable foundations and trusts including the Helen Hamlyn Trust from 2008 to 2014, the David Ross Foundation from 2011 to present, and as director of the Bertarelli Foundation from 2013.[2]

Bolland wrote the "Restaurant Spy" column for ES, the lifestyle magazine of the London Evening Standard from 2006 to 2009,[13] has contributed occasional articles for the Mail on Sunday, and book reviews for the British Journalism Review,[14] and wrote a column for the News of the World under the byline of 'Blackadder'.[1] He has also appeared on Newsnight Review.[15]

In June 2011 The Independent alleged that Bolland was closely linked to organised efforts to remove information from the Wikipedia articles of the clients of his firm including Edward Stanley, 19th Earl of Derby, David Ross, Maan Al-Sanea, and Bolland's partner, Guy Black. A single IP address in Clerkenwell, the location of Mark Bolland & Associates, had made several edits to the articles.[16]

In 2014, Bolland was named as one of London's most 1000 influential people by the Evening Standard.[17] Bolland is a member of the Garrick Club.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Bolland entered a civil partnership with his partner Guy Black in February 2006 at Islington Town Hall, in a ceremony witnessed by Murdoch MacLennan, the chief executive of the Telegraph Media Group, and Rebekah Brooks, then editor of The Sun.[18] On 22 June, 2015, the couple married, again at Islington Town Hall. The couple lives in Clerkenwell.

Black was the former Press Secretary to Michael Howard during Howard's period as leader of the Conservative Party, and presently serves as the executive director of the Telegraph Media Group. Black was created a life peer in 2010 as Baron Black of Brentwood, and sits as a Conservative member of the House of Lords.[19]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Blackadder bites back, Mary Riddell – British Journalism Review Vol. 15, No. 2, 2004". British Journalism Review. Retrieved 6 February 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c "Mark Bolland - Debrett's People of Today". Debrett's People of Today. Debrett's. Retrieved 1 January 2015. 
  3. ^ Alan Hamilton. "The pariah Prince wins back the hearts of his public.", The Times, London, 24 October 1998, pg. 21.
  4. ^ a b Andrew Pierce. "How the mistress became a partner.", The Times, London, 9 June 2000.
  5. ^ "The Prince's Circle.", The Times, London, 31 October 1998
  6. ^ Sholto Byrnes (30 March 2005). "Mark Bolland: Marital aide". The Independent. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  7. ^ Andrew Alderson (29 December 2014). "Prince Charles 'set to sue' Palace aide over scandal". The Telegraph. Retrieved 9 November 2003. 
  8. ^ PR Week UK, 10 January 2003, 12:00am (2003-01-10). "St James's Palace media team take on Bolland duties – PR and Public Relations news". PR Week. Retrieved 2011-06-10. 
  9. ^ "BBC postpones broadcast of film about Prince Charles’s former spin doctor". The Guardian. 29 December 2014. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  10. ^ "Mark Bolland & Associates". Retrieved 2011-06-10. 
  11. ^ "Linking Learning and Life". Open Futures. 2010-06-07. Retrieved 2011-06-10. 
  12. ^ "Trustees". Middlesbrough and Teesside Philanthropic Foundation. 
  13. ^ "Mark Bolland Reviews". Retrieved 2011-06-10. 
  14. ^ "Book Review: Pros and cons: The Fame Formula, by Mark Borkowski (Sidgwick & Jackson, pp380, {pound}16.99) – Bolland 19 (3): 71 – British Journalism Review". Retrieved 2011-06-10. 
  15. ^ "Programmes | Newsnight Home | Newsnight Review | Mark Bolland". BBC News. 2006-10-05. Retrieved 2011-06-10. 
  16. ^ "Mystery of the Wikifixer: who is the secret image-cleansing agent?". Retrieved 2013-06-10. 
  17. ^ "The 1000: London's most influential people 2014 - Newsmakers". Evening Standard. 16 October 2014. Retrieved 13 December 2014. 
  18. ^ Cosmia Marriner (14 February 2006). "Cosmia Marriner: City diary". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  19. ^ Lisa O'Carroll (24 May 2013). "Lord Black: the Tory peer at the heart of media's biggest battle". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 February 2015.