Mark Bolland had a challenging task ahead of him when he started serving as the then-Prince Charles' private secretary in 1996. Bolland (Ben Lloyd-Hughes), who was only 30 years old at the time, was tasked with repairing Charles' (Dominic West) public image throughout his widely publicized and divisive divorce from Princess Diana, as seen in The Crown Season 5 (Elizabeth Debicki). Camilla Parker Bowles (Olivia Williams), who was at the center of the sensational split, was the target of a so-called "spin doctor" who toiled away — apparently at the expense of some other royals — to win over the public, who at the time viewed her as "the other woman."
Bolland recounted to MacLean's in 2005 that "a tiny college of people determined that I would be the appropriate person to aid him." "I would be respectful but rather edgy," I said, "and it was believed that I could talk openly to him."
Bolland is among those widely credited with rehabilitating the couple's reputation given that Camilla and Charles were wed in 2005, with the former subsequently receiving Queen Elizabeth II's approval to be recognized as "queen consort" after Charles became king. To launch his own public relations company, Mark Bolland & Associates, Bolland left his position as the prince's personal secretary not long after PR Week named him one of their PR Professionals of the Year in 2001. According to The Guardian, his clientele included Camelot and Berkeley Homes Group even though the company went out of business in 2020.
In 2003, Bolland also started penning a weekly column for News of the World under the pen name Blackadder, a nod to the character played by Rowan Atkinson in the BBC TV series. The action drew criticism. The Institute of Public Relations accused Bolland of betraying confidence and violating professional standards when he revealed behind-the-scenes information about St. James Palace and attempted in vain to have an award for his work with Camilla revoked. Had I been a little unruly? Probably," he responded when asked by the British Journalism Review. "In retrospect, that may not have been the best course of action because it thrust me right into the thick of things. Actually, I ought should have stayed home.
An ex-official from Buckingham Palace has also charged Bolland with using the royal family's members, such as Prince Philip and the Earl and Countess of Wessex, as distractions in his efforts to improve Charles' public image. Dicky Arbiter, a former palace press officer, stated in BBC1's Panorama: Queen Camilla? in October 2002, "I think Bolland has done an exceptionally wonderful job but he's walked a hazardous tightrope, in grave danger of creating permanent damage to the royal family." But thankfully, he was halted or stopped before he could cause any more harm. He has completed the task of introducing Mrs. Parker Bowles to the public, hence he is likely no longer necessary.
Bolland, a native of Toronto, Canada, is now said to reside in Clerkenwell with his partner, Lord Guy Black, a life peer and executive director of the Telegraph Media Group in the UK. Black is also a member of the House of Lords.