THE British Royal Family is often referred to as ‘The Firm’ by some of its own members. It’s a tightly run operation, in which key players are expected to pull their weight in service of the country. The corporate analogy is not wasted on the sizeable organisation that is the House of Windsor, with Forbes estimating that its pre-pandemic annual contribution to the UK economy was £19 billion, mostly through tourism.
Prince Philip’s memorial this week, immediately following the Cambridges’ Caribbean tour, was a reminder that interest in the Royals remains high. It is therefore likely to sustain this income stream for the UK, regardless of reputational issues around certain family members no longer on the A-list and the ongoing cost of keeping the show on the road.
Though not in business at any point in his life, Prince Philip might have applied the secrets of his longevity rather successfully if he’d entered the corporate world:
- Love your work
- Stick to what you know best and do it as well as possible
- Be yourself, be authentic
- Work hard
- Embrace technology and appreciate its potential to make things better
As a collective unit, the Royal Family has also provided some good recent examples of behaviours that might translate well for businesses large and small. Arguably the most important of these is a willingness to change: pursuing the same route and expecting to arrive at a different destination is, after all, madness. In the Royals’ case, the road to greater relevance has involved recognising social change and becoming far less rigid in their protocols.
It’s true that while the Royal Family is undoubtedly constrained in many ways regarding its communications, actions and ‘corporate’ behaviour, equally it is sometimes able to take greater risks than other institutions. This is perhaps because it is subject to a different, somewhat less direct accountability. Corporations, even private ones, are answerable to shareholders for delivering acceptable returns.
Nonetheless, as we know only too well in the world of corporate recovery and turnaround, confronting problems is a huge leap in mindset for most heading an organisation, whether it’s The Windsors, an SME or a PLC. HM The Queen has been particularly adept at making tough decisions quickly in recent years, when all has not been in order on her own doorstep.
Above all, change is about doing. Since most businesses facing a crisis don’t share the Royal Family’s financial safety net, they can’t afford not to make tough decisions when the going gets tough – as it most surely has in the corporate world, on many fronts.
Written by Jo Milner, Partner at Buchler Phillips, the UK’s leading independent corporate recovery, restructuring and turnaround firm.