Politics

How Trump Tricked The Press Into Reporting The Royals Were Joining His Florida Club

Mar-a-LIEgo.

Jeff Zelevansky / Reuters

Donald Trump has, throughout his career, manipulated the media to his own means — leaking information to the press to bolster his image or to keep his name in the public eye.

Some of this information was blatantly false, such as the time in 1994 when he told the press that Princess Diana and Prince Charles would be joining his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida. The news made headlines around the country.

“Charles and Di join, but separately,” read the Associated Press story about the pair joining the club.

According to the stories from the time, Trump handled the paperwork for the royal couple personally. “Anything with public names was handled personally by Mr. Trump,” Debra Tornaben, the resort’s special events director, said. “The prince and princess are members — I know Donald handled it personally.”

Trump was bold enough to talk to the paper of record about the membership. “I handled the applications myself,” Trump told the New York Times. “More than 250 memberships have been sold, even before the start of the campaign.”

“We are raising the initiation fee to $75,000 and shortly thereafter to $100,000,” he added in Times report.

Buckingham Palace slammed the report as “complete and utter rubbish.”

“It’s complete nonsense, they haven’t joined the club,” declared a spokesperson for Buckingham Palace a week later.

“Complete and utter rubbish,” Buckingham Palace added further.

“The prince and princess have not paid any money to join,” the palace said again. “If Mr. Trump has made them honorary members then that’s up to him.

Trump, confronted by New York Magazine about the story, backtracked. “I didn’t say they signed,” he told the magazine. “I said they were members.”

A month later, a correction was added to the Times article.

“Correction: January 26, 1995, Thursday: A report in the Chronicle column on Dec. 28 about the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla., which is owned by Donald Trump, referred erroneously to a transaction involving the Prince and Princess of Wales,” it reads. “Mr. Trump said yesterday that the Prince and Princess were offered honorary free memberships and that they had not responded to the offer. They did not apply to join or pay an initiation fee.”

The royals were not the only big name to shoot down rumors they joined Trump’s club. Henry Kissinger too pushed back on reports he joined the club.

“It was unsolicited. He did not apply and he did not pay any fees,” a spokeswoman for Henry Kissinger said at the time. “If he is a member, it’s strictly honorary.”

It also wasn’t the first time Trump boasted about the royals being interested in his property. Earlier in the year, Buckingham Palace called report that Princess Diana wanted an apartment in Trump Tower “rubbish”

“The princess has no intention of buying any property in America or of moving to America,” said a palace spokesman at the time about the Trump Tower rumors.

The source of that rumor, which was cited to anonymous sources at the New York Post, was Trump. It was all a part of what Trump biographer Henry Hurt III called Trump’s “the art of the spiel” in his book the Lost Tycoon

“Here’s how I work,” Trump is quoted as informing an associate in the book. “I call the society editor [of one of the New York tabloids] and tell them that Princess Diana and Prince Charles are going to purchase an apartment in Trump tower. And they, in turn, investigate the source, call Buckingham Palace. And the comment is, ‘no comment.’ Which means that it appears to the public that Princess Di and Prince Charles are going to purchase an apartment in the Trump Tower.”

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