Staff working at the Woking PizzaExpress branch were warned to watch out for undercover reporters asking surreptitious questions about Prince Andrew as the Duke celebrated his 60th birthday yesterday.
The restaurant became the unlikely subject of intense scrutiny last year when the Duke of York told the BBC’s Emily Maitlis he could not have had sex with teenager Virginia Giuffre because he had spent the day in question attending a birthday party at the branch with daughter Princess Beatrice.
In an internal email seen by The Caterer, PizzaExpress said: “It is worth remembering that this could lead to some reporters making their way to the pizzeria today, as his birthday could potentially provide another reason to report on the situation. Unfortunately, if any journalists do come to the pizzeria, they could ask questions whilst posing as members of the public in order to get a scoop for their story.
“As such, we wanted to send a polite reminder that our policy remains the same and you should not directly comment on anything related to Prince Andrew or his birthday.”
Yesterday the prince, who has stepped back from royal duties since details of his friendship with disgraced US financier Jeffrey Epstein came to light, held low-key celebrations of the milestone birthday.
PizzaExpress Woking was inundated by both reporters and fake reviews following the Maitlis interview, in which the prince had said: "Going to PizzaExpress in Woking is an unusual thing for me to do, a very unusual thing for me to do."
PizzaExpress is far from the first restaurant group forced to react to media scrutiny not of its own making. To learn more about crisis management and protecting your staff, attend The Caterer's Marketing & PR Summit on 7 October 2020.
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