The most famous book of military tactics, The Art of War, was written in the 5th century BC by Sun Tzu, but it's starting to look like an equally devastating treatise on battlefield strategy is being written in London by royal courtiers.
In the weeks since Harry and Meghan, Duke and Duchess of Sussexes' history-making interview with Oprah Winfrey (and their allegations of royal indifference to her declining mental health and of racism), the palace's response has seemingly been one of futile determination to minimise the scale of the crisis.
After all, the palace took nearly two leaden days to put out a scant 61-word statement in response saying the "cornering" issues the couple had raised would be "addressed by the family privately," before the entire clutch of HRHs left proceeded to gamely get on with their packed schedules of remotely jollying along a shattered Britain.
The message they were attempting to send to the world was clear: That Harry and Meghan's outpouring was nothing more than a temper tantrum of sorts, all foot-stamping and finger-pointing; prime time sound and fury signifying nothing more than a ratings smash for CBS and a childish outpouring of perceived grievances. The adults in the (throne) room would sort out the mess.
All of which felt decidedly lacklustre, as if the royal family have spent the last few weeks pitifully clinging to their tried and tested 'How to survive a PR disaster' guide that by now is dog-eared and yellowing from overuse. (Prince Andrew, much of the blame for this rests on you.)
Basically, it was starting to look like the royal family was out of their depth as the Sussexes' nimbly outmanoeuvred the lumbering royal house.
Except now it looks like the house of Windsor might have, all along, been playing a far savvier and more cunning game, plotting and planning the sort of fightback that Tzu would have appreciated.
The first, big clue came over the weekend when the Sunday Times published an extensive profile of Prince William called, tellingly, "The Other Brother."
Written by the paper's royal correspondent Roya Nikkhah, the piece was positively stuffed with quotes from a who's who of big names, including former Conservative leader Lord Hague and William's former private secretary Miguel Head, who shared insights about the Prince that were far more personal and revelatory than anything that has ever entered the public realm before.
None – absolutely none – of these people would have opened their mouths within yelling distance of a journalist and her trusty tape recorder without royal approval.
Next, William appeared in a video for Comic Relief saying that mental health is a subject "close to his heart".
Meanwhile, Seyi Obakin, the CEO of homeless charity Centrepoint, of which William has been the patron for 15 years, took the pages of UK's The Telegraph to combat the claims of royal racism, and to talk about how they got to know one another while spending a night sleeping under a bridge.
Then came reports appearing across the British press revealing that the palace is considering appointing a diversity chief, with royal sources putting it about the place that the move that had already been in motion prior to the Harry and Meghan's Oprah blitzkrieg.
Starting to see a pattern here?
Rather than parrying with the Sussexes and trying to directly land a few punches (metaphorically speaking of course), instead the palace has crafted a far more canny approach, having bided their time and made the decision to retaliate on their own terms. Rather than going on the defensive are primarily focused on going on the offensive.
Without uttering Harry and Meghan's names, the palace seems to be working to neutralise Harry and Meghan's most damaging claims about mental health and racism, while simultaneously providing a stinging counterpoint to Harry's version of 21st century, prime time emoting princedom.
Because boosting William and buffing his halo not only stands the royal house in good, future stead but carries with it an implicit criticism of his younger brother's approach.
The unspoken message of much of the palace's William-focused media onslaught seems to be, 'This is what a Prince dedicated to duty and his country looks like, a man focused on hard work and not sulkily going on TV to gripe about his family for two hours.'
Similarly, the narrative being pushed by the palace, to William the throne isn't an onerous burden to be borne with resignation but a glittering opportunity to help create a better, modern Britain.
Notice that Charles does not factor into the palace's own version of the Art of War – we are not seeing glowing profiles of our next king or seeing his associates start speaking out to defend his egalitarian bonafides.
The world has barely heard a peep from the next-in-line to the throne aside from a rather tender image of the Prince with wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, that was posted to make the first official day of spring.
The palace has realised that it is the younger generations whose hearts and minds they crucially need to win over and who better than a conservation-focused king-in-waiting who (according to them) played a pivotal role in ending China's export ivory trade? Who has slept under a bridge in the name of combating homelessness? Who has already decided he doesn't want to preside over a chronic plaque-opening version of a royal family but wants to muck in and tackle things such as racism in football and mental health?
However, don't think what we have seen over the weekend, this carefully calibrated round of media manoeuvring in the UK, is the totality of the palace's push back. Rather, this is the opening salvo in what could well be a protracted trans-Atlantic PR battle.
In April, William and his wife Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, will celebrate their 10-year wedding anniversary.
In May, the Queen will return to London for the opening of parliament for the first time since 2019. (Quick Jarvis, one needs one mace!)
While June's Trooping the Colour has been cancelled for the second year in a row, an alternative event to be held at Windsor Castle is being considered. The same month Ascot, will take place, albeit socially distanced.
At all of the events – perennially red-letter engagements in royal calendars – expect to see a concerted and vigorous campaign to push the image of a unified royal family, the message being that Megxit and its various aftershocks are nothing but a piffling trifle which has not swayed the royal house from their course one jot.
I think we can also expect to see both William and Kate rolled out with even more gusto and regularity. While couple, who are the only working members of the royal family under the age of 55-years-old, have been shouldering responsible for giving the monarchy a touch of youthful verve ('youthful' being a comparative term in the royal world) since Harry and Meghan traded Windsor the sunnier climes of Montecito, I think we will see more of their heartwarming double act.
Last week (hardly a coincidence) it was a noticeably playful William and Kate who appeared in a St Patrick's Day video.
Expect to start seeing more of this far more human, real version of royalty that could not be further from the gloved-hand-waving-from-a-Rolls version of royalty that has long been the standard.
Ditto, their children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis. While the Cambridges have always doggedly guarded the privacy of their brood, the last year has seen the trio of adorable HRHs appear even more in public via carefully planned social media outings. (Seeing five-year-old Charlotte in a video asking David Attenborough if liked spiders might have done far more for the cause of monarchy than a decade worth of Princess Anne opening home counties rec centres.)
Again, while any outing would be stage-managed and painstakingly choreographed, the royal family wants the public focus to be on these younger generations of Windsors.
Make no mistake: We are just seeing the beginnings of this propaganda fight.
So, while Tzu might have written, "The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting" the palace courtiers' strategy appears to be more along the lines of "the supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without appearing once on a patio with Oprah".
If anyone inside the place is taking notes they could have a bestseller on their hands.
• Daniela Elser is a royal expert and writer with more than 15 years experience working with a number of Australia's leading media titles.