Why Punishing the ‘Dancing Guard’ Might be a Bad PR Move for Buckingham Palace

By now, you’ve likely seen the viral video of a member of the illustrious Queen’s Guard taking a timeout from the tedium and seriousness of his back-and-forth marching to break into dance (if you haven’t been graced with the subtle awesomeness that is this video, it’s included below). Since the red-coated guards of Buckingham Palace are famously stern and aren’t even supposed to crack a smile — let alone bust a move — the fleet-footed, lighthearted guard has become something of a YouTube sensation, bringing mirth and giggles to millions.

But England’s Ministry of Defense isn’t laughing.

Now that the guard has been identified publicly as 20-year-old Samuel Jones, his friends and family worry that the powers that be will make an example of him in an effort to prevent similar shenanigans in the future.

A friend of Jones’ recently told The Evening Standard, “The strict routines of army life can get a bit heavy sometimes and Sam really enjoys cheering people up…He has no idea how seriously his latest stunt would be taken – and it has worried his family…It was just a prank and everyone is hoping his bosses don’t make too much of an example out of him.”

The possible penalties could include a £1,000 fine, a loss of privileges, and even a three-week prison sentence. Though a Ministry of Defense spokesperson told The Evening Standard last week it was unlikely that Jones would be jailed, he also made it clear that the guard certainly isn’t getting off scott free: “He will face some sort of action but it is more likely to be a fine. No decision has been made,” the representative said.

But would removing him from his post or otherwise making an example out of Jones really be a good PR move? The video in question has now been viewed over 2.2 million times on YouTube, and the “dancing guard” has even earned a profile in the New York Times — that’s a lot of attention. And while the general attitude of all this publicity seems mostly a positive one of amusement and lightheartedness, should the Ministry of Defense come down hard on Jones, that attention could easily turn into a wave of scoffing and eye-rolling at what may seem like a predictably humorless move on behalf of “stuffy” royals (can’t you just see the tabloid headlines already?)

We understand, of course, that every military has rules that are meant to ensure safety and security, and that breaking those rules by letting one’s guard down — even for a moment of happy-footed-frolicking — needs to be discouraged, but no one likes a humorless disciplinarian; a slap on the wrist and a strong suggestion that he do all future pirouettes on his own time may be sufficient in this case.