I could tell, just from Prince William’s reaction, that The Princes and the Press was going to be good. William did what any ill-tempered, short-sighted, squirrelly dumbass would do in his situation: he Streisand-Effected the program which he didn’t want anyone to watch. He roped Clarence House and Buckingham Palace into his drama and he tried to make it sound like all of his nasty, contemptuous actions belonged to Harry. The Princes and the Press is basically a series of probing interviews – conducted by Amol Rajan – with Royal Rota journalists. Rajan pleasantly gives them enough rope to hang themselves and the monarchy. As the Guardian summed up:
Ultimately, Rajan’s programme eloquently if unwittingly made the case for the republicanism he once overtly espoused. Royal journalism, as he showed it in action, does the opposite of exciting reverence: rather, it places its hand gently on the backs of Britons’ heads and pushes our noses deep into the royal family’s dirty linen. Everybody involved gets degraded by it.
The stories and insights within The Princes and the Press are nothing new to long-time royal watchers, nor is any of this shocking if you listened to Harry’s words in the Oprah interview and The Me You Can’t See. Harry spoke openly about the invisible contract with the press, about the generational trauma he was expected to endure and inflict on his own children. Meghan’s lawyer was actually interviewed in the documentary, and you’ll never guess who latched onto that fact as some kind of proof that the documentary is pro-Sussex propaganda. Yes, now that Part 1 of the program has aired, Kensington Palace, Clarence House and Buckingham Palace are all throwing a tantrum:
The BBC was accused of giving credibility to ‘overblown and unfounded claims’ about the Royal Family last night as it broadcast a controversial documentary about William and Harry. In an extraordinary joint statement, Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace and Clarence House said it was ‘disappointing’ that the broadcaster had chosen to air allegations surrounding Harry and Meghan’s departure from Britain.
Lawyers for the Royal Family were on standby over the two-part BBC2 series, which included claims that insiders from other royal households had briefed against the Sussexes. Buckingham Palace has reportedly threatened a boycott on future projects with the BBC after courtiers were not allowed to view the programme before the first episode was aired last night.
In the strongly-worded joint statement given to the BBC ahead of last night’s programme, representatives for the Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William said: ‘A free, responsible and open Press is of vital importance to a healthy democracy. However, too often overblown and unfounded claims from unnamed sources are presented as facts and it is disappointing when anyone, including the BBC, gives them credibility.’
Last night’s first episode of The Princes and The Press detailed media coverage of the young royals from 2012 to 2018, when Harry and Meghan became engaged. It included claims of ‘competitiveness’ between the different royal households.
Journalist Omid Scobie, co-author of the controversial biography of the Sussexes, Finding Freedom, said negative stories had been leaked about Meghan, although he did not name those involved. ‘There were some people who felt she [Meghan] needed to be put in her place. I think by leaking a negative story, that’s punishment. There’s been rumours for quite some time that a lot of the most damaging and negative stories… have come from other royal households or from other royal aides. From my own research and reporting that’s exactly true.’
“However, too often overblown and unfounded claims from unnamed sources are presented as facts…” What is this even in reference to? Is the joint statement saying that The Princes and the Press is full of unnamed sources presenting unfounded claims as facts? Or is that exactly what the Royal Rota journalists have done when they use unnamed sources, senior palace aides and “sources close to William” in the years-long character assassination of an American woman?
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Backgrid and WENN.