The British Royal family has come out swinging, accusing the BBC of giving credibility to “exaggerated and baseless claims” in a new documentary that puts the spotlight on the relationship between the media and the younger generation of Windsors.
The Princes and the Press, the first part of which aired on British television Monday night, examines how the media has treated the younger royal couples – the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Prince William, Kate Middleton) and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (Prince Harry, Meghan Marklea) — and the differences in press coverage between the two.
The three royal households – Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace and Clarence House – have called the two-part series “disappointing” and have criticized the BBC for lends “credibility” to the idea that other members of the royal household are using harmful information about the Sussexes. have leaked to the press over the years.
“A free, responsible and open press is vital to a healthy democracy. All too often it is exaggerated and baseless claims from unnamed sources that are presented as facts and it is disappointing when anyone, including the BBC, gives them credibility,” the statement said, which aired at the end of the broadcast. of the program on Monday. .
The BBC’s media editor, Amol Rajan, spent months putting together interviews for the documentary, including speaking to journalists and private investigators who found themselves becoming part of the royal story.
His documentary offers a behind-the-scenes look at some of the inappropriate — and in some cases disturbing — inner workings that have been kept hidden from the public.
For example, Gavin Burrows, a private investigator hired by the now-defunct News of the World, describes how he worked “relentlessly” to access the medical records of one of Prince Harry’s former girlfriends in an attempt to determine whether she has ever had an STI or abortion.
“I was actually part of a group of people who robbed (Harry) of his normal teenage years,” he tells the camera.
Many of the journalists interviewed claim that there is an “unspoken deal” between the royals and the press, giving the family access to news outlets that promise favorable coverage.
“The Windsor deal means that the royals get to live in a palace, they get some taxpayer money, in return they get access and a constant supply of stories and photos, they get favorable coverage and that helps them to manage their emotional to renew the contract. with the people,” Rajan tells the audience. “But that deal will only work if both parties stick to their side of the deal. And the question is, ‘Would Princess Diana’s children want to play that game?’”
The first episode covers the events from Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012 to the Sussex wedding in 2018. At first, the media seemed excited about a new generation of royals, but over time, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex began to get excited. sour. Reports about the couple became increasingly racist and misogynistic in a way that was never a problem for the Cambridges.
“William and Harry’s relationship with the media was fundamentally shaped from their childhood and their experiences with their mother’s relationship with the media,” royal contributor Victoria Murphy tells the documentary. “And that’s shaped absolutely everything about how they both view the media. But we’ve seen how they both age, how that manifests itself in different ways, and the different paths they’ve taken.”
The film explores some of the illegal activities, such as hacking and wiretapping, that left the press in hot water in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and how these activities were used to attack members of the royal family.
The first episode also details some of the competition between the royal households, with journalists telling how quickly members of the royal family turn against each other. Many of the film’s interviewees talk about how willing the various households are to leak unflattering information to the press.
“I think the palace is a nest of vipers at the best of times and there’s always a bit of gossip,” said Richard Palmer of the Daily Express in the film.
As of this writing, The Princes and the Press cannot (yet) be streamed or viewed in Canada.
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