Putting on a united front. The British royal family voiced their concerns over BBC Two’s new documentary, The Princes and the Press, and how it represented Prince William and Prince Harry’s relationship with the media.
Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Kensington Palace — which represent Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles and wife Duchess Camilla, and William and wife Duchess Kate, respectively — released a joint statement on the matter, which was featured at the end of the program on Monday, November 22, according to the Evening Standard.
“A free, responsible and open press is of vital importance to a healthy democracy,” the statement read. “However, too often it is overblown and unfounded claims from unnamed sources that are presented as facts and it is disappointing when anyone, including the BBC, gives them credibility.”
The program, which is a two-part documentary, examines the dynamic between William, 39, Harry, 37, and the press throughout their lives.
The first episode, focused on the tensions that formed between the royal siblings and the media as they tried to navigate the positives and negatives of life in the public eye — specifically during the timeframe following the queen’s 2012 Diamond Jubilee.
Throughout the “New Generation” episode, different journalists and commentators were interviewed about alleged leaks or rumored phone hacking, with some claiming there were unofficial briefings that helped fuel stories.
The three royal households appeared to be unhappy with the documentary’s claims that some of the pieces published about William and Harry during their youth were based on information from people connected with them.
The BBC, however, fired back at the royal statement telling BBC News the special is “about how royal journalism is done and features a range of journalists from broadcast and the newspaper industry”.
BBC Two’s program description further explains that the documentary’s intension is to “chart the years leading up to and including the engagement and marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.”
The network continued: “Providing context for the princes’ relationship with the media, the film examines some of the illegal activities engaged in by some newspapers in the late 1990s and early 2000s, including hacking and ‘blagging,’ and how these techniques were used to target members of the royal family and their associates.”
The second episode is set to air on Monday, November 29, and will focus on the lives of the men and their loved ones from 2018 to 2021. Topics will include the birth of Harry and Meghan Markle’s son, Archie, as well as the “circumstances” surrounding the couple’s decision to step back as senior royals in 2020.
“[BBC Media Editor Amol Rajan] considers the impact Princess Diana‘s experiences with the press and broadcasters had on her sons,” the description stated.
While Harry and Meghan, 40, haven’t released a public statement on the two-part TV event, a lawyer for the couple did appear on the show, according to the Evening Standard.
Attorney Jenny Afia responded to the allegations made against Meghan in March in a story published by The Times. At the time, the outlet reported that the pair’s former communications secretary, Jason Knauf, sent an email in 2018 that allegedly was forwarded to HR claiming that the “Duchess was able to bully two PAs out of the household in the past year” and was “seeking to undermine” another employee’s confidence.
An investigation was launched and a spokesperson for The Bench author denied the allegations in a statement to The Times. As the story resurfaced as a part of the BBC Two documentary, Meghan and Harry’s attorney is again denying any wrongdoing on the philanthropist’s part.
“Those stories were false,” Afia told the show’s presenter, Rajan. “This narrative that no one can work for the Duchess of Sussex, she was too difficult and demanding as a boss and everyone had to leave, it’s just not true.”