Royal family slams 'overblown and unfounded claims' in bombshell BBC documentary

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Prince Charles, Meghan Markle, Prince Harry and Kate Middleton
Prince Charles, Meghan Markle, Prince Harry and Kate Middleton
Photo: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

  • The BBC's new documentary, The Princes and the Press could very well sour the relationship between the media and the royal family.
  • The documentary claims palace insiders fed the media negative stories about Harry and Meghan, while the royals maintained a good but limited relationship with the press over the years.
  • The three royal households representing Queen Elizabeth, Charles and William have since slammed the claims as "overblown and unfounded". 

Britain's royal family has slammed the BBC over a documentary that claimed a behind-the-scenes briefing war erupted before Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle quit frontline duties.

The Princes and the Press dwelt on how Harry and his elder brother William have handled the media as they rose to adult prominence following the tragic death of their mother Diana in 1997.

The first of two episodes, which aired on Monday night, suggested that Harry in particular had a hostile attitude to the media, which worsened after he started dating Meghan Markle in 2016. 

The programme claimed palace insiders drip-fed the media with negative stories about the initially popular Harry and Meghan, as a power battle played out behind palace walls. 

But it also reported that Harry sabotaged positive press coverage of a Middle East tour by his father Prince Charles, when he issued a blistering statement defending Meghan against unfavourable headlines.

"A free, responsible and open press is of vital importance to a healthy democracy," said a rare joint statement by the three royal households representing Queen Elizabeth II, Charles and William, which was included in the programme.

"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 royal family could boycott the national broadcaster in future, reports said. "Nothing is ruled out," The Sun newspaper reported, citing a senior royal source.

Queen Elizabeth
Queen Elizabeth

War of the Waleses

William and Harry were already furious at the BBC after a judicial inquiry confirmed that journalist Martin Bashir used false pretences to obtain a bombshell interview with their mother in 1995.

In the interview, Diana admitted adultery and famously said "there were three people" in her marriage - herself, Charles and his future wife Camilla Parker-Bowles.

READ MORE | A look at the first tell-all to shake the royals: Princess Diana's explosive Panorama interview

Diana died aged 36 in a high-speed car crash while being chased by paparazzi photographers in Paris. Charles married Camilla in a low-key civil ceremony in 2005.

The Princes and the Press said that while Harry had never shed his loathing of the press since Diana's death, William had come to an accommodation, granting limited access in return for favourable coverage.

"He's in a much better place (with the press) than his brother," the source told The Sun, insisting that William had banned his staff from briefing against other royals.

"He'd lived through that in the '90s with his parents in the 'War of the Waleses' and doesn't ever want it happening again."

Meghan Markle, Prince Harry
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.

The new BBC programme also discussed Meghan's alleged bullying of royal staff, which Buckingham Palace is investigating internally. A lawyer for the former Suits star appeared on air to deny the claims.

Citing media intrusion, Harry and Meghan quit royal life last year and now live in the United States, where they have signed a series of lucrative media deals and spoken out on a range of causes.

They have also openly criticised Britain's most famous family, including accusing an unnamed senior member of racism.

This month, Meghan apologised to a UK court after admitting to having cooperated with the authors of a fawning biography, having previously denied it.

The royal family meanwhile is braced for more legal fallout affecting Charles' younger brother, Prince Andrew, over his links to late US financier Jeffrey Epstein. 

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