Royal Family Declares New Documentary 'Disappointing' For Airing 'Unfounded Claims'

The households representing Queen Elizabeth, Prince William and Prince Charles issued a rare statement of solidarity against the BBC.

The royal family issued a statement Monday calling a new BBC Two documentary “disappointing” after the outlet aired the first part of its series examining the complicated relationship between the royals and the media.

The episode that aired Monday night, “The Princes and the Press,” was hosted by BBC media editor Amol Rajan and explored Prince William’s and Prince Harry’s dealings with the press.

It featured interviews with various royal correspondents and “looked at suggestions of briefings and counter-briefings, and whether negative stories about the royals were based on information from people connected to other royal households,” according to the BBC.

The households representing Queen Elizabeth, Prince William and Prince Charles issued a rare statement of solidarity against the BBC, which was included at the end of the episode.

Members of the royal family on the balcony at Buckingham Palace to mark the centenary of the RAF on July 10, 2018, in London.
Members of the royal family on the balcony at Buckingham Palace to mark the centenary of the RAF on July 10, 2018, in London.
Chris Jackson via Getty Images

“A free, responsible and open press is of vital importance to a healthy democracy,” the joint statement from Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace and Clarence House said. “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 statement did not specify which claims the households believed to be unfounded.

The BBC said the program was intended to show “how royal journalism is done and features a range of journalists from broadcast and the newspaper industry.”

The airing of the documentary reportedly influenced Kate Middleton and Prince William’s sudden decision to ban the BBC from airing their upcoming Christmas special, The Sun reported on Wednesday.

The BBC declined to comment to HuffPost on Wednesday. Kensington Palace did not return a request for comment.

“The Princes and the Press” provided a more in-depth look at how some royals ― and their separate households ― toe a tricky line between personal and professional relationships within their own family. Sky News royal correspondent Rhiannon Mills provided some insight on how the royal households operate as “silos.”

“Within each household, there is still this competitiveness about getting coverage for their causes, the visits that they’re doing,” Mills said, according to Insider.

“When I’ve tried to interview Prince Charles and tried to ask him about his sons maybe being involved in championing causes around young people, Prince Charles sidestepped that. He didn’t want to talk about that.”

Omid Scobie, Harper’s Bazaar’s royal editor and the author of “Finding Freedom,” also spoke of households leaking “damaging and negative press” about each other.

“There’s been [a] rumor for quite some time that the most damaging and negative stories about Harry and Meghan that have ended up in the pages of the press have come from other royal households or from other royal aides or courtiers,” he said. “And from my own reporting and research that is exactly true.”

Princes Harry and William attend the unveiling of a statue of their mother, Princess Diana, at the Sunken Garden in Kensington Palace on July 1. The brothers set aside their differences to attend the event on what would have been her 60th birthday.
Princes Harry and William attend the unveiling of a statue of their mother, Princess Diana, at the Sunken Garden in Kensington Palace on July 1. The brothers set aside their differences to attend the event on what would have been her 60th birthday.
DOMINIC LIPINSKI via Getty Images

Prince Harry has routinely spoken out against the media over the years, and called out the U.K. tabloids in particular. During the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s interview with Oprah Winfrey earlier this year, Harry shed some light on the “invisible contract” some members of his family have with the media.

“I’m acutely aware of how scared my family is of the tabloids turning on the royal family,” he said. “It’s a case of if you as a family member are willing to wine, dine and give full access to reporters, you’ll get better press.”

The duke added that “there is a level of control by fear that has existed for generations.”

When Meghan and Harry announced in 2020 they were stepping back from royal duties, they said they would discontinue their relationship with the Royal Rota, the group of journalists from British media outlets that cover the royals.

And despite the differences in how the Duke of Cambridge and Duke of Sussex work with the press, the brothers issued separate statements in unison earlier this year, calling out the BBC and now-former BBC journalist Martin Bashir for the “deceitful way” the outlet obtained an interview with their mother, the late Princess Diana, in 1995.

Harry will have the chance to tell his own side of the story in his upcoming memoir, which is due out next year.

“I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity to share what I’ve learned over the course of my life so far and excited for people to read a firsthand account of my life that’s accurate and wholly truthful,” he said in a statement earlier this year.

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