Lawyers will be carefully watching tonight’s second instalment of The Princes and The Press to decide if the broadcaster flouted rules regarding accuracy and impartiality as well as giving them a fair right of reply.
The first programme has already accused the royal households of actively briefing against Harry and Meghan, possibly with the blessing of senior royals.
The first instalment of The Princes and The Press has already accused the royal households of actively briefing against Harry and Meghan
The BBC has reportedly capitulated to Harry’s complaint that the term ‘Megxit’ – coined to describe the Sussexes’ decision to quit royal duties – was sexist. Tonight’s programme has instead been titled ‘Sussexit’.
In a recent online forum, Prince Harry said: ‘The term Megxit was or is a misogynistic term, and it was created by a troll, amplified by royal correspondents, and it grew and grew into mainstream media.’
BBC2’s The Princes and The Press has infuriated the royal households over ‘overblown and unfounded’ claims.
Royal aides are also angry at what they perceive to be the broadcaster’s failure to offer a proper right of reply against the more egregious claims by ‘pro-Sussex’ journalists in the programme.
They include Omid Scobie, author of the flattering Finding Freedom biography of the couple. He claimed – without providing any credible evidence or being challenged by presenter Amol Rajan – that ‘negative stories’ had been leaked about Meghan to ‘put her in her place’.
Mr Scobie said: ‘There’s been rumours that a lot of the most damaging and negative stories… have come from other royal households or royal aides. From my research and reporting that’s true.’
The Royal Family has not ruled out taking action against the BBC over the final instalment of its inflammatory documentary series
Airtime was also given to the duchess’s lawyer Jenny Afia, speaking with her express permission, to counter reports that she was ‘difficult’ to work with.
Again her statement was not subject to scrutiny, particularly given that Buckingham Palace has launched an internal probe into allegations of bullying by Meghan.
The final episode of the two-part series is set to be even more explosive, with concern there will be suggestions senior royals, most notably William, ‘planted’ stories about Harry’s mental health.
William, who has earned plaudits for his long-standing campaign on mental health, is said to be particularly upset at the suggestion.
It was Harry himself who first raised the subject in a 2019 television interview, saying he had experienced a resurgence of mental health issues that needed ‘constant management’.
At the time William was only reported to have been ‘concerned’ at his brother’s wellbeing after viewing the programme, which was considered a natural response. Sources go further, saying the suggestion any claims about Harry’s mental health were ‘planted’ are ‘categorically untrue’.
All three royal households – Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Kensington Palace – are understood to be in ‘lockstep’ over their reaction to the documentary. The Mail understands that no final decision will be made over what action, if any, will be taken in response until tonight’s final episode has been aired.
The final episode of the two-part series is set to be even more explosive, with concern there will be suggestions senior royals, most notably William, ‘planted’ stories about Harry’s mental health
It could take the form of a robust complaint to the BBC governors or to watchdog Ofcom. They could even take legal action, although that option is more unlikely.
But it is clear that what has transpired in recent days will have lasting ramifications.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have already banned the BBC from airing a charity carol concert at Westminster Abbey next month.
Sources say forthcoming projects such as the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee are unlikely to be affected but William in particular is likely to ‘think twice’ about future collaborations.
Insiders told the Mail last week that suggestions William and Harry engaged in ‘destructive’ briefings could not be more wide of the mark.
Aides were determined not to be drawn into a war of words, despite several inflammatory television interviews given by the Sussexes.
Riddle of host’s swing behind Tories won’t hold him back at BBC, say insiders
A sudden flip-flop to support the Tories is not likely to hurt royal documentary host Amol Rajan should he run to be the BBC’s next political editor, senior figures at the corporation said last night.
It was claimed yesterday that when Mr Rajan was editor of Left-wing newspaper The Independent, he had agreed at the 11th hour to back the Conservatives in the 2015 general election if then-prime minister David Cameron attended the birthday party of the paper’s owner, Evgeny Lebedev.
It shocked many readers after months of praise for Labour.
Republican Amol Rajan’s documentary The Princes and The Press prompted the Royal Family to threaten to boycott the BBC
But the about-face does not seem to have harmed Mr Rajan’s rumoured chances of replacing Laura Kuenssberg as BBC political editor, should she step down in the near future as expected, insiders told the Mail.
Colleagues pointed out that director-general Tim Davie was a fan. Another senior BBC insider also doubted that the revelations would affect his potential candidacy.
The same colleagues questioned whether Mr Rajan, 38, who is currently media editor, wants the job at all.
They said they believe he is more interested in a presenting role such as that currently held by Andrew Marr, who is leaving the BBC after 21 years.
In 2013 Mr Rajan, pictured, who is also a host on the Today programme, became the first non-white Fleet Street newspaper editor aged 29.
The Mail on Sunday reported that in the months leading up to the election, The Independent was highly critical of the Tories’ record in the Coalition government.
A sudden flip-flop to support the Tories is not likely to hurt royal documentary host Mr Rajan
An editorial on April 4 read: ‘The plain fact is that the Conservatives have misread the national mood again, and it is depressing their electoral appeal…the Tory leadership looks and sounds a little too public school, a touch too smug and a bit too sympathetic to business vested interests.’
Other editorials criticised the Conservatives’ Right to Buy plans as well as labelling the decision not to raise taxes as ‘foolish’.
However, just two days before the election, The Independent performed a U-turn and praised Mr Cameron for ‘an exceptional achievement’ in creating more jobs and said his party ‘deserve tremendous credit’ for improving schools.
The Guardian reported at the time that Mr Cameron did indeed attend the party of Russian businessman Mr Lebedev, who turned 35 on May 8 – the day after polling day.
Republican Mr Rajan’s documentary The Princes and The Press prompted the Royal Family to threaten to boycott the BBC.
The BBC last night said there was no vacancy for the political editor job. Mr Rajan has denied suggestions he changed the editorial line to please Mr Lebedev.