The royal family would like to remind us not to believe everything we read (or watch), thank you very much.
A two-part BBC documentary about the notoriously vicious British press’s relationship to princes Harry and William has prompted a rare joint statement from three generations of the monarchy, and speculation that the royal family might boycott the network.
The Princes and the Press, the first part of which aired November 22, looks at the way the two princes were reported on during their young adulthood and culminates with the engagement of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Per the BBC, it’s as much about the brothers as it is about the way the media treated them, and “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.” Part two, which will air on November 29, covers 2018 to 2021.
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None of the royals have participated in the documentary but were, according to BBC guidelines, asked for comment. And part one reportedly ends with a joint statement from Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace, and Clarence House (a.k.a. Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles, and Prince William), saying, “A free, responsible and open press is of vital importance to a healthy democracy. 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.”
We’re pretty sure that’s British for “cut it out.” There had been reports in the Daily Mail that the family was so unhappy with the direction of the program that they might “boycott” the channel. But as we’ve just been reminded, unnamed sources aren’t the most reliable, so take that rumor with an enormous grain of salt.
There is at least one interview in the doc that the royals should be happy about, though: Gavin Burrows, an investigator at News of the World in the early 2000s, apologizes in the film for his “ruthless” pursuit of Prince Harry and then girlfriend Chelsy Davy. “There was a lot of voicemail hacking going on, there was a lot of surveillance work on her phones, on her comms,” he admits, per Sky News, saying he was “very sorry” and admitting, “I was greedy, I was into my cocaine, and I was living in a fake state of grandeur.” Continues Burrows, “I was basically part of a group of people who robbed him [Harry] of his normal teenage years.”
A decent mea culpa, and better late than never?