Is Prince William going to cut BBC off in row over documentary? Duke of Cambridge raises stakes
Prince William has raised the stakes in his row with the BBC, putting future TV projects with the broadcaster at risk.
He and his wife Kate have already banned the corporation from showing a charity carol concert to be hosted by her at Westminster Abbey.
William, 39, was infuriated by a BBC Two documentary airing ‘unfounded’ claims that he and his staff briefed the media against Harry and Meghan.
Now insiders suggest the Christmas concert, which has been offered to ITV instead, could be the tip of the iceberg.
Prince William is angered at ‘unfounded’ claims in a BBC Two documentary that he and his staff briefed media against Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
ITV insiders confirmed they were offered the show only late last week and are still negotiating a fee with BBC Studios, the production arm of the corporation making the programme.
One source said it was clear that William, who worked with the BBC over his Earthshot Prize but is protective of his staff and their reputations, would have to ‘seriously consider’ any further projects.
And that may extend to other senior royals. They have been angered, not just by the claims made in the documentary, called The Princes and the Press, but also by the broadcaster’s approach to the project.
The BBC refused to allow William as well as Buckingham Palace and Clarence House – the households of the Queen and the Prince of Wales – to view the two-part programme in advance.
Queen Elizabeth II sits in the Royal box with her son Prince Charles and grandson Prince William
The corporation did offer a ‘right of reply’ but it is understood the claims outlined in its memo to them were extremely ‘vague’.
‘It’s fair to say that while the response to what has happened is being driven by the duke, there is complete unity among all three royal households,’ a source with knowledge of the situation said.
‘You really couldn’t get a cigarette paper between them. There is a serious issue of integrity at stake here.’
It is understood that William is still deeply bruised by the Martin Bashir scandal, which has not yet been discussed in the two-part documentary, fronted by BBC journalist Amol Rajan.
Mr Bashir was exposed last year as having faked documents in order to persuade Princess Diana to give her sensational 1995 interview to Panorama.
Earlier this year William attacked both the journalist himself and the BBC’s management structure for deceiving his mother. He said their actions had fuelled her ‘fear, paranoia and isolation’ and hastened his parents’ divorce.
‘The whole Bashir scandal is still very raw for him – and now this,’ said a friend.
The first episode of The Princes and The Press detailed media coverage of the young royals from 2012 to 2018 and how it was affected by what happened to their late mother.
It suggested there was ‘competitiveness’ between the different royal households and that, according to Omid Scobie, co-writer of the flattering Harry and Meghan biography, Finding Freedom, negative stories were deliberately leaked against Meghan to ‘put her in her place’.
It is understood the BBC has no plans to show the royals the second episode of the series in advance of it being aired on Monday.
Lawyer Jenny Afia speaking on The Princes And The Press documentary
Insiders have said, however, that it will further focus on the rift between William and Harry and contain even more explosive revelations. It is understood the royal households will wait until the broadcast on Monday before deciding what further action, if any, they will take.
This could include a formal complaint to watchdog Ofcom. BBC chairman Richard Sharp yesterday said he hoped the Royal Family would ‘respect’ the documentary, said he stood by the programme’s producers and ‘hoped’ they got it right.
He added: ‘The BBC is a national institution and we approach our relationships with the other national institutions with great care and thought.
‘The Royal Family is at the centre of our identity. It’s underlying importance is unequivocal and we have tremendous respect for all aspects of the Royal Family in all that they undertake and do.
‘From time to time, this organisation produces programmes that may or may not meet with full agreement with different parts of the Establishment and that is as true of government, that could be true of the judiciary, could be true of other important parts of our society.
‘Our job is to get that right, is to be independent, to be respectful and fair.’