By Sheila Mckenzie-
The royal households have issued a joint statement criticising the BBC for giving credibility to what they described as an “overblown and unfounded claims” in a new documentary about William and Harry’s relationship with the media.
The statement follows their disappointment over the content of a documentary aired on Monday, the first episode of the two-part The Princes And The Press programme, presented by Amol Rajan, included claims that royal sources were speaking to journalists behind the scenes, spreading rumours against the Sussexes.
An article in the Sun newspaper disputed those claims, stating that Prince William had banned roal aides from sharing any stories in the press.
During Meghan Markle’s interview with Oprah Winfrey last March, the Duchess Of Sussex claimed that ”the firm” had been perpetuating falsehoods in the press, adding that the palace frequently hosted the tabloids for parties or get togethers.
In response to the documentary, Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Kensington Palace presented a joint statement to the BBC, which was shown at the end of the programme.
The statement read: “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.”
During the programme, a lawyer for Meghan also responded to 2018 reports on her alleged treatment of palace staff, dismissing reports of bullying by Meghan Markle.
The lawyer was addressing claims of bullying by the Duchess Of Sussex, after The Times newspaper reported that the duchess allegedly drove out two personal assistants and “humiliated” staff on several occasions, which she denies.
Jenny Afia, from the law firm Schillings, told Rajan in the documentary: “Those stories were false. This narrative that no one can work for the Duchess of Sussex, she was too difficult and demanding as a boss and everyone had to leave, it’s just not true.”
The palace was denied advance sight of the documentary, which they requested in order to be able to respond.
Senior royals are believed to be in the process of lodging a formal complaoint to Ofcom for the first time in their history.
During the programme, a private investigator apologised for targeting the phone of Prince Harry’s ex-girlfriend and admitted he helped “rob” the duke of his teenage years.
Gavin Burrows said there had been a “ruthless” culture in parts of the media during the early 2000s, when he said Chelsy Davy’s phone had been under surveillance.
Mr Burrows told the documentary there was much greater interest in the Duke of Sussex than his brother when he began working for the now defunct News Of The World in 2000, and that editors had told him that “Harry had basically become the new Diana”.
Episode 1 is described on the BBC website: “Amol Rajan tells the story of one of the most dramatic periods in modern royal history, looking at how the younger royals’ relationship with the media changed following the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
The second half of the two-part series will take the show into more inflammatory terrain as it takes the timeline from 2018 to 2021.
During that time, Meghan Markle has suggested “The Firm” played an active role in “perpetuating falsehoods about us.”
It covers the period when Meghan said she experienced suicidal thoughts amid negative media coverage but was told by the palace she could not go to a psychiatric hospital as it would make the institution look bad.
It also covers the period when Meghan and Harry launched six lawsuits against media organizations in the space of around a year.