Prince William loses patience with BBC – Furious Duke ramps up war on broadcaster

Princes and the Press: Prince William left feeling 'very raw'

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William’s reported decision to bar the BBC from airing on its channels an upcoming charity Christmas carol concert involving the Duchess of Cambridge may be the tip of the iceberg in what appears to be a major row with the Beeb. A source has claimed the Duke of Cambridge would have to “seriously consider” any further projects after BBC2 aired the first part of the two-episode The Princes and the Press documentary.

It has been previously claimed the BBC did not allow royal aides to get a preview screening of the programme.

Rather, the broadcaster reportedly offered the Palace a right of reply by outlining in a memo a series of claims present in the documentary.

The BBC’s approach to the project as well as the claims reported in the documentary are believed to have angered William as well as the two other royal households.

At the end of the first episode of the documentary, aired on Monday evening, the BBC showed a rare joint statement provided by Kensington Palace, Buckingham Palace and Clarence House.

It read: “A free, responsible and open press is of vital importance to a healthy democracy.”However, too often overblown and unfounded claims from unnamed sources are presented as facts and it is disappointing when anyone, including the BBC, gives them credibility.” 

Days after the first episode of the documentary aired, the royals remain united in their response to the BBC, according to a source.

They told the Daily Mail: “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.

“You really couldn’t get a cigarette paper between them.

“There is a serious issue of integrity at stake here.” 

Another source, described by the Mail as a friend, claimed Prince William remains bruised by the Martin Bashir scandal.

They said: “The whole Bashir scandal is still very raw for him – and now this.” 

Express.co.uk has contacted Kensington Palace for comment.

An inquiry from Lord Dyson found Mr Bashir was in “serious breach” of the BBC’s producer guidelines when he faked documents to gain access to the late Princess of Wales through her brother, Earl Spencer. 

The inquiry stated the journalist obtained his explosive Panorama interview in 1995 with Princess Diana through “deceitful behaviour”, which the broadcaster failed to fully uncover during its internal investigation.

Following the publication of the inquiry, Prince William issued a blistering statement, in which he spoke about his “incredible sadness” at the corporation’s failings.

The broadcaster’s royal correspondent, Nicholas Witchell, spoke of an “irritation” within the Firm at the expense of the BBC.

He said: “There is undoubtedly irritation in the Royal households, but especially at Kensington Palace and especially on the part of Prince William. 

“We must remember that he still feels really quite aggrieved at the BBC over the Panorama interview with his mother [Princess Diana].

“These feelings are very raw, and they have been exacerbated by these two programmes, the Princes and the Press.” 

The first episode of The Princes and the Press aired on Monday evening and detailed the media coverage of Prince William, Prince Harry and their partners between 2012 and 2018.

It included suggestions negative stories about the Duchess of Sussex had been leaked to the press by royal courtiers.

Moreover, it contained claims of competitiveness within the royal households.

The second episode, due to air on Monday, is expected to delve into the widely reported rift between Prince William and Prince Harry.

Earlier this week, the BBC said the documentary was “about how royal journalism is done and features a range of journalists from broadcast and the newspaper industry”.

On Wednesday, BBC chairman Richard Sharp was asked at the Voice of the Listener and Viewer’s autumn conference about the claims Kate and Prince William had decided to snub the BBC and instead offer their charity show to the rival ITV. 

He said: “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, its underlying importance is unequivocal.

“We have tremendous respect for all aspects of the Royal Family in what they undertake and do.

“From time to time, this organisation produces programmes which may or may not meet with full agreement with different parts of the establishment.

“Our job is to get that right, to be independent, to be respectful.”

Earlier this week, it was claimed Kate is to lead a charity carol concert at Westminster Abbey in early December while Prince William looks on among the public.

The unique show was “all arranged to be on BBC1”, a source has claimed, but it is now reportedly set to be aired by ITV.

ITV’s royal editor Chris Ship reported sources at his broadcaster saying they were only made aware of the offer late last week and that contracts are still being negotiated.

An ITV source said of the late commission: “It was unusual for it to come to us this late.”

Mr Ship added the Christmas special is being made for ITV by BBC Studios – not an unusual practice, as the studios also made a documentary on the Duchy of Cornwall for ITV in 2019.

Prince William has collaborated with the BBC as recently as in October, when the broadcaster aired a five-episode special focused on the Earthshot Prize and its first-ever award ceremony.    

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