Glaring Harry detail in royal leak claims

The royal family is going to war with the BBC but there’s a glaring detail about Prince Harry that everyone seems to have missed.

Pity the crew sent from the BBC to film the Queen’s Christmas speech this year. While filming Her Majesty’s annual festive address would usually be a prestigious gig, setting up lighting rigs among the cavorting dorgis while avoiding knocking over the Meissen porcelain, chances are that this December things might be decidedly frosty as Buckingham Palace goes to (very polite) war with the national broadcaster.

The reason? A new documentary called The Princes And The Press, a two-part exploration of the relationship between the royal family and the Fourth Estate.

Now in various other points in history, such a small screen exercise would have been about as exciting as listening to Princess Anne explain the finer points of bridle care but we are living in the post-Sussex age when boring is but a fever dream for the Windsors.

The first part of the series aired this week, raising claims that royal sources have briefed journalists.

Omid Scobie, who co-authored last year’s obsequious Sussex biography Finding Freedom, alleged on camera: “There has been a lot of rumours for some time that a lot of the most damaging and negative stories about Harry and Meghan, that have ended up in the pages of the press, have come from the other royal households or from other royal aides or courtiers. From my own experience that is true.”

The next episode, set to air early next week is, according to the Telegraph, “expected to include claims that the members of the royal household briefed journalists about the breakdown of relationships between the Sussexes and the rest of the royal family, and eventually leaked the bombshell news that they were leaving in order to undermine Prince Harry’s negotiations.”

Now, in a highly unusual move, the households of the Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William have come together to complain to the British broadcaster about the show’s “overblown and unfounded claims” about the relationship between William and his brother, Prince Harry.

In a combined statement, the royal family stated: “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.”

Now this is hardly an acid-fuelled tongue-lashing for the ages but what is crucial here is what was not part of the statement. That is, one name.


You know, the member of the royal family who has never been shy about giving the press a dressing down at any other time.

While the documentary delves into the experiences and treatment of both men by Fleet Street, the Duke of Sussex has so far failed to comment.

Previously, rebuffing the media has been one thing that has united the Wales brothers.

Rewind to mid-January last year. Even in the wake of the sourness of the Harry and wife Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex’s historic quitting and the ensuing Sandringham Summit, which saw the couple agree to forgo their HRH stylings and have their wishes for a half-in/half-out model firmly rebuffed, the two brothers were still able to come together to push back against the press.

As the storm swirled over Megxit, a geyser of stories had erupted about what had gone wrong leading them to release a shared missive denying an “offensive and potentially harmful” about their relationship. The takeaway – whatever their issues might be with one another, their shared dislike towards the press seemed to win out.

That sort of mutual undertaking would seem to be a thing of the past.

Ever since news of the The Princes and The Press broke last week, with the royal family’s Marks & Spencer’s knickers clearly getting ever more in a twist, things have been largely silent out of the Sussex camp in Montecito.

Which is not to say that Harry and Meghan have politely taken this TV special lying down.

Rather, the former Suits star dispatched her London lawyer Jenny Aifa to appear on camera in the first episode to firmly reject claims that the Duchess was “difficult or demanding” and to deny bullying claims made against her.

Again, what is noteworthy here is what is not being said.

While we will have to wait until next week to watch the full scope of the claims against the royal family be revealed, that Harry has not come out to comment on the show is fairly glaring.

If the next episode does air the allegations of the palace briefing against him and Harry stays mum as he has so far, then that would likely be read as a tacit confirmation that he agrees with claims.

Secondly, assuming this posture of muteness on the Duke’s part continues, it would be hard to avoid coming to the conclusion that he has no interest in saving his family’s reputational bacon or preventing any sort of royal embarrassment. In short – he’s going to let them swing, PR-wise.

On one hand, given the events of this year – the claims of institutional racism, of a callous disregard for Meghan’s suffering and of “total neglect” – then perhaps this is not that shocking.

However, on the other hand, with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee year barely a month away and with the clock counting down towards the Sussexes’ inevitable return to UK soil, Harry showing even the vaguest semblance of support for his family’s case here would not have been out of the question.

Saturday, June 11 next year will see the extended Windsor clan take to the Buckingham Palace balcony for a historic Trooping the Colour because not only will it be the pinnacle of celebrations to mark Her Majesty’s 70 years on the throne but the first such event post-pandemic. As a family event (Trooping the Colour is the official celebration of the Queen’s birthday) it is expected that Harry and Meghan and their family will be invited to take their place.

So, with that reunion in the offing, and with Harry’s loathing of the UK media a persistent throughline of his various outpourings, lending his support to the consolidated royal pushback against the BBC would have made some sense.

Today, royal anger over the TV two-parter shows no sign of easing.

Yesterday, a senior royal source told The Sun: “William was clear from the start we were never to brief and never to say anything about anyone in the other households. He’d lived through that in the ’90s with his parents in the War of the Waleses and doesn’t ever want it happening again.”

This morning news broke that William and Kate have banned the BBC from broadcasting the charity fundraiser Christmas concert that the Duchess is set to host from Westminster Abbey next month.

Meanwhile, The Sun has also reported: “[There is] palace anger that Meghan arranged for her lawyer to appear and answer questions on her behalf. She was the only royal family member to take part – raising the possibility the BBC told her what was going to be in the documentary while leaving the rest of the royals in the dark.”

All of this could make things even more awkward on the palace balcony on that Saturday in June if Harry and Meghan do take part. (And at this stage, there are no indications otherwise.)

Which leaves us here – with bridge-mending and US-UK wound-healing nowhere on the agenda and the breach between the Sussexes and the royal family ever more pronounced.

Here’s hoping that Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie and their collection of questionable fascinators stand poised to do their bit to act as royal buffers on the balcony. Queen and country could be about to desperately need them.

Daniela Elser is a royal expert and a writer with more than 15 years experience working with a number of Australia’s leading media titles.

Originally published as Prince Harry’s silence over royal family leak claims is glaring

Read related topics:Meghan MarklePrince Harry

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