‘It was unusual to come to us this late’: ITV insider reveals they received 11th hour request to air William and Kate’s Christmas carol concert… ‘amid ongoing row over BBC documentary’
An ITV insider has revealed they received an 11th hour request to air William and Kate’s Christmas carol concert – after the royals reportedly dropped the BBC amid an ongoing row over its new documentary.
The Christmas charity fundraiser, hosted by the Duchess with William watching on at Westminster Abbey, was allegedly taken off the BBC due to royal anger at the corporation’s two-part documentary, The Princes and the Press.
Today, ITV said they were only made aware of an offer to take the show late last week.
‘It was unusual for it to come to us this late,’ an insider told ITV.com.
Prince William and Kate Middleton have reportedly dropped the BBC for their Christmas special days after the Royal Family blasted the broadcaster for airing ‘overblown and unfounded claims’ in a documentary about the rift between William and Harry
The first episode of the two-part BBC2 series The Princes and The Press aired on Monday night and detailed media coverage of the young royals from 2012 to 2018, when Harry and Meghan (pictured in 2018) became engaged
The concert will air on December 23 or 24, but it has not yet been formally announced because contracts are still being negotiated.
Ironically it is being made for ITV by BBC Studios – a production arm of the corporation – although this arrangement is not unusual in broadcasting.
Speaking about the decision to drop the BBC for the Christmas concert, a TV industry source told the Sun: ‘This is a real coup for ITV. It is a brand new format — the royals have never hosted a televised TV concert before. And to have the Duchess leading on it is a big deal.
‘Naturally most royal programming goes automatically to the BBC as the national broadcaster. Now it looks like they will work more with ITV in the future.’
The source said ITV was ‘surprised but delighted’ by the sudden change of plan, adding, ‘it will be a fantastic Christmas carol concert that will be TV gold for viewers at home.’
They added Princes George and Louis and Princess Charlotte may join their parents for filming at Westminster Abbey.
Another industry insider said: ‘It was all arranged to be on BBC1 but it was switched in the last few days because of the terrible row over the documentary.
‘And things are likely to get a lot worse between the Royal Family and the BBC before they get better as the second part of the documentary threatens to go further.’
Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace and Clarence House last night issued an extraordinary joint statement over the documentary.
It said it was ‘disappointing’ that the BBC had chosen to air allegations surrounding Harry and Meghan’s departure from Britain and accused the broadcaster of giving credibility to ‘overblown and unfounded claims’ about the Royal Family.
Buckingham Palace earlier reportedly threatened a boycott on future projects with the BBC after courtiers were not allowed to view the controversial documentary before the first episode was aired last night.
In the strongly worded joint statement given to the BBC ahead of last night’s programme, representatives for the Queen (pictured), Prince Charles and Prince William said: ‘A free, responsible and open Press is of vital importance to a healthy democracy
Though the Palace only provided a written statement, the episode featured an appearance from Jenny Afia, a lawyer from Schillings who represents Meghan.
The show’s presenter, BBC media editor and Radio 4 presenter Amol Rajan, said Ms Afia was speaking with the Duchess’ permission.
In a rare on-camera interview, she insisted bullying claims printed about the Duchess were ‘false’ and said she rejected the ‘narrative’ that the former Suits actress was ‘difficult to work with’.
Meanwhile, in a strongly worded joint statement, given to the BBC ahead of last night’s broadcast, the three royal households representing the Queen, Charles and William said: ‘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.’
Insiders said the rift between William and Harry (pictured here with Meghan and Kate in 2020) will be examined in even greater detail in next week’s instalment. Royal advisers believe the Queen, Charles and William have not been offered a proper right to reply
It is understood that the BBC provided a written memo, outlining relevant allegations, but refused requests to provide an advance copy of the two hour-long episodes.
Royal advisers believe the Queen, Charles and William have not been offered a proper right to reply.
They fear the BBC’s decision to include them in a documentary, fronted by self-declared republican Amol Rajan, will give its claims a level of legitimacy.
Mr Rajan said before last night’s broadcast: ‘We won’t shy away from any controversies, whether racism, sexism (in the media’s reporting of Meghan), briefing or counter-briefing.’
The second installment of the controversial documentary will include claims by Omid Scobie – a royal journalist dubbed ‘Meghan’s mouthpiece’ – that insiders from other royal households had briefed against the Sussexes.
Both Kensington Palace and the BBC declined to comment today.
Queen’s former press secretary says the BBC’s decision to let republican Amol Rajan direct royal documentary that infuriated Palace means it may not be an ‘honest appraisal’ of feuding princes
The Queen’s former press secretary today let rip at the BBC’s decision to release a two-part documentary hosted by anti-monarchist Amol Rajan about William and Harry’s ‘tumultuous’ relationship after Megxit as the royals and their lawyers threatened to go to war with the corporation over ‘disputed’ claims in the show.
The monarch and her heirs are together expected to collectively complain to regulator Ofcom for the first time in history, with lawyers braced to launch action following the programme’s airing.
Buckingham Palace is also said to be concerned that avowed republican Amol Rajan, who once called the monarchy ‘absurd’, was chosen to present the show.
The Queen’s former press secretary Dickie Arbiter said the choice of Mr Rajan ‘calls into question the whole business about the BBC and bias. Will it be an honest appraisal? There’s a big question mark over that’.
Earlier this year William attacked the BBC after its failings were exposed surrounding the Martin Bashir Panorama interview with his mother Diana, which the Duke of Cambridge branded ‘deceitful’.
Claims by Omid Scobie that William and his staff leaked a story about Harry’s mental health were cut from ITV film Harry and William: What Went Wrong? hours before it was broadcast in July after the claim was rebutted by Kensington Palace.
Royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams told MailOnline: ‘The decision of the Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William to make their reported concerns about the two part BBC programme tonight so public, makes it clear that they believe the programmes may contain incendiary material.
‘The reported protests from the Palace obviously run the risk of increasing the viewing figures, but clearly the content may be such that the Palace feels that the public should be warned that, if they watch, they are seeing a point of view which may be strongly disputed’.
Aides to Prince William insist he did not brief against his brother Harry during the Megxit saga, as a row over a new BBC documentary set to broadcast tonight
Sources told The Times that Mr Rajan, 38, is ‘experienced enough to put his views to one side’.
Part one tonight was about ‘the princes’ relationship with the media’ and ‘charts the years leading up to and including the engagement and marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’ from the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, according to the BBC website.
Part two ‘examines the period from 2018 to 2021, a tumultuous time for the royals that includes the birth of Archie Mountbatten-Windsor and the royal tours of the Sussexes and the Cambridges’.
Richard Fitzwilliams said: ‘BBC guidelines require all news and current affairs documentaries to offer ‘an appropriate and timely opportunity to respond’ according to the Ofcom Broadcasting Code. Surely, after the debacle of Panorama, a shameful debacle almost beyond belief, it is appropriate here?
The Queen and Prince Charles walking to the Balmoral Estate Cricket Pavilion earlier last month. They and the Duke of Cambridge are reportedly threatening to boycott the broadcaster and complain to Ofcom
‘Although the contents of the programmes have not been revealed, it is an incontrovertible fact that the royal family have not been given a chance to view them or to respond to any claims made in them. So the BBC faces further controversy which was surely in its interests to avoid and which surely contravenes its own guidelines?’
Royal insiders denied William and Harry had been embroiled in a briefing war, ahead of a programme examining the brothers’ troubled relationship with the media.
The Queen, Prince Charles and William have reportedly joined forces to complain to the BBC and threaten a boycott on future projects with the broadcaster unless the Palace is given a right to respond to potentially damaging allegations.
The BBC2 programme, The Princes And The Press, which airs tonight at 9pm, examines coverage of the brothers in British newspapers, including Harry’s relationship with wife Meghan and the couple’s decision to stand down from royal duties and move to the US.
Courtiers have not been shown the two-part documentary, and sources told the Mail on Sunday that they believed it would include claims that William and Harry – or their advisers – briefed against each other.
A senior royal source called the documentary ‘tittle-tattle’ and told the paper that the row over the programme had left the Queen ‘upset’.
Insiders at Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace and Clarence House were said to have been particularly angered that they were not given the chance to view the show or respond to any such claims.
Sources quickly shut down any suggestion that royal aides working for William and Harry were at the centre of a briefing war during the Megxit saga.
In fact the very opposite was true, sources said, and senior royal aides repeatedly refused to be dragged into a public war of words, despite the Duke and Duchess of Sussex giving an explosive interview to television host Oprah Winfrey.
One source told the Daily Mail: ‘It was always very clear from the top that no one wanted to be dragged down that particular rabbit hole, however egregiously people were being provoked by the Sussexes.
A veil of secrecy has been drawn around the content of the programme, which has been written and is presented by Amol Rajan (pictured), who called the monarchy ‘absurd
The palace mantra was that a period of silence would be beneficial to take the toxicity out of the situation, with the Queen going so far as to issue a personal statement making clear that there were matters they needed to deal with privately as a family.’
Royal insiders made clear last night that there was no desire to censor either the broadcaster or the programme makers. But the three royal households all agreed they should have been given a right of reply.
BBC guidelines require all news and current affairs documentaries to offer the right of reply where appropriate.
A BBC spokesman said: ‘The programme is about how royal journalism is done and features a range of journalists from broadcast and the newspaper industry.’