Written and presented by Steve Hewlett, the series is told principally through the first-hand testimony of those who were there: ex-royal advisors, editors, photographers, journalists, royal correspondents – and an enormously rich archive.
This episode looks at how the experience of growing up in the media spotlight has affected Princes William and Harry, and their attitudes to the press and media. Seismic events like the phone-hacking scandal – which started with the royal princes – and the impact of the Leveson Inquiry that followed have tipped the balance of power in their favour.
The relationship between the royal family and the BBC is also examined, the so-called ‘Queengate’ fiasco – where a trailer for a royal documentary was cut as if to show the Queen storming out of a photo session with the American photographer Annie Leibowitz. The programme recounts how, in the aftermath, another still-unseen documentary celebrating the life of Princess Diana was shelved by the corporation.
The programme also looks at the question of succession. For Prince Charles it is now not so much his private life as his personal views that are under the microscope, and their potential impact on his upcoming kingship is explored.
The British Royal Family is a global institution, admired and celebrated around the world and currently enjoying a revival in popular opinion.
From the pomp and pageantry of the Cambridges’ fairytale wedding, through to the birth of Prince George, the announcement of another royal baby, and most recently, the success of Prince Harrys Invictus Games, there is a new generation of Royals on show. Unlike all their predecessors the young Royals appear comfortable with the cameras relaxed, informal and self-deprecating. The message is a new monarchy for a new age.
It is all a far cry from the nightmare of the 1990s where, throughout the so called war of the Waleses, the bitter divisions within the family played out in the full glare of the worlds media. Indeed so acrimonious were the rivalries, they threatened to undermine and destabilise the entire institution.
But it was the tragic and untimely death of Princess Diana in 1997 that would prove to be the nadir of the familys relationship with the press and public. Widely perceived to have played a part in her tragic death, it also marked a turning point for the press and media. Something had to change.
Through interviews with those directly involved on all sides, writer, broadcaster and Guardian journalist Steve Hewlett tells the inside story of how the Royal family set about rehabilitating its battered public image following that devastating decade in this two-part landmark series.
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