Prince Charles pulled the plug on the BBC documentary Reinventing the Royals and the reason why is simple — it paints Prince Charles and his wife Camilla Parker Bowles in a less-than-flattering light.
The documentary reportedly focuses on the time period after the death of Princess Diana in 1997, and the rather desperate public relations tactics used by the royal family to add some much-needed luster to Prince Charles’s image. There was also a much-needed attempt to win the public’s approval for Camilla Parker Bowles, who was, at that time, his girlfriend. Both campaigns were an uphill battle, according to royal expert Robert Johnson.
“I don’t think they want to revisit this period of time, when Prince Charles’ image was [at] an all-time low and Camilla was being abused in the streets. This was a bad period for them,” said Johnson in an interview with the Today show on NBC.
The public’s distaste for Camilla Parker Bowles began in 1995, after the infamous interview in which Princess Diana referred to Prince Charles’s affair with Parker Bowles, saying, “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.” According to the Mirror, Parker Bowles was then viewed as a home wrecker, becoming the most hated women in England, and referred to as “the rottweiler,” which was Princess Diana’s own name for her.
But over time, Camilla’s patience has been rewarded, and she has not simply become accepted by the public — she’s admired, as well.
The documentary reportedly included first-time testimony from Sandy Henney, who was Charles’s press secretary at the time much of this was happening. She spoke candidly of what was so wrong with Prince Charles’s image at the time.
“He was getting some pretty virulent criticism – bad father, unloving husband. I think he was pretty hurt… if you’ve got a middle-aged balding man and a beautiful princess, it’s a no-brainer as to who is going to get the media coverage.”
The documentary also reveals how a media manager was hired to promote Charles as a good, single father to his sons William and Henry, who were aged 15 and 12 when they lost their mother.
The documentary had cleared the scrutiny of the BBC lawyers and was set to air in a prime time slot on January 4, but was pulled from the line-up after an intervention from lawyers who represent senior members of the royal family — including the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. But some officials believe that the plan to protect the image of the royals by pulling the plug on the documentary may very well backfire, and has caused criticism for the BBC, as well.
Jim Sheridan, a member of the Commons culture, said, “We cannot now have the Royal Family deciding what can and cannot be shown on our national broadcaster. That is a dangerous precedent to set.” He added, “The BBC is a publicly-funded broadcaster and if this program is in the public interest then it must be shown.”
Paul Flynn, a member of parliament, said, “The BBC should have held firm. We are not being treated like adults when it comes to the royals. The BBC has no right to censor the truth about what is one of the most sophisticated PR operations in the country – and one we are paying for.”
The BBC states that it hopes to air the documentary later in 2015, after a “number of issues” have been resolved.
The documentary also discusses the impact of Prince Charles’s frantic PR-campaign on his sons, William and Henry, who reportedly felt used by their own father. For more on that, click here.
What do you think? Will Prince Charles efforts to suppress a documentary that may show him and his wife in a negative light backfire?
[Image via royal-fans.com]