King Charles visits King's Cross as Netflix controversy rages
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King Charles III is “unlikely” to strip the Duke and Duchess of Sussex of their titles over the couple’s controversial new Netflix docu-series, an expert has claimed. The Royal Family is braced for more bombshells with the release today (December 8) of the first three episodes of a series which promises to tell the “full truth” about Prince Harry and Meghan’s estrangement from the Royal Family.
The potential of allegations against the Royal Family emerging has fuelled calls for Harry and Meghan to lose their royal titles.
But Pauline MacLaran, Professor of Marketing and Consumer Research at Royal Holloway, University of London, told Express.co.uk King Charles is not likely to remove the Sussexes titles.
Asked if the monarch would remove their titles, the author of Royal Fever: The British Monarchy in Consumer Culture said: “I don’t think Charles is likely to do that. I think he will rise above it. It depends on what’s in the documentary.”
She added: “Stripping [Harry and Meghan] their titles would strip them of their brand. They can no longer use HRH, but they are certainly royals with their duke and duchess status. It would have big implications for their brand. What are they if they are not royals?”
Harry and Meghan signed lucrative deals, thought to be worth well over £100million, with Netflix and Spotify after quitting as senior working royals in 2020. It came in the wake of family rifts and struggles with royal life.
The “unprecedented and in-depth” docuseries, directed by Oscar-nominated Liz Garbus, is billed as a Netflix global event, with Harry and Meghan sharing “the other side of their high-profile love story”.
Harry, in a trailer for the docuseries, warned “we know the full truth” and spoke of a “hierarchy in the family”, a “dirty game” and “leaking” and “planting of stories”.
The first episode, 56 minutes long, shares the impact of Harry’s childhood in the public eye and his secret relationship with Meghan in the early days.
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Ahead of the first three episodes appeaing on the streaming service, there were reports Harry might be critical of his stepmother, Queen Consort Camilla.
Professor MacLaran said she had not seen any sign of such criticism in the show, but added that if Harry were to comment on the King’s wife, Charles could feel obliged to make a statement.
She said: “I imagine they will try to rise above it. I think that’s the best they can do, unless there are any outright accusations. But that’s unlikely… It will certainly be very interesting to see what happens and how [Charles] will handle the more personal side.
“Will Charles still hold out an olive branch to them? Will he strip them of their titles and not give titles to their children? My guess is he will try to engage with them as much as he can.”
King Charles offered his youngest son and his daughter-in-law an olive branch in his first speech as sovereign. In an address to the nation, he said: “I want also to express my love for Harry and Meghan as they continue to build their lives overseas.”
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Charles and William, along with Camilla and Kate, are not expected to watch the series, but royal aides will be tasked with closely monitoring the output and considering if and how to respond. The second volume of the series is due to be released on December 15.
The King and the Royal Family have been carrying on with royal duties as normal today, with the documentary coinciding with the first circulation of coins bearing Charles’s effigy in post offices around the UK.
On reports Prince William might respond “robustly” to any allegations against the Royal Family, Professor MacLaran said there would probably not be a reaction in public.
She said: “It’s hard to say. I would expect there would be no overt reaction. It depends what is in the [documentary]. At the moment there doesn’t seem to be any major accusations.
“I expect the Waleses will say it is business as usual, but try to up their credentials. We already see them doing this, making sure they show their credentials for being inclusive and welcoming diversity… The trouble is, once you start [responding to allegations] it scales things up. It just depends.”
Professor MacLaran pointed to William denying the Windsors were a “racist family” in the wake of Meghan and Harry’s explosive interview with US talkshow host Oprah Winfrey in which the Sussexes accused an unnamed member of the Royal Family of asking how dark the colour of their first child would be.
The marketing expert said: “William did say, ‘We are not a racist family’. He did come out at that time against that very serious accusation. If there are bad accusations made, for example against Kate, he would feel obliged to come out with something. But we will have to wait and see. It’s pure speculation. I doubt [the Sussexes] will say anything too inflammatory. It would ruin their credibility.
“By and large, William and Kate are best to keep going and just get on with their own business and try to rise above the fray as much as they can. They are very well loved.”
Professor MacLaran explained in branding terms, William and Kate take a traditional approach in line keeping with the values of the Royal Family while showing the heir to the throne and his wife are fit for purpose in the future.
She described the Sussexes as the “rebel brand”, offering an alternative to the Royal Family which has proven popular with younger generations and pursuing their own commercial interests, which the Windsors shun.
On the impact of Harry and Meghan’s series, Professor MacLaran said: “It’s likely to garner support from a younger generation who will be very sympathetic to the personal, confessional approach. Those will go down well with Gen Z who welcome diversity, honest and ‘speaking your truth’. At the moment, the flavour of [the documentary] is in keeping with those values.
“A lot of people will feel [the Sussexes] may be threatening the Royal Family with the Netflix documentary. A lot of people have been vociferously against them. A lot of people are determined not to watch it. The fact that they are making money out of their royal connection will be abhorrent to many people.
“But they may win new support from young people, from what I’ve seen [of the documentary].”
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