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‘Safe as long as you’re dull!’ Ian Hislop defends royals ‘having a good time’

Harry and Meghan didn't 'play the game' with Archie says expert

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The Private Eye editor was speaking on the second instalment of ‘The Princes and the Press’, which aired last night on BBC Two. The documentary sees BBC media editor Amol Rajan explore the Firm’s tempestuous past three years, covering topics such as the birth of Prince Harry and Meghan’s son Archie and the royal tours of the Sussexes and Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge. Naturally, Mr Rajan also explores the circumstances which surrounded Harry and Meghan stepping down from the Royal Family last year.

While assessing the type of coverage Meghan received while a member of the Firm, the documentary explores the media response to Meghan attending an “extravagant” baby shower in New York.

Some publications were scathing of the Duchess’ decision to travel to New York for the party in February 2019 to celebrate the impending arrival of Harry and Meghan’s first son, Archie. 

Daily Mail Columnist Amanda Platell said on the documentary: “She went to New York, had this fantastically extravagant baby shower.

“And it just seemed so ostentatious.”

Read More: Royal Family LIVE: William and Kate ‘will snub Meghan and Harry’

However, Mr Hislop, who has been a team captain on BBC comedy show ‘Have I Got News For You’ since the Nineties, launched a defence of Meghan. 

The journalist claimed that a royal must be “dull” to be safe from media scrutiny.

Mr Hislop said: “They are safe as long as they’re dull.

“And as long as we feel they’re having quite a boring life, involving dogs and horses and Scotland and other things we’re not terribly jealous about.

“The minute they’re having a good time, that all looks a bit too much fun.

“And the basic job is to sit in the rain and wave.”

Journalist Rachel Johnson also noted that royals are expected to remain uncontroversial.

While assessing the difference in the media and public’s response to Kate and Meghan, Ms Johnson claimed that certain journalists responded better to the Duchess of Cambridge because she is “not political” and “doesn’t open her mouth”.

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Ms Johnson said: “There are women journalists in this country who basically say ‘Kate is perfect, she’s our English rose’.

“They have a perfect template of what they want a royal female to be ‒ not political, doesn’t open her mouth very much in public, who makes very short scripted speeches on very safe subjects.

“Whereas Meghan Markle will talk about period poverty, she’ll talk about racism, she will talk about female empowerment. 

“These are trigger subjects in this country, where the Royal Family, despite being led by the Queen for seventy-odd years, is still a very patriarchal, hierarchical country.”

The BBC documentary has caused controversy and created tension between the broadcaster and the Firm.

Last week, Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Kensington Palace even released a joint statement criticising the programme.

The royal households believed ‘The Princes and the Press’ to have made “overblown and unfounded claims” and added they were “disappointed” the BBC had given credibility to the claims. 

In particular, the Royal Family are said to be unhappy that the documentary explored allegations that negative stories about royal life were based on information leaked from people connected to other royal households.

The BBC subsequently responded, insisting the programme is “about how royal journalism is done and features a range of journalists and the newspaper industry.”

Watch ‘The Princes and the Press’ on BBC iPlayer.

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