Simon McCoy takes ‘big issue’ with Prince Harry documentary claim

Harry & Meghan: First look at final three Netflix episodes

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Simon McCoy has hit back at Prince Harry’s claim that royal correspondents are an “extended PR arm” of the Royal Family. The Duke of Sussex, who has a difficult relationship with the media, made the comment in his and Meghan Markle’s explosive Netflix show.

But the former royal correspondent said he took “big issue” with the claim, insisting it was “quite the opposite”.

The ex-BBC journalist tweeted: “As a former royal correspondent I take big issue with Harry’s claim that we were an extension of the Palace press operation.

Neither we – nor they – thought we were. Quite the opposite. That’s why the job of royal correspondent was always regarded as one of the toughest ‘beats’.”

The Duke made the remark when he was quizzed about royal experts in his and Meghan’s tell-all documentary.

Harry was asked: “People can just call themselves royal experts?”

He replied: “It’s the same as royal correspondent. Royal correspondent is a title, I suppose, that is given to a selected group of journalists, so that those newspapers can use them and their stories with royal correspondent as credible fact.

“Just so that whatever the papers print can come with extra credibility. I mean, anyone can be a royal expert.

“The whole point of it is to try and lend legitimacy to media articles, and they get paid for it.

“And that press pack of royal correspondents is essentially just, an extended PR arm of the Royal Family.

“So there’s been an agreement that’s been there for over 30 years.”

Harry took aim at the press in the first three episodes of the documentary, which dropped on Thursday.

The Duke hit out at the royal rota, which is a system where media are allocated slots to cover the members of the family.

He said: “If you’re part of the royal rota, you have priority over the story over everybody else.

“All royal news goes through the filter of all newspapers within the royal rota, most of which, apart from the Telegraph, happen to be tabloids.

“It all comes down to control, it’s like ‘This family is ours to exploit. Their trauma is our story and our narrative to control’.”

Looking back on his childhood, Harry said the “majority” of his memories were “being swarmed by paparazzi”.

He said: “Rarely do we have a holiday without someone with a camera, you know, jumping out of a bush or something.

“Within the family, within the system, the advice that’s always given is ‘Don’t react, don’t feed into it’. There was always public pressure with its fair share of drama, stress and also tears, and witnessing those tears.

“I could always see it on my mum’s face. And I guess those were the moments where I thought ‘OK, hang on maybe, what am I? Who am I? What am I part of?”‘

Harry praised his mother Princess Diana for her efforts to protect him and Prince William from the media.

He said: “My mum was harassed throughout her life with my dad, but after they separated the harassment went to new levels. The moment that she divorced and the moment she left the institution, then she was by herself.

“Yeah she may have well have been one of the most influential and powerful women in the world but she was completely exposed to this. I saw things, I experienced things, I learned things. The pain and the suffering of women marrying into this institution.

“I remember thinking ‘how can I ever find someone who is willing and capable to be able to withstand all the baggage that come with being with me?’

“Every relationship that I had, within a matter of weeks or months, was splattered all over the newspapers and that person’s family harassed and their lives turned upside down. So, you know, I mean, after one or two girlfriends, the third or fourth girlfriend, are going to be like ‘Hang on a second, I don’t know if I want this’.”

Harry said he was “terrified” that Meghan would be “driven away by the media”.

Speaking of his relationship with the Duchess, he said: “The same media that had driven so many different people away from me. I knew that the only way that this could possibly work was by keeping it quiet for as long as possible.”

The Duke of Sussex said he feels it’s his duty to uncover the “exploitation and bribery” within the media.

He said: “So like duty and service and I feel as though being part of this family it is my duty to uncover this exploitation and bribery that happens within our media.”

It comes as the final three episodes of the six-part series titled Harry & Meghan will air next Thursday.

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