Princes and the Press: Lorraine on royal reaction to documentary
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The republican BBC media editor who presented the broadcaster’s controversial documentary, The Princes and the Press, said sorry for “foolish commentary from a former life”. He tweeted: “I want to say I deeply regret it. I wrote things that were rude and immature and I look back on them now with real embarrassment, and ask myself what I was thinking, frankly…”
In a second tweet, he said: “I would like to say sorry for any offence they caused then or now. I’m completely committed to impartiality and hope our recent programmes can be judged on their merits”.
But the apology has sparked a furious response on social media with anti-monarchy campaign group, Republic, tweeting: “If you’re referring to comments about the royals, you really shouldn’t apologise. You’ve every right to say those things and can remain an impartial journalist.”
Republic’s Chief Executive Graham Smith told Express.co.uk: “It’s perfectly reasonable to make critical comments about the Royals.
“There is nothing to say he can’t be an impartial journalist. A lot of BBC journalists express their support for the monarchy and they don’t have to apologise for that.
“It’s fairly routine that they join in with celebrations of weddings and jubilees and make comments about how wonderful the royals are so it has to be okay for someone to make comments against the royals.”
Mr Smith added that impartiality is not about not having an opinion, but doing a job properly and in a way which is not partial.
He said: “Everyone has an opinion on things.”
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Among his criticism of the Windsors as editor of the Independent, Mr Rajan described senior royals as “old buffoons who missed the 20th century” and others as “young toffs”.
In the February 2013 opinion piece, he added: “This would be fine if those buffoons and toffs were left to go about their silly business; but the trouble is, when the mask slips far enough, what is exposed is the emotional infancy of a people too scared to elect their Head of State.”
A 2012 article includes the line: “Hereditary monarchies, always and everywhere, are vehicles for conservatism and aristocracy masquerading as benevolence and patriotism. True patriots know they stink.”
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An open letter published following an announcement the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were expecting their first child saw Mr Rajan state: “Your imminent parenthood is of course the perfect moment for you to renounce the luxuries of royal patronage and aristocracy, in favour of the middle-class normality that most of your fellow compatriots enjoy.”
His apology comes after BBC Director General, Tim Davie, threatened to remove staff from Twitter if they fail to adhere to new guidelines laid down by the broadcaster.
In a Parliament select committee session, Mr Davie said: “Enforcement policies will be very clear.
“We will be able to take disciplinary action. We will be able to take people off Twitter.”
Mr Smith speculated that Mr Rajan had been told to say something in response to pressure over the two-part documentary which drew unprecedented censure from Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Kensington Palace.
Republic’s chief executive said: “He should have been told there is nothing wrong to make comments like that in a former life.”
The royal households believe the programme included unsubstantiated and categorically inaccurate accusations about collusion with the media, particularly in connection with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex during “Megxit” when the couple decided to quit royal duties.
Critics said the series failed to challenge allegations made by Sussex supporters, including Meghan’s lawyer Jenny Afia.
The BBC approached Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Kensington Palace and were provided with a joint statement which read: “A free, responsible and open press is of vital importance to a healthy democracy.
“However, too often overblown and unfounded claims from unnamed sources are presented as facts and it is disappointing when anyone, including the BBC, gives them credibility.”
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