More than 925 complaints have been received by the BBC over coverage of the book Harry and Meghan: Our Story, which detailed the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s relationship.
It was the latest in a long series of breaches of editorial guidelines over coverage of the royals, prompted by complaints about Meghan Markle’s first interview and a clip of Prince Harry meeting with a boy with the condition Apert syndrome.
The timing of the review by BBC editorial standards followed the 7pm broadcast of Our Story, in which Meghan Markle’s mother, Doria Ragland, was interviewed by the journalist Bruce Parry.
“I’ve known my daughter for many years and I know that she and Harry love each other very much,” she said in the film, making her first public comments since her daughter’s wedding.
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The programme did not air until after the 9pm watershed. It has so far been watched by more than 700,000 people, mostly on BBC iPlayer. Parry used a 35-minute interview with Ragland to explain the couple’s background, their love story and the role played by her.
Part of the film consisted of a compilation of publicity clips in which both Harry and Meghan gave interviews. As a result, complaints about the misuse of footage have exceeded 400 and reached nearly 500. A BBC statement said the number of complaints had not reached 500.
It said the number of complaints represented the “vast majority” of objections it had received about the documentary, which was published in May last year and includes “a wealth of unseen material from Harry and Meghan’s lives on and off the royal family”.
The broadcast, which had been subject to advance BBC editorial approval, was billed as “an exclusive look at the story behind Harry and Meghan’s fairy-tale romance”.
But in the runup to the wedding, both Harry and the BBC drew criticism over a Newsnight report in which the reporter attempted to interview Markle’s mother and was shouted down by protesters.
Following the news of the programme’s royal coverage, BBC insiders described it as “crap” and “not good enough”.
One BBC official told the Mail on Sunday that “there’s a lot of culpability and a lot of blame to go around”.
“I have been through this process 100 times before, and no-one has ever got a day in court,” the source said. “Anyone can make a complaint. The BBC has been accused of being complicit in the ongoing harassment and abuse of the royals.”
A spokesperson for the broadcasting regulator Ofcom said it received “a number of complaints” about Harry and Meghan: Our Story, and said it was looking into the BBC’s response.
The corporation, which has recently resolved three serious breaches of editorial guidelines over royal coverage, said: “Harry and Meghan: Our Story has been seen by nearly 700,000 people.
“We have received a number of complaints. Given the documentary’s length and content, we are confident that it contains neither actual nor potential breaches of the Broadcast Code.”
A report by the Press Complaints Commission last week found significant breaches of the guidelines in the lead-up to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding. Some of the more serious complaints related to Markle’s interview with Trevor Nelson of the Association of British Insurers, which was broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, as well as the BBC’s exposure of Markle’s father on the Today programme.