Meghan Markle 'turning point' pinpointed by BBC media analysis: 'Battle for reputation'


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The second episode of the documentary ‘The Princes and the Press’ aired on Monday evening. The programme, fronted by the BBC’s Media Editor Amol Rajan, caused concern within Buckingham Palace over a number of issues. Lawyers for the royals are reportedly on standby to take action against the Beeb over “unfounded” claims. The Daily Mail reported on Sunday that lawyers will decide whether the broadcaster broke accuracy and impartiality rules after the second part of the documentary has aired.

The newspaper claimed a robust complaint to BBC chiefs, or to media watchdog Ofcom, is possible, with legal action considered less likely.

The second part of the documentary covered the period from 2018 to 2021, a period which included the birth of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s first child Archie, as well as the royal tours of both the Sussexes and the Cambridges.

Mr Rajan investigated the allegation that Kate, Duchess of Cambridge had been reduced to tears by Meghan.

Two separate sources told The Telegraph in 2018 that Kate was left in tears after a bridesmaids dress fitting for Princess Charlotte, in the run up to the Sussexes’ wedding in May that year.

Kensington Palace, the press office for both Meghan and Kate at the time, did not comment on the story.

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Meghan Markle

Meghan Markle ‘turning point’ pinpointed by BBC media analysis. (Image: BBC/GETTY)

Meghan, Harry and Archie

Meghan Markle, Prince Harry and their son Archie. (Image: GETTY)

Much later, Meghan told Oprah Winfrey that the story was false and the opposite had happened.

Mr Rajan said: “But by then, the narrative was in place.”

A graph showing the sentiment of media coverage at the time was played, signalling a very clear turning point in the coverage of Meghan.

Mr Rajan noted: “Until the end of 2018, sentiment was mostly above zero, indicating a positive tone.

“In November, when the stories about duelling duchesses appeared, it dropped below zero, meaning the coverage was mostly negative.

Graph showing Meghan Markle coverage in UK media

BBC analysis showed a clear change in the sentiment of Meghan Markle coverage. (Image: BBC)

“From this point on, Meghan, Harry and the press would be in a battle over Meghan’s reputation.”

The Times’ royal correspondent Valentine Low recalled writing a piece about Meghan in mid-2018.

He said: “I remember writing a piece about Meghan, and it was all about how she was a breath of fresh air.

“She was something positive for the Royal Family, she was bringing something new. She was great.

“There were slight elements of criticism in that piece but it was definitely 85% positive.”

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Valentine Low

The Times’ Valentine Low said 2018 marked a ‘turning point’ in coverage of Meghan. (Image: BBC)

He recalled the story about Meghan allegedly making Kate cry appearing “a bit later that autumn”.

He said: “That was one of the turning points.”

When asked why, Mr Low said: “It opened up a narrative, a sort of soap opera narrative. A soap opera storyline: The battling Duchesses.

“Once people could seize on that, they could pursue it.”

Camilla Tominey, the journalist who first revealed the allegations, refused to be drawn on any of the sources that had briefed the story to her when asked by Mr Rajan.

Meghan and Harry

The Sussexes stepped down shortly after the South Africa tour. (Image: GETTY)

Outgoing BBC journalist Andrew Marr said of the alleged briefing wars between the Sussexes and the Cambridges: “They have allowed a gap to appear.

“Through that gap, very destructive journalism will follow and flow.”

He continued: “I think, therefore, this division will be potentially lethal. Very, very damaging for the whole Royal Family.”

Sky News’ royal correspondent Rhiannon Mills recalled noticing how things had changed during Meghan and Harry’s trip to South Africa in 2019.

Harry, she said, wasn’t “like the Prince Harry that we’d known before”.

She said: “He didn’t really engage. He didn’t really come and talk to us in the way that he would have done.”

Ms Mills admitted she realised she had “kicked the wasp’s nest” when Harry hit back at her as she tried to ask a question about his work during a stop in Malawi.

Footage shown in the BBC documentary shows Harry initially ignoring Ms Mills, before slamming, “Don’t behave like this” as she questioned him.

The tour of South Africa ended on October 2, 2019. The Sussexes stepped back from the Royal Family just three months later.



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