Harry and Meghan hit back at criticism over sharing of personal clips in Netflix show

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have hit back at attacks over their sharing of personal video clips and photographs in their Netflix documentary.

A spokeswoman for Harry and Meghan said the narrative that privacy was a key reason behind the couple stepping back from royal duties and quitting the UK was a false one.

“The Duke and Duchess have never cited privacy as the reason for stepping back,” the couple’s global press secretary said in a statement.

“This distorted narrative was intended to trap the couple into silence.

“In fact, their statement announcing their decision to step back mentions nothing of privacy and reiterates their desire to continue their roles and public duties. Any suggestion otherwise speaks to a key point of this series.

“They are choosing to share their story, on their terms, and yet the tabloid media has created an entirely untrue narrative that permeates press coverage and public opinion. The facts are right in front of them.”

The couple have pursued privacy action against some media outlets.

Details of the brutal drama within the royal family surrounding the departure from the UK of the couple are expected to be aired in the Harry & Meghan documentary next week.

With Buckingham Palace largely spared during the first three episodes, the trailer for the final three episodes, out next Thursday, hints at an attack on the family – nicknamed The Firm by the late Diana, Princess of Wales.

In the one-minute clip, Meghan says on camera: “This is when a family and a family business are in direct conflict.”

Meanwhile, Harry states: “Everything that’s happened to us was always going to happen to us …” The trailer includes Meghan saying: “Suddenly, what clicked in my head was: it’s never going to stop.”

While Harry did accuse his family of unconscious racial bias, and failure to protect Meghan from racially charged reporting, the couple have so far focused on the early days of their relationship, and directed their ire at the media.

Chronologically, the next three episodes, which stream from next Thursday, are expected to cover their dramatic exit and its fallout, with Buckingham Palace braced for far more damaging revelations. “Next week will be poison,” one royal source told the Times.

The first episode was watched by 2.4m viewers on TV sets in the UK on Thursday. Much of the UK media’s coverage of the documentary has been highly critical, with some rightwing newspapers calling for the couple’s titles to be removed.

The Conservative MP Bob Seely plans to bring forward legislation to enable this. The Isle of Wight MP suggested he could bring forward a short private member’s bill in the new year that, if passed, would see MPs vote on a resolution that could give the privy council the power to downgrade the couple’s royal status.

But Downing Street said it did not back the move. Asked about parliamentary efforts to strip the pair of their titles, Rishi Sunak’s deputy spokesperson said: “I believe you are referring to a private member’s bill, which we do not support.” Anything relating to the Netflix series was “matters for the palace”, he added.

Related: The Guardian view on Harry and Meghan: the ring of truth | Editorial

BBC journalists are among those who have questioned some of the couple’s claims. Nicholas Witchell, the BBC’s royal correspondent, described as “absurd” Meghan’s claim: “No matter what I did, they were still going to find a way to destroy me.”

Witchell told BBC One’s News at 10 on Thursday: “The first point, who is the ‘they’ she is referring to? I think it is the palace but most particularly the press.

“But the idea that anyone was out to destroy her, frankly, I think is absurd and simply does not stand up to proper and reasonable scrutiny.”

Of Meghan’s description of her engagement interview with the BBC presenter Mishal Husain as an “orchestrated reality show”, Husain said: “Recollections may vary.”