Long-time royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell has been dressed down by viewers after he branded the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s claims in their new Netflix docuseries as “absurd”.
The first three episodes of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s highly anticipated programme, in which they promised to tell “the full truth” about the “other side” of their story, were released on Thursday (8 December).
Witchell, who appeared on BBC News at Six to report on the series, said that ”Volume I” of Harry and Meghan was “relatively benign”, but added that the royal couple’s show “suggests there is what amounts to a conspiracy between [Buckingham] Palace and the press”.
“That is where I think credibility is really stretched beyond what is reasonable,” the veteran journalist continued.
He then pointed towards Meghan, who opened up about the impact press intrusion had on her life.
The duchess said: “At that point, I was still very much believing what I was being told, which was, ‘It will pass, it will get better, it’s just what they do right at the very beginning’.
“But truth be told, no matter how hard I tried, no matter how good I was, no matter what I did, they were still going to find a way to destroy me.”
Witchell said: “First point, who is ‘they’ she is referring to, I think it is the Palace but, most particularly, it is to 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.”
Viewers were unimpressed by Witchell’s report, with many accusing him of being “biased” against the Sussexes.
“BBC News should book Nicholas Witchell on unconscious bias training immediately,” one person tweeted. “He can barely disguise his disdain of the couple and his tone especially when questioning Meghan’s claim that she felt media wanted to destroy her sounded spiteful and blindingly biased.”
Another said: “Seriously don’t give two flying f***s about this Harry and Meghan s*** but quite funny to see a clearly furious Nicholas Witchell pretending to be impartial on the news. They don’t like you, Nick.”
“Regardless of people’s view of the Harry and Meghan situation, Nicholas Witchell demonstrates his obvious bias as usual,” a third complained. “It’s getting very tiring. C’mon BBC, your reporters are supposed to be ‘neutral’!”
Some people resurfaced King Charles III’s reaction to Witchell in 2005, while he was still the Prince of Wales. A number of photographers and press were present, but Charles’ ire appeared to be aimed specifically at Witchell.
During a photocall in Switzerland with Prince William and Harry, Charles mutters through gritted teeth: “These bloody people. I can’t bear that man. I mean, he’s so awful, he really is.”
In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph in 2014, Witchell said Charles was “quite right” to call him an “awful man”.
“You could take the view it was the best thing that happened to me, because it showed that it is our job as BBC journalists to report fairly and accurately, but not seek approval. We’re not there to be liked.”
Harry and Meghan is available on Netflix now.