Infamous 'What Meghan wants…' scandal sparks contradictory claims on BBC royal documentary

·5 min read
File photo dated 10/7/2018 of Queen Elizabeth II with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on the balcony at Buckingham, Palace where they watched a Royal Air Force flypast over central London to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force. The Duchess of Sussex gave birth to a 7lb 11oz daughter, Lilibet
There have been conflicting claims in a BBC documentary about an alleged row between the Queen and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. (PA)

A controversial BBC documentary about the Royal Family has revealed contradictory claims about an alleged row between the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and the Queen.

In an episode that became known as “Tiaragate”, reports claimed Prince Harry was angry that Meghan Markle couldn’t wear a certain tiara on their wedding day in May 2018.

He reportedly said to the Queen’s personal dresser at one point: “What Meghan wants, Meghan gets.”

Read more: Thomas Markle says Meghan's interview with Ellen 'embarrassed everyone in the UK'

The reports only emerged in newspapers some six months after the wedding and are significant because they were the one first real indications of a potential conflict between the Sussexes and other members of the Royal Household. 

The incident reportedly led to talks with the Queen, in which she is said to have rebuked Harry.

And now a new BBC documentary, The Princes And The Press, has thrown up conflicting claims about the fallout of the alleged row.

Watch: Harry and William reunite for unveiling of Princess Diana statue

The first of its three parts was aired on BBC Two on Monday evening, with presenter Amol Rajan interviewing journalists who have covered the royal family.

According to Dan Wootton, a columnist for MailOnline and a host on GB News, the Queen had words with Harry about Meghan's behaviour.

But in the same programme, Evening Standard royal editor Robert Jobson said the Queen had to speak to Harry about his own conduct.

“My understanding is that the Queen called him in and told him to calm down,” Jobson told the programme.

(BBC)
Evening Standard royal editor Robert Jobson was interviewed for the BBC documentary. (BBC)
(BBC)
Journalist Dan Wootton claimed the Queen had warned Prince Harry about his wife's behaviour. (BBC)

However, Wootton said: “The crux of my story… is that the Queen had actually spoken to Harry before the wedding warning Meghan about her behaviour.”

Royal biographer Andrew Morton wrote in September that the Queen had said: “She gets what tiara she’s given by me.”

And in a further conflicting account of what actually happened, an email released earlier this month — as part of the Duchess of Sussex’s ongoing legal battle with the publisher of the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline — said the Queen had helped choose the tiara.

In the email to her then press chief, the duchess, referring to herself in the third person, wrote: “The Queen, Harry and Meghan were all present – she tried on five tiaras and the Queen asked her which she preferred.

Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, arrive to the Intrepid, Sea Air & Space Museum's inaugural Intrepid Valor Awards on November 10, 2021 in New York. (Photo by Bryan R. Smith / AFP) (Photo by BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP via Getty Images)
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, at an awards gala in New York earlier this month. (AFP via Getty Images)

“Meghan asked the Queen her preference. The Queen said they all suited her and Meghan chose the diamond one, which the Queen agreed was perfect.

“Shame to see such a beautiful sweet moment skewed in media. There was no conversation about any other tiara as a preference. Meghan loved the one she wore and it remains a very special memory.”

The BBC documentary series looks at Prince Harry and his brother William’s relationship with the media, claiming that stories were leaked by royal courtiers.

The second episode next week is set to focus on the rift between the two princes, with royal aides reportedly concerned it will include claims the brothers briefed against each other in the press through their advisers.

The royal family has described the documentary’s claims as “overblown” and “unfounded”.

The royal households of Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Kensington Palace took the rare step of issuing a joint statement, which was included at the end of the first episode.

The statement from the palaces said: “A free, responsible and open press is of vital importance to a healthy democracy.

“However, too often it is overblown and unfounded claims from unnamed sources that are presented as facts and it is disappointing when anyone, including the BBC, gives them credibility.”

Monday night’s programme also featured Meghan’s lawyer Jenny Afia, from the law firm Schillings, who responded to reports about the duchess’s alleged bullying of palace staff.

In March, The Times newspaper said the duchess allegedly drove out two personal assistants and “humiliated” staff on several occasions, which she denies.

The Duke of Cambridge (right) and the Duke of Sussex during the unveiling of a statue they commissioned of their mother Diana, Princess of Wales, in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace, London, on what would have been her 60th birthday. Picture date: Thursday July 1, 2021.
A BBC documentary series is set to examine the rift between the Duke of Sussex, left, and the Duke of Cambridge, right. (PA)

An investigation has since been launched by Buckingham Palace and the Royal Jousehold has tasked an external legal team to assist its human resources team looking at allegations made against Meghan.

Afia said: “Those stories were false. This narrative that no-one can work for the Duchess of Sussex, she was too difficult and demanding as a boss and everyone had to leave, it’s just not true.”

The documentary also featured a private investigator who apologised for targeting the phone of Harry’s former girlfriend Chelsy Davy and admitted he helped “rob” the prince of his teenage years.

Read more: Harry and Meghan are more unpopular than ever before, new poll shows

Gavin Burrows, speaking publicly about the issue for the first time, said there had been a “ruthless” culture in parts of the media in the early 2000s, when he said Davy’s phone had been under surveillance.

The BBC says Burrows is a witness in legal cases against the News of the World and The Sun, but that his claims are yet to be tested in court and are strongly disputed.

Harry brought legal proceedings against News Group Newspapers (NGN) and Reach – formerly Mirror Group Newspapers – in 2019, just days after it was announced that Meghan was suing the Mail on Sunday after it published a letter she wrote to her father.

Meghan won the privacy claim earlier this year, but Associated Newspapers has appealed the decision.

Watch: Meghan Markle wins privacy claim against Mail on Sunday

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