Triumph for Harry as BBC ditches 'sexist' Megxit term

·5 min read
Amol Rajan, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Prince William, Prince Harry, Jenny Afia
Amol Rajan, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Prince William, Prince Harry, Jenny Afia

It might have upset the palace, caused soul-searching at the BBC and reignited the worst of the Royal brothers-at-war rumours.

But a controversial BBC documentary about The Princes and the Press has delivered one clear victory for a member of the Royal Family: its name.

The Duke of Sussex will be able to celebrate a triumph in his mission to end the use of the term “Megxit”, with the BBC choosing to instead call its second episode “Sussexit”.

The Duke has recently argued the more popular term of “Megxit”, used regularly in the media, is sexist, having been created by an online troll to put his wife at the centre of their departure from the working Royal Family.

“Maybe people know this and maybe they don’t, but the term Megxit was or is a misogynistic term, and it was created by a troll, amplified by royal correspondents, and it grew and grew and grew into mainstream media,” he said.

The second episode of The Princes and the Press, called Sussexit, is due for broadcast on Monday night and is expected to air claims about briefing from within the palaces, a lack of support for the Sussexes, and a senior member of a Royal Household helping a tabloid newspaper in its court case against the Duchess.

The palace, which has only been in recent contact with programme-makers through its lawyers, has dismissed the contents of the two-part documentary as “overblown and unfounded”, disappointed by what it perceives as failure to offer a proper right of reply.

The Duchess of Sussex’s lawyer will appear again in the second episode, which covers the period of 2018 to 2021, including the birth of Archie Mountbatten-Windsor and royal tours of the Cambridges and Sussexes.

Jenny Afia from Schillings, lawyer for Meghan Duchess of Sussex, seen here in a still from BBC documentary The Princes and the Press
Jenny Afia from Schillings, lawyer for Meghan Duchess of Sussex, seen here in a still from BBC documentary The Princes and the Press

Examining the “circumstances around the decision of the Sussexes to step down from their senior royal roles”, it details the various legal cases served by Prince Harry and Meghan, and discusses how the relationship between Diana, Princess of Wales, and the press affected her two sons.

The Sunday Telegraph understands it will include coverage of the Martin Bashir scandal, in which the disgraced BBC journalist was found to have used falsified documents to convince the late Princess to give an interview to Panorama.

The programme was being edited until the last minute this week to take in developments in the Duchess of Sussex vs Mail on Sunday case, in which the former working royal apologised for failing to remember she had authorised her then-press secretary to brief her biographers.

It could include an overlooked detail in the evidence, in which the Mail on Sunday’s editor Ted Verity said that in 2020 he “had a meeting with a senior member of the Royal Household” with “direct knowledge” of how a letter from the Duchess to her father was drafted.

‘High-grade information’

“This was not gossip or tittle-tattle: it was what I considered to be high-grade information from a serious individual in a position of authority and responsibility who knew the implications of what they were telling me,” he said in a witness statement.

Lawyers for the newspaper group later confirmed to the court that the source was not Jason Knauf, the Sussexes’ former press secretary who eventually provided on-record evidence revealing the couple had authorised him to brief the authors of their biography.

The BBC has not confirmed which elements considered for the documentary will make the final cut.

No previews of the show were made available to the palace, which was asked to respond to a series of allegations in it but believes it did not have enough information to do so.

One palace source said the approach amounted to little more than a “fishing expedition” aimed at getting aides to give credence to stories they had never commented on before, calling the content “unfounded conjecture”.

“These are speculative rumours,” said another, of tabloid stories covered in the programme.

The BBC is fully standing by the programme, made by Amol Rajan, with sign-off for the final episode to be broadcast going to executive level.

Amol Rajan - Patrick Smith/BBC
Amol Rajan - Patrick Smith/BBC

It is thought to include unverified claims that a leaked story about the Sussexes leaving the Royal Family came from someone within one of the Royal Households.

The Duchess of Sussex's lawyer will appear on screen to insist she is not a bully, following an internal palace investigation into her treatment of staff, which is yet to deliver its findings.

Rajan has said he will not tackle the “culture wars” into which the “younger royals have been conscripted”, but instead hopes to “bring light where there is heat”.

A joint statement provided by Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Kensington Palace in response to the show 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.”

A BBC spokeswoman said: “The programme is about how royal journalism is done and features a range of journalists from broadcast and the newspaper industry.”

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