By Laura Elston, PA Court Reporter
The British royal household has been accused of deliberately planting negative stories about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to deflect from less favourable coverage of other royals as part of “a war against Meghan”.
In the latest trailer for the Sussexes’ controversial Netflix documentary, the duchess’ lawyer Jenny Afia alleges she has seen evidence of briefing from the Palace against the couple, while Meghan’s friend Lucy Fraser says the duchess became a “scapegoat for the Palace”.
The duchess also appears in the teaser, ahead of the release of the final three episodes on Thursday, saying: “You would just see it play out, like a story about someone in the family would pop up for a minute and they’d go ‘We’ve got to make that go away’.”
Harry & Meghan. Volume II: 15 December. Only on Netflix. pic.twitter.com/u26wjp2Grf
— Netflix UK & Ireland (@NetflixUK) December 14, 2022
Ms Afia, a partner at Schillings, says, as footage of Buckingham Palace is shown: “There was a real kind of war against Meghan and I’ve certainly seen evidence that there was negative briefing from the Palace against Harry and Meghan to suit other people’s agendas.”
The duchess’s friend Lucy Fraser adds: “Meg became this scapegoat for the Palace. And so they would feed stories on her whether they were true or not to avoid other less favourable stories being printed.”
Meghan says: “You would just see it play out, like a story about someone in the family would pop up for a minute and they’d go ‘We’ve got to make that go away’.
“But there’s real estate on a website homepage, there is real estate there on a newspaper front cover, and something has to be filled in there about someone royal.”
As Meghan spoke, footage was played of newspaper front pages with the headlines “Meghan Made Kate Cry” and “Heir Heads” – about Kate and Meghan’s flower dress dispute and the Sussexes’ use of private planes – along with others saying “Meghan: I Won’t Parade With Baby” and “Celeb BB Royal ‘Race’ Row”.
In her Oprah Winfrey interview, Meghan said Kate, now the Princess of Wales, made her cry ahead of her wedding at a flower girl dress fitting – not the other way round as had been reported.
She added that the false reports were a turning point, and “everyone in the institution knew that wasn’t true” but it was not corrected.
Ms Afia adds: “This barrage of negative articles about the breakdown of the relationship with her father was the final straw in a campaign of negative, nasty coverage about her.”
Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace has declined to comment.
The direct accusations against the Palace come after Harry claimed, in another trailer on Monday: “They were happy to lie to protect my brother (William). They were never willing to tell the truth to protect us.”
Meghan said she was “fed to the wolves” and spoke of how “our security was being pulled”.
It is not clear whether the evidence Ms Afia refers to will be shown in full during Volume II of the tell-all series on December 15th.
The show – which forms part of the Sussexes’ multi-million pound deal with Netflix – has become the streaming giant’s most watched documentary in a premier week, debuting with 81.55 million hours viewed.
In the first three episodes on December 8th, Harry accused the royals of having a “huge level of unconscious bias” and Meghan said the media wanted to “destroy” her.
The duke also said members of his family questioned why Meghan needed more protection from the media than their wives had been given, but that they failed to grasp the “race element”.
The Sussexes faced calls to give up their titles after criticism in the aftermath.
Employment minister Guy Opperman described them as “clearly a very troubled couple” but said they had faced “unacceptable” press intrusion and called on people to boycott Netflix.