Prince Harry and his wife’s Netflix documentary has been accused of “totally misleading and misrepresenting what the queen said” in one of her most famous speeches.
The late Queen Elizabeth II pledged herself to a life of service during a landmark address on her 21st birthday while she was still a princess.
In Cape Town, South Africa, on April 21, 1947, she said: “I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.”
However, in the third episode of Part I of Harry & Meghan, the speech is quoted without the section where she says, “your service.”
The queen’s former spokesman Dickie Arbiter stated: “So they’ve edited it. It’s totally misleading and misrepresenting what the queen said as Princess Elizabeth on the 21st April 1947.”
Continuing, he stated, “My guess is had she been alive, they wouldn’t have done it. This is a duplicitous way of authoring history.”
It is unclear why the queen’s words were edited. Still, the segment comes during discussions of the transition from the days of the British Empire to the Commonwealth, a voluntary partnership between 56 nations, including Britain, which had the queen as its head.
The documentary then shows more recent footage of the queen saying: “The Commonwealth will continue to offer stability and continuity for future generations.”
Afua Hirsch, a British writer, and broadcaster, then tells the documentary: “The Commonwealth is still described as that. You know, a club of friends who share common values. I find that language really problematic. I sometimes call the Commonwealth ‘Empire 2.0’ because that is what it is.”
Arbiter said: “Quite frankly, they are muddying the waters because the Commonwealth is not Empire 2. The Commonwealth is a voluntary organization that countries can join or not. They choose to join. In fact, there are countries, four of them so far, who joined the Commonwealth and had nothing to do with the United Kingdom.”
On editing the queen’s words, PR expert Edward Coram James, chief executive of Go Up, stated: “It is not a legitimate sleight of hand that a documentary can do, but this isn’t a documentary. It’s propaganda.”
“American audiences are very different to U.K. audiences in how they receive and digest news. In the U.K., we have the BBC constitution on impartiality and giving balance.
“In America, the main broadcasters are by their very nature biased. So you have CNN and MSNBC that skew progressive and Fox that skews conservative, and so American audiences are used to very one-sided news giving, and U.K. audiences aren’t.
“I don’t think there would be anybody serious who would claim this was a serious piece of documentary making or anything other than propaganda because there is no pro-royal position or any attempt to explain the royal position.”
“It’s classic Fox News that,” he added. “Fox News will take a clip of a Democratic politician saying something, remove all context and just clip the bit they want people to see. They’re actually employing the exact same tactics that they are constantly criticizing the U.K. and U.S. media for doing.”
Harry’s wife told Variety in October the couple were trusting their story to Garbus and that she might tell it in ways they would not have done.
She said: “It’s nice to be able to trust someone with our story—a seasoned director whose work I’ve long admired—even if it means it may not be the way we would have told it. But that’s not why we’re telling it. We’re trusting our story to someone else, and that means it will go through their lens.”