BBC media editor apologises for calling Duke and Duchess of Cambridge 'total frauds' in royal documentary impartiality row

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Amol Rajan, a vocal republican, join BBC Radio 4's Today programme in March - Patrick Smith
Amol Rajan, a vocal republican, join BBC Radio 4's Today programme in March - Patrick Smith

A BBC journalist has apologised for "rude and immature" comments about the monarchy, after his impartiality was called into question following his controversial documentary about the Royal family.

Amol Rajan, who presented a two-part programme about the “Princes and the Press” for the BBC despite his vocal republican views, said he “deeply regrets” his “foolish commentary” after he called the monarchy “absurd” and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s public role a “total fraud”.

Apologising after comments he originally made in The Independent were republished in a newspaper today, he said: “I look back on them now with real embarrassment, and ask myself what I was thinking, frankly.”

Mr Rajan, a vocal republican, went on to make the controversial documentary, with the BBC claiming his anti-monarchy views had no influence on the programme.

Mr Rajan’s impartiality had already been called into question ahead of the documentary broadcasting, after The Telegraph discovered articles he had written in a previous job describing the notion of a hereditary monarchy as "absurd", Prince Charles as "scientifically illiterate" and Prince Philip a “racist buffoon”.

In 2012, he wrote: "I have absolutely nothing against Prince Harry, or Prince William, or Catherine Middleton, or the Queen. Other royals, particularly Prince Philip and the scientifically illiterate Prince Charles, who champions policies that would lead to the murder by starvation of millions of Africans, I dislike."

The BBC stuck by him, saying that - in common with all corporation journalists - he had left his opinions at the door when he joined as media editor.

It went on to air the documentary, infuriating the royal household which believed programme-makers had failed to offer them a full right of reply ahead of broadcast while giving an on-camera role to both the Duchess of Sussex’s lawyer and biographer.

'Send your child to a normal school'

Today, a further article from Mr Rajan came to light, in which he wrote an open letter to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge when they were expecting their first child, Prince George.

Congratulating the newlywed couple on the news of the pregnancy, he described their public role as a “total fraud”, adding: “Neither of you have a special claim on the glorious city of Cambridge so quit pretending you do.”

He urged them to swap their “vast palace” for a “decent suburban townhouse” and send their child to a “normal school”.

He also criticised the Diamond Jubilee as a “celebration of mediocrity”, saying of the Royal Family: “Aside from the Queen - whose public image is crafted by an everexpanding team of propagandists - this clan is unusually full of fools.”

Writing on Twitter this morning, Mr Rajan said he regretted the articles.

“In reference to very reasonable questions about some foolish commentary from a former life, I want to say I deeply regret it,” he said.

“I wrote things that were rude and immature and I look back on them now with real embarrassment, and ask myself what I was thinking, frankly.

“I would like to say sorry for any offence they caused then or now. I’m completely committed to impartiality and hope our recent programmes can be judged on their merits.”

A BBC spokesman said: This article predates Amol's work at the BBC.

Once journalists join the BBC, they leave past views at the door.

“Amol is an experienced BBC journalist who reports on all of the topics he covers in an impartial way and in line with the BBC's editorial guidelines.

“All BBC current affairs output is required to be impartial.”

Dickie Arbiter, the Queen's former press secretary, previously told The Telegraph: "Unfortunately reporting at the BBC seems to have fallen by the wayside – now it's all about opinion. Has Amol Rajan changed his opinion since the Indie?"

Joe Little, of Majesty magazine, said: "Amol Rajan's piece in The Independent, written during the Queen's Diamond Jubilee year, left readers in no doubt about his anti-monarchist stance.

"Nine years on, and now at the beleaguered BBC, it will be interesting to see if those sentiments prevail.”

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