HBO’s The Prince, a star-studded animated parody of life in the British royal family centered on a fictionalized version of 8-year-old Prince George, premiered for streaming late Thursday amid controversy around how the third-in-line to the throne and other child members of the family are portrayed in the series, raising questions about bullying and privacy for the royals.
While the British royal family and public is no stranger to parodies and fictionalized accounts, The Prince’s depiction of George and his siblings — Princess Charlotte, 6, and Prince Louis, 3 — crossed a line for some.
“Bottom line, children are off limits,” women’s rights activist and author Dr. Shola Mos-Shogbamimu said on Good Morning Britain Friday. “Creating a parody to poke fun at an 8-year-old is not funny. It’s uncalled for, and it goes against our collective sense of responsibility.”
Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner was blasted by some viewers as hypocritical for voicing Charlotte despite speaking out in May against paparazzi attention on her own daughter: “She did not ask for this life … it’s disgusting,” Turner said at the time, referring to her 1-year-old with husband Joe Jonas.
HBO Max hasn’t disclosed viewership numbers for the show but it was listed Friday under a section of the homepage reserved for the platform’s most popular titles.
Kensington Palace, which represents George’s parents, Prince William and Kate, has not commented on the series, as is typical involving media about the royal family.
HBO quietly put the series up for streaming on short notice this week after delaying its premiere after the May death of Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth’s husband. Public attitudes about the royal family have shifted slightly since Janetti’s show was picked up by HBO in early 2020. Prince Harry and Markle’s bombshell Oprah Winfrey interview in March sparked concerns surrounding bullying, privacy and mental health in the royal family after Markle told Winfrey she experienced suicidal thoughts after marrying into Harry’s family. The Prince follows the blowout success of The Crown, Netflix’s drama about Queen Elizabeth’s reign. The fourth season of the show, which premiered last year, introduced a new generation of viewers to William and Harry’s late mother Princess Diana and a fictionalized account of hardships she faced after marrying their father, Prince Charles, in 1981. Some linked The Crown portrayal to a wave of online criticism directed at Charles and his wife, Camilla, after social media users trolled royal family social media accounts and left comments about being “Team Diana.”