Palace fears for Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s safety after BBC publicises ‘neo-Nazi propaganda’ calling for Harry to be shot
The BBC has been accused of compromising the safety of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex after it shared neo-Nazi propaganda calling for the death of “race traitors” on its website. An image, featuring the Duke and published uncensored in an online news story, has now been taken down from the BBC website after a direct complaint from the Royal Household.
Prince Harry and Prince William, who has recently campaigned for online safety, are both aware of the picture and understood to be very concerned about its content, with aides deeply worried about the security implications. The image, a poster in stark red and black, shows the Duke of Sussex with a gun pointed to his head, a swastika, and the words: “See ya later, race traitor”. It was published on the BBC News website as part of an investigation into a far-Right underground group called the Sonnenkrieg Division headlined “British Neo-Nazis suggest Prince Harry should be shot”. Three people were arrested over the incident, with properties in Bath, Leeds, London and Portsmouth being searched. On Friday, police confirmed an 18-year-old man from Portsmouth had been charged with five offences related to encouraging terrorism and three offences relating to dissemination of terrorist publications under the Terrorism Act. A 17-year-old boy from London has been charged with five offences related to encouraging terrorism, while a 21-year-old man from Bath, has been released on bail pending further enquiries.
The image has now been shared widely around the world, being reproduced on websites and in several tabloid newspapers on Friday. It was taken down “several days” after it was put up by the BBC, with a spokesman saying it had “served its purpose in highlighting the nature of the group”. A palace aide confirmed that the image was removed following complaints from the Royal Household amid “very real concerns about the security impact of the decision to publish”. There will now be “ongoing conversations to clarify what happened,” he said. Staff are now consulting with social media companies to find and remove the image in an attempt to stop it spreading further. “This is propaganda that was designed to spread online,” a source said, pointing out that other extremist material, such as that produced by Isil, would not be published on a mainstream news website. “That is what they [those who made it] wanted to happen, and it has now been more successful than they could ever have imagined.”
It comes less than a month after the Duke of Cambridge chose the BBC as a venue for a landmark speech about the unforeseen consequences of the internet, in which he was unusually critical of web giants for their lack of action over its dark side. He warned that internet platforms were being used “to organise violence”, to spread “misinformation and conspiracy to pollute the public sphere” and “normalise speech that is filled with bile and hate”. A spokesman for BBC News said: “This image was used in a report of a long-running BBC investigation into a group of British neo-nazis. “We used the image after careful editorial consideration, and added an online warning to audiences given the sensitivities around the story. “Since our online story is now several days old, we have removed the image as we feel it has served its purpose in highlighting the nature of the group.” It is not the first time the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have endured threats relating to race. In February of this year, it was reported that a package containing a white powder and “malicious communications” was sent to St James’s Palace, allegedly intended for Meghan Markle. No arrests have yet been made over the incident, with police treating the message as a “racist hate crime”.