Daily Mail fails to tell difference between fact and fiction

Daily Mail caption reading "Gun pointed at royal"

Totally not a misleading caption

Today, as every day, the Mail is outraged*, this time about a drama about Prince Harry being taken hostage while serving in Afghanistan. While the recent spate of fictional docudramas based on tragic events happening to real people are often not in the best taste – Channel 4 dramatising of the hypothetical execution of Gary Glitter accompanied by a remix of “Monster Mash” was possibly a bit of a low – that’s not the argument that the Mail uses against the show. Instead, the article takes a turn for the bizarre:


Channel 4 is to show a ‘dramatised documentary’ based on what would happen if Prince Harry were taken prisoner serving in Afghanistan.

The 90-minute film includes scenes showing the prince, played by actor Sebastian Reid, being held behind enemy lines while negotiations are carried out to free him.

The Taking Of Prince Harry shows the prince at one point with an unloaded gun pointed at his face before one of his captors pulls the trigger.

Although Clarence House has not responded to the documentary makers, royalists will be outraged by the programme and the potential risk to the throne.*

“Potential risk to the throne”? I do hope the Daily Mail realises this is a fictional drama; Channel 4 did not actually put a gun to Prince Harry’s face and pull the trigger. In fact, since Prince Harry returned from Afghanistan in February 2008, it’s hard to see what the “potential risk to the throne” may be. The article certainly never tells us.

The best the Mail can come up with is that “it has already prompted concern that extremists may take ideas from the programme” – though who had these concerns is never mentioned, nor why extremists would have to watch the show to have the idea, especially when there are already “reports and stories of jihadi websites saying he should be the number one target“.

According to the article, Prince Harry is not outraged, Clarence House is not outraged, Buckingham Palace is not outraged, the security forces are not outraged – the only people who are outraged appear to be the Daily Mail.

* “Royalists will be outraged” after we tell them a bunch of reasons to be outraged might be more accurate.

Edit! The Mail has altered the article. Now we’re no longer to be worried about Channel 4 shooting fictional Prince Harry. Instead, it now says “Members of the military will be appalled at the sense of defeatism the show is likely to sew [sic] in viewers back home already questioning the value of the war in Afghanistan”, while the headline now reads “Army outraged as ‘distasteful’ Channel Four drama shows Prince Harry taken hostage by Taliban in Afghanistan” (though the article itself still doesn’t back up the claim that anyone is actually outraged). Not much of an improvement, but at least they don’t claim that the show represents “a risk to the throne” (which is a good thing – if the claim was true, that would mean Channel 4 was committing the offence of treason felony).

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