A row has broken out over whether the royal family and the palaces were given the right to reply to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's controversial Netflix show.

A senior palace source insisted Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace and members of the family were not approached for comment on content in the series.

However, a Netflix source insisted the communications offices for the King and the Prince of Wales were contacted in advance and given the chance to react to Harry and Meghan’s claims.

Harry and Meghan’s tell-all documentary began streaming on Thursday, with Harry accusing the royals of having a "huge level of unconscious bias" and Meghan saying the media wanted to "destroy" her.

The duke also said members of his family questioned why Meghan needed more protection from the media than their wives had been given, but that they failed to grasp the "race element".

A senior source in the royal household countered the written statement of "Members of the royal family declined to comment on the content within this series" which appeared on a black screen at the start of episode one.

Both Kensington Palace and Buckingham Palace confirmed they did receive an email purporting to be from a third-party production company from an unknown organisation’s address and attempted to verify its authenticity with Archewell Productions and Netflix, but never received a response.

"In the absence of this verification, we were unable to provide any response. The substance of the email we received also did not address the entire series," a source said.

In the first instalment, Meghan claims "salacious stories" were "planted" in the lead-up to their wedding, with the couple "playing whack-a-mole" as the articles appeared.

The duchess also describes her first meeting with the Prince and Princess of Wales, saying she was surprised at the "formality" of the royal family behind closed doors.

"I've always been a hugger, I didn't realise that that is really jarring for a lot of Brits," she says, revealing she was dressed down in ripped jeans and barefoot.

Harry says his wife being an American actress "clouded" his family's view of her. Meghan says the media would find a way to "destroy" her "no matter how good" she was.

The duke says there is a temptation in the royal family to marry someone who "fits the mould".

Speaking in the first episode of the Netflix documentary, he says: "I think, for so many people in the family, especially obviously the men, there can be a temptation or an urge to marry someone who would fit the mould, as opposed to somebody who you perhaps are destined to be with."

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In the opening scenes, Harry is shown at Heathrow Airport in footage he filmed himself in March 2020 at the culmination of the 'Megxit' crisis and as he prepared to leave the UK for the last time as a senior royal.

"This is about duty and service, and I feel as though, being part of this family, it is my duty to uncover this exploitation and bribery that happens within our media," he says.

Meghan is seen separately, filming herself in Vancouver wearing a towel on her head and saying: "Unfortunately, in us standing for something, they are destroying us."

Harry says: "We've just finished two weeks, our final push, our last stint of royal engagements.

"It's really hard to look back on it now and go, 'What on Earth happened?'"

He adds: "This isn't just about our story. This has always been so much bigger than us.

"No one knows the full truth. We know the full truth. The institution knows the full truth. And the media know the full truth because they've been in on it.

"And I think anybody else in my situation would have done exactly the same thing."

Meanwhile, Meghan is seen saying: "I just really want to get to the other side of all of this."

There is a silent pause before she appears emotional and says: "I don't know what to say anymore."

Harry and Meghan signed lucrative deals, thought to be worth well over £100 million, with the streaming giant and Spotify after quitting as senior working royals in 2020 following family rifts and struggles with royal life.

The "unprecedented and in-depth" docuseries, directed by Oscar-nominated Liz Garbus, is billed as a Netflix global event, with Harry and Meghan sharing "the other side of their high-profile love story".

Harry, in a trailer for the docuseries, warns "we know the full truth" and speaks of a "hierarchy in the family", a "dirty game" and "leaking" and "planting of stories".

The first episode, 56 minutes long, shares the impact of Harry's childhood in the public eye and his secret relationship with Meghan in the early days.

During the second episode of Harry & Meghan, the couple look at some of the headlines in the UK tabloid press ahead of Kensington Palace's statement on the media's treatment of the Duchess of Sussex.

They included: "Harry's girl is (almost) straight outta Compton."

Britain's Duke of Sussex said there is a "huge level of unconscious bias" in the royal family as he discussed the issue of racism

Meghan says: "Firstly, I'm not from Compton, I've never lived in Compton, so it's factually incorrect. But why do you have to make a dig at Compton?"

Harry says: "Eight days after the relationship became public, I put out a statement calling out the racist undertones of articles and headlines that were written by the British press as well as outright racism from those articles across social media."

He adds that during this time members of the royal family asked why the duchess should be "protected" when they questioned newspaper headlines about her.

"The direction from the Palace was, 'Don't say anything'," he says.

"But what people need to understand is, as far as a lot of the family were concerned, everything that she was being put through, they had been put through as well.

"So it was almost like a rite of passage, and some of the members of the family were like, 'My wife had to go through that, so why should your girlfriend be treated any differently?' 'Why should you get special treatment?' 'Why should she be protected?'

"I said, 'The difference here is the race element'."

The third episode of the documentary refers to an event in 2017 when Princess Michael of Kent wore a Blackamoor-style brooch that was deemed to be racist.

The first three episodes are streaming now, with the second volume of three set to be released on 15 December.

Source: Press Association