Have you had your Harry and Meghan fix today yet?

A Very Royal Baby: From Cradle To Crown is another addition to royal documentary mountain

Harry, Meghan, Duchess and Archie. Photograph: Toby Melville/Getty Images)

Harry, Meghan, Duchess and Archie. Photograph: Toby Melville/Getty Images)

 

Brexit may have redefined Britain’s place in the world but it hasn’t interrupted the country’s top export of gossipy royal documentaries. A Very Royal Baby: From Cradle To Crown (Channel 4, 9pm) is the latest off the production line and follows the blueprint to the letter.

Royal “experts” are trotted out, archive footage contrasts the changing fortunes and fashions of the Windsors. All for the enjoyment of viewers counting down to the next season of The Crown.

A Very Royal Baby is nominally topical in that it precedes the arrival this summer of the second child of Harry and Meghan (a date they have kept from the press, which is starting to feel like a first for them). It also lands two days before the mental health documentary Harry has made with Oprah, The Me You Can’t See.

That film debuts on Apple TV + and will no doubt descend from on high, glazed in California therapy speak (I don’t know that for a fact but it’s my truth and I’m sticking to it). Channel 4’s latest contribution to the vast mountain of royal docs, by contrast, keeps it strictly old school, as it details the ins-and-outs of royal reproduction and child-rearing.

It’s fun – in a slightly overheated way. Senior figures in Buckingham Palace were horrified, we learn, that Meghan threw a swanky baby shower in the $200,000 suite of a New York hotel. Elsewhere it is suggested that, as the first royal to be brought up in relatively mundane circumstances, Kate Middleton introduced some normality to Planet Windsor.

As is the way with these things , the assertions are occasionally hyperbolic. “The Royal Family is this country’s family,” Julie Montagu, aka Viscountess Hinchingbrooke (entrepreneur, yoga instructor, blogger, writer, and reality television star).

“If you look at the few things that unify a country, it’s royal weddings and royal births,” adds Omid Scobie, author of Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family.

Royal watchers will gulp it all down, though they may privately admit there’s little here they didn’t already know (including the thorny subject of Meghan and Harry going through three nannies in a relatively short period). Agnostics meanwhile will wish there was more of comedian Shappi Khorsandi, who casts an agreeably skeptical eye over the monarchy

She is particularly strong on the atrocious sartorial choices of Diana and Fergie. “I don’t know what it was about 1980s fashion,” she says. “Everyone wore tents.” 

A distinction is later drawn between the respect generally shown to modern royals and the family’s treatment at the hands of the press in 30 years ago. “Today nobody would publish the pictures: a completely different era now,” says former Sun Royal photographer Arthur Edwards of a long-lense snap he took of Diana in her early pregnancy.

Royal documentaries are undeniably addictive. That’s because they’re ultimately just reality TV with nicer frocks and different accents. And a Very Royal Baby is typical of the genre – it’s brisk, frothy and as disposable as one of those tiny union jacks people are always waving at the queen.

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