A Private Investigator Apologized to Prince Harry for Having “Robbed” Him of Teen Years

It was all part of a “ruthless” media culture surrounding the royals in the 2000s, said the investigator.

prince harry press treatment
(Image credit: Getty Images)

While the first episode of The Princes and The Press—a two-part BBC documentary that started airing last week—looked at the unsurprisingly fraught relationship between the royal family and the tabloid media machine, it also featured some revelations. Though it’s widely recognized that the rabid treatment of the royal family by the tabloid press is over-the-top and inappropriate (Prince Harry has even previously blamed the media’s “culture of exploitation” for the death of his mother, Princess Diana), the new documentary goes into some never-before-heard details—and saw at least one former investigator apologize to Prince Harry for their behavior. 

Private investigator Gavin Burrows, who worked with publications throughout the 2000s, took a moment in the documentary to apologize to Harry for the media’s “ruthless” behavior toward him, according to People. “I was basically part of a group of people who robbed him of his normal teenage years,” Burrows said. Burrows admitted that he hacked into the private communications of Chelsy Davy, the young woman Prince Harry dated on and off for six years, up until 2011. “There was a lot of voicemail hacking going on, there was a lot of surveillance work on her phones, on her comms. Chelsy would brag to her friends when she was going to see him,” he said. 

Burrows added that he even dug into Davy's medical records, looking for information on sexually transmitted infections or possible pregnancies. The former investigator said he was “very sorry” for how he acted, and blamed it partially on greed and his own past drug use. “I was living in a fake state of grandeur,” he said. 

The first episode of the documentary discussed the enormous pressure faced by women who dated Prince Harry prior to his marriage to Meghan Markle (who has experienced her own horrific press treatment). "Harry's previous relationships with Chelsy Davy and Cressida Bonas, a part of why neither of those went all the way was because neither of them wanted to endure that level of media scrutiny,” said Roya Nikkhah, editor of The Sunday Times, appearing in the documentary. “A lot of his friends were getting married and having families, and he was very concerned that that might elude him because he might not be able to find someone who could handle that."

While it’s important that members of the press who contributed to the awful treatment of the royals are taking accountability, the documentary itself isn’t exactly going over well within the Firm. Because the BBC, who produced and broadcast The Princes and the Press, refused to allow the royal family to view it before air, there was a rumored “boycott” of the station within the Palace. While the royals issued a standard statement about the film, the documentary is said to be placing even more strain on the fractured relationship between the family and the BBC, which was already fraught after Prince William’s outspoken disappointment with the network for its irresponsible handling of the 1995 Martin Bashir interview with Princess Diana. 

Part II of the documentary airs November 29. 

Marie Claire is committed to celebrating the richness and scope of women's lives. We're known for our award-winning features, thoughtful essays and op-eds, deep commitment to sustainable fashion, and buzzy interviews and reviews. Reaching millions of women every month, MarieClaire.com is an internationally-recognized destination for celebrity news, fashion trends, beauty recommendations, and renowned investigative packages.