ITV has confirmed it will host a special Christmas carol service led by the Duchess of Cambridge in a snub to the BBC.
The Westminster Abbey event was reportedly due to be hosted by the BBC but the show was switched to ITV after a row over a documentary programme examining the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex’s relationship with the media.
BBC Two’s The Princes And The Press, presented by Amol Rajan, was criticised by the royal households for giving credibility to “overblown and unfounded claims”.
ITV said the carol service, hosted by Kate and supported by the Royal Foundation, would recognise and celebrate the work of “individuals and organisations across the nation who have stepped up to support their communities through the pandemic”.
The event, which will be broadcast on Wednesday December 8, was developed in partnership with Westminster Abbey and BBC Studios Events Productions.
Guests will range from those involved in grassroots community projects, charity workers and volunteers, to teachers, emergency responders and armed forces personnel, ITV said.
The audience will also feature people who have gone “above and beyond” to care for and protect others during the last 18 months, including those working in roles relating to mental health, families and early development.
The Westminster Abbey choir will deliver carols alongside readings and musical performances by a variety of guests.
A statement from William and Kate on the social media accounts of Kensington Palace confirmed the news.
It said: “This Christmas we are celebrating the incredible work of individuals and organisations across the nation who go above and beyond to support their communities.
“Next week, the duchess will host a Christmas carol service at Westminster Abbey, supported by The Royal Foundation, bringing many of those inspirational people together.
“The service, which will be broadcast in December, will look back on the last 18 months, to think not only of the unprecedented challenges that we have all faced as we continue to navigate the Covid-19 pandemic, but also to remember the positives: people and organisations pulling together in their communities, the small acts of kindness across different demographics and generations, and the unsung heroes who stepped up to help others.”
Two-part BBC documentary The Princes And The Press included suggestions that negative stories about the Duchess of Sussex were leaked by courtiers and there was a competitiveness between households.
Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Kensington Palace took the rare step of issuing a joint statement to the broadcaster which was included at the end of the BBC Two documentary.
The statement from the palaces said: “A free, responsible and open press is of vital importance to a healthy democracy.
“However, too often it is overblown and unfounded claims from unnamed sources that are presented as facts and it is disappointing when anyone, including the BBC, gives them credibility.”