A new Netflix series, Jimmy Savile: British Horror Story, has revealed how Prince Charles solicited PR advice for the royal family from Jimmy Savile.
Exploring their relationship through letters exchanged over the course of 20 years, the documentary shows how Savile, now thought to be one of Britain’s most prolific sex offenders, offered his guidance on public and family matters.
Director of the documentary, Rowan Deacon, has stated that the documentary is “not suggesting for one moment” that the Prince of Wales knew what Savile was “really up to” as details of his sexual abuse only became widely known after his death in 2011.
What did Prince Charles ask Jimmy Savile?
According to a new documentary from Netflix, Prince Charles repeatedly sought PR advice for the royal family from Jimmy Savile who, after his death in 2011, was revealed to be a paedophile who spent decades sexually abusing women and children.
The documentary, titled Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story, claims that some of Savile’s suggestions were taken all the way to the Queen.
Per the Times, producers of the documentary uncovered notes from the Prince of Wales to Savile which reportedly show Savile acting as an unofficial adviser to Charles over the course of two decades, from 1986 to 2007.
On 14 January 1987, the Prince of Wales wrote to Savile: “Perhaps I am wrong, but you are the bloke who knows what’s going on. What I really need is a list of suggestions from you. I so want to get to parts of the country that others don’t get to reach.”
Among the material recovered by the filmmakers was a five page long document titled Guidelines for Members of the Royal Family and Their Staffs which was handwritten by Savile in 1989.
In the dossier, Savile outlined how he thought the royal family should respond to specific events.
It’s believed that this handbook was written up in the aftermath of Prince Andrew’s highly-criticised comments about the Lockerbie disaster.
The Queen sent Duke of York to the Scottish town just after the tragedy occurred in December of 1988, in which he said that the atrocity was “much worse for the Americans” and added: “I suppose statistically something like this has got to happen at some stage… Of course it only affects the community in a very small way.”
For context, on 21 December 1988, Pan Am Flight 103, flying from Frankfurt, Germany, to Detroit, USA, was destroyed by a bomb whilst flying over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, killing all 243 passengers and 16 crew on board.
Large portions of the plane crashed into a street in Lockerbie, killing 11 residents.
Following his visit, the Queen reportedly told her former deputy private secretary Robert Fellowes: “I wish I had gone.”
In the document, Savile suggested that “a special person with considerable experience in such matters” be hired, and added: “There must be an “incident room” with several independent phone lines, teletext etc… The Queen should be informed in advance of any proposed action by family members.”
In one letter to Savile, written by Charles on 27 January 1989, the Prince wrote: “I attach a copy of my memo on disasters which incorporates your points and which I showed to my father. He showed it to [the Queen].”
What did the documentary’s director say about the letters?
Speaking to Times Radio, documentary director Rowan Deacon said that some of the material they examined was Savile’s correspondence with Charles, which, she said, gave them an “understanding of the nature of the friendship that they had”, which she feels has not been fully understood before.
She said: “I suppose what was most interesting, and why we’ve included those in the film, which looks really broadly at many reasons why Jimmy Savile wasn’t apprehended before he died, is that the relationship was one where Prince Charles trusted and respected Jimmy Savile.
“And I think that’s really interesting because I think what we were trying to do is look honestly at our, the British public’s, relationship with Jimmy Savile, in order to try and explain how he got away with it.
“And I think there’s been a temptation to say after the revelations ‘Oh well, I always knew, I always hated the man’. That seems to be the common answer we got when we phoned people up.
“And I think that’s unhelpful because I don’t think the archive material or footage brought that out. I think that isn’t the case. He was trusted and respected. And I think that we need to look at that in order to understand how perpetrators behave and how this happened.”
What is Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story?
Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story is a new docuseries from Netflix which explores the life of Savile, tracking his rise to fame, his time on Top of the Pops and Jim’ll Fix It, and his fall from grace.
The official synopsis from Netflix reads: “Jimmy Savile rose to prominence in a career spanning decades in the entertainment industry in the UK.
“He had raised millions for charity, been knighted by the Queen and achieved national treasure status by the time he died on the 29th October 2011. His funeral was broadcast live on the BBC.
“Since his death, independent investigations and those made by Scotland Yard uncovered that Savile had been a prolific and predatory sex offender, abusing hundreds of people, some as young as 5.
“To date, more than 450 allegations of sexual assault and abuse have been made against him.
“The documentary examines, through extensive archive footage, Savile’s relationship with the British people, the establishment and the media to understand how he managed to fool an entire nation for so long.”
When can I watch the series?
The series, which consists of two episodes roughly an hour and a half each, was released on Netflix on Wednesday 6 April.
You’ll need a Netflix account to watch the programme. If you don’t currently have one, you can sign up for an account via the Netflix website.
You can choose between a basic (£6.99 per month), standard (£10.99 per month) or premium (£15.99 per month) package.