Monday, 10 November 2008

Duchess and Daughters: Their Secret Mission, Review

If you thought that Fergie was engaged in paying off the £4m of debt she accumulated whilst working for the royal family think again.

She is training along with her daughters, Beatrice and Eugenie, to become an investigative journalist, following in the tracks of Chris Rodgers whose expose on orphans in Romania shocked the world over three years ago.

In the disguise of Magenta DeVine, wearing a black wig, dark shades and a green headscarf, she rebutted her endless critics by asking them whether they have ever put a smile on anyone’s face through their good deeds.

It was difficult to separate the real tragedy behind the story without thinking that one was watching a cross between Royal It’s a Knockout and rich kids on their gap year.

Take away the celebratory hype and the sense of do-gooding and the message was strong.

Sarah Ferguson decided that her daughters needed a lesson in the miseries and realities of life after being closeted in a fantasy world of public school and garden parties.

Eugenie is whisked off to Turkey where parents routinely abandon children to the orphanage if they have any physical or mental illness. The young princess was visibly moved by the plight of these children that the country felt in its best interests to hide away.

The scenes where a boy was crawling on the floor to find some sunlight to cast its rays on his face, children left in their cribs all day and a hyperactive child left in a specially constructed box.

Then on to Romania, and a story that years earlier had led to a mass exodus of white mini vans filled with toys and clothes from the UK. The country, now part of the EU had promised to clean up its act but the Royals found little evidence that much had changed. This time Beatrice, accompanied her mother and was shown similar scenes that were witnessed by her sister. A teenaged girl tied naked to a trolley in a darkened room being the most harrowing.

With a heavy hint of irony they move to a gypsy camp where Fergie wonders how a mother could possibly think of abandoning the children that she loved. The sad reality being that they simply couldn’t afford to keep them and believe a better life exists for their beloved offspring if they are sent to the orphanage.

I couldn’t help thinking all along though, that this was reminiscent of Prince Charles taking Harry to a drug rehabilitation unit after he owned up to smoking cannabis.

Almost like reality TV in the guise of Wife Swap, the girls could return to their comfortable world at any time of their choosing.

Interviewed at the end, the Princesses both hoped that their visit would mean that things will change. Beatrice described it as a “Cosmic experience” which meant that she was less "worried about what people thought of her.”

If this programme was supposed to change our perception of this branch of the Royal family then it failed. If it brings more publicity to the plight of orphans in Eastern Europe then it will have succeeded.