The BBC has reportedly come under fire for censorship after editing an episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under in order to remove a joke made about Prince Andrew. Prince Andrew, a longtime associate of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, was essentially sidelined from royal life after being accused of participating in the sex trafficking and sexual abuse of Virginia Giuffre, who was a minor at the time of the alleged incidents.
During the Snatch Game challenge, Drag Race Down Under competitor Anita Wigl’it—who was dressed in full drag as Queen Elizabeth II at the time—made a joke referencing the allegations against Prince Andrew, commenting: “I wish a dingo would have taken my baby, then I wouldn’t have anything to do with Prince Andrew anymore.” Some sources are also reporting that the BBC removed another joke made by Anita Wigl’it about Prince Andrew. “When somebody turns 100, I write them a letter, and when somebody turns 16 Prince Andrew sends them a text,” she joked. The original broadcast also contained a joke made by an in-character Anita Wigl’it about Prince Philip which was also removed by the BBC after being deemed inappropriate for British viewers.
A BBC spokesperson confirmed that the joke about Prince Andrew had been removed but did not elaborate on the reasoning behind that decision, instead saying: “The BBC occasionally makes edits to acquired programmes in accordance with UK audience expectations.”
I personally don’t think there are many circumstances where it’s appropriate to joke about sexual abuse and pedophilia, especially considering the deeply horrific details we know about the as-yet-unaddressed allegations against Prince Andrew. But the BBC’s choice to censor these particular jokes “in accordance with UK audience expectations” appears to be a failed attempt to shield the royal family from even comedic critique. This is the second time in recent months where the BBC’s decisions on how to cover the royal family garnered pushback from viewers—the first was when the broadcaster decided to dedicate all its channels to covering Prince Philip’s death, a choice that attracted a record-breaking number of viewer complaints.
The BBC’s censorship also appears to only apply to comments about certain members of the royal family. During the very same segment from which the BBC removed the Prince Andrew joke, they left in another joke from Anita Wigl’it as Elizabeth II, in which she remarked that her advice to Meghan Markle was “don’t piss me off – and wear a seatbelt.”