Last year Netflix refused to add a disclaimer to the beginning of every episode of The Crown, warning viewers that it is part fiction. HBO Max’s new cartoon The Prince, however, had no choice: the series has been sitting on the shelf so long that it was out of date before it was even broadcast, so every episode bears a warning that ‘this isn’t really the royal family. It’s like, a parody, or whatever. And certain recent events will not be reflected in this programme.’
The streaming service’s new cartoon comedy (if one can call it that) is based around an imagined child’s-eye-view of life in the palace. The protagonist is eight-year-old Prince George. He is depicted as a camp, vain, bitchy, social-media obsessed American adult who has somehow been transplanted into the body of a child-prince. It isn’t clear why. He is mean to his staff and to the other children in his school, and aspires to star in an American reality TV show. This unlikeable character does not seem to be based on the real third in line to the British throne, but probably on the show’s creator who also provides his voice, Gary Janetti.
The main problem with The Prince is that it isn’t very funny. Of course, that’s a matter of taste, but there’s no shortage of tedious celebrity cat-fighting on television these days – it’s not clear why channelling it through the mouth of an eight-year-old child should make it any funnier.
The running joke about Prince Philip is that he’s very old and close to death; he’s variously shown as dribbling, mumbling and eating liquidised food. Joking about someone who is so old they’re nearly dead isn’t particularly sophisticated to start with, but becomes even more tasteless and unamusing less than four months after their actual death.