The Prince just dropped on Thursday morning, and the animated royal satire is unsurprisingly generating mixed reactions.
The series — which was first announced in January 2020 — was inspired by Gary Janetti's satirical take on Prince George, which made the Family Guy writer go viral on Instagram. In it, George (voiced by Janetti himself) is entitled, out of touch and sassy, Queen Elizabeth is a foul-mouthed, gun-toting family tyrant, Prince Charles is simperingly desperate to be king, and Prince Harry is an out-of-touch galoot who has no clue how to navigate everyday life outside palace walls.
The series is clear at the top of every episode that "all persons and events in this show are entirely fictional," telling its audience to "chill" because "Like, this isn't really the Royal Family."
Still, now that HBO Max has released the show's initial 12 episodes, many are questioning whether it's appropriate to spoof children — royal or not.
Children are off limits - Its uncalled for & goes against our collective sense of responsibility to make fun of children. We don't need a misshapen fabricated perspective of a caricature of an 8yr old to satirise Royal Family.
HBO #ThePrince parody of Prince George is wrong #GMB pic.twitter.com/dyoHxi1EGa
— Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu (@SholaMos1) July 30, 2021
With #ThePrince debuting today, we'd like to remind you these are innocent children who don't deserve to be caricatured &mocked. They as every other child deserves privacy.
These are lives:not "tea."
If you would like a parody of The Royals which doesn't bully, try @The_Windsors_ pic.twitter.com/JVAJCqSBRX
— Kate's Rangers (@KatesRangers) July 29, 2021
Basing #ThePrince off a child who hasn't chosen to be in public realm is irresponsible & not funny.
George (8) Charlotte (6) & Louis (3) are in elementary & preschool. They're innocents & should be off-limits, just like celeb children.
Reconsider or I'll cancel my subscription
— American BRF Fan (@American_RF_Fan) July 29, 2021
— Teacher Dude (@teacherdude) July 30, 2021
And while few of the critics are clear about whether they've actually seen the show or just object to its concept, at least one person pointed out that the show is a direct result of the popularity of Janetti's Instagram.
Let’s be honest here…HBO didn’t give Gary Janetti #thePrince on a whim. They gave it to him because there was an audience for it. The over 500k followers gained, 50k + average likes and 1000s of comments per post told them YOU wanted it so enjoy the fruits of your hatred! pic.twitter.com/WyhmA9qyFm
— LivvieO♐️ BLM (@schaekay1) July 30, 2021
The stars, too, have taken some heat from the release of the series. Sophie Turner, who plays a scheming Prince Charlotte, was called out for holding different standards for her own child (whom she shares with Joe Jonas) versus the royals' children .
One commenter on her Instagram replied, "So, I guess it's fine, as long as it's not your child?" Wrote another, "Love you but not a fan of this. Just seems wrong."
And when Orlando Bloom was asked about voicing Harry (who coincidentally became his real-life California neighbor after the actor signed on to the show), he acknowledged to The Hollywood Reporter in August 2020 that, "Initially, I was like, 'Hmm, how do I feel about this?' because I'm a British boy who's actually very proud of my roots. I've always understood it as part of my heritage and background, and I'm not someone who wants to poke fun at anyone normally, but this was so clever, witty and affectionately done."
Bloom added that Harry is "such a nice guy and he's got a great sense of humor. I hope he maintains his sense of humor through this because they're sort of on a pedestal. We're showing real adoration to them in one form or another."
Janetti, 55, shared the same sentiment as Bloom in 2019 when he spoke with PEOPLE about the Instagram account. In the unlikely event George ever happened upon his online portrayal, Janetti hoped the prince would recognize it as "ridiculous, and [see that] it's all meant with affection, you know? And I would hope he would have a sense of humor about it and think it was funny."
The Prince is streaming now on HBO Max.