Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan Call Out U.K. Tabloids for Running “Distorted, False, or Invasive” Stories

When Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan announced that they were stepping back as senior working royals in January, they also made it clear that their new chapter would feature a new approach to media relations.

On Sunday evening, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex solidified those plans after sending a scathing letter to the editors of four British tabloids, stating they will never deal the publications or their journalists again. Instead, the strongly-worded message stated that The Sun, Daily Mail, Mirror, and Express will receive “zero engagement” from the couple—unless it’s through their lawyers.

“What [the duke and duchess] won’t do is offer themselves up as currency for an economy of clickbait and distortion,” says the letter, which was sent by the couple’s representatives on April 19.

Harry and Meghan’s letter continues, “It is gravely concerning that an influential slice of the media, over many years, has sought to insulate themselves from taking accountability for what they say or print—even when they know it to be distorted, false, or invasive beyond reason. When power is enjoyed without responsibility, the trust we all place in this much-needed industry is degraded.”

Media have every right to report on and indeed have an opinion on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, good or bad. But it can’t be based on a lie.

“There is a real human cost to this way of doing business and it affects every corner of society,” their representatives add. “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have watched people they know—as well as complete strangers—have their lives completely pulled apart for no good reason, other than the fact that salacious gossip boosts advertising revenue.”

Taking aim at editors across the four papers, the letter states, “With that said, please note that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will not be engaging with your outlet. There will be no corroboration and zero engagement. This is also a policy being instated for their communications team, in order to protect that team from the side of the industry that readers never see.”

“This policy is not about avoiding criticism,” they continue, adding that they believe in a free, strong, and fact-driven media industry. “It’s not about shutting down public conversation or censoring accurate reporting. Media have every right to report on and indeed have an opinion on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, good or bad. But it can’t be based on a lie.”

As the now-U.S.-based couple stated in January, their new working model includes adopting a “revised media approach” to broaden access to their humanitarian work. This includes collaborating with grassroots media organizations, credible foreign press, and a more diverse mix of journalists. Their working relationships with respected British newspapers such as The Telegraph and The Guardian continue as normal.

The Sussexes’ letter comes just days ahead of the first hearing in Meghan’s legal action against Associated Newspapers, the publisher of the Mail on Sunday and Mail Online, over an article which unlawfully reproduced sections of “obviously private correspondence” sent to her father, Thomas Markle, in August 2018. The publisher is expected to continue to deny allegations of misuse of private information, copyright infringement, and breach of Data Protection Act during a preliminary hearing on Friday, April 24, which will be conducted remotely.

In October 2019, Prince Harry—who is suing the owners of The Sun and Mirror over the alleged illegal interception of voicemail messages—confirmed Meghan’s lawsuit in a highly personal statement, where he accused certain newspapers of pursuing a “ruthless campaign” against his wife. The duke said sections of the British media had “vilified her almost daily for the past nine months” and published “lie after lie” at her expense.

“For these select media this is a game, and one that we have been unwilling to play from the start,” he wrote. “I have been a silent witness to her private suffering for too long. To stand back and do nothing would be contrary to everything we believe in.”

Read the Sussexes’ full letter to the tabloids below:

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