‘We’re stunned… They have not taken any of our advice’: Palace officials slam Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s huff against Britain’s most-popular newspapers
- Palace insider said staff were ‘stunned’ and couple have ‘not taken any advice’
- Those close to Queen were angry announcement came on eve of her birthday
- Sussexes announced yesterday they would not be engaging with Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday, The Daily Express and The Daily Mirror
- Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID
Harry and Meghan yesterday launched an unprecedented boycott of sections of the British Press in a protest over the way their lives have been covered.
In a move that stunned Buckingham Palace courtiers and prompted allegations of ‘censorship’, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have decided to withdraw all forms of co-operation from many of the country’s most popular titles, including the Daily Mail.
Last night one Palace insider said: ‘We have been left stunned. They have not taken any of our advice.’
Those close to the Queen were angered that the couple chose to release details of their new media policy on the eve of her birthday – today – and at a time when Britain remains in the grip of the coronavirus crisis.
At the weekend, the duke even claimed that the coronavirus situation in the UK was ‘better than we are led to believe from certain corners of the media’.
Hours later the couple released a lengthy statement explaining their decision to no longer deal with The Sun, the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday, the Express and the Mirror – as well as their online outlets.
hARRY AND mEGHAN are pictured posing inside the grounds of Kensington Palace in November 2017 after announcing their engagement
The couple are pictured delivering food to vulnerable residents in Los Angeles, where they are living in a rented property
Yesterday Ian Murray, of the Society of Editors, said the decision was a ‘clear attempt to undermine certain sections of the UK media who often ask uncomfortable questions’.
He added: ‘Although the duke and duchess say they support a free press, there is no escaping their actions here amount to censorship and they are setting an unfortunate example.
‘By appearing to dictate which media they will work with and which they will ignore they, no doubt unintentionally, give succour to the rich and powerful everywhere to use their example as an excuse to attack the media when it suits them.’
He noted that many of the news outlets had produced a ‘huge amount’ of positive coverage about the couple, and warned that ‘the answer should never be to shun individual titles and their millions of readers’.
Harry and Meghan have moved to the duchess’s American home town of Los Angeles with their son Archie after stepping down as senior working royals in pursuit of commercial careers.
They issued their letter on Sunday night. Notably, only British publications were targeted and the move was timed for maximum publicity yesterday when the duchess was appearing on Good Morning America to publicise the Disney nature film Elephant, which she has narrated.
In their letter, Harry and Meghan said they believe a free press is a cornerstone of any democracy, ‘shining a light on dark places’.
But they maintained that sections of the media had not wielded their power responsibly and there was a ‘human cost’.
Harry and Meghan are pictured attending the Endeavour Fund Awards in London on March 5
The pair believe Meghan has been treated unfairly by the British press. The prince also smarted at criticism of their jet-setting lifestyle while preaching an environmental message.
Their letter told the newspapers the couple will no longer talk to them. ‘There will be no corroboration and zero engagement,’ it added. ‘This policy is not about avoiding criticism. 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. What they won’t do is offer themselves up as currency for an economy of clickbait and distortion.’
It came after Harry was condemned for criticising UK news outlets at the weekend over their coronavirus coverage.
Reacting to their letter, political broadcaster Andrew Neil said on Twitter: ‘As the world grapples with Covid-19, do they really think people care what media they deal with? Their solipsism is amazing. Can’t they just consign themselves to oblivion for a while?’
The couple are pictured outside Canada House in London on January 7
Former royal press secretary Dickie Arbiter said the couple’s ‘timing seems horribly crass’, adding: ‘In current circumstances people are having to make sacrifices, they are dealing with losing loved ones without having the opportunity to say goodbye to them…. this is not what people are worrying about.’
Even the Queen had been subject to scrutiny and ‘criticism’ but had always accepted that came as part of the Royal Family’s position as public figures, he said.
He added: ‘[Harry] seems to be very ill-advised by all these Hollywood types. To issue a blanket non-engagement about any story is actually very self-defeating. And it won’t improve their press.’
One royal source said the ‘incredibly thin-skinned’ couple had ‘lost sight of the bigger picture’, adding that their decision was ‘foolish and, some might say, undemocratic’.
Former Sun editor David Yelland told Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘It’s one of the worst pieces of communications I have ever seen… It will have no positive effects whatsoever.’
Last night Labour peer Lord Falconer, a member of Tony Blair’s government at the time of Princess Diana’s death, said: ‘It’s very obvious that Harry feels the tabloid press and middle market press behaved very, very badly towards his mother. One can understand why he feels like it.’
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