What are Your Thoughts? Prince Harry's Statement
Prince Harry issued a statement today addressing the media’s treatment of his wife. The release comes at the end the couple’s 10-day tour of Southern Africa and is tied to a suit the Sussexes have filed against the Mail on Sunday and its parent company Associated Newspapers for publication of a private letter Meghan wrote to her father, Thomas Markle, after her wedding. The lengthy and emotional statement makes it clear the significant toll the press coverage among the British tabloids has taken on the couple.
“I cannot begin to describe how painful it has been,” the Duke wrote. “There comes a point when the only thing to do is to stand up to this behaviour, because it destroys people and destroys lives. Put simply, it is bullying, which scares and silences people.”
This is the second such statement from Harry coming to Meghan’s defense in the last three years. The first was in November 2016, early on in the couple’s courtship. Written in the third person, it was responding to “a wave of abuse and harassment,” against his then-girlfriend. “Some of this has been very public—the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments,” it read. “Prince Harry is worried about Ms. Markle’s safety and is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her.”
Today’s statement was written in the first person, giving it a much more personal tone. Harry closed with a reference to the media’s treatment of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, who died in a 1997 car crash while trying to escape the paparazzi. “My deepest fear is history repeating itself,” Harry wrote. “I’ve seen what happens when someone I love is commoditised to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person. I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces.”
Read the full statement below and share your thoughts in the comments.
My Thoughts are…complicated. There have been some jaw-droppingly awful pieces on Meghan and the Sussexes, no question about that. But I’m not sure what this statement will accomplish? Will it do anything to deter the haters? I’m very curious why they decided to release this on the second-to-last day of the tour, running the risk of overshadowing all the wonderful work they have done? I also wonder what this means for the couple’s long-term relationship with the media. It’s one thing to call out a single outlet for a specific story, but this statement took a broad swipe at the media at large — while in the same breath referring to the glowing coverage they have also received. It’s easy to forget in the age of social media, when everyone has an audience, but the media is a key piece in the royal equation. They need the press to report on their work, to invest in that coverage.
But mostly, my heart hurts for Harry. This is not the same, at all, but I lost my mother to cancer many years ago. I hate cancer deeply — but I don’t have to interact with cancer in my daily life or as part of my job. Harry blames the media for his mother’s death and I can’t imagine how traumatizing it is for him to see Meghan treated this way. I understand why he issued this statement and I hope it helps both of them.
Statement by His Royal Highness Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex
01 OCTOBER 2019
As a couple, we believe in media freedom and objective, truthful reporting. We regard it as a cornerstone of democracy and in the current state of the world – on every level – we have never needed responsible media more.
Unfortunately, my wife has become one of the latest victims of a British tabloid press that wages campaigns against individuals with no thought to the consequences – a ruthless campaign that has escalated over the past year, throughout her pregnancy and while raising our newborn son.
There is a human cost to this relentless propaganda, specifically when it is knowingly false and malicious, and though we have continued to put on a brave face – as so many of you can relate to – I cannot begin to describe how painful it has been. Because in today’s digital age, press fabrications are repurposed as truth across the globe. One day’s coverage is no longer tomorrow’s chip-paper.
Up to now, we have been unable to correct the continual misrepresentations - something that these select media outlets have been aware of and have therefore exploited on a daily and sometimes hourly basis.
It is for this reason we are taking legal action, a process that has been many months in the making. The positive coverage of the past week from these same publications exposes the double standards of this specific press pack that has vilified her almost daily for the past nine months; they have been able to create lie after lie at her expense simply because she has not been visible while on maternity leave. She is the same woman she was a year ago on our wedding day, just as she is the same woman you’ve seen on this Africa tour.
For these select media this is a game, and one that we have been unwilling to play from the start. 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.
This particular legal action hinges on one incident in a long and disturbing pattern of behaviour by British tabloid media. The contents of a private letter were published unlawfully in an intentionally destructive manner to manipulate you, the reader, and further the divisive agenda of the media group in question. In addition to their unlawful publication of this private document, they purposely misled you by strategically omitting select paragraphs, specific sentences, and even singular words to mask the lies they had perpetuated for over a year.
There comes a point when the only thing to do is to stand up to this behaviour, because it destroys people and destroys lives. Put simply, it is bullying, which scares and silences people. We all know this isn’t acceptable, at any level. We won’t and can’t believe in a world where there is no accountability for this.
Though this action may not be the safe one, it is the right one. Because my deepest fear is history repeating itself. I’ve seen what happens when someone I love is commoditised to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person. I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces.
We thank you, the public, for your continued support. It is hugely appreciated. Although it may not seem like it, we really need it.
Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Sussex has filed a claim against Associated Newspapers over the misuse of private information, infringement of copyright and breach of the Data Protection Act 2018.
The proceedings in the Chancery Division of the High Court relate to the unlawful publication of a private letter.
A legal spokesperson from Schillings who are representing The Duchess of Sussex said:
“We have initiated legal proceedings against the Mail on Sunday, and its parent company Associated Newspapers, over the intrusive and unlawful publication of a private letter written by the Duchess of Sussex, which is part of a campaign by this media group to publish false and deliberately derogatory stories about her, as well as her husband. Given the refusal of Associated Newspapers to resolve this issue satisfactorily, we have issued proceedings to redress this breach of privacy, infringement of copyright and the aforementioned media agenda”.
The case is being privately funded by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Pending a Court ruling, proceeds from any damages will be donated to an anti-bullying charity.