Prince Harry has just made an extraordinary move to protect his girlfriend of some-odd four months. Harry’s press office (Poor Jason?) issued an open letter to inform the British press that they need to chill the f—k out with their harassment and negativity surrounding the reporting on Meghan Markle. It was literally just nine days ago when the world learned that Harry was dating Meghan, a 35-year-old American actress, and the American, Canadian and British press has been in a tizzy ever since. From what I’ve seen, the British media outlets are the ones making a big deal over Meghan’s on-screen semi-nude scenes. They’re the ones obsessed with mentioning her race (she’s mixed race). They’re the ones offended by the very idea that Prince Harry could have fallen in love with… with… a YANK! And so now Harry is pushing back. You can read his press office’s full statement here at the Guardian.
Prince Harry has attacked the “racial undertones” of press coverage of his girlfriend Meghan Markle in an extraordinary statement in which he warns that he fears for her safety. The prince said “a line has been crossed” in reporting of his relationship with the 35-year-old American actor, who lives in Toronto.
“Some of this has been very public,” his spokesman said in a statement. “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.”
The statement confirms for the first time that the pair are in a relationship but launches a powerful and unprecedented attack at the media by the prince.
“Prince Harry is worried about Ms Markle’s safety and is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her,” it said. “It is not right that a few months into a relationship with him that Ms Markle should be subjected to such a storm. He knows commentators will say this is ‘the price she has to pay’ and that ‘this is all part of the game’. He strongly disagrees. This is not a game – it is her life and his. He has asked for this statement to be issued in the hopes that those in the press who have been driving this story can pause and reflect before any further damage is done. He knows that it is unusual to issue a statement like this, but hopes that fair-minded people will understand why he has felt it necessary to speak publicly.”
News UK, publisher of the Sun and Sun on Sunday, declined to comment. Senior staff indicated they were trawling through the domestic and international coverage to understand the detail of Prince Harry’s concerns over trolling and harassment of her family. The prince’s statement also attacked what it called “substantial bribes offered by papers” to Markle’s former boyfriend. Kensington Palace listed a string of complaints it had with the conduct of newspapers, citing:
“nightly legal battles” to keep defamatory stories out of papers;
her mother “having to struggle past photographers” in order to get to her front door;
the attempts of “reporters and photographers to gain illegal entry to her home” and the calls to police that followed;
the “substantial bribes” offered by papers to her ex-boyfriend;
the “bombardment of nearly every friend, co-worker, and loved one in her life”
The statement said: “Since he was young, Prince Harry has been very aware of the warmth that has been extended to him by members of the public. He feels lucky to have so many people supporting him and knows what a fortunate and privileged life he leads. He is also aware that there is significant curiosity about his private life. He has never been comfortable with this, but he has tried to develop a thick skin about the level of media interest that comes with it. He has rarely taken formal action on the very regular publication of fictional stories that are written about him and he has worked hard to develop a professional relationship with the media, focused on his work and the issues he cares about. But the past week has seen a line crossed.”
A source at one tabloid newspaper said it had not been engaged in nightly battles with palace lawyers, as Prince Harry’s statement suggests.
While Harry has a point about some/much of the coverage crossing a line, I do have to wonder if this letter is really going to change things? One of the biggest problems I have with every member of the royal family is that they think they can dictate terms to the press, and they think they can successfully manipulate the press to their will. A free press means press outlets get to write whatever they want, and if they’re causing harm to private citizens, those private citizens get to sue or push back legally or contact the authorities. Maybe that’s what this letter was – the opening salvo, the notification to the press that Harry and Meghan and her family will be doing more than just issuing letters.
Photos courtesy of WENN.