‘Unnamed sources’ will no longer speak for the Duke & Duchess of Sussex

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, the duke and duchess of Sussex visiting Edes house in Chichester in west Sussex

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are taking a stand: a stand against “unnamed sources.” Unnamed sources are a huge industry in royal reporting, especially in the British media, but American media uses unnamed sources widely for political, entertainment and royal reporting. There are dozens of royal stories every day where anonymous “palace insiders” or “friends of the couple” or “former staffers” talk sh-t about various royals. Sometimes the unnamed sources are part and parcel of various embiggening campaigns, or part of some palace strategy to get a certain story out without fingerprints. But Harry and Meghan want their fans to know that they shouldn’t believe anything unless it comes from them, their spokesperson or a named employee from Archewell. From the Telegraph:

Only the official communications team at Archewell will comment – or not – on any stories concerning the couple. It is a time-honoured tradition in journalism, used to convey anything from a government spokesman talking off-record to, in some unethical quarters, made-up quotes.

But unnamed “sources” will no longer speak for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, their team have promised.

The Sussexes’ communications team at Archewell will speak on the record or not at all, as fans of the couple are warned to pay no heed to mystery “sources” claiming to talk for them in the press.

It follows the couple’s campaign against sections of the media, which the Duchess has criticised as a “model that rewards chaos above truth”. The Duke, who has a job at the Aspen Institute’s Commission on Information Disorder, has similarly condemned the “avalanche of misinformation” to be found online.

The move is aimed at boosting media literacy, making clear to followers of the Sussexes when stories are true, confirmed by a spokesman, and when they are not authorised by Team Sussex. It will require a marked difference in reporting, particularly in the United States, where flattering comments about celebrities from unnamed sources are common in even upmarket showbiz magazines.

[From The Telegraph]

The Telegraph seems to be taking a swipe at American media outlets like People Magazine and Us Weekly. I understand that, because that was one of my first thoughts too: People Magazine especially has run many flattering stories about the Sussexes and those stories almost always include quotes from an “unnamed friend” or “a source close to the couple.” But let’s face it, the British media is a much worse perpetrator of unnamed-source journalism. The overwhelming majority of all royal stories are based on unnamed-source quotes in British media. Anyway, I’m curious how this pans out. Anon sources will still speak, but they won’t need to pretend they’re speaking “for” Harry and Meghan.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry visit Tembisa Township on the outskirts of Johannesburg during day 10 of their South African Tour

Christian Serratos arrives at the Los Angeles Special Screening Of AMC's 'The Walking Dead' Season 10 held at the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX on September 23, 2019 in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Xavier Collin/Image Press Agen

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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41 Responses to “‘Unnamed sources’ will no longer speak for the Duke & Duchess of Sussex”

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  1. PaulaH says:

    Unnamed source: code for “I have nothing”

  2. Bex says:

    Except this is what the Sussexes said in 2020, and the article is recycling old talking points. Plus, they’ve always had their spokesperson, Toya Holness, speak for them on the record, yet news outlets in the US AND the UK deliberately used “sources closes to the Sussexes” instead of using her name. Looks to me the press wants to make “both sides briefed anonymously” happen.

    • Snuffles says:

      Hmmm…if I’m remembering correctly, I thought they said in 2020 that they were no longer communicating with the royal rota (and therefore anything coming from them is BS). This sounds like more of a clarification saying (yeah, we mean EVERYONE, including you US rags as well).

      • BothSidesNow says:

        Yes, Snuffles. The Duke and Duchess are telling all of us, that unless it’s comes from their lips, it’s all utter bullshit. They have never conducted interviews with the RR unless their name is attached to it publicly. As for “friends” or “palace sources” is coming from The Bitter Brother and/or Jason Knauf.

  3. Chloe says:

    They made this clear in 2020? So why is this news?

    • STRIPE says:

      Maybe there’s been a rash of “unnamed sources” articles on the Sussex’s recently? I think the moving story was from “sources.” Perhaps their team will continue to make this clear at every opportunity.

    • ElleE says:

      They did and they also said that they would work with journalists that were POC. That didn’t work because only Squaddies paid attention to that.
      IMO- they wanted to tie this message to the Aspen Institute endeavor and they hole that others follow suit to create credible sources. Also, the Sussex’s seem to have a much larger fan base and greater name recognition today, less than 2 years after that 1st statement.

  4. WithTheAmerican says:

    This is brilliant. A lot of this is justified in political reporting because cowards were too afraid to speak OTR about Trump, but it’s also used to smear his opponents. Most of the time, it doesn’t make sense and the really crappy thing is after refusing to go on the record when it matters, a lot of these sources then go in to write a book and cash in after declining to protect their country when they could.

    Celebrities don’t need unnamed sources spinning fake stories of glory and how hubby brings a drink to wife he doesn’t speak to every night in house they don’t share.

    • Lena says:

      It’s understandable to me to use unnamed sources in politics but celebrity media not at all, yet everything from People to Life&Style always use unnamed sources. If your purely personal information is true why not use your name, publicist or personal assistant? It would be smart for anyone who is gossiped about extensively as well as them to clean up the garbage talked about them like this.

  5. Katie says:

    At first I was impressed with The Telegraph’s write-up. They played it pretty straight and even seemed supportive of the move. However, at the end they are all well that’s an American problem, which is … ridiculous.

    • BothSidesNow says:

      Yes, they were purely clarifying that it’s common in journalism for unnamed sources as lies, whereas the RR and their ethics and codes of journalism are top notch!! The British media is NOT made up lies and smear campaigns. What a bunch of lying, deceitful and unethical bunch of hacks.

  6. Bex says:

    Also, “campaign against sections of the media” positions Harry and Meghan as aggressors when they’re meeting the tabloids with the same energy they’ve put out, starting when they claimed Meghan was “Straight Outta Compton”, wrote about her “exotic blood”, etc.

  7. Amy Bee says:

    But this isn’t new. Harry and Meghan issued a statement about unnamed sources when they left in March 2020. This has come up again because the journalist who wrote this has just returned to the royal beat after two years maternity leave so she missed the statement when it first came out. It’s clear she’s been tasked with coming up with things to write about the Sussexes, but she has nothing. A few months ago, she realised that the Archewell website has a pop up alerting people that they’re spent a lot of time on their page. She wrote a whole story about that. In this piece about no unnamed sources, she brought up the issue about the five people speaking to People but that happened when Meghan could not speak for herself because she was part the of the Royal Family and US Weekly always has made up sources. Since they have left, it’s been spokesperson or named people have spoken about them in the press but the British press and People have tended to still use “sources close to the couple” to imply that they have the inside scoop or special access to Harry and Meghan.

    • Katie says:

      Thanks for the context. I’m impressed you know this.

      • Charm says:

        Its common knowledge among #Sussexsquad, esp OG members. #SS has aaaaalllllll the receipts. Its why we’re now a RECOGNIZED global force.

  8. Bettyrose says:

    Wait … so they’re not selling their 100-bathroom home per unnamed sources?

  9. Beach Dreams says:

    They’re literally just taking what Harry and Meghan said in 2020 and spinning it to make it seem like a new announcement. They want any reason to write about the Sussexes.

  10. ElleE says:

    They are staying in this fight, as opposed to retreating after the multiple court victories. With the suspension of the verified M. Taylor Greene Twitter account (her other official House account is a sad attempt to make herself known by only her initials “MTGrep” which seems like an acknowledgment of like AOC superiority) for multiple Covid misinformation strikes, I feel like we are getting somewhere with the misinformation thing.
    Maybe the Sussexes should create a Twitter account just for press releases-announcements that relate only to their personal endeavors/family so that they can make it easy to refer to, like if it is not here, it isn’t happening. Archwell has a broader focus and not everything is foundation-related. They might need something else if they want to innovate here.

    • Ennie says:

      I don’t think they’ll go in the nearer future for anything that can create direct engagement, nor follower counts/ competition. They have their website. I do think it is healthier for them this way.

    • Charm says:

      Youre forgetting and at the same time, conflating the #Sussexes with the left over royals back in the uk. Their schedules & raison d’etre are completely diff., inter alia: the #Sussexes will NOT be giving regular updates abt matters pertaining to their private/family life. Maaaaaybe we will next see a pic of baby Lili when she turns 1 (the parents may do a socially impactful event as a tie-in with her birthday, as they did wth Archie.) Or maybe, we’ll see a pic of her christening (after the fact, assuming it hasnt happened yet.)

      Everything else they do regarding their work, will be publicized on their website and/or via their various partner organizations.

      • Petra says:

        @Charm, Thank you. Squaddies know this.

        I’m side-eyeing the so called People exclusive.

  11. Sofia says:

    Isn’t this old news? Is the Telegraph just trying to hit an article limit? Did the Sussexes release another statement? Anyways, I guess this might mean that people put their names the next time the Sussexes do/get a nice People article?

    • Jan says:

      No, this is from 2020.
      KP can’t leak any more BS, so the circus of clowns are scratching the bottom of the barrel

      • BothSidesNow says:

        Another example of them pulling stuff out of their @sses to print about Harry and Meghan, because no one wants to hear about the Bitter Brother and Mumbles McMutton, who I can guarantee was never cordial or went out of her way and was rebuffed. We heard from the @ss of the Bitter Brother himself, they never cared for Meghan.

  12. MerlinsMom1018 says:

    I would like to offer my services as an “official spokesperson” for the Sussexes. That is, assuming they don’t mind a cranky, foul-mouthed, constantly- rolling her eyes- at the bullshit, no filter at this point in my life, go ahead and use my name old woman handling that for them.

  13. Becks1 says:

    Yeah, like others have mentioned this is old news. BUT, I’m still glad to see it getting coverage, just as a reminder to everyone that Harry and Meghan say things with their whole chests. If its not from their spokesperson, then its not authorized from them.

    In general though, I do think there is a difference between an “inside source” who says something like “Lili and Archie get along so well” and one who says something like “H&M are moving bc they need more bathrooms.” I don’t think either is authorized, but I think that H&M are more likely to push back on one than the other – we saw that when they were working royals and we’re seeing it now in their new lives. They understand that there will always be some press coverage and gossip about them.

    • ElleE says:

      You are right- there is a gap between foundation activity (“we are proud to support x charity”), personal and family updates (like, Harry going back to the UK for a family obligation) and day-to-day mundane, “Archie starts school” data. It is in that gap that the misinformation flows and sometimes, sticks, even when it has been proven months later (like they already bought a house).

      Insta-updates don’t stick. They need a model like what they had, ironically, at the palace: a Sussex central press office, with an official published calendar for charity appearances etc. A record of sorts, all in one place for future reference really. Something that can be linked back to to counter misinformation.

      IDK how they balance privacy and safety with all of this. I am sure they have gamed this out with ppl much more knowledge than a Celebitchy rando like me has. Ha

  14. Lady Digby says:

    Any chance RF’s new year’s resolution is not to brief against family members and not to allow staff to provide anonymous quotes. Can you imagine that family at Xmas knowing what your own father/son/brother etc., has told BM via unnamed royal sources, it can’t be a great feeling or is it just like GoT but with briefing not battles. What a weird family- did Call me Catherine read out DF puff piece to William or give him a choice of that, thinking of the nation or a piano recital as his Xmas bonus?

  15. Jan says:

    Liverpool was up in arms this weekend, with #Don’tBuyTheSun.
    ITV was showing the deaths from the 80’s at the stadium, that was covered up by police, politicans and the hachet job by the Scum.
    Their football team refuses to let the Scum reporters in their locker room, and the FA punished them by not allowing England fb games to play at their stadium.

    • Good on Liverpool. The 97 victims and their families deserve justice. And if I believed in hell, I’d have to believe that there’s a special place there for people like Kelvin MacKenzie.

  16. Jais says:

    I think it’s funny that there’s one article about how the sussexes won’t let unnamed sources speak for them at the same time Kate has a named source speaking for her in the DM. I think the DM article is more about giving them content after losing to Meghan but it’s still funny. Just because one named source doesn’t make up for all the unnamed sources dispatched by KP on the regular.

  17. Snuffles says:

    This is my take. From what I recall, in 2020 when they posted on Sussex Royal about their exit. They stated that they would no longer engage the Royal Rota in any OFFICIAL capacity. Meaning no access, no exclusives, no pictures, no comment.

    But, since then, the royal rota, British and American press and tabloids alike have been abusing the “unnamed sources”, “people close to the couple” card relentlessly. So much so, they had to clarify stating that unless their name or one of their employees, also clearly named, it’s all BS. It’s either 100% on the record or not.

    • Amy Bee says:

      @Snuffles: The announcement that they would not be engaging with the four tabloids was separate to the statement that no unnamed sources, palace sources or royal sources would be speaking for them. It could be that the Telegraph asked them about unnamed sources recently but it’s not a new position from the Sussexes as the journalist wants to make out.

  18. Marivic says:

    I am just flabbergasted how so many people—body language experts, tarot card readers, podcasters, YouTubers, etc— are constantly talking bad about Meghan and Harry non-stop and monetizing them. Wow! I am so pained for Harry and Meghan as I learned all about this. These people are cruel and vile. Karma bus arrives on time for these evil people. Looking at you, too, William and Kate.

  19. Eurydice says:

    I wonder if this isn’t in preparation for future projects that will be coming out this year, like Harry’s memoir. The tabloids will want to be putting words in their mouths, finding “sources” that will interpret this or that.

  20. A says:

    I actually think this might be a good thing? Fwiw, I don’t think this is something they’re doing to oppose the press. I think this is a conscious effort to set themselves apart from the BRF, bc this is a prominent tact that the royals use to put their side of the story out there into the world, but without having to put their name on those words, so there is still plausible deniability for them.

    So someone like Charles, in response to a media story, or out of a desire to put a particular narrative out there, would authorize one of his friends or staff members (or himself in some cases) to speak to a friendly reporter and provide favourable quotes for his side. That person would be identified as an “unnamed source”, but really it’s just Charles speaking up but without saying as much.

    I think that what Meghan and Harry are doing is saying that they don’t have any need for those types of tactics, period. They’re free and happy to put their name and face on anything they want to say that’s public. They don’t need to sanction others to speak anonymously on their behalf to put the truth out there, bc they can’t be seen doing it themselves. Moreover, their work in itself will speak for them. I do think this is a good thing. It’s an attempt to be direct and not hide or play shady games in order to preserve some image of the monarchy as being above everything.

  21. Robert says:

    I keep hearing the the royal family is worried about Harry’s book coming out. I wonder if any of them have thought about their spotify deal. Will either of them do regular turns at the mic. If so I wonder if they would ever talk about any of the things that come out about them. Im sure most of them will be about subjects that are close to H&M’s hearts. But you know they will get asked questions about things that are coming out in the paper. And the quickest way to shut them down is to tell the truth and let it go.