‘No corroboration, zero engagement’: Meghan and Harry hit back at UK tabloids
The couple, who have formally stepped back from their royal duties, are making things clear: This time around, they are doing everything on their own terms
Was anyone truly surprised to read the headlines detailing the duke and duchess’ decision to officially disassociate from a number of UK tabloids?
We shouldn’t be. Their treatment by some of the British press – specifically relating to Markle – was a deciding factor in the couple’s decision to end their time as senior members of the royal family, a move which was unprecedented in the history of the monarchy.
Admittedly, their announcement came at a strange time; many pointed out the oddity of releasing such a statement during a pandemic, but as they seek to start their new ventures, now seems as good a time as any – and it does not mean they aren’t focused on efforts to help Covid-19 (just last week, they were spotted quietly delivering meals to Los Angeles residents in need).
And as we know, when it comes to certain tabloids, no matter the move made, Meghan and Harry will never win.
Related: ‘Meghan Markle is being vilified just as Diana was’
Just as they didn’t give enough of themselves and their private lives to the public in 2019 – who can forget the frenzied flurry when they refused to make baby Archie’s christening public? – they will forever be criticised for what they don’t do enough of, what they are lacking, how they aren’t like Will and Kate.
Comments haven’t simply been to express annoyance over their decisions, they are mainly directed towards Markle. She was deemed cold, the ‘other’ in the royal family; shunned for keeping her family out of the public eye as much as possible, for not openly welcoming the media which have subjected her to racist, smear campaigns from the very beginning.
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“Distorted, false, or invasive beyond reason”
The Guardian reported Prince Harry and Meghan sent a letter to the editors of The Sun, Daily Mail, Mirror and Express saying that they would not be responding to any inquiries from journalists working for the outlets. Instead, there will be a policy of “zero engagement,” except when necessary through the couple’s lawyers.
It comes as Markle prepares to take on the Mail on Sunday in a court case over its decision to print a letter she sent to her estranged father, with a virtual hearing scheduled to take place on Friday.
They said they refused to “offer themselves up as currency for an economy of clickbait and distortion” and accused the outlets of running stories that are “distorted, false, or invasive beyond reason.”
“There is a real human cost to this way of doing business and it affects every corner of society,” the letter said.
“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.”
“Not avoiding criticism”
They stressed the new policy of “no corroboration and zero engagement” also intended to protect the couple’s communications team “from the side of the industry that readers never see,” and was not about avoiding criticism, but that reporting could not “be based on a lie.”
“This policy is not about avoiding criticism,” the letter continued.
“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.”
Here is their letter in full:
As The Duke and Duchess of Sussex now settle into the next chapter of their lives and no longer receive any publicly funded support, we are writing to set a new media relations policy, specifically as it pertains to your organisation.
It has been said that journalism’s first obligation is to the truth. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex agree wholeheartedly.
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.
There is a real human cost to this way of doing business and it affects every corner of society.
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.
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. 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. They also want to be very clear: this is not in any way a blanket policy for all media.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are looking forward to working with journalists and media organisations all over the world, engaging with grassroots media, regional and local media, and young, up-and-coming journalists, to spotlight issues and causes that so desperately need acknowledging. And they look forward to doing whatever they can to help further opportunities for more diverse and underrepresented voices, who are needed now more than ever.
What they won’t do is offer themselves up as currency for an economy of clickbait and distortion.
We are encouraged that this new approach will be heard and respected.
Related: ‘Not many people have asked if I’m ok’ Meghan’s emotional remarks about her vulnerability are sad but futile
Related: Preachy? Hypocrites? Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will never win