Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Cut Off Four Major British Tabloids for Running 'Invasive' Stories
By Jennifer Drysdale
Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are cutting ties with four British tabloids: The Daily Mail, The Sun, The Express and The Mirror as well as their Sunday and online editions. ET has learned that the pair announced on Sunday that they would no longer engage with the papers after implementing a new media relations policy.
Harry and Meghan clarified that their decision not to interact with the specified papers would be implemented by their communications teams in both the U.S. and the U.K. -- and that it was "not in any way a blanket policy for all media" or "personal to an individual journalist."
ET obtained the message sent to editors, which clarifies that this decision is a result of a style of reporting from the mentioned publications that the couple's communications team describes as "distorted, false, and invasive beyond reason," that has "real human cost." The couple also insists that this is not the result of "negative" reporting, adding, "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."
The statement said that Meghan and Harry have watched both people they know and complete strangers "have their lives completely pulled apart for no good reason, other than the fact that salacious gossip boosts advertising revenue."
"There is a real human cost to this way of doing business and it affects every corner of society," the statement added.
This evening Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan told the editors of four major British tabloids that they will never deal with them again. Their letter — written by representivies for the couple and sent to the Daily Mail, Express, Mirror and The Sun — can be read in full below👇🏻 pic.twitter.com/SwF3afIBvG
ET has learned that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex did not want to publicly take this step as they "wish to focus their energy and attention on supporting efforts in response to COVID-19," but added that with their upcoming non-profit organization set to launch and their ongoing legal action against one of the tabloids in question, "it was necessary to set out a clear agenda."
Meghan and Harry announced last October that they were pursuing legal action against Associated Newspapers -- owners of The Daily Mail, MailOnline, Metro and more -- after the Mail on Sunday published a private, handwritten letter that Meghan wrote to her estranged father.
"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," Harry said in an official statement at the time. "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."
In an interview with ET, royal expert Katie Nicholl discussed the significance of Meghan and Harry's new stand against the British press.
"It's a very bold measure. It's an unprecedented measure and I think it's clear that this couple plan to have a new strategy when it comes to their engagement with the media and how they want to be represented in the media," she said. "This speaks of them wanting to take that control and control their own narrative in the popular press."
According to Nicholl, Meghan and Harry's lawsuit against Associated Newspapers is moving forward amid the coronavirus pandemic -- "It's going to be conducted on a video conference call" on Friday, she said -- but some have called out the couple for the timing of Sunday's letter to The Daily Mail, The Sun, The Express and The Mirror.
"They have been called many things; tone deaf is one of the things that is being said over here," Nicholl revealed. "Many people over here can't understand that at a time of national crisis where NHS workers who are putting their lives on the frontlines are dying, many people can't understand why the Sussexes are choosing to wage this war against the tabloid press."
"I think people can understand why perhaps they do have a grudge to bear, but I feel like right now just doesn't feel like the right time to be taking on another war," she added. "Timing-wise, it doesn't feel right."
However, Nicholl also noted that this timing might not have "come out of thin air." "We have got this unprecedented court case coming up on Friday. I think clearly the Sussexes have felt that this is the right opportunity to make it clear that not only are they going to go to court with a sector of the British media, they are going to stop engaging with several publications," she said.
"I think the feeling here from the publications which are essentially being blocked by Meghan and Harry... is one of disbelief and bafflement, and these are journalists who would ordinarily print stories to Meghan and Harry’s PR for comment. It leaves them in a pretty difficult situation now. They probably are going to go them for comment and not get any response, and the concerning point in all of this is that actually leaves Harry and Meghan far more exposed to stories running that they then have no control over," Nicholl shared.
"Make no mistake -- just because Meghan and Harry have said they will have zero engagement with these publications, these publications are not going to stop writing about Meghan and Harry," she continued.