In a powerful and heartbreaking statement, Prince Harry has laid bare the extent of media bullying and the pain both he and Meghan have suffered at the hands of the British press over the past year. Released on the couple's new official website, Harry revealed they have initiated legal proceedings against The Mail on Sunday and its parents company Associated Newspapers.
The statement in its entirety from Sussex Official, in Harry's own words:
'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.'
The Duchess has filed a claim against Associated Newspapers over the misuse of private information, infringement of copyright and breach of the Data Protection Act 2018. 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 Harry and Meghan. Any proceeds from damages will be donated to an anti-bullying charity. A spokesperson for Schillings law firm told ITV News: "The 'intrusive' publication of the letter was part of the media group’s campaign to write 'false and deliberately derogatory' stories about her, as well as her husband." The letter in question refers to one penned by Meghan to Thomas Markle.
It was deeply saddening to read Harry's statement. We've all born witness to the appalling character assassination Meghan has been subjected to since their relationship became public knowledge. Defamatory claims, lies and constant attacks have been the reality for Meghan. The commentary on her has been truly shocking to see. She's held to an entirely different standard, any opportunity to excoriate her is met with an abundance of glee. I've been left dumbfounded by the refusal to acknowledge her success and commitment to her role. Acceptance of that would be in direct contradiction to the narrative the media have built.
One could almost feel the agony they have endured through the words of Harry's searingly honest statement. He's watching the women he loves, his wife, the mother of his son, being torn to shreds every single day. I can't imagine the many days at Frogmore where they have wondered if they can continue. After losing his mother, Harry must have felt completely powerless to stop this. I've said this before: Meghan's a human being with feelings, not an infallible mannequin whose sole existence is to bow to the will of the press. How she has not only carried on but excelled as HRH the Duchess of Sussex is commendable in so many ways. To be made to feel so unwelcome and unwanted in a new country, and to still devote yourself fully to your role speaks volumes about the real Meghan.
From the British media, reporters and commentators to the keyboard warriors and so called royalists who have participated in the endless bullying of this woman and caused her so much pain, I hope each and every one will read Harry's words, re-read them, and hang their heads in shame. I have no doubt Schillings are building a strong case and it's only the beginning.