Enough is enough; that’s the stance being taken by Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex against British tabloid the Daily Mail, after the newspaper published a private letter from the duchess to her estranged father, Thomas Markle, that the couple alleges was edited in an “intentionally destructive manner.”
Specifically, the paper is accused of “strategically omitting select paragraphs, specific sentences, and even singular words,” according to a statement from Harry. In the view of the royal couple, the alleged violation of privacy and manipulation of the document was intended to further cast a negative lens on Meghan, who has been inundated with criticism, thinly veiled racism and defamatory rumors since her relationship with then-boyfriend Prince Harry went public in 2016.
At the time, Kensington Palace released a statement in defense of the relationship and Meghan herself against the cyberbullies and vitriolic press that were already forming a virtual firing squad against the biracial American actress. Pointing out the obvious misogynoir in much of the press coverage, the statement read, in part (h/t Glamour):
“His girlfriend, Meghan Markle, has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment...Some of this has been very public—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.”
Now, the couple is taking legal action. As reported by People, on Sunday the couple filed suit against the Mail, after the publication failed to resolve the matter privately.
“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,” a legal spokesperson from Schillings, the representatives of the Duchess of Sussex, told the press. “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.”
Additionally, Harry released an extensive and emotional statement about the matter on Tuesday, citing the tragic death of his mother, Princess Diana, to express the seriousness of the matter and what he perceives to be the threat of a reckless and often relentless press.
“[M]y deepest fear is history repeating itself,” he wrote. “I’ve seen what happens when someone I love is commoditized 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.”
Below, Harry’s statement in full:
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 behavior 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 behavior, 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 commoditized 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.