Earlier this month the Duke of Sussex released an emotional statement addressing the couple’s treatment by certain media outlets in the British press.
The statement followed the revelation that the couple are suing The Mail On Sunday for breach of copyright and misuse of private information after the newspaper published one of Meghan’s private letters to her father, Thomas Markle.
And days later it was announced that Harry is reportedly taking legal action against two other publications over “the alleged illegal interception of voicemail messages”.
While many headlines argued the actions indicated the royal couple were effectively declaring war on the media, insiders suspect there’s more to it, with a source suggesting the couple “are on a mission to redefine how the press operates” and that the moves could be part of a wider plan to control their own press and redefine the traditional relationship between royals and the media.
“For them, the future is Instagram over the press,” the source told Vanity Fair. “They are reaching a global audience that’s more than the broadsheets and tabloids combined, and crucially presenting themselves the way they want to. As far as Harry is concerned, it’s a way of cutting out the mainstream press, which is very convenient because he basically hates the press.”
As further indication that the couple see social media as the key to their future media communications, royal reporter Katie Nicholl reveals that they’ve hired 26-year-old former Burberry employee David Watkins as their social media manager.
They have also taken to hiring their own photographers for royal engagements and controlling how and when stories break by releasing exclusive pictures and footage on their own Instagram account.
Breaking with usual royal tradition, the couple announced the birth of their son, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, via Instagram. And during their recent tour to South Africa, the press were told that Archie would be meeting Archbishop Desmond Tutu, but were asked to keep to an embargo. A short time later, however, Meghan and Harry broke the news themselves on Instagram.
“At the root of all this is their plan to shake things up,” the source told Vanity Fair. “Harry is not afraid to take the media on. He feels like he has nothing to lose.”
Of course, the Sussexes are no strangers to doing things their own way, and while their choices may raise eyebrows, their Instagram-first stance seems to be having the desired effect.
The meeting between Archie and Tutu, and in fact the entire royal tour, was covered hugely positively. And the public and their 9.6 million followers seem to be favouring the use of the Sussex Royal Instagram page to highlight the organisations and charities the couple are supporting. Experts also believe the couple’s recent actions offer an indication of how they want to be viewed by the public in the future.
“It is powerful, to the point, emotional and totally in keeping with the way Prince Harry and Meghan want to be perceived, as progressive royals who can say ‘enough is enough’,” popular culture expert Nick Ede told Yahoo UK about Prince Harry’s recent open statement.
The Sussexes seem to know that fans are keeping a close eye on their social media account, and it appears they are going to use that to shift the traditional royal/media relationship into something a little more in keeping for modern royals.