Prince Harry has issued a statement expressing his family’s pain over his wife Meghan Markle becoming a target for the British tabloid press and the vilification she has endured ‘almost daily for the past nine months’.
On Tuesday, the Duke of Sussex released the statement on the couple’s official website, Sussex Official, in which he spoke out against the constant media criticism his wife faced during her pregnancy and maternity leave.
‘As a couple, we believe in media freedom and objective, truthful reporting,’ the statement reads.
‘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.’
The father-of-one continued, adding: ‘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.’
The royal decided that as a result of the media scrutiny over his wife, the pair have decided to take legal action, which he described as 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.’
The 35-year-old added that the criticism the Duchess of Sussex has faced is ‘bullying’ and that he fears the level of media intrusion she has faced is similar to that endured by his mother, the late Princess Diana.
‘Though this action may not be the safe one, it is the right one,’ Harry wrote. ‘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.’
He concluded: ‘We thank you, the public, for your continued support. It is hugely appreciated. Although it may not seem like it, we really need it.’
According to the statement, Markle has filed a 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 international law firm 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.’
The case is being privately funded by the royal couple. Pending a Court ruling, proceeds from any damages will be donated to an anti-bullying charity.
ELLE UK has contacted Buckingham Palace for further comment.