Prince Harry and Meghan Markle recently moved from Canada to California with their son, Archie Harrison, who turns one next month.
The Sussexes reportedly left the UK to ‘shield’ Archie from ‘negativity and tension’, and have previously spoken about their experience with the British media. In a documentary which aired late last year, Meghan said she was ‘not okay’ after discussing the difficulties of being in the spotlight, and during his resignation speech Harry said to guests at a charity dinner: ‘You’ve looked out for me for so long, but the media is a powerful force, and my hope is one day our collective support for each other can be more powerful because this is so much bigger than just us.’
And now, the couple have announced a ‘zero engagement policy’ with four UK newspapers – the Daily Mail, the Daily Mirror, The Sun and the Daily Express.
The said that while they are ‘looking forward to working with journalists and media organisations all over the world’ they will not ‘offer themselves up as currency for an economy of clickbait and distortion’ as they have ‘watched people they know – as well as complete strangers – have their lives completely pulled apart for no good reason, other than the fact that salacious gossip boosts advertising revenue.’
The new approach will affect Daily Express, Sunday Express, express.co.uk, Daily Mirror, mirror.co.uk, Sunday Mirror, Sunday People, Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, MailOnline, The Sun, The Sun on Sunday and thesun.co.uk.
The full letter sent to the above named publications says: ‘As the Duke and Duchess of Sussex now settle into the next chapter of their lives and no longer receive any publicly funded support, we are writing to set a new media relations policy, specifically as it pertains to your organisation.
‘Like you, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex believe that a free press is a cornerstone to any democracy – particularly in moments of crisis. At its best, this free press shines light on dark places, telling stories that would otherwise go untold, standing up for what’s right, challenging power, and holding those who abuse the system to account.
‘It has been said that journalism’s first obligation is to the truth. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex agree wholeheartedly.
‘It is gravely concerning that an influential slice of the media, over many years, has sought to insulate themselves from taking accountability for what they say or print – even when they know it to be distorted, false, or invasive beyond reason. When power is enjoyed without responsibility, the trust we all place in this much needed industry is degraded.
‘There is a real human cost to this way of doing business and it affects every corner of society.
‘The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have watched people they know – as well as complete strangers – have their lives completely pulled apart for no good reason, other than the fact that salacious gossip boosts advertising revenue.
‘With that said, please note that The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will not be engaging with your outlet. There will be no corroboration and zero engagement. This is also a policy being instated for their communications team, in order to protect that team from the side of the industry that readers never see.
‘This policy is not about avoiding criticism. It’s not about shutting down public conversation or censoring accurate reporting. Media have every right to report on The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, good or bad. But it can’t be based on a lie. They also want to be very clear: this is not in any way a blanket policy for all media.
‘The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are looking forward to working with journalists and media organisations all over the world, engaging with grassroots media, regional and local media, and young, and up-and-coming journalists, to spotlight issues and causes that so desperately need acknowledging. And they look forward to doing whatever they can to help further opportunities for more diverse and underrepresented voices, who are needed now more than ever.
‘What they won’t do is offer themselves up as currency for an economy of clickbait and distortion. We are encouraged that this new approach will be heard and respected.’