PRINCE HARRY’s powerful statement condemning what he called a “ruthless campaign” against Meghan Markle has opened a wider debate on the Royal Family’s right to privacy – and resurfaced reports reveal how this discourse mirrors not only Prince William’s protection of Kate Middleton but also arguments made by other royals.
On Tuesday, the Duke of Sussex released a powerful and long statement about the treatment of his wife by the British tabloid press, saying he could no longer be a “silent witness to her private suffering”. Emphasising his respect for the importance of “objective, truthful reporting”, he accused the tabloid press of “waging campaigns against individuals with no thought to the consequences” and compared the treatment of Meghan to the coverage of his mother, Princess Diana. Indeed, Harry claimed that his “deepest fear” is “history repeating itself”.
The statement, issued on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s official website, was published as Meghan, represented by legal firm Schillings, started proceedings in the high court over the alleged misuse of private information, infringement of copyright and breach of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
A Schillings statement reads: “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 legal proceedings against the Mail on Sunday newspaper have been privately funded by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
ow Harry’s intervention mirrors William’s protection of Kate (Image GETTY)
On Tuesday, the Duke of Sussex released a powerful statement about the treatment of his wife (Image GETTY)
As Harry’s statement has sparked a wider debate about the Royal Family’s privacy, Prince Charles’ biographer Penny Junor said: “This is the most extraordinary statement and goes way beyond anything I have ever seen issued by a member of the Royal Family.
“I completely understand that Harry should feel protective about his wife and there have undoubtedly been some negative stories in the last nine months that must have hurt – but not exclusively in the Mail on Sunday – and they have not all been lies, nor I would suggest, part of a ruthless campaign.
“The positive coverage of this last week in Africa is richly deserved. This feels to me like an over-emotional and somewhat ill-advised outburst.”
As commentators continue to share their views, newly-resurfaced reports reveal that Prince Harry’s position is far from unique in royal circles, as over the course of the years, many royals have stepped in to protect their loved ones from media scrutiny.
In 2007, rumours began spreading that Prince William might finally propose to his university sweetheart, Kate Middleton, on her 25th birthday on January 9.
Portrait tea towels of the royal couple were already being printed and, as Kate walked to her car to set off for her work morning, around 30 paparazzi gathered outside her Chelsea flat.
Meghan and Harry are currently on their royal tour of South Africa (Image GETTY)
Photographers and journalists were desperate to get pictures or statements from Prince William’s girlfriend because they all thought that was going to be the announcement day.
Some lenses were reportedly thrust less than a foot from her face and her car was blocked.
According to a Daily Telegraph report from the time, the scenes angered Prince William, who was said to be “absolutely furious” at the behaviour of the paparazzi.
A Clarence House spokesman said: “Prince William is very unhappy at the paparazzi harassment of his girlfriend.
“He wants, more than anything, for it to stop.
“Miss Middleton should, like any other private individual, be able to go about her everyday business without this kind of intrusion.”
It was not the last time the Royal Family intervened on Kate’s behalf, though.
Two years later, it was reported that the Queen finally “authorised a crackdown on the paparazzi” amid intrusions into the private lives of the Royal Family.
The monarch and Prince Charles instructed Gerrard Tyrrell, a senior lawyer specialising in privacy and media law, to mastermind the privacy strategy.
Prince William was said to be “absolutely furious” at the behaviour of the paparazzi (Image GETTY)
The Royal Family intervened on Kate’s behalf many times (Image GETTY)
Mr Tyrrell is known to have briefed senior royal aides on a series of options in the event of photographers continuing to take pictures of the Royal Family in “private” situations.
However, that was not the end of it.
In 2012, long lens pictures of Kate sunbathing on the terrace of a guest house, were published in French magazine Closer.
The “intimate” photos were taken while William and Kate were on holiday in France but the royal couple reportedly did not know anything about the pictures until the magazine’s website showed its new front cover with a heavily-pixellated image of a woman that it claimed was the Duchess, in a bikini, about to remove her top.
A couple of days later, the magazine emerged on the streets of Paris with topless pictures of Kate.
It was reported that the photos were offered to British papers, but they all turned them down.
The Queen “authorised a crackdown on the paparazzi” (Image GETTY)
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Royal aides released an official statement: “Their Royal Highnesses have been hugely saddened to learn that a French publication and a photographer have invaded their privacy in such a grotesque and totally unjustifiable manner.
“The incident is reminiscent of the worst excesses of the press and paparazzi during the life of Diana, Princess of Wales, and all the more upsetting to The Duke and Duchess for being so.
“Their Royal Highnesses had every expectation of privacy in the remote house.
“It is unthinkable that anyone should take such photographs, let alone publish them.
“Officials acting on behalf of Their Royal Highnesses are consulting with lawyers to consider what options may be available to The Duke and Duchess.”
In 2017, the court in Nanterre, west of Paris, awarded the couple €100,000 (£91,000) in damages and interest to be paid by the celebrity magazine Closer and two photographers.
When Edward was preparing to propose to Sophie, the prince issued a statement to the press (Image GETTY)
Sophie joined the Royal Family when she married Edward, the Queen’s youngest son, in 1999 (Image GETTY)
After the verdict, royal aides said Kate and William had suffered an “unjustified intrusion” and were pleased the judge had found in their favour.
Sophie, Countess of Wessex and Prince Edward faced privacy issues of their own when they they first began their relationship.
Sophie joined the Royal Family when she married Edward, the Queen’s youngest son, in 1999.
The pair first met in 1993, and have since welcomed their daughter Lady Louise, in 2003, and James, Viscount Severn, in 2007.
In the early days of their relationship, Edward took what was then described as a highly “unusual” step that set a precedent for his nephews Prince William and Prince Harry.
When rumours circulated in December 1993 that Edward was preparing to propose to Sophie, the prince issued a statement to the press.
Staff at Clarence House was reportedly surprised when Prince Harry issued a statement in 2016 (Image GETTY)
It read: “I am taking this unusual step of writing to you directly in the hopes of stopping your reporters and photographers from destroying that part of my life that I am entitled to regard as private and more importantly, Sophie’s life.”
Prince Harry used similar language in his first privacy statement concerning Meghan in 2016, which according to royal author Katie Nicholls surprised staff at Clarence House.
The 2016 statement read: “Prince Harry is worried about Ms Markle’s safety and is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her.
“It is not right that a few months into a relationship with him that Ms Markle should be subjected to such a storm.
“He knows that it is unusual to issue a statement like this, but hopes that fair-minded people will understand why he has felt it necessary to speak publicly.”
Source: EXPRESS CO UK