The One Thing Harry Is Doing Right Now to Protect Meghan
Don't expect to see the duchess—until at least September.
Prince Harry is putting a stop on public appearances with Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, until at least September—because he is growing increasingly uncomfortable with the media's obsession with everything his bride does and wears, and he finds it reminiscent of the intrusive coverage his mother, Princess Diana, endured during her life. According to a palace insider, it was a surprising story that was the final straw.
"When Harry saw all the carping about Meghan having a 'wardrobe malfunction' this past weekend at a friends' wedding, he'd had enough," said my royal source. "There were close-up photographs of the duchess' focusing on her undergarments that were showing just slightly in the front of her dress. The prince got quite angry. He thought it was ridiculously intrusive of the media to make a story out of that and thinks it's all become too much. It reminded him of something his mother once said, 'They'd love to get a photograph of something they're not supposed to see.'"
Last Saturday, the newly minted Duchess of Sussex was photographed wearing a flowing navy Club Monaco dress at the wedding of Harry's good friend, Charlie van Straubenzee, to Daisy Jenks. Photographers caught a peek of her black lace bra showing in the front and on the sides of the dress when her top button came undone. Dozens of media outlets ran the photos and stories about the Duchess' "wardrobe malfunction"—and reported there was even speculation in the Twittersphere that Meghan had intentionally orchestrated her revealing look for attention.
"Harry had already decided to step back a bit but now, during their summer holiday at Balmoral, there is likely to be some talk about how they can manage this situation to prevent it from getting out of hand," said my source. "The prince has always been wary of the media and had hoped that now that the wedding is over, the media attention would subside. There is concern inside the palace that coverage of Meghan might reach Diana-like proportions and that distresses the Prince greatly."
Harry's frustration over the non-stop media coverage of his bride also comes at a particularly sensitive time as the August 31st anniversary of Diana's death is just weeks away. He was only 13 when his mother died in a car crash in Paris in 1997. Earlier this month, The Sun's royal editor, Duncan Larcombe, who has covered Harry for over a decade said, "[Harry] doesn't like the press. In Harry's mind, it was the press that killed his mother. I know that because he's told me that several times privately."
He also blames the media's coverage of his love life for ruining his relationships with ex-girlfriends Chelsy Davy and Cressida Bonas. "Harry is determined that history not repeat itself," said my royal source.
Both Harry and Prince William are fiercely protective of their wives—and in William's case, three children, as well—and have taken an active role in trying to shield them from the media as a direct result of seeing their mother "driven to tears" by the press, as William has said. In last year's documentary, Our Mother, Diana, William poignantly revealed, "I feel very sad and I still feel very angry that we were not old enough to be able to do more to protect her, not wise enough to step in and do something that could have made things better for her."
While William has adopted a somewhat detached view of the press, insiders have told me Harry is like his mother was and reads all the coverage about him and now monitors the stories on Meghan. "Harry is much more emotional about it. William dislikes [media coverage about their personal lives] equally but has somehow managed to compartmentalize his feelings about it. He'll be king someday, so he knows he has no choice."
Harry and Meghan's last official engagement together was at Sentebale Polo Cup which capped off a very busy July that included a highly touted—and exhaustively covered—tour of Dublin. They are now reportedly spending more time outside London at the home they are renting in Great Tew, in the Cotswolds. The couple can expect complete privacy when they join Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the royal family at their traditional August retreat at Balmoral.
But the media will be waiting the minute the newlyweds return to the spotlight hoping that Meghan will be made more available to them than she has been since the wedding. Royal reporter Richard Palmer has suggested journalists were being kept at a "distance" from the new Duchess to prevent reporting on any unscripted comments she could make that might breach protocol.
Palmer tweeted, "Royal rota journalists [a royal press pool] are being kept further away from [Meghan] than we were before the wedding. That means we can't hear what she is saying."
"It is a very fine line," said my source. "The Duchess has become the face of a modern monarchy. The challenge becomes how to mange that. Harry does not want to live his private life in public. Doing just that cost his mother her life. He'll do anything to make sure that doesn't happen to Meghan."
And for more on Princess Diana and the newly minted duchess, here are the 10 Things Diana Would Tell Meghan About Royal Married Life.
Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana and Diana: The Secrets of Her Style.
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