The Queen Thinks Harry and Meghan Went "Too Far" by Banning U.K. Press
An insider says the couple's "declaration of war" with the media has angered the Queen and Prince Charles.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles are "greatly upset" by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's recent announcement that they will "no longer engage" with a number of popular newspapers in the U.K. According to a Palace insider, the most senior royals fear the couple's "declaration of war" with the British tabloids could "lead to some sort of crisis that could damage the royal family and end badly."
On Sunday night, four newspaper groups—The Daily Mail, The Daily Mirror, The Sun, and The Daily Express—received a letter from Harry and Meghan, who recently moved to Los Angeles with their son, Archie.
According to The Daily Mail, the letter read, in part:
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.
"Her Majesty simply does not understand why Harry and Meghan continue to inflame tensions with the British press. They received very favorable coverage during their 'Farewell Tour' and had no problem soaking up the attention," said my source. "The Prince of Wales is angry that despite their move to the States, the pair still remain a huge headache for the royals. While the rest of the family is going out of their way to commend the heroic work of the NHS, Harry, who is still a member of the royal family and a British citizen, has chosen to make the story about himself and Meghan. They've gone too far with all this."
To make matters worse, though Harry and Meghan recently announced that "Archewell" will be the name of their new brand, they sent the letter to the press from an official Sussex Royal email. The missive violates the terms of the "Megxit" agreement with the Queen, which expressly states the couple must stop using their brand "Sussex Royal" as of Apr. 1. Their Sussex Royal website remains up and running.
"They don't seem to care about anyone but themselves," said the Palace insider. "They announced the name of their brand in the midst of a global crisis and now they are making themselves the story once again while the U.K. is battling the coronavirus crisis—all while claiming not to want attention from the media. It's all a game to them and the Palace is sick of their behavior."
Among veteran royal watchers, reaction in the U.K. to Harry and Meghan's letter was swift and uniformly outraged.
BBC commentator Andrew Neil tweeted, "As the world grapples with COVID-19, do they really think people care what media they deal with?"
The Queen's former press secretary Dickie Arbiter told The Daily Mail: "I really want to know who is advising them because they are wrong." He also criticized Harry's recent comments that the effect of the coronavirus has not been as bad as has been reported. "Not only this, Harry was wrong over the weekend. Because 2.4 million deaths is bad, 16,000 in the U.K. is bad. So how he can even suggest it isn't as bad as what is being said about it is wrong. But then again, he is not the brightest bunny on the planet."
Prince Charles's biographer Tom Bower also weighed in to The Daily Mail, saying, "The Sussexes have become their own worst enemies. They clearly cannot stand being irrelevant and ignored."
In their letter to the editors, Harry and Meghan said they would be "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."
"It's really troubling to see Harry and Meghan take this kind of action at a time when the world's focus is rightly focused elsewhere. What were they thinking?" a royal insider told me. "Since their move to the States, they've been left alone. It all just seems like an attempt to stay in the news rather than avoid it." And for more on Harry and Meghan, check out How Coronavirus Changed Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's Royal Exit.
Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana and Diana: The Secrets of Her Style.