LONDON-(MaraviPost)-The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have announced they will no longer respond to enquiries from journalists at four British newspaper groups because they are adopting a ‘zero engagement’ policy – but insist it is not a move aimed at ‘avoiding criticism’.
In a letter released to the Guardian on Sunday night, Los Angeles-based Prince Harry and Meghan say they will never speak to publications including The Daily Mail, Mirror, The Sun or Express, again.
The couple’s letter details how their self-imposed ban on contact with a large portion of the British media is a refusal to ‘offer themselves up’.
Harry and Meghan are seen in LA last week delivering meals to needy residents during the coronavirus lockdown
They say they accept that media have ‘every right’ to report on the high-profile ex-royals, but claim: ‘This policy is not about avoiding criticism. It’s not about shutting down public conversation or censoring accurate reporting.
‘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.’
The announcement came hours after Prince Harry was criticised for claiming the UK’s Covid-19 crisis is not as bad as the public are being told.
In an interview with the Declassifed podcast, the 35-year-old said that things here are ‘better than we are led to believe through certain corners of the media’.
But his comments were branded ‘outrageous’ by expert Professor Karol Sikora, who asked: ‘What are his qualifications for making these comments — other than deserting his country in its hour of need?’
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have said they will no longer respond to enquiries from journalists at British tabloids. Pictured with son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor during a royal tour of South Africa, September 25, 2019
In the letter, which was sent to editors of the groups involved on Sunday evening, Harry and Meghan say: ‘Please note that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will not be engaging with your outlet. There will be no corroboration and zero engagement.’
Accepting that media have ‘every right’ to report on the high-profile ex-royals, the letter explains: ‘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 strongly worded letter then goes on to suggest that British tabloids have been responsible for publishing ‘salacious gossip’ which they know to be ‘distorted, false, or invasive beyond reason’.
Prince Harry and Meghan claim they will never speak to publications including The Daily Mail, Mirror, The Sun or Express, again. Pictured at WellChild Awards in London on October 15, 2019
Meghan is due to face The Mail on Sunday in court, in a virtual hearing on Friday, over the publishing of a letter she wrote to her estranged father Thomas Markle and Prince Harry has launched separate legal claims against The Sun and The Mirror for alleged historic phone hacking.
Their direct address to the press comes just three weeks after the couple completed their last royal duty, on March 31, before stepping away from the monarchy and dropping their HRH styles and for a life mostly in North America.
In the letter the pair praise the work of the media as a ‘cornerstone to any democracy’ that ‘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’.
However they state that they have found the actions of an ‘influential slice of the media’ gravely concerning, adding that they believe there is a ‘human cost’.
Both Prince Harry and Meghan say they have ‘watched people they know – as well as complete strangers – have their lives completely pulled apart for no good reason’ by the media.
Meghan, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Anne, Princess Royal (left to right), watch the RAF flypast on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, to mark the centenary of the RAF July 10, 2018
Prince William, Kate, Prince Harry, Meghan, and Princess Anne attend the wedding ceremony of Britain’s Princess Eugenie of York to Jack Brooksbank at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle October 12, 2018
Writing directly to the editors of Britain’s tabloids the ex-royals state: ‘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.’
Representatives for The Sussex’s added that the ‘zero engagement policy’ would extend to both the Sunday paper and Online editions of each tabloid.
In one final statement the letter concludes: ‘We are encouraged that this new approach will be heard and respected.’
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and their baby son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor at a meeting with Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Cape Town, South Africa, September 2019
Communications for the couple will now be handled by Sunshine Sachs, a New York based PR firm, with only one UK based representative.
The hard-nosed Manhattan PR company is known for specialising in ‘crisis communications’ for celebrities.
It has previously worked for Hollywood royalty including Leonardo DiCaprio, Natalie Portman, Bette Midler, Barbra Streisand, Jennifer Lopez and Michael Jackson’s family.
It is not yet known which media outlets will continue to have contact with the Sussexes.
But the letter details how the pair ‘look forward’ to engaging with ‘grassroots, regional and local press’ to further causes that ‘desperately need acknowledging’.