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Was this the right moment for Harry and Meghan to announce their legal action?

  • Video report by ITV News Royal Editor Chris Ship

The big unanswered question about the legal bombshell dropped by Harry and Meghan here in South Africa is one of timing.

Why now?

Why overshadow the last day of a hugely successful tour?

And instead of focusing on all those issues in Africa which mean so much to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex – we are back to talking about their relationship with the press.

The Palace has not answered the question why the announcement couldn't have waited. Credit: PA

The official line is that their hands were forced by specific legal advice – although what that advice is we are not being told.

The Sussexes’ legal case against the Mail on Sunday has been under consideration since the start of the year but then matters moved very quickly this week.

The claim was filed on Sunday and the court processed it on Monday.

But what the Palace can’t answer is why an announcement couldn’t have waited until tomorrow, when the Royal Tour was over.

Meghan is suing the Mail on Sunday for the publication of a private letter she sent to her father. Credit: PA

The staff around Harry and Meghan looked like they needed a rest – that’s not unusual at the end of a frantic four-country Royal Tour – but it’s clear they were working very late on Tuesday night.

The Duke and Duchess are determined to make a stand, to let people know that, in their view, the Mail on Sunday crossed a line when they published Meghan’s personal letter to her now estranged father.

The newspaper’s owners, Associated Press, says it will ‘vigorously’ defend the story it published.

But for some reason, best known to him, Harry’s statement has gone much further and he decided to – in his words - ‘expose’ the ‘double standards of this specific press pack that has vilified [Meghan] almost daily for the last nine months’.

The couple have chosen o make a stand against the press. Credit: PA

I suspect his advisers will have tried to temper his language, to exercise an element on restraint on his wording, but it’s clear any such advice was not followed.

It exposes the deep anger he has felt about the way his wife has been written about in some publications.

It is anger which also stems from the emotional trauma he went through after the death of his mother.

As I wrote at the weekend Harry and Meghan have pulled off an extremely successful tour and, through a surprising number of interviews, they had managed to fill the vacuum that had built up around the Sussexes over the course of this year.

The Duke and Duchess are determined to make a stand against the press which Harry says has 'vilified' Meghan. Credit: PA

The tour ends now on a rather sour note for both his team and the large numbers of press but – I should stress – it has made a real difference to dozens of projects from landmines to conservation, from mental health to violence against women.

It’s possible Harry and Meghan concluded that, after such a successful tour, they now have the maximum amount of leverage in their public and moral campaign against the Mail on Sunday – which will inevitably feed into the upcoming legal case.

But the stakes for both sides are extraordinarily high.