Sussexes round off Africa tour after Duke’s attack on tabloid press

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex Credit: Toby Melville/PA

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex begin the final day of their Africa tour now overshadowed by claims made by Harry that his wife has been ruthlessly attacked by the British tabloid press.

The couple have spent the past nine days visiting southern Africa and raising issues they are passionate about including wildlife conservation and female empowerment.

But on Tuesday evening, Harry issued a strongly worded and detailed statement highly critical of certain sections of the press, as it was announced Meghan was suing a newspaper after publishing a letter she wrote to her father.

The duke and duchess’s tour of Africa has received widespread and favourable coverage but Harry said these positive publications expose the “double standards of this specific press pack”.

Speaking about his wife, Harry said some newspapers had “vilified her almost daily for the past nine months” and claimed they had published “lie after lie” at Meghan’s expense simply because she was out of public view on maternity leave.

Referencing his mother Diana, Princess of Wales, who was a tabloid newspaper staple and died in a Paris car crash while being pursued by the paparazzi, the duke said: “I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces.”

Harry said about his wife: “I have been a silent witness to her private suffering for too long. To stand back and do nothing would be contrary to everything we believe in.”

Meghan has launched legal action against the Mail on Sunday newspaper over an allegation it unlawfully published the letter to her father.

Law firm Schillings, representing the duchess, said she had filed a High Court claim against the paper and its parent company Associated Newspapers over the alleged misuse of private information, infringement of copyright and breach of the Data Protection Act 2018.

The Duchess of Sussex during her visit to the University of Johannesburg in South Africa Credit: Christiaan Kotze/PA

In the statement published on the duke and duchess’s official website, Harry said he and Meghan believed in “media freedom and objective, truthful reporting” as a “cornerstone of democracy”.

Addressing readers, he added: “Unfortunately, my wife has become one of the latest victims of a British tabloid press that wages campaigns against individuals with no thought to the consequences – a ruthless campaign that has escalated over the past year, throughout her pregnancy and while raising our newborn son.”

A Mail on Sunday spokesman said the newspaper “stands by the story it published and will be defending this case vigorously”.

“Specifically, we categorically deny that the duchess’s letter was edited in any way that changed its meaning,” they added.

During their final day in Johannesburg the couple will meet Graca Machel widow of Nelson Mandela, a national figure Harry met during a 2015 visit to South Africa.

Later the Sussexes will attend a creative industries and business reception at the residence of Britain’s High Commissioner to South Africa Nigel Casey.

More than 300 guests will be gathered for the event celebrating the UK and South Africa’s business investment relationship and looking ahead to the Africa investment Summit being hosted in the UK in 2020.

The tour will come to an end when the duke and duchess meet South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, and First Lady Dr Tshepo Motsepe in Pretoria for a private audience.