Why Harry and Meghan are taking on the British tabloids alone, writes Chris Ship

Not for the first time this week, I’ve been left asking the question: “Why now?”

First it was: “Why now did Harry and Meghan chose to announce an attack on a ‘specific press pack’ after their very successful tour of Africa?”

And tonight, I’m asking: “Why now has Prince Harry decided to take legal action against the Sun and the Mirror over historic allegations of phone hacking?”

Perhaps, now we have two cases in a week, we are closer to an answer.

Courtiers in the other royal palaces have been left speechless by Harry and Meghan’s decisions Credit: PA

After the successful tour of four African countries and positive coverage of their focus on issues like violence against women, poverty, crime and climate change, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are striking back against a particular type of tabloid newspaper with the maximum amount of leverage.

Had they taken either of these actions after a period of negative press, then they’d be acting from a position of weakness.

But to do it immediately off the back of their tour, they are doing it from a position of maximum strength.

Once again, courtiers in the other royal palaces have been left speechless by Harry and Meghan’s decisions.

Their view? It’s a strategy being executed people who don’t understand the UK and the position the Royal Family has within it.

Did the Sussexes shoot themselves in the foot by doing this after a successful tour of Africa? Credit: PA

Earlier this week, neither Harry’s father Prince Charles, nor Harry’s brother, Prince William, nor The Queen was informed in advance of the Sussexes’ decision to sue the Mail on Sunday over the publication of Meghan’s private and heartfelt letter to her father.

Now, it seems they have taken a similar position to act in isolation against two newspaper groups: MGN, the owners of the Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror; and News Group Newspapers, the owners of The Sun and The Sun on Sunday (the News of the World was also part of this stable before it was closed).

The mantra that – by and large - served the Royal Family well over many years was “never complain, never explain”.

In other words, much better to take it on the chin when criticism comes your way, rather than get into the habit of responding to each and every negative story.

Royal aides I have spoken to tonight are stunned – and don’t quite understand what Team Sussex are trying to do.

No one else in the royal family was aware these lawsuits would happen. Credit: PA

Perhaps the advice has comes from Meghan’s legal team in the US – which she still uses on a regular basis.

Perhaps, they’ve decided that enough is enough, and after many negative headlines about them in recent months, now is the time to strike back.

Whatever the case, the couple have made it clear they are going to do things their way, whether or not that breaks with royal tradition.

But it’s a dangerous and high stakes path on which they have embarked.

And I can’t see how either side - the Sussexes or the newspapers - will be winners in what will be a fiercely fought test of wills in the courts.