Harry and Meghan to restrict media access of national press

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are to restrict the national press’s access to their official engagements, at the same time as insisting they believe in a free and open media.

The couple’s new website launched an attack on the UK’s newspapers which coincided with their shock announcement they were quitting as senior royals.

In its media section, Sussexroyal.comcriticised Britain’s royal correspondents and said it would no longer participate in the “royal rota” system which has been used by Buckingham Palace for decades.

The royal rota gives accredited correspondents on UK national newspapers and broadcasters access to royal engagements on a pooled sharing basis to ensure maximum press coverage with minimum disruption to the engagement itself.

Prince Harry gives a speech in South Africa as wife Meghan looks on. Credit: Facundo Arrizabalaga/PA

It cites the UK media outlets as The Daily Express, The Daily Mail, The Daily Mirror, The Evening Standard, The Telegraph, The Times and The Sun.

Other media have access via the royal rota such as news agencies, including PA, photographers and broadcasters.

The new approach, which will begin in the spring, will deny the automatic access to royal correspondents, and focus instead on social media, “credible outlets”, specialist media, grassroots media organisations and young, up-and-coming journalists.

“Britain’s royal correspondents are regarded internationally as credible sources of both the work of members of The Royal Family as well as of their private lives,” the website said.

“This misconception propels coverage that is often carried by other outlets around the world, amplifying frequent misreporting.

“Regrettably, stories that may have been filed accurately by royal correspondents are also often edited or rewritten by media editorial teams to present false impressions.”

It added: “Their sincere hope is that this change in media policy will enhance access and give the duke and duchess the ability to share information more freely with members of the public.”

Harry announces the birth of his son Archie. Credit: Steve Parsons/PA

Outlining Harry and Meghan’s stance on media, it said: “The duke and duchess believe in a free, strong and open media industry, which upholds accuracy and fosters inclusivity, diversity and tolerance.”

Harry’s relationship with the press has been a complicated and difficult one.

His dislike of the media has seemingly intensified following the birth of son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, as he strives to protect his family.

Harry grew up fully aware of the impact of the overwhelming media intrusion on the daily life of his mother Diana, Princess of Wales.

He was only 12 when the princess was killed in a crash after her car, driven at speed by a drunk chauffeur, was chased through the streets of Paris by the paparazzi.

Soon after he began dating American actress Meghan Markle, Harry attacked the media over its “abuse and harassment”of his girlfriend, with Kensington Palace warning on his behalf: “This is not a game – it is her life.”

Harry and Meghan at the Invictus Games in 2017 before their engagement Credit: Danny Lawson/PA

In October 2019, the Sussexes overshadowed the end of their official tour to Africa by each bringing separate legal actions against parts of the press, with Meghan suing the Mail On Sunday over an alleged breach of privacy when it published a private letter between her and her estranged father.

The Mail On Sunday said it stands by its story and will be defending the case vigorously.

Harry later filed his own proceedings at the High Court against News Group Newspapers, which owns The Sun and the now defunct News Of The World, and Reach plc, which owns the Daily Mirror, in relation to the alleged illegal interception of voicemail messages.

Along with the legal action, Harry released a scathing attack on the tabloid press, in which he heavily criticised certain sections of the media for conducting what he called a “ruthless campaign” against his wife.

In the ITV television documentary following the tour, Harry said he was determined to protect his family.

Harry follows in Diana’s footsteps by walking through a minefield in Dirico, Angola Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA

Meghan admitted to feeling vulnerable, and spoke of the pressures of royal life amid intense tabloid interest.

“When I first met my now-husband my friends were really happy because I was so happy, but my British friends said to me, ‘I’m sure he’s great but you shouldn’t do it because the British tabloids will destroy your life’,” she said.

She added: “I think I really tried to adopt this British sensibility of a stiff upper lip.

“I tried, I really tried, but I think what that does internally is probably really damaging, and the biggest thing that I know is that I never thought this would be easy but I thought it would be fair, and that is the part that is hard to reconcile but (I) just take each day as it comes.”

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