Rebecca Nicholson speaks to media insiders about the furious war between the Sussexes’ and the press
With a gleaming smile on her face and baby Archie snuggled into a carrier, Meghan Markle couldn’t have looked cheerier as she enjoyed a dog walk through a forest on Vancouver Island.
But while the duchess was all smiles, the couple are allegedly furious at what they consider to be a ‘gross invasion’ of their privacy from the press.
Meghan and Prince Harry are reportedly furious over the publication of the picture and have instructed their legal team to issue a warning over the long-lens pictures, which was said to be taken by a photographer who was hiding in the bushes.
The Sussexes’ fear that this is what is in store for them as they start their new life in Canada, and worry their lives will be restricted by photographers. The couple are said to be concerned that the photographers are using long-lens cameras to get shots of the inside of their home.
Richard Palmer, Royal Correspondent for the Daily Express and a member of the royal rota, said: “It is disappointing that they have been photographed, but I think it is to be expected, there is a huge interest in them right now.
“Harry has benefited from the Royal protection in the past. In 2007, the British press agreed to not report that the Prince was serving in Afghanistan. It was a gesture of good-will as well as a security measure.
“There is clearly a different set of rules in Canada, and I think the couple are going to find themselves having a lot less control. The agreement between Britain’s national newspaper editors and the Palace that the papers would not use paparazzi pictures does not translate to the US and Canada.”
Tim Rooke, director of the picture agency Rex, said: “I wouldn’t be jumping out of bushes, but some will argue that Harry and Meghan are no longer working members of the royal family, so they are fair game.”
In a speech given on Sunday night at an event for his charity Sentebale, Prince Harry said that he was leaving the U.K. because they had “no other option” and described the media as “a powerful force.” He also said he hoped for “a more peaceful life” but royal experts have warned that it might not be as quiet as the couple had hoped.
Nina Sawetz, managing director of Future, a PR firm, said: "By detaching themselves from the Royal Family, they also detach themselves from the power, protection and authority the Royals have when they need it… Their desire for more control over press coverage is admirable, but I think they'll find quite quickly that they've actually given the press even more freedom."
Before Meghan and Harry announced their move to Canada they had mapped out a new way of engaging with the media. The ambitious media plan described on their new website involved making some major changes to the way news about them is reported. Currently they feel they are misrepresented in the press, whom Harry blames the media for touting “relentless propaganda” about the couple and vilifying Meghan.
Among the many changes they asserted was the decision to ‘no longer participate in the royal rota system’. That decision is less relevant now that they have left the U.K., but nevertheless, they have spoken up on how they want to be portrayed in the media from now on.
According to their new website they plan to engage with grassroots media organisations and young, up-and-coming journalists rather than established royal correspondents. “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,” explains the site.
Harry is projected to return to the U.K. for numerous long-standing commitments before the new changes come into force this spring, and Palace advisors say that up until that point the rota will cover these engagements as usual.