Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announce they will refuse to talk to four UK newspapers groups

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have announced they will no longer respond to enquiries from journalists at four British newspaper groups because they are adopting a ‘zero engagement’ policy – but insist it is not a move aimed at ‘avoiding criticism’.

In a letter released to the Guardian on Sunday night, Los Angeles-based Prince Harry and Meghan say they will never again speak to publications including the Daily Mail, the Daily Mirror, The Sun or the Daily Express.

The couple’s letter details how their self-imposed ban on contact with a large portion of the British media is a refusal to ‘offer themselves up’.

Harry and Meghan are seen in LA last week delivering meals to needy residents during the coronavirus lockdown

Harry and Meghan are seen in LA last week delivering meals to needy residents during the coronavirus lockdown

Harry and Meghan are seen in LA last week delivering meals to needy residents during the coronavirus lockdown

They say they accept that media have ‘every right’ to report on the high-profile ex-royals, but claim: ‘This policy is not about avoiding criticism. It’s not about shutting down public conversation or censoring accurate reporting.

‘Like you, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex believe that a free press is a cornerstone to any democracy – particularly in moments of crisis. At its best, this free press shines light on dark places, telling stories that would otherwise go untold, standing up for what’s right, challenging power, and holding those who abuse the system to account.’

‘It has been said that journalism’s first obligation is to the truth. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex agree wholeheartedly.’

The announcement came hours after Prince Harry was criticised for claiming the UK’s Covid-19 crisis is not as bad as the public are being told.

In an interview with the Declassifed podcast, the 35-year-old said that things here are ‘better than we are led to believe through ­certain corners of the media’.

But his comments were branded ‘outrageous’ by expert Professor Karol Sikora, who asked: ‘What are his qualifications for making these comments — other than deserting his country in its hour of need?’

The Sussexes delivered the parcels as part of their work for the non-profit organisation Project Angel Food

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have said they will no longer respond to enquiries from journalists at British tabloids. Pictured with son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor during a royal tour of South Africa, September 25, 2019

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have said they will no longer respond to enquiries from journalists at British tabloids. Pictured with son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor during a royal tour of South Africa, September 25, 2019

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have said they will no longer respond to enquiries from journalists at British tabloids. Pictured with son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor during a royal tour of South Africa, September 25, 2019

UK PUBLICATIONS THE BAN WILL COVER 

Daily Express

Daily Mail

Daily Mirror 

express.co.uk 

Mail on Sunday

MailOnline 

mirror.co.uk 

Sunday Express 

Sunday Mirror

Sunday People 

The Sun

The Sun on Sunday

thesun.co.uk

In the letter, which was sent to editors of the groups involved on Sunday evening, Harry and Meghan say: ‘Please note that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will not be engaging with your outlet. There will be no corroboration and zero engagement.’

Accepting that media have ‘every right’ to report on the high-profile ex-royals, the letter explains: ‘This policy is not about avoiding criticism. It’s not about shutting down public conversation or censoring accurate reporting.

‘Media have every right to report on The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, good or bad. But it can’t be based on a lie.

‘They also want to be very clear: this is not in any way a blanket policy for all media.’  

The strongly worded letter then goes on to suggest that British tabloids have been responsible for publishing ‘salacious gossip’ which they know to be ‘distorted, false, or invasive beyond reason’.    

Prince Harry and Meghan claim they will never speak to publications including The Daily Mail, Mirror, The Sun or Express, again. Pictured at WellChild Awards in London on October 15, 2019

Prince Harry and Meghan claim they will never speak to publications including The Daily Mail, Mirror, The Sun or Express, again. Pictured at WellChild Awards in London on October 15, 2019

Prince Harry and Meghan claim they will never speak to publications including The Daily Mail, Mirror, The Sun or Express, again. Pictured at WellChild Awards in London on October 15, 2019

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s letter to Britain’s Tabloids 

Sent to editors of British newspapers including The Daily Mail, Mirror, The Sun or Express:

‘As the Duke and Duchess of Sussex now settle into the next chapter of their lives and no longer receive any publicly funded support, we are writing to set a new media relations policy, specifically as it pertains to your organisation.

Like you, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex believe that a free press is a cornerstone to any democracy – particularly in moments of crisis. At its best, this free press shines light on dark places, telling stories that would otherwise go untold, standing up for what’s right, challenging power, and holding those who abuse the system to account. 

It has been said that journalism’s first obligation is to the truth. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex agree wholeheartedly.

It is gravely concerning that an influential slice of the media, over many years, has sought to insulate themselves from taking accountability for what they say or print – even when they know it to be distorted, false, or invasive beyond reason. When power is enjoyed without responsibility, the trust we all place in this much needed industry is degraded. 

There is a real human cost to this way of doing business and it affects every corner of society.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have watched people they know – as well as complete strangers – have their lives completely pulled apart for no good reason, other than the fact that salacious gossip boosts advertising revenue. 

With that said, please note that The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will not be engaging with your outlet. There will be no corroboration and zero engagement. This is also a policy being instated for their communications team, in order to protect that team from the side of the industry that readers never see.

This policy is not about avoiding criticism. It’s not about shutting down public conversation or censoring accurate reporting. Media have every right to report on The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, good or bad. But it can’t be based on a lie. They also want to be very clear: this is not in any way a blanket policy for all media.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are looking forward to working with journalists and media organisations all over the world, engaging with grassroots media, regional and local media, and young, and up-and-coming journalists, to spotlight issues and causes that so desperately need acknowledging. And they look forward to doing whatever they can to help further opportunities for more diverse and underrepresented voices, who are needed now more than ever.

What they won’t do is offer themselves up as currency for an economy of clickbait and distortion.

We are encouraged that this new approach will be heard and respected.’

Meghan is due to face The Mail on Sunday in court, in a virtual hearing on Friday, over the publishing of a letter she wrote to her estranged father Thomas Markle and Prince Harry has launched separate legal claims against The Sun and The Mirror for alleged historic phone hacking.

Their direct address to the press comes just three weeks after the couple completed their last royal duty, on March 31, before stepping away from the monarchy and dropping their HRH styles and for a life mostly in North America.  

In the letter the pair praise the work of the media as a ‘cornerstone to any democracy’ that ‘shines light on dark places, telling stories that would otherwise go untold, standing up for what’s right, challenging power, and holding those who abuse the system to account’.

However they state that they have found the actions of an ‘influential slice of the media’ gravely concerning, adding that they believe there is a ‘human cost’.

Both Prince Harry and Meghan say they have ‘watched people they know – as well as complete strangers – have their lives completely pulled apart for no good reason’ by the media. 

Meghan, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Anne, Princess Royal (left to right), watch the RAF flypast on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, to mark the centenary of the RAF July 10, 2018

Meghan, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Anne, Princess Royal (left to right), watch the RAF flypast on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, to mark the centenary of the RAF July 10, 2018

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with the Princess Royal (left to right), watch the RAF flypast from Buckingham Palace, July 10, 2018

Prince William, Kate, Prince Harry, Meghan, and Princess Anne attend the wedding ceremony of Britain's Princess Eugenie of York to Jack Brooksbank at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle October 12, 2018

Prince William, Kate, Prince Harry, Meghan, and Princess Anne attend the wedding ceremony of Britain's Princess Eugenie of York to Jack Brooksbank at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle October 12, 2018

Prince William, Kate, Prince Harry, Meghan, and Princess Anne attend the wedding ceremony of Britain’s Princess Eugenie of York to Jack Brooksbank at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle October 12, 2018

Writing directly to the editors of Britain’s tabloids the ex-royals state: ‘Please note that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will not be engaging with your outlet.

‘There will be no corroboration and zero engagement. This is also a policy being instated for their communications team, in order to protect that team from the side of the industry that readers never see.’ 

Representatives for The Sussex’s added that the ‘zero engagement policy’ would extend to both the Sunday paper and Online editions of each tabloid. 

In one final statement the letter concludes: ‘We are encouraged that this new approach will be heard and respected.’ 

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and their baby son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor at a meeting with Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Cape Town, South Africa, September 2019

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and their baby son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor at a meeting with Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Cape Town, South Africa, September 2019

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and their baby son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor at a meeting with Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Cape Town, South Africa, September 2019

Communications for the couple will now be handled by Sunshine Sachs, a New York based PR firm, with only one UK based representative.

The hard-nosed Manhattan PR company is known for specialising in ‘crisis communications’ for celebrities. 

It has previously worked for Hollywood royalty including Leonardo DiCaprio, Natalie Portman, Bette Midler, Barbra Streisand, Jennifer Lopez and Michael Jackson’s family.

It is not yet known which media outlets will continue to have contact with the Sussexes, but the letter details how the pair ‘look forward’ to engaging with ‘grassroots, regional and local press’ to further causes that ‘desperately need acknowledging’.  

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