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Prince Harry and Meghan issue ‘zero engagement’ letter to U.K. tabloids

File photo of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

Prince Harry and wife Meghan Markle, who formally stepped back as frontline U.K. Royals to settle down in the U.S. this month, have issued a sharply-worded letter cutting all ties with four major British tabloids and declared “zero engagement” with them going forward.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who are now living in Los Angeles, sent a letter to the editors of ‘The Sun’, ‘The Mail’, ‘The Mirror’ and ‘The Express’ which condemns reports about the couple in the past as “distorted and false” and declares that they refuse to be clickbait for these publications in the future.

The total ban, which comes into immediate effect, also applies to the Sunday editions of the newspapers and their associated websites.

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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, reads the letter, issued on behalf of the couple.

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, it notes.

Harry, 35, and Meghan, 38, who began their financially-independent lives outside the U.K. with 11-month-old son Archie from April 1, said they are happy to engage with other outlets, especially grassroots and new media outlets, to spotlight issues and causes that matter to them.

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

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Addressing the editors directly, the letter states that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will not be engaging with the outlets, including no corroboration and zero engagement .

It adds: 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 and indeed have an opinion on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, good or bad. But it can’t be based on a lie.

The new media relations policy set out in the letter comes as Meghan Markle’s legal case against the ‘Mail on Sunday’ owner, Associated Newspapers, comes up for a hearing in the High Court in London this week over the publication of a letter written to Meghan Markle by her estranged father, Thomas Markle.

In recent days, photographs of the couple delivering food to vulnerable people in Los Angeles have been published by two of the newspapers on the receiving end of the letter.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2021 7:42:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/prince-harry-and-meghan-issue-zero-engagement-letter-to-uk-tabloids/article31387266.ece

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