Given the causes Prince Harry and Meghan Markle care about, it’s not likely that they have that much in common with the views of Donald Trump.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex want to fight climate change and poverty and promote women’s empowerment, social justice and mental health awareness.
But Harry and Meghan could find common ground with Trump in complaining about an unfair media, especially as they have launched what’s been described as their “all-out war” against the British tabloids.
The couple also have adopted a key strategy of the U.S. president: Icing out regular reporters and photographers and using their own social media to communicate directly with the public, according to Vanity Fair royal reporter Katie Nicholl.
The strategy most recently was on display with Harry, using the @sussexroyal Instagram account, to share two videos of him with singer Ed Sheeran talking about helping people dealing with mental illness for World Mental Health Day.
“For them, the future is Instagram over the press,” a source told Vanity Fair writer Katie Nicholl. “They are reaching a global audience that’s more than the broadsheets and tabloids combined, and crucially presenting themselves the way they want to. As far as Harry is concerned, it’s a way of cutting out the mainstream press, which is very convenient because he basically hates the press.”
Harry reportedly has long been thinking about phasing out access he gives to royal reporters, Nicholl reported. Even before he met the Instagram-savvy former TV actress, he had thought about taking control of his own image via social media.
Nearly a year after their May 2018 marriage, the couple launched the @sussexroyal Instagram account, which already has amassed 9.6 million followers. They are increasingly using it to circumvent more traditional press and P.R. by posting their own exclusive news, photos and videos.
“It‘s a method already favored by many celebrities, and even Donald Trump, who seems to prefer a tweet to holding official White House press conferences,” Nicholl added.
Harry and Meghan have used their Instagram account to break news about the birth of their son Archie, and to beat reporters in sharing news about their visit with Archie to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, during their successful 10-day royal tour in Africa. A photo of Tutu kissing Archie, who was being held by Meghan, garnered 1.4 million likes.
Veteran royal photographers have privately complained that Harry and Meghan are making them “redundant” by using their own photographers and excluding them from some engagements.
“At the root of all this is their plan to shake things up,” a royal source told Nicholl. “Harry is not afraid to take the media on. He feels like he has nothing to lose.”
These observations shared with Nicholl come after Harry and Meghan launched unprecedented legal attacks against the U.K press last week. The couple sent “shock waves” through Fleet Street by suing several tabloids — moves that show they intend to “reinvent the relationship between the royals and the press,” Nicholl said.
Last week, Harry issued a powerful, emotional statement on the Sussexes’ newly created website. The statement announced that Meghan had filed suit against the Mail on Sunday for breach of copyright and misuse of private information, after the Mail printed portions of a private letter the California native wrote to her estranged father after her wedding.
Harry also accused the tabloids of engaging in a “relentless propaganda campaign” by publishing “false and malicious” stories about his wife. The grandson of Queen Elizabeth said, “There comes a point when the only thing to do is to stand up to this behavior, because it destroys people and destroys lives.”
Harry referred to his mother, Princess Diana, by saying he was concerned about “history repeating itself.” Diana died in 1997 after a car she was riding in crashed in a Paris tunnel while being pursued by paparazzi.
“I’ve seen what happens when someone I love is commoditized to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person,” Harry said. “I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces.”
Harry and Meghan dropped this “bomb” just 24 hours before the end of their African tour, which made for a tense final day among the royal press pack covering the tour, according to Elaine Lui at Lainey Gossip.
There also was some question about whether the couple informed the queen, Prince Charles or Prince William about Harry’s statement or Meghan’s lawsuit.
A few days later, news reports came that Harry was taking legal action against two other tabloids, the Sun and the Daily Mirror, over “the alleged illegal interception of voice-mail messages,” the Daily Beast reported. Harry’s complaints reportedly address incidents pertaining to the phone-hacking scandal that emerged in 2011.
Byline Investigates reported that Harry also was suing publishers of The Mirror over unlawful news-gathering activities that stretch back to when TV personality Piers Morgan was the editor.
Morgan has become one of Harry and Meghan’s most regular and outspoken critics in the British media. He has complained about Meghan “ghosting” him after she married Harry and has called her a social climber and “self-obsessed professional actress who has landed the role of her life and is determined to milk it for all she’s worth.”
True to form, Morgan published a column in the Daily Mail last week that was critical of Harry’s statement and Meghan’s lawsuit over her father’s letter. The column was headlined: “Stop playing the victim, Harry—you and Meghan brought the negative press on yourselves, and just when you turn things around, you ruin it all.”
Morgan was referring to the “unqualified success” of their royal tour, which promised to reverse the “relentless stream of negativity” that’s accompanied Harry and Meghan in recent months.
The “negativity” has included reports about Meghan’s lavish baby shower in New York City, the couple’s private plane travel while espousing environmentally sustainable practices and the $3 million of public money spent on renovating their home, Frogmore Cottage, on the grounds of Windsor Castle.
Morgan then asked, “Why declare war on the press who’ve just spent seven days saying great things about them? Why petrol-bomb glowingly positive end-of-tour reports with a furnace of negative fury?”
“Harry is making himself newsworthy,” a royal reporter told the Daily Beast. “He seems to have lost the plot with the press. This is a very aggressive and odd move and is obviously being driven by the way the press has covered Meghan. This is payback.”
Harry and Meghan’s war could lead to Harry having to testify in his claims against the Sun and the Mirror. It could also lead to increasingly negative headlines, and not just for them, but for other members of the royal family, the Daily Beast said.
“This kind of litigation is easy to start, but nobody can predict the path it will take or the damage it may cause,” Patrick Jephson, Diana’s former private secretary and author of “The Meghan Factor” told Vanity Fair. “If the Sussexes have a well-planned strategy it has got off to a strange start, trampling on the good news of a successful tour.”
Nicholl said that the strategy certainly involved deploying social media in an attempt to control what’s reported about them. Indeed, Harry’s two videos with Sheeran was a leading story about the Sussexes on Thursday. Combined, the videos had been viewed more than 5 million times.
“While they wage their war with the press, Instagram remains their plan for the future,” Nicholl said.
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Both Prince Harry and Ed Sheeran want to ensure that not just today but every day, you look after yourself, your friends and those around you. There’s no need to suffer in silence – share how you’re feeling, ask how someone is doing and listen for the answer. Be willing to ask for help when you need it and know that we are all in this together. #WMHD Check out the accounts below for more resources and support: @Heads_Together @Calmzone @MentalHealthFoundation @CharityNoPanic @SamaritansCharity @YoungMindsUK @GiveUsAShoutInsta @Childline_official @LetsTalkAboutMentalHealth @Jedfoundation @Pandas_UK @Charitysane @MindCharity @TimeToChangeCampaign @RethinkMentalIllness @MentalHealthMates @ActionHappiness @MHFAEngland @DitchTheLabel @TheBlurtFoundation