Earlier this week, Prince Harry released a statement condemning the media treatment of his now confirmed girlfriend, Megan Markle. In his statement, Harry defended Ms Markle against internet trolls and tabloid newspapers, such as The Sun, after a series of intrusive and defamatory acts against her by paparazzi and journalists. The statement also said that the Prince was “worried for Ms Markle’s safety” and was upset that he was unable to protect her.
The actress, best known for her role as Rachel Zane in American TV drama ‘Suits’ and for her humanitarian work with the UN, has been at the centre of a media storm for a few months now. The Sun included an alleged smear report on their front page about footage from Suits uploaded on PornHub, and comments were made in the Daily Mail which the Palace railed against for their ‘racial undertones’.
The Prince has had a turbulent relationship with the media since his mother’s death in 1997, following a car chase involving paparazzi in Paris. In 2002 Harry was exposed drinking underage and smoking cannabis, and in 2004 was involved in a scuffle outside a nightclub with paparazzi. The end of his previous relationships with Cressida Bonas and Chelsey Davy were also in part due to media intrusion.
His brother, William, has also had problems dealing with the strong media presence in his life. Both him and Kate spoke out against the “dangerous tactics” used by paparazzi to gain pictures of their young son, George, with some camping out in woodland around their Norfolk home, and one creating a hideout in his car stationed near a public children’s play area.
Despite the Palace’s assertion that Harry was not attempting to defend himself, but the safety and privacy of Ms Markle, many journalists have come out against his statement. Writing in the Daily Mail, Sarah Vine claimed that he could not expect the same privacy as a normal person, and the Sun argued that “he needs to get real. He is an heir to the throne, living a privileged life at public expense”. I asked Bristol students Ellie and Tom what they thought about the situation:
Do you think Harry was right to make this statement?
“Yeah, I think he was right to tell paparazzi to leave her alone if she was feeling threatened. He has a larger platform than her in the UK, so it makes sense that he should come out in defence of her, rather than she make a statement”
Do you agree with the Mail’s point that he doesn’t have a right to complain?
“I’m not sure, I think he should be entitled to privacy but he lives such a privileged lifestyle that he has to expect people to want to know what’s happening in his life”
Do you agree?
“Definitely not. I think everyone is entitled to privacy. Also, he’s not like a normal celebrity, he was born into the public eye rather than choosing to step into it. I think the media is making excuses for the celebrity culture it has created.”