Harry and Meghan’s representative said they refused to “offer themselves up as currency for an economy of clickbait and distortion” and accused the tabloids of running stories that are “distorted, false, or invasive beyond reason”.
The letter quickly went public, and was met with a mixed response from many – particularly given the world, and Harry’s former home of the UK, is now battling with the very real life-and-death issue of the coronavirus pandemic.
Now, The Sun’s Executive Editor Dan Wootton has responded publicly to the couple in an equally scathing fashion. In the opinion piece below, first published on The Sun, Wootton says the ex-royals “put their lifestyle before family or country” and need to stop “pathetic fights” and focus on what’s really important:
HARRY AND MEGHAN, THE WORLD’S MOVED ON
Dan Wootton, Executive Editor – The Sun
WHEN I revealed Prince Harry and his wife were ditching the Commonwealth altogether in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic to set up home in Hollywood, I knew the British public would never forgive them.
It’s in chaos and crisis when the true character of public figures is revealed.
Harry and Meghan’s decision to flee to a sunny Californian mansion – on a carbon emitting private jet, of course – showed that their character is based on a desire to put their own lifestyle first before their family or country.
It’s particularly galling that they made the decision at a time when the Duke’s elderly father Prince Charles, who is 71, was battling coronavirus himself.
And Harry’s 93-year-old peerless grandmother The Queen and 98-year-old ailing grandfather Prince Philip – who has released a tasteful and heartwarming public statement today – were being forced to self-isolate at Windsor Castle without access to family or most of their loyal staff members.
I remember talking to a senior royal aide the day after I broke the news of their decision to make the move during lockdown who sighed with despair and sadness and then said: “They have a perfectly lovely mansion in Windsor, just around the corner from the Queen. If they’re not going to come back now, then you know they’ve turned their backs on Britain and their own family for good.”
Having reported on this couple for a number of years and breaking the news of Megxit in January, I’m well aware they are motivated by dollar signs, A-list friends and international superstardom.
But it has stunned and appalled me to see Harry become a conspiracy theorist about media coverage of the biggest health crisis of our lifetimes.
Instead of keeping a dignified silence as they promised at the outbreak of this disease, Harry and Meghan have bristled as they have seen the British public rally around the remaining members of the Royal Family at a time of serious insecurity and fear.
Prince Charles won respect for fighting off COVID-19 with great bravery and then quickly returning to work from a virtual office in Scotland, even remotely opening the Nightingale Hospital.
Prince William and Kate have lifted national spirits with their humility and openness which has been centred on the plight of children and NHS heroes.
Even hapless Fergie has regained some public affection with her attempts to keep the nation entertained.
And the Queen, of course, has been a pillar of national strength and solidarity, delivering two historic and unprecedented addresses that coincided with the time the Prime Minister Boris Johnson was in intensive care fighting for his life.
Never has Harry and Meghan’s desire to emulate their pal Oprah Winfrey by launching a range of commercial products around their image rights felt more inappropriate or, frankly, irrelevant to Brits.
No one cared about their announcement of their new Archewell Foundation (it just wasn’t the time).
The media has instead been focused on what’s really important: Reporting on the brutal force that is coronavirus, the struggles facing the NHS, government flaws regarding testing and PPE, and the despicable Chinese cover-up.
That coverage has been incredibly important to inform and educate the British public. The culture secretary Oliver Dowden even described newspapers as “the fourth emergency service”.
He told the podcast Declassified: “I think what has happened especially in the UK is the very best of the human spirit and it's proving that things are better than we are led to believe through certain corners of the media.
“Certainly when you're in isolation it can be very worrying when you're sitting there and the only information you're getting is from certain news channels, but then if you're out and about and you're on the right platforms you can really sense this human spirit coming to the forefront.”
What the hell is he talking about?
Harry is 9000km away in a luxury Hollywood mansion. As a former senior member of the royal family, he has no access to any government information to back up his ridiculous claims.
And in fact, he has no qualifications or expertise whatsoever to comment on the severity of a pandemic.
I’m stunned by his lack of emotional intelligence to suggest an out-of-control illness without a vaccine that has killed over 16,000 of his countrymen is anything other than a catastrophe and tragedy, which is rightly how the media are covering the unprecedented story.
In his new home country, over 40,000 people have died, while the international death toll is now over 160,000.
In fact, it’s impossible to disagree with Professor Karol Sikora who said of Harry: “What are his qualifications for making these comments — other than deserting his country in its hour of need?
“As for the media, I really don't understand what Harry's beef is. Journalists have been reporting the facts and have been doing great work in holding the government to account.
“The media has also championed the NHS and become a key ally of doctors, nurses and key workers. They should be applauded, not vilified.”
If Harry had any sense he would stop picking pathetic fights with the British media simply to try and prove a petty point that the whole world has moved on from to deal with something that really matters: Life and death.
But, for the record, the reason Harry and Meghan have decided to institute some sort of ban on the British tabloids is because they are the very newspapers reporting the truth about their behind-the-scenes fallout with the royal family.
In my case that meant revealing that William and Kate had rowed with them over Meghan’s treatment of Palace staff; that the Queen had banned Meghan from wearing jewellery from the Royal Collection; that Meghan was working with a Hollywood business manager to set up multi-million pound deals while still a publicly-funded Duchess; and that their exit from the UK and the royal family was steeped in bitterness, deeply upsetting the Queen.
They might not have liked the stories. But they were all true and all in the public interest.
This story originally appeared on The Sun and is republished here with permission.