‘Lie after lie’: Harry’s furious tirade
Prince Harry has personally condemned a "ruthless" media campaign against his wife Meghan in an explosive statement, expressing his "deepest fear" - that she could suffer the same fate as his late mother.
In the statement by Harry himself, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced they are taking legal action against a British tabloid over its publication of a private letter by Meghan, which the couple allege was published illegally and selectively edited to hide "lies" reported about her.
In his furious tirade, Prince Harry personally condemned the claims that have surrounded his wife over the past nine months and admitted it had been "painful" for both of them.
"Unfortunately, my wife has become one of the latest victims of a British tabloid press that wages campaigns against individuals with no thought to the consequences - a ruthless campaign that has escalated over the past year, throughout her pregnancy and while raising our newborn son," Harry wrote on the Royal Family's official website.
"There is a human cost to this relentless propaganda, specifically when it is knowingly false and malicious, and though we have continued to put on a brave face - as so many of you can relate to - I cannot begin to describe how painful it has been."
The royal couple is suing Associated Newspapers - the parent company of Mail on Sunday - over the misuse of private information, infringement of copyright and breach of the UK's Data Protection Act 2018.
The heartfelt and emotional letter - which was provided to Mail on Sunday by its recipient, Meghan's father Thomas Markle Senior - was sent in August last year, three months after the Royal Wedding.
In the statement, Harry explained that "this particular legal action hinges on one incident in a long and disturbing pattern of behaviour by British tabloid media".
"The contents of a private letter were published unlawfully in an intentionally destructive manner to manipulate you, the reader, and further the divisive agenda of the media group in question," he said.
Mail on Sunday issued its own statement in response, denying the Duke's claims.
"The Mail on Sunday stands by the story it published and will be defending this case vigorously. Specifically, we categorically deny that the Duchess's letter was edited in any way that changed its meaning," a spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, Harry went on to point out that the positive coverage their current royal tour is generating from the same publications exposed the "double standards" of the press pack that has "vilified her (Meghan) almost daily" over the course of the year.
"They have been able to create lie after lie at her expense simply because she has not been visible while on maternity leave. She is the same woman she was a year ago on our wedding day, just as she is the same woman you've seen on this Africa tour," he said.
"... For these select media this is a game, and one that we have been unwilling to play from the start. I have been a silent witness to her private suffering for too long. To stand back and do nothing would be contrary to everything we believe in."
Referencing press coverage of his mother Princess Diana, Harry said that his "deepest fear is history repeating itself".
"There comes a point when the only thing to do is to stand up to this behaviour, because it destroys people and destroys lives. Put simply, it is bullying, which scares and silences people. We all know this isn't acceptable, at any level. We won't and can't believe in a world where there is no accountability for this," he wrote.
"Though this action may not be the safe one, it is the right one. I've seen what happens when someone I love is commoditised to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person.
"I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces."
According to the Independent, the legal proceedings are being privately funded by Harry and Meghan and any potential proceeds from awarded damages will be donated to an anti-bullying charity.
It's the second time Harry has taken the extraordinary step of personally condemning the treatment of Meghan by the press.
The first came in late 2016, just nine days after news broke of his relationship with the then-Suits actress.
In a statement released at the time by Kensington Palace, Harry wrote that the American star had faced "the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments".