PRINCE Harry and Meghan Markle have revealed a "zero engagement policy" with four British newspapers – but claim they have not done it to 'avoid criticism'.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex told the British tabloid press that they are ceasing all co-operation because of "distorted, false or invasive" stories.
The couple sent a letter to the editors of The Sun, the Daily Mail, the Daily Express and the Daily Mirror in which they said they will not "offer themselves up as currency for an economy of click bait and distortion".
They said: "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.
"They also want to be very clear: this is not in any way a blanket policy for all media."
The letter also added the couple had "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."
The Guardian reported the new treatment would apply to the four newspapers, their Sunday editions and their online mastheads.
The Daily Star has not been named, though it is published by the group that owns the Mirror and the Express.
Under the revised media policy, Harry and Meghan's press team will not even answer calls from the papers.
The couple have stepped back from their royal duties and are living in California.
LEGAL ACTION LAUNCHED
In the wake of the decision, Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan hit out at the couple.
Speaking today, he said: "They prepared a lengthy statement – the fact they managed to take the time to do that in this crisis makes me want to vomit."
He added: "I might remind him the world is in a war at the moment with a killer virus that is destroying lives."
Prior to stepping down from the royal family, Meghan and Harry launched an attack on the UK's newspapers in a dedicated media section on their new website Sussexroyal.com.
The couple, who said they will be adopting a "revised media approach" from the spring, criticised Britain's royal correspondents and said they would no longer participate in the "royal rota" system which has been used by Buckingham Palace for decades.
Meghan is involved in legal action against Associated Newspapers, publisher of the Mail On Sunday and MailOnline, over an article which reproduced parts of the handwritten letter sent to Thomas Markle, 75, in August 2018.
Harry described the media as a "powerful force" in an emotional speech just a day after saying he and his wife would be stepping back from royal duties.
The duke has had a complicated and difficult relationship with the press through the years.
His dislike of the media has seemingly intensified since the birth of his son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor last year.
Harry was 12 when his mum, Princess Diana was killed in a crash after her car, driven at speed, was chased through the streets of Paris by the paparazzi.
Soon after he began dating Meghan, Harry attacked the media over its "abuse and harassment" of his then girlfriend, with Kensington Palace warning on his behalf: "This is not a game – it is her life."
LETTER IN FULL
As The Duke and Duchess of Sussex now settle into the next chapter of their lives and no longer receive any publicly funded support, we are writing to set a new media relations policy, specifically as it pertains to your organisation.
Like you, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex believe that a free press is a cornerstone to any democracy – particularly in moments of crisis.
At its best, this free press shines light on dark places, telling stories that would otherwise go untold, standing up for what's right, challenging power, and holding those who abuse the system to account.
It has been said that journalism's first obligation is to the truth. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex agree wholeheartedly.
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. 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.
With that said, please note that The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will not be engaging with your outlet.
There will be no corroboration and zero engagement.
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. They also want to be very clear: this is not in any way a blanket policy for all media.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are looking forward to working with journalists and media organisations all over the world, engaging with grassroots media, regional and local media, and young, up-and-coming journalists, to spotlight issues and causes that so desperately need acknowledging.
And they look forward to doing whatever they can to help further opportunities for more diverse and underrepresented voices, who are needed now more than ever.
What they won't do is offer themselves up as currency for an economy of clickbait and distortion. We are encouraged that this new approach will be heard and respected.
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