Sussex chooses to bat

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex declared war on the tabloid press this week as Meghan instigated legal action against The Mail on Sunday regarding the publication of excerpts from a private letter she sent to her father, which – being a real stand up guy – he subsequently passed on to the paper.

At the same time, Prince Harry, while on a successful tour of South Africa, released a statement – without prior consultation with the Palace, his father or his brother – in which he launched a blistering attack on the media for its treatment of his wife, saying: “The positive coverage of the past week from these same publications exposes the double standards of this specific press pack that has vilified her almost daily for the past nine months; they have been able to create lie after lie at her expense simply because she has not been visible while on maternity leave.”

Two days later, Buckingham Palace confirmed that claims have been filed on behalf of Prince Harry against the owners of The Sun and The Mirror regarding the alleged  illegal interception of voicemail messages. It has not yet been revealed when that is supposed to have taken place.

There has certainly been a Meghan backlash in certain newspapers since the couple’s wedding in May 2018, with an almost daily run of clickbait stories (and non-stories) which seem to have sprung from a manufactured resentment about the Sussex’s determination to maintain some semblance of privacy while the Duchess was on maternity leave.

What do they have left to fill the voracious hunger for all things Meghan when she’s not around to shut her own car door and inexplicably wants to keep baby Archie out of the limelight just for a few weeks?
It’s not as if he’s her baby, he belongs to the nation.

No, he doesn’t actually.

There’s nothing new about national tabloids taking this route and there’s a very strong argument for saying that if the demand wasn’t there for this constant stream of unverified gossip and toilet cubicle reading, the papers wouldn’t print it.

These titles are in a trap of their own making in that their section of the industry is surviving (barely) on website clicks and printed articles that feed a readership with a limited attention span and no time or inclination to question the validity of what they read.

They stopped being primarily a source of information a long time ago and over the past 45 years or so have become much more explicit and upfront as influencers of public opinion.

A free press is vital. It’s something that should never be questioned, but it’s also something that should not be taken for granted or abused.

We’ve seen enough of the cornerstones of our society being treated in that way.

*Jo Swinson, the leader of the neither Lib nor-Dems is fast catching up with the SNP’s version of the Krankies and Jezza the red as the most annoying and disingenuous politicians in the UK.

They are at the forefront of a move to remove the Prime Minister and form a caretaker government whose only function would be to prevent us leaving Brexit without a deal. That’s insurrection in my book.

And in case that doesn’t work there’s always a couple of historic impropriety accusations to pull out of the bag.

There is a very simple reason why they won’t go for an election now – because they know they are not acting according to the wishes of the majority of the population and they know they will lose in an election, which will surely come before the year is out.

They will no doubt survive in their safe seats, but when the cockroaches come out from under their rocks and survey the nuclear winter that has been left of British politics it will be a very different looking democracy to the one they have done all they can to manipulate.

Edward Case

Columnist