The prince's spokesperson criticised 'the racial undertones of comment pieces'
This morning, Prince Harry issued an unusually forthright statement about his personal life, condemning the media’s racist harassment of his girlfriend, Meghan Markle.
In the statement, the prince acknowledges that given his position and privilege, but says the past week ‘has seen a line crossed.’
“His girlfriend, Meghan Markle, has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment. Some of this has been very public – 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.”
Of course, we encourage robust interrogation of the role of the royal family in British public life, but Harry’s unusually hard-hitting statement (for a royal) is a welcome intervention in the fight against the racist, sensationalist, invasive elements of the British press.
Unfortunately, if unsurprisingly, the worst offenders completely missed the point. ‘Ooooh, Prince Harry has a girlfriend!’ was the (slightly paraphrased) first response of both Mail and Sun, followed by articles littered with exactly the sort of invasive paparazzi shots and racially-inflected descriptions that the prince’s statement invoked.
While they acknowledged his comments on racism, both papers assumed he was talking about some other racist and abusive media trolls with a national platform. Classy.
Meanwhile, the Evening Standard‘s royal correspondent, Robert Jobson, criticised Harry for speaking out at all. While ‘his decision to hit out and go public shows he will do everything he can to defend his lady’, it distracts attention from the crucially important business of Prince Charles’s ongoing visit to the Middle East, and Harry’s own visit to the Caribbean.
It’s rather touching that Jobson thinks that if the Daily Mail didn’t have a prurient story to run about a prince’s private life, they would cover a set of completely unremarkable royal tours instead.
What’s unforgivable is his implication that Meghan Markle is not entitled to complain about ‘legitimate press interest’ because ‘she is a well known actress, used to milking publicity for her own gains, who writes copiously on social media about her lifestyle and background.’
What that means in Standard-speak is that an actress who publicly discusses her African descent is not entitled to defend herself against racism.
Funny that those most committed to preserving the British royal family are also so committed to making their lives hell.
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Kensington Palace has issued a statement this morning about the harassment currently being experienced by Meghan Markle and her family. pic.twitter.com/EuFZ4fmUIj
— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) November 8, 2016