Well, this is certainly a way to end a very successful tour. Yesterday, October 1, after a day of engagements in Malawi, for the Duke of Sussex, and South Africa, for the Duchess of Sussex, the Sussex team issued a statement from Harry on their new official website, and announced that Meghan is suing Associated Newspapers (which owns the Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday) for “misuse of private information, infringement of copyright and breach of the Data Protection Act 2018”.
Before I quote Harry’s statement, I want to discuss Meghan’s lawsuit. Almost all of the news articles and Twitter posts I’ve seen have said that Harry and Meghan, together, are suing, but that’s not the case. According to the sussex official website, Meghan alone filed the lawsuit. They said: “Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Sussex has filed a claim against Associated Newspapers over the misuse of private information, infringement of copyright and breach of the Data Protection Act 2018.”
The proceedings relate to the publication of a letter Meghan wrote to her father in 2018, which he sold to the Mail on Sunday in early 2019. Meghan is being represented by law firm Schillings; the lawsuit is being privately funded by Harry and Meghan and, “proceeds from any damages will be donated to an anti-bullying charity”.
A statement from a legal spokesperson from Schillings was also included in the media information on the sussex official website:
We have initiated legal proceedings against the Mail on Sunday, and its parent company Associated Newspapers, over the intrusive and unlawful publication of a private letter written by the Duchess of Sussex, which is part of a campaign by this media group to publish false and deliberately derogatory stories about her, as well as her husband. Given the refusal of Associated Newspapers to resolve this issue satisfactorily, we have issued proceedings to redress this breach of privacy, infringement of copyright and the aforementioned media agenda.sussexofficial.uk
Let’s read Harry’s statement, and then I’ll get into my thoughts, because I have quite a few of them. Firstly, though, I want to mention that the sussex official website, at this time, is just plain HTML on a page – the statement is hard coded into the HTML. So whenever they change their website to be their actual website, this statement will be lost (at least at this URL). So I am going to quote the entire thing so that it doesn’t get lost. But this is also a note to people from the future that if the URL doesn’t link to this statement, that’s why. It does as of the time of posting this. And now for the full statement.
As a couple, we believe in media freedom and objective, truthful reporting. We regard it as a cornerstone of democracy and in the current state of the world – on every level – we have never needed responsible media more.
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.
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. Because in today’s digital age, press fabrications are repurposed as truth across the globe. One day’s coverage is no longer tomorrow’s chip-paper.
Up to now, we have been unable to correct the continual misrepresentations – something that these select media outlets have been aware of and have therefore exploited on a daily and sometimes hourly basis.
It is for this reason we are taking legal action, a process that has been many months in the making. 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. 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.
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.
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. In addition to their unlawful publication of this private document, they purposely misled you by strategically omitting select paragraphs, specific sentences, and even singular words to mask the lies they had perpetuated for over a year.
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.
Though this action may not be the safe one, it is the right one. Because my deepest fear is history repeating itself. 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.
We thank you, the public, for your continued support. It is hugely appreciated. Although it may not seem like it, we really need it.sussexofficial.uk
There is so much to unpack here. I’m first going to start with some basic, logistical thoughts on this statement, and then move into more esoteric thoughts.
Firstly, the timing of this seems so strange to me. They dropped this at the end of the penultimate day of their tour, which means their last day and the overall thoughts about this tour are focused on this statement and lawsuit. I understand wanting to call out the hypocrisy of the reporters, but why not drop this on Thursday, or next week? Why take the shine from the tour and direct it at this instead of the remaining tour events? From what I saw, there was only one item that actually trended on Twitter during the tour: this statement. There were some other moments like the first day and Harry’s landmine stuff (because of the comparison with Diana) which got Twitter Moments, but the statement was the only thing I saw that actually caused Harry to trend. That’s unfortunate, in my opinion, because I think the tour has gone pretty well and it shouldn’t be overshadowed by this. Obviously my opinion differs from Camp Sussex, but you know.
Secondly, bravo on Harry releasing this statement. Well played. I had a thought after reading that Meghan was filing the lawsuit wondering why Meghan couldn’t have written her own statement (female empowerment, and all that), but then I realized how smart it was for Harry to release the statement instead. If Meghan had released her own statement, the people who dislike her would have had more ammunition. Harry releasing this statement serves to take the heat off of Meghan – honestly, most people have reported that Harry and Meghan both filed the lawsuit, rather than just Meghan, because they see the statement and make assumptions instead of reading to the end of the page and learning that Meghan alone filed the lawsuit. Harry’s statement also says that she does have backing from the royal family, rather than Meghan taking this on by herself. Harry releasing the statement also allows him to use the Diana card that he and William are so fond of to gain more sympathy from the public (don’t @ me, William has been using this card for years, and for years people have been annoyed with him for using it).
I want to move into more esoteric thoughts now, because when I first read this statement I had the reaction of the Chrissy Teigen cringe meme. I don’t see this ending well, you guys, and I worry for Meghan and Archie and Harry. I see this as, at best, a ‘win the battle, lose the war’ situation. Meghan may end up winning this lawsuit, but that’s not going to stop the Mail from publishing negative stories.
I’ve dealt with a narcissistic person before, and there is no winning against a narcissistic person. Every time I won a battle, I was still losing the war. Because what I considered small victories, he considered defeats. I got what I wanted in the short term, but because I wasn’t doing so in a way he respected, I was still losing in his mind. And it went on and on like that for years. It wasn’t until I got into therapy that I realized that the only way to win was to not play the game.
How does that relate to this situation? My narcissistic person didn’t want peace, they wanted to win. The Mail doesn’t want peace, they want to win. I saw that the Mail on Sunday is going to fight this lawsuit vigorously (I think was the word used). And they have the money to do so. They and their parent companies have a lot of money; enough to drag out this lawsuit for years. A huge problem with lawsuits is that it costs so much money for a lawyer (they bill every tiny little thing they can), and if the other party has more money than you, they can drag out the lawsuit until you have to give in because you don’t have any more money to keep fighting. It’s great that Harry and Meghan are funding this lawsuit themselves and aren’t using Duchy funds or Sovereign Grant monies, but they are going up against a company that makes billions of dollars in revenue a year.
But say Meghan wins this lawsuit. The Mail is then a wounded dog; they’re going to come back fighting. We all saw how the press treated Harry and Meghan after Harry’s first public statement like this back in 2016. Things may have calmed down for a minute, but it only increased the negativity from the press in the long run because they felt attacked. Harry has now, in essence, attacked the press again. What is Harry realistically going to do? He can’t sue everyone. Will the press call his bluff and keep on doing what they’re doing? Will they take a break, then go right back to their ways, and then Harry issues yet another statement, and ’round and ’round the carousel spins. Where does it end?
I don’t have a solution or any advice here – because the lessons I learned about dealing with a narcissist don’t apply when it’s the media against a public figure – so I’m not saying Harry and Meghan are right or wrong for this statement and lawsuit. All I’m saying is I worry that this war between the Sussexes and the press is only going to escalate, and that it won’t end well for Meghan and Harry, and especially Archie (who will totally be dragged into it, even though he’s a baby and didn’t ask for any of this).