In an interview full of quotable phrases, it was one of the most resounding: the “invisible contract”, as the Duke of Sussex called it, which has united the royal family and journalists for years.
In this account, it is not that the royals enjoy their media duties, or see them as a responsibility, but that the only way to survive the press is to reach an agreement.
“There is a reason these tabloids have Christmas parties at the palace,” Meghan said. “They are housed in the palace, the tabloids are. You know, there is a construction going on there. “
If the royal family’s dislike of the press was in doubt, perhaps the most memorable confirmation came in Prince Charles’s comments to his sons, captured by an inadvertent microphone, during a photo shoot in Klosters, Switzerland, while on vacation. skiing in 2005.
“I hate doing this. Damn people, ”he said through visibly clenched teeth, before turning to the BBC’s Nicholas Witchell. “I can’t stand that man anyway. It’s so horrible, it really is. I hate these people. ”They sat down for the photos anyway.
Now that Harry and Meghan have so explicitly identified that contract, it’s hard to see that they will at least ever get back into it. But a seasoned royal communications agent says they have a point, and the deal still exists for the rest of the family.
They compared the relationship with that endured by politicians seeking positive headlines. “This is the same battle that every prime minister has. There is a quid pro quo relationship: There is a reason why senior officials try to build relationships with editors. It’s about negotiating favorable coverage. “
“It is not explicit,” argued the former senior Buckingham Palace official. “But often, at times of a difficult coverage period, meetings are held and you may find out, for example, that an editor has a favorite project that is important to him on a personal level.”
In a week in which claims of media racism became a central part of the debate over the treatment of Harry and Meghan, Marcus Ryder, visiting professor in media diversity at Birmingham City University, argued that the arrival of a mestizo woman in the family fatally interrupted that welcoming, yet committed relationship.
“The goal of a culture like this is that it survives on the basis of unwritten rules,” he said. “So when someone enters that culture from the outside, they force you to address those rules, or even make them explicit, and in doing so, reexamine them. Often times it’s the person on the margins who can make us re-evaluate something like this. “
The final nature of that breakup was further reinforced when it emerged that the couple had complained to Ofcom about Piers Morgan’s discussion on Good Morning Britain about their interview, as he had complained to ITV. It came about when Associated Newspapers, the editor of the Daily Mail, wrote to US broadcaster Viacom CBS about what he said was the “indefensible” use of images during Oprah Winfrey’s interview with the Sussexes that had been “manipulated or presented as headlines when they weren’t ”to suggest racist coverage.
Although Harry and Meghan did not comment further, they did express their opinion on whether the media has an even clearer diversity issue on Friday when they made a launch donation to a new charity, the PressPad Charitable Foundation, which “exists to improve. socio-economic diversity within the media ”- and announced Ryder as trustee.
Three royal former reporters declined to comment on whether the old relationship was based on quid pro quos. But Priyanka Raval, an early-career journalist at Bristol Cable, one of the outlets who withdrew from consideration for the Publishers Society press awards after she issued a statement saying there was no racism in the British media, said that as a journalist of color, she had long been skeptical of the mix of national newspapers and the monarchy. “It’s the old system and the biased system, it’s a toxic combination,” he said. “Meghan came in with fresh, naive eyes and could have accidentally interrupted this whole way of being.”
Raval said she was proud of the Bristol Cable, which is run as a cooperative, for taking a “principled stance” on the issue, and suggested that the crumbling previous consensus on coverage of royalty and racism should be used to make way for something better.
“I really don’t agree with the suggestion that we have to close ranks,” he said. “We do journalism in a completely different way.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism