UK tabloids called Harry and Meghan's interview the 'worst royal crisis in 85 years,' seemingly forgetting Prince Andrew's alleged sex offenses
- Prince Harry and Meghan Markle said racism from UK tabloids was part of why they moved to the US.
- The tabloid front pages following their bombshell Oprah Winfrey interview reinforce their point.
- This should be a watershed moment for the media, like how the paparazzi changed after Diana's death.
It was one of the most viewed broadcasts on both sides of the Atlantic in recent years, drawing in 17.1 million viewers in the US and 12.3 million viewers in the UK and dividing people around the world.Whether viewers side with Harry and Meghan or the British royal family, there's one group that undeniably comes off badly in the interview: the British press, and specifically the tabloids.
Harry told Winfrey that he had been warned the UK media would "destroy" his life and that he believed the UK press was "bigoted, specifically the tabloids."Another claim from the interview was that the royal family was working with the tabloids, with Harry saying they would wine and dine journalists and invite them to parties to ensure favorable coverage.
"There's what's termed or referred to as the 'invisible contract' behind closed doors between the institution and the tabloids, the UK tabloids," Harry said. "To simplify it, it's a case of if you as a family member are willing to wine, dine, and give full access to these reporters, then you will get better press."Harry also said it "hurts" that no member of the royal family had ever condemned the tabloid's treatment of his wife.
The reaction to the interview proved Markle and Harry's pointsThe morning after the dramatic interview aired in the UK on Monday night, the tabloid front pages seemed to confirm what Markle and Harry said.
The Daily Mirror called the Oprah interview "the worst royal crisis in 85 years," apparently forgetting that Prince Andrew is facing sexual-abuse accusations.
-BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) March 8, 2021
"What have they done?" asked the Daily Mail front page. "Toxic accusations. Incendiary racism claims against their family. Palace left reeling and Queen, 94, in emergency talks."
-BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) March 8, 2021And in an article on the Mail Online, Markle was referred to as a "suicidal race-victim."
"So sad it has come to this," said the front page of the Daily Express.
-BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) March 8, 2021
By reporting on the interview in this way and sympathizing with the royal family, the tabloids prove Harry and Markle's points. Rather than taking an apologetic stance after being accused of pushing a woman toward the brink of ending her life, they continue to attack the couple.Buckingham Palace has also been accused of having double standards surrounding Andrew and Markle, as Insider's royals reporter Mikhaila Friel reported. The palace said last week, as trailers of the Oprah interview began to emerge, that it was investigating claims that Markle bullied royal staff members, but no such investigation has taken place into the allegations surrounding the Duke of York.
Buckingham Palace did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider for this article."Allegations about him are far worse than the allegations about Meghan Markle. Prince Andrew was a working royal when he became a friend of Jeffrey Epstein, who was a sexual predator," said Gloria Allred, as Insider's Bill Bostock reported.
Royal commentators are also shocked by the treatment of Markle and Harry
The US-based royal commentator Kristen Meinzer told Insider it was "incredibly shocking" and "dismaying" to see how different the media coverage of Markle and Harry was in the UK compared with in the US."I think the vitriol is quite shocking to most of us in the US," she said. "I'm not saying that we do things perfectly in terms of mental health here, but I think the general consensus is that if someone tells you they wanted to kill themselves, that we should believe them."The royal commentator and expert Richard Fitzwilliams says Markle's "ceaseless attacking" by the media has taken on another dimension than that Princess Diana faced in the 1990s because of social media and trolls.
"Any public figure faces and will always face intense scrutiny from the national press," Fitzwilliams told Insider. "When it comes to the tabloids, the pressure can feel relentless."
In other words, it doesn't matter whether you're wealthy or famous - it's inevitable that this pressure would affect your mental health.Fitzwilliams went on to say that while there's a symbiotic relationship between the tabloids and their subjects, things were getting better. When Diana died in a car crash after being pursued by paparazzi, for example, stricter press regulations were introduced, and there was a significant change in the behavior of, and attitude toward, the paparazzi.
Tim Rooke, who has been an official royal photographer for over 25 years, told Time in 2017: "I went to take photographs outside Buckingham Palace the day after she died and got abuse from members of the public who didn't realize I was an official photographer. It was quite a shock."
Harry and Markle's Oprah interview could - and should - provide a watershed moment for the media. But if the latest front pages are anything to go by, nothing's changed yet.
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