Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in South Africa

I’ve been slightly surprised to see the lack of follow-up reporting on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s lawsuits against the British tabloids. Meghan is going after the Mail on Sunday, while Harry seems to have joined a class-action lawsuit against the Daily Mirror, The Sun and the defunct News of the World. There’s a lot of hand-wringing and nasty comments from the royal reporters, of course, but where the legit follow-up? It feels like people are holding their breath to see what’s next. Katie Nicholl at Vanity Fair decided to push a very strange angle on all of this – her sources (??) tell her that Meghan and Harry aren’t simply trying to push back a caustic, racist and toxic press with legal action, they’re also trying to, like, change the way the media functions. In general or just regarding royals? I don’t know and neither does Nicholl. You can read her latest piece here. Some highlights:

The goal of the lawsuits: It is all part of a carefully considered plan to circumvent the traditional press machine and rewrite the rules of how royals interact with the media. According to royal insiders, Harry and Meghan don’t just plan to take on the tabloids in court; they are on a mission to redefine how the press operates—and they have a secret weapon to aid their mission.

They have a dude who Instagrams: Enter 26-year-old David Watkins, a former employee at Burberry who was hired by the couple this past summer to help run their Instagram account and who is transforming coverage of the Sussexes. “For them, the future is Instagram over the press,” said a source. “They are reaching a global audience that’s more than the broadsheets and tabloids combined, and crucially presenting themselves the way they want to. As far as Harry is concerned, it’s a way of cutting out the mainstream press, which is very convenient because he basically hates the press. Whether they win or lose the case, Harry’s intent on paying the press back for what they did to his mother, the endless scrutiny into his private life, and now their vendetta against Meghan. This is payback time, as far as Harry is concerned.”

Harry has loathed the press before Meghan even happened: Even before his relationship with Meghan began, Harry was rumored to have plans to phase out royal reporters and photographers by taking control of his own image via social media. In private, the prince would gleefully predict how the royal rat pack’s (the term given to royal reporters and photographers) days were numbered because “social media is the future.”… While Meghan has previously said she does not read tabloids, Harry does, and he even reportedly reads the comments.

The Future IS the ‘Gram: Instagram remains their plan for the future, and the reason they hired a full-time social media manager. Scooping the press with breaking news and exclusive pictures and footage on Instagram, the Sussexes have started using their own social platform to circumvent more traditional press and P.R. The couple announced the birth of their son to the world on Instagram, and during their recent tour in South Africa, reporters on the ground were given a heads-up that Archie would be meeting Archbishop Desmond Tutu, but were asked to adhere to an embargo. Within moments, though, Harry and Meghan had shared footage of Archie—his first public appearance since his christening—to their Instagram Story. “The fact that there was an embargo was ludicrous,” said one royal reporter. “They were meant to agree to an embargo on a story that the Sussexes were streaming to millions of people online. Suffice to say, the reporters broke the embargo on their Twitter feeds and hit send on the story.”

Press complaints: Veteran royal photographers have also privately complained that Harry and Meghan are making them “redundant” by using their own photographers and excluding them from some engagements. “At the root of all this is their plan to shake things up,” the royal source added. “Harry is not afraid to take the media on. He feels like he has nothing to lose.”

[From Vanity Fair]

Not to rain on Team Sussex’s parade, but… William and Kate were doing this before Meghan even came around too. The level of stage managing for the Cambridges’ public appearances was getting ridiculous, and they also started limiting press access to events and then releasing their own KP-approved photos and videos online. I think the Cambridges aren’t getting credit for it because A) it’s now in the press’s interest to embiggen the Cambridges and act like they’re perfect and B) the Cambridges weren’t great at their “limiting sh-t to social media” thing. Harry and Meghan are GOOD at it. Kensington Palace was not – the photos and videos were often really low-quality and they just gave a really half-assed vibe to events that already felt half-assed in some cases.

So, do I think that Meghan and Harry seriously believe that they can permanently circumvent the press using Instagram alone? Of course not. No one believes that. But the Sussexes can definitely exert more control over their images and narratives around them using IG. And that’s what’s bugging the press too.

Lori Loughlin at arrivals for Hallmark C...

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle continue their visit to Africa

Photos courtesy of Instagram, Backgrid and Avalon Red.
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