Have Meghan And Harry Picked The Right Fight?

It is a curious decision, and the timing is even more odd. The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, has announced she is suing the Mail on Sunday, and the Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry, has launched a stinging attack on the British tabloid press.

The timing appears odd because the tabloid story that has hurt most dates back to February and there has obviously been some legal wrangling since it was published.

It's odd, then, that the couple didn't wait a day or two to get back home to the UK before launching their action.

As it is, the penultimate and final day of their African tour have been all about them and their action, not the good causes they are over there to support. 

Royal tours can shine a light on local stories and organisations around the Commonwealth, and I'm sure many charities were vying for the chance for Harry and Meghan, maybe with baby Archie too, to come along and show support to give their story a global stage.

That opportunity is now lost for anyone they visited yesterday and today, the final day of the trip. Coverage will be all about the couple, not the causes they are supporting.

As for the legal action itself, I am no lawyer and I will not link to the offending article, but it is out there still for anyone who wants to take a look at what appears to be a very sad letter from a young woman who is clearly frustrated by her father's actions. She is clearly upset that her dad and her sister appear to be talking to the press.

There is probably a data protection angle here, and the paper will cite "public interest" but I find it hard to see why a personal letter from a hurt young woman to her father should be presented in the public domain. That is a case for two sets of lawyers to argue over.

What seems odd to me is that the couple have chosen to engage in a tit-for-tat tabloid war between Meghan and her family.

The Mail on Sunday article makes it clear her father only released the letter after Meghan's friends were sanctioned to give interviews in America that support her in a spat with her family who had been briefing against Meghan. The result? The father ups the ante by releasing a private letter.

If you trust the British public, you will know the person in the street would think this says more about him than it does about Meghan. 

Harry complains of Meghan being bullied, and it is true that there has been a lot of adverse coverage against her. She is portrayed as being difficult and demanding as staff working closely with her leave royal service. There are even rumours of a spat with William and Kate. The couple have also been portrayed as talking about climate change while hailing private jets to fly them to A-list events around the world.

The Sun was forced to apologise recently for saying Meghan had prevented staff from using a car park near the couple's new home. Her complaint was upheld, that it had not been her decision, but it seemed a little odd for the royal couple to seek redress over a story concerning car parking.

It also seems odd, to me, that legal action is focussing on the leaked letter, for two reasons. 

First of all, the British public, and I'm sure the American person in the street too, completely understands you don't get to pick your family.

A father releasing a letter from his heartbroken daughter? That is just beyond the pale. It says little about Meghan, but tells us all we need to know about him, and it backs up her anger at leaks to the press and briefing against the royal couple.

Secondly, it opens up the really difficult question for the Duke and Duchess. Why this article? Why not the other ones that have painted a picture of an overly demanding Duchess?

None of us has a clue what the truth is, but if you are willing to go to court over a letter, why not all the reports about treating staff poorly?

Kylie, the Princess of Pop who has become a national treasure in the UK, always lives by the phrase "never explain, never complain." The moment you sue for one article, the question arises whether other salacious gossip columns were true. 

The Mail on Sunday and Thomas Merkle are the ones who come out of February's articles looking shabby, in my opinion, not Meghan.

Following the hounding of Princess Diana, Harry's mother, I think it's also fair to say the public has favoured protecting the royals from intrusion rather than wanting to see their dirty laundry aired on tabloid covers.

Let's be clear, though, she has every right to defend her legal right to privacy. Nobody would suggest she has no right to tackle the Mail on Sunday, but someone who has worked on the papers for three decades (yes, that's me) would, however, humbly submit caution about picking one's fights.

Maybe Harry's strong words would have been enough to show displeasure about "bullying" reporting? 

Going down the legal route allows the article to resurface all over again as months of legal wrangling prompt people to search for it on the net before it is then discussed again in a court case that could go either way.

Public opinion, by the way, will be absolutely behind Meghan, in my opinion, regardless of the outcome.

So the Duke and Duchess are putting a stake in the ground and saying no more, but my advice would have been to do this around an article that attacks her more directly, not one where the public comes away feeling sorry for her. 

It's their call, but I would have suggested Harry's letter followed by an interview or statement expressing sorrow over her father's actions would have been a better course of action than the law courts on this one.

But as I say, it's their call -- and they are completely within their rights to take action where they feel Meghan's privacy has been so badly contravened.  

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