Meghan And Harry Wake Up To Find The Press Playing Hardball

It is fair to say the country has given up being split over Europe to wondering which part of the divide they fall on as Harry and Meghan step back from the royals.

They are probably both starting to realise how tricky that will be as they expect to keep the house, some of the money, presumably some of the protection, but without the schedule of royal duties and enforced interviews and photo opportunities.

For those of us in the media who have been pointing out that the couple will still receive a lot of press attention whether they are in or outside the circle of senior royals, there comes a massive story in The Guardian today. It plays into every aspect of what they have been doing with the media and how they intend to live their lives as an independent couple. 

The story? Meghan's dad is on the verge of being called as a witness to testify against his daughter and on behalf of The Mail on Sunday. The paper published a letter from Meghan to her father outlining some very personal details about their strained relationship in the run-up to the wedding he did not attend. The official reason was his health, but the rumour has always been that the royals were annoyed by him talking to the press. 

The Mail on Sunday is not only suggesting it might call Meghan's father as a witness, in the case where it is accused of wrongly publishing her letter, but the paper is also hinting it could produce text messages in court. These are believed to include private messages between Meghan and friends and could shed light on whether or not she encouraged them to brief the media on her behalf. 

The suggestion has been that Meghan was playing the press game by issuing statements through friends to contradict what was being said about her in the media. 

It's a slippery slope to get started on, as anyone in the media will know. Taking a leaf out of Kylie Minogue's media stance of "never complain, never explain" is something Meghan might want to look at. Obviously, she has the right to sue if the law has been broken, but the moment you start fighting fire with fire, issuing statements through other people, then losing your patience just seems like sour grapes when a battle you were actively engaged in is lost.

The takeaway? If Meghan and Harry think they will have an easier time with the media by leaving their roles as senior royals, they can think again. If they think The Mail on Sunday will walk away from a fight rather than take them on in court, they can also think again. If they think they can play the media at its own game through friends and a "sources close to" approach, they are also mistaken. 

The press is only going to play hardball now. I make no judgement here. I'm sure Meghan, like any other human being, finds the headlines levelled against her cruel and intolerable.

It's just a matter of fact they have worse to come from the media -- particularly this year -- and no distance between them and Buckingham Palace will make it any better or any worse. 

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