The Princes and the Press: Harry wanted to speak about hacking
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Prince Harry, 37, broke a common practice in the Royal Family by releasing a fiery statement about his now wife Meghan Markle, 40, while Prince Charles, 73, was visiting the Middle East in 2016. The Duke of Cornwall arrived in Oman just days after the Sunday Express revealed Harry and Meghan were dating.
Charles, who arrived for his seven-day trip alongside his 74-year-old wife Camilla Parker-Bowles, was soon “blown out of the water” by his youngest son.
Robert Jobson, the so-called ‘Godfather of Royal Reporting’, was with the Duke of Rothesay at the time.
He promised to give Charles a frontpage splash during negotiations to secure an interview with the heir to the throne.
However, he explained to the BBC’s Amol Rajan in episode one of the broadcaster’s ‘The Princes and the Press’ documentary, how the Duke of Cornwall was about to be snubbed.
Mr Jobson said: “When you’re on a trip, say with the Prince of Wales in the Middle East, and all of your negotiations for a week to get the chat with the Prince of Wales, to say ‘We guarantee you the splash’, all goes out the window because Harry releases this big statement about the press and about their treatment of Meghan was outrageous.
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“Of course that then has to be page one and I’m looking at the press guy for the Prince saying ‘What can I do?’”
He recalled how the Prince of Wales said: “Well, I thought I was going to be on page one that was the deal here.”
Rhiannon Mills from Sky News added that Harry’s decision to release the statement was a “big no-no” when it comes to usual practice within the Firm.
She said: “You do not do anything while another member of the Royal Family is on tour that could possibly overshadow that tour.”
“Of course, Prince Harry confirming he was dating Meghan Markle blew any coverage about Prince Charles completely out the water.”
The Duke of Sussex’s statement, described by the BBC’s Jonny Dymond as a “hot tongue of flame”, said a line had been crossed by the media.
The Statement by the Communications Secretary to Prince Harry read: “His girlfriend, Meghan Markle, has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment.
“Some of this has been very public – the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments.”
It added: “Prince Harry is worried about Ms Markle’s safety and is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her.
“It is not right that a few months into a relationship with him that Ms Markle should be subjected to such a storm.
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“He knows commentators will say this is ‘the price she has to pay’ and that ‘this is all part of the game’. He strongly disagrees.
“This is not a game – it is her life and his.”
The BBC approached Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Kensington Palace for comment.
They provided the following joint statement: “A free, responsible and open press is of vital importance to a healthy democracy.
“However, too often overblown and unfounded claims from unnamed sources are presented as facts and it is disappointing when anyone, including the BBC, gives them credibility.”
The second episode of ‘The Princes and the Press’ airs next Monday at 9pm on BBC Two.
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