Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Vow 'Zero Engagement' With 'Salacious' British Tabloids, But Are Not 'Avoiding Criticism'

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have vowed not to work with four British tabloid newspapers, claiming their coverage is "distorted, false, or invasive beyond reason."

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex say there will be "zero engagement" with the U.K. newspaper brands because they do not want to offer themselves up for "clickbait."

The Daily Mail, The Sun, the Daily Mirror, the Daily Express and sister titles of those outlets were sent letters Sunday to say the former royals "will not be engaging with your outlet."

The letter reads: "It is gravely concerning that an influential slice of the media, over many years, has sought to insulate themselves from taking accountability for what they say or print—even when they know it to be distorted, false, or invasive beyond reason.

"When power is enjoyed without responsibility, the trust we all place in this much needed industry is degraded.

"There is a real human cost to this way of doing business and it affects every corner of society.

"The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have watched people they know—as well as complete strangers—have their lives completely pulled apart for no good reason, other than the fact that salacious gossip boosts advertising revenue."

The letter maintains the move is not intended to silence criticism but comes after a tumultuous few days in their relations with the media.

Prince Harry, Meghan Markle at Commonwealth Day
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, attend the Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey on March 9, 2020 in London, England. Max Mumby/Getty

The ban comes after paparazzi photographers got pictures of the couple out hiking in Los Angeles on Friday, which were published in a series of British newspapers.

TMZ also ran CCTV footage of Harry and Meghan delivering food to at-risk people in Los Angeles last week.

The duke was criticised in the British media over the weekend for comments he made to a veterans podcast praising the country's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Harry said "things are better than we're led to believe through certain corners of the media," but Professor Karol Sikora described his remarks as "outrageous."

The prominent oncologist told The Sun: "What are his qualifications for making these comments—other than deserting his country in its hour of need?"

A virtual hearing is also due on Friday in Meghan's legal action with the Mail on Sunday, one of the banned titles, over its publication of a letter she wrote to her father, Thomas Markle.

The letter, sent on Prince Harry and Meghan's behalf, tells editors: "Please note that The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will not be engaging with your outlet.

"There will be no corroboration and zero engagement.

"This is also a policy being instated for their communications team, in order to protect that team from the side of the industry that readers never see.

"This policy is not about avoiding criticism. It's not about shutting down public conversation or censoring accurate reporting.

"Media have every right to report on The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, good or bad. But it can't be based on a lie."

It adds: "What they won't do is offer themselves up as currency for an economy of clickbait and distortion."

The letter outlines Harry and Meghan's "new media relations policy" and their intention to work "with grassroots media, regional and local media, and young, and up-and-coming journalists."

The full letter sent on behalf of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

As the Duke and Duchess of Sussex now settle into the next chapter of their lives and no longer receive any publicly funded support, we are writing to set a new media relations policy, specifically as it pertains to your organisation.

Like you, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex believe that a free press is a cornerstone to any democracy - particularly in moments of crisis. At its best, this free press shines light on dark places, telling stories that would otherwise go untold, standing up for what's right, challenging power, and holding those who abuse the system to account.

It has been said that journalism's first obligation is to the truth. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex agree wholeheartedly.

It is gravely concerning that an influential slice of the media, over many years, has sought to insulate themselves from taking accountability for what they say or print - even when they know it to be distorted, false, or invasive beyond reason. When power is enjoyed without responsibility, the trust we all place in this much needed industry is degraded.

There is a real human cost to this way of doing business and it affects every corner of society.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have watched people they know - as well as complete strangers - have their lives completely pulled apart for no good reason, other than the fact that salacious gossip boosts advertising revenue.

With that said, please note that The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will not be engaging with your outlet. There will be no corroboration and zero engagement. This is also a policy being instated for their communications team, in order to protect that team from the side of the industry that readers never see.

This policy is not about avoiding criticism. It's not about shutting down public conversation or censoring accurate reporting. Media have every right to report on The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, good or bad. But it can't be based on a lie. They also want to be very clear: this is not in any way a blanket policy for all media.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are looking forward to working with journalists and media organisations all over the world, engaging with grassroots media, regional and local media, and young, and up-and-coming journalists, to spotlight issues and causes that so desperately need acknowledging. And they look forward to doing whatever they can to help further opportunities for more diverse and underrepresented voices, who are needed now more than ever.
What they won't do is offer themselves up as currency for an economy of clickbait and distortion.
We are encouraged that this new approach will be heard and respected.

U.K. newspaper outlets affected by the ban include: Daily Express, Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, express.co.uk, Mail on Sunday, MailOnline and DailyMail.com, mirror.co.uk, Sunday Express, Sunday Mirror, Sunday People, The Sun, The Sun on Sunday and thesun.co.uk.