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January 9, 2023

Independent duped by joke tweet that Prince Harry is Shenseea fan

The prince's views on Jamaican dancehall music apparently remain a subject for his next book.

By Bron Maher

The Independent has apparently been duped into reporting a joke claim that Prince Harry sought consolation from his family woes in the music of Jamaican dancehall artist Shenseea.

The mistake comes months after the online-only newspaper erroneously reported in August that pseudonymous writer Elena Ferrante had died following claims shared by a hoax Twitter account.

In the latest article, titled “Prince Harry says listening to Jamaican artist Shenseea ‘got him through dark times’”, The Independent purported to quote from the prince’s autobiography Spare, due for release on Tuesday.

The article reported that the prince wrote: “In the times I felt alone and separated from my family, I always took time to myself to sit back and listen to Shenseea. Her lyrics resonated with me and got me through a lot.”

A section from the now-deleted Independent article. It reads: "Amid the tales of violent brawls, harsh words, juvenile sex and drugs and his military kill count, Harry also reveals lighter details, including the time he taught his late grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, to do Ali G’s signature hand flick and the music he took solace in during difficult moments away from the limelight. “In the times I felt alone and separated from my family, I always took time to myself to sit back and listen to Shenseea,” he writes in Spare. “Her lyrics resonated with me and got me through a lot.”
The false quote as it appeared on The Independent’s website. Screenshot: Press Gazette

In fact, the quote was fake, published four days earlier in a tweet by user @thereturnofBWA, whose Twitter bio states: “Everything I say is untrue and satire.”

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Their original tweet became a meme, prompting hundreds of similar fake quotes claiming variously that the Duke of Sussex had been consoled by Paris Hilton, actor Tom Holland or The Sims 4. Those jokes, in turn, were the latest manifestation of a broader meme about what Prince Harry has supposedly revealed in his book.

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The Independent’s confusion appears to stem from Shenseea having retweeted the joke, commenting: “I know Rebel is his song!”

In its write up the Indy commented: “It’s not difficult to see why Shenseea’s anthem of defiance and self-assertion might appeal to a prince who likewise no longer wishes to be told what to do, where to go and how to dress, in his case by an overbearing family in hock to antiquated tradition.”

The article was taken down approximately an hour after publication, but not before aggregator Yahoo News republished the mistake. It remains online on the latter site at time of writing.

The error comes less than a week into the tenure of The Independent’s new editor, former Daily Mail and Evening Standard editor Geordie Greig.

Press Gazette has approached The Independent for comment.

The claim had already been reported as fact by other websites such as Hot New Hip Hop, Distractify and SK Pop.

[Read more: Prince Harry versus the press: Changing UK media now his ‘life’s work’]

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Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

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