The Sun has said it is “sick” of “woke morons crying racism over press criticism” of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle as the Guardian warned against dismissing the couple’s concerns.
In its leader column today, the Sun slammed the royal couple for being “shallow and naive to think press attention would end” if they walked away from the royal family and became financially independent.
The newspaper broke the news on Wednesday that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex planned to spend a “significant portion” of the year in Canada as they “actively consider their future role in the royal family”.
Hours later the pair announced their plans to “carve out a progressive new role” for themselves within the monarchy, reportedly without informing the Queen, exposing a rift within the royal family.
They also attempted to redefine their relationship with the UK news media, including by no longer taking part in the royal rota system, which grants media access to official royal engagements.
The Sun said today: “The couple may have a cunning plan to cut disobliging media outlets out of their loop and do their own PR via social media and tame journalists writing puff pieces — a desire they share with press-hating Marxist Jeremy Corbyn.
“But even if one day they are financially independent — Instagram advertisers can pay handsomely — it will only be by monetising their connections and fame as royals. That will generate the public’s interest, to say the least, and the press will serve it.”
The title also defended its coverage of Harry and Meghan since their relationship was first made public and slammed the frequent criticism that negative coverage of the Duchess of Sussex is racist.
“We are sick, though, of woke morons crying racism over press criticism of Meghan and Harry,” it said. “It is ludicrous to conflate racist abuse on social media with legitimate newspaper scrutiny.
“The Sun always liked Harry, despite our ups and downs. We could not have been keener on Meghan or happier for them… Our criticism grew only with the realisation that the couple wanted all the pluses and none of the minuses of Royal life.”
But The Guardian warned its fellow news organisations that they should not dismiss Harry and Meghan’s fears “that the British media has them under siege to a degree that threatens to do to them what it did to Diana, Princess of Wales”.
The paper added: “The collective turn against the Sussexes by much of the media since they made their announcement illustrates precisely where part of the problem lies.”
Not missing the chance for a swipe at former Telegraph columnist turned Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the Guardian went on: “It does not help that Britain has just elected a government led by a journalist who made stories up and whose manifesto gives the press a free pass to continue the abuses and techniques that led to the Leveson inquiry.”
The Times also took a swing at the tone of some coverage in other newspapers, telling its readers they “may be surprised to learn that not all of Britain’s media carries itself with the decorum of The Times”.
But it criticised Harry and Meghan’s view of royal correspondents after their statement said the international view of them as a “credible” source of information on the royal family was a “misconception”.
The newspaper said: “In their feud with the British media, moreover, the duke and duchess have picked precisely the wrong target… This is an odd and unpleasant broadside against a subset of the media that is for the most part deferential to a fault.”
It also shared its scepticism over the couple’s plans to withdraw from the royal rota and instead “engage with grassroots media organisations and young, up-and-coming journalists”.
“Nothing within existing structures would prevent them from doing this, leading to a reasonable suspicion that the real intent is to marginalise mainstream publications,” the newspaper said.
“This represents unparalleled naivety to imagine that losing access to the odd hospital ribbon-cutting ceremony will entice chastened editors to force columnists to refrain from waspishness.”
The column also noted, as News UK stablemate the Sun had, that the couple are likely to continue trading on their public profiles in any future roles and “as such, they will be reported and commented upon, and they will not be able to control that process”.
The i’s editor Oliver Duff agreed, noting that if they “should expect scrutiny – the price of any life in the public eye”.
Picture: Reuters/Toby Melville