Our free and fearless press continues to invent stories about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, with today’s Daily Mail running a poll suggesting the public wants the couple to be stripped of their titles. But if the public really knew the reality of what has been going on, they would be angry, and not at the Sussexes. So what is the real back story?
The first reveal came from ITV’s Tom Bradby, who had been filming with the couple during their tour of Africa. He dismissed the big press lie: “It's certainly not true to say the palace were blindsided by this”. Why so? “The couple's view was they came back and wanted to talk to the family about their plans. It had been made clear to them in their absence there was going to be a slimmed down monarchy and they weren't really a part of it”.
ITV News added “[Bradby] went on to say how the couple were asked to put down their suggestions on paper - but initially declined to do so for fear of a press leak. When that did happen, and the news leaked, the couple then decided to go public with their decision without alerting the other Royals they were doing so”. Looks a little different now.
And it gets worse - much, much worse. The clearest evidence that the press has been lying to its readers has come from court papers forming part of the Duchess of Sussex’ action against Associated Newspapers (publishers of the Mail titles). The content has been revealed by Professor Brian Cathcart in an article for Byline Investigates.
His headline conclusion? “Why Harry and Meghan Move is Really About Dishonest Journalism”. How does he back that up? Well, the court papers contain a section on claims made about the renovation of Frogmore Cottage. And it is that renovation that has been used to drive much of the negative publicity aimed at the Duchess of Sussex.
The Mail titles claimed she had “‘splashed out £5,000’ on a copper bathtub (which does not exist and is totally untrue) … ‘forked out £500k’ on soundproofing to block out the noise of planes (ditto) … variously installed a ‘yoga studio’ (ditto), an ‘orangery’ (ditto), a ‘tennis court’ (ditto) and a ‘guest wing’ for her mother to stay in when she visited (ditto)”.
All put before the public as facts, and all now asserted to be totally untrue. But the really big Frogmore Cottage whopper was over the “£2.4 million of taxpayers’ money” claim, which is being peddled by every self-appointed Royal media expert.
This is what the court papers say about that: “the [Mail titles] sought to portray these renovations as being done at ‘the taxpayer’s expense’, costing ‘£2.4m of YOUR cash’. This was also false and misleading. In fact, the Cottage is a Grade 2-listed 17th Century residence, which was already undergoing much-needed renovation for safety, and its refurbishment back to its original state as a single family home was funded by Her Majesty the Queen as part of her obligation and responsibility”.
That responsibility was “to maintain or refurbish the upkeep of buildings of historical significance through a portion of the Sovereign Grant, made in exchange for the revenue from her Crown Estate (which is several times the amount of the Sovereign Grant)”.
Did you believe any of those claims? If so, you are one of millions taken for mugs by the Mail titles, and indeed all the other papers that piled in on the back of Mail reports.
The court papers also lay bare the Mail’s racism, as witness “In relation to the article entitled ‘Harry’s girl is (almost) straight outta Compton: gang-scarred home of her mother revealed - so will he be dropping round for tea’, the statement that the [Duchess] lived or grew up in Compton (or anywhere near to it) is false”. And there is more.
“The [Duchess] will also refer to the fact that the article cites her aunt as living in ‘gang-afflicted Inglewood’ in order to bolster this negative and damaging impression of where this (black) side of her family is said to come from … In fact, Ava Burrow (said to be ‘the actress’ aunt’) is not her aunt or any blood relation at all, a fact which if correctly stated would have undermined the narrative which the [Mail] was intended to convey”.
Moreover, it isn’t just anti-Black racism. There is also vicious Islamophobia, as witness “In the article entitled ‘Kitchen supported by Meghan’s cookbook is housed inside Mosque “which has links to 19 terror suspects including Jihadi John”’, the connection made between the Hubb Community Kitchen (in which the [Duchess] worked with those affected by the Grenfell tragedy as part of a cookbook project that became a New York Times best-selling book) and the al-Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre (supposedly ‘linked to 19 Islamic extremists’) is at best a highly tenuous and deliberately inflammatory one”.
The court papers conclude “The characterisation of these victims as being linked to terrorism in the same way as the [Duchess] is said to be supporting or endorsing jihadi terrorists through her participation in a cookbook for victims of Grenfell, is as false as it is offensive”. Also, this looks like a deliberate attempt to stymie sales of that cookbook.
Prof Cathcart notes that the court papers “Give a flavour … of the press coverage the couple have endured, and of which they have now plainly had enough”, adding “As you will read, this is not legitimate media scrutiny of members of the royal family; it is lying and bullying by a powerful press organisation”. His conclusion is a warning to all of us.
“All the power of our corrupt national press is being turned on this couple now, doggedly flogging us the racist and misogynist myth of a ‘difficult’, mixed-race, American woman preying on a vulnerable prince … The aim is clear - to break up the marriage … Not one mainstream media outlet is prepared to present this affair as what it really is: a scandal about dishonest journalism”. Not even, whisper it quietly, the BBC.
You think the Duchess of Sussex is a baddie? That she’s led the Duke astray? That she is somehow unworthy of Royal status and should be stripped of her title? Read those court papers and think again. And next time you see Piers Morgan, Eamonn Holmes, Sarah Vine, or any of the other self-appointed “Royal experts” shooting their mouths off, remember who told you the truth. And that it wasn’t them.
Our free and fearless press is an utter shower. But you knew that already.
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