Mal Fletcher

The Duke of Sussex today issued a strident statement regarding what he calls ‘propaganda'in the UK press about his wife, Meghan.

There are two separate but complementary aspects to this story. 

The first relates to the lawsuit being brought by the Duchess regarding the publication of a private letter in a British newspaper.

The second deals with the general press/media treatment of the Duchess, which is the main thrust of Prince Harry’s complaint.

The first point, the letter, arguably represents an example of an invasion of privacy. The courts will decide this but I imagine there is little public good to be served by the publication of a personal letter. 

There may be a public interest in it, in some quarters, but that may be based on nothing more than a taste for gossip.

On the second point, I think we could argue that if the royals want to use their position as a currency to promote causes close to their heart - that is, causes that lie outside of their official duties - they may need to accept that stories will circulate about aspects of their behaviour. 

There were stories recently about the Duke and his family using a private jet to go on vacation when the Prince had just finished lecturing people on the need to address environmental challenges. 

The public is served in making known both the Prince’s publicly stated views and his behaviour on that issue. Provided, that is, the overall tone is constructive. 

The British press has given great support to the Prince’s Invictus Games initiative. Again, this is his initiative and not one included in his royal portfolio.

The royals have always had a challenge when it comes to public perception. The royals are, to a degree, public property. Their position of privilege is maintained by public goodwill and the public purse. 

If you invite the world to your wedding, even if because that is expected of you, you might expect the world to have an interest in what comes next. What’s more, if you engage with social media, as younger royals do, there will be times when people feel that they know you better than they do. 

That said, if we’re not careful we treat the royal family as a version of Downton Abbey. We need to remind ourselves that a wedding is not a marriage. 

We can’t expect to be invited into the inner family circle on every little thing. And we shouldn’t play psychoanalyst for every foible of royal behaviour.

In the media’s dealing with royals, there should be an emphasis on public service, as distinct from public titillation.

It was the latter that arguably led to the tragic death of Princess Diana, which so affected her youngest son.

Mal Fletcher (@MalFletcher) is the founder and chairman of 2030Plus. He is a respected keynote speaker, social commentator and social futurist, author and broadcaster based in London.

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