How Meghan disrupted ‘invisible contract’ between royals and press

In an interview stuffed with quotable lines, it was among the most resonant: the “invisible contract”, as the Duke of Sussex called it, that has bound the royal family and reporters together for years.

In this telling, it is not that the royals enjoy their media duties, or view them as a responsibility, but that the only way to survive the press is to strike a deal with it.

“There’s a reason that these tabloids have holiday parties at the palace,” Meghan said. “They’re hosted by the palace, the tabloids are. 알 잖아, there is a construct that’s at play there.”

If the royal family’s dislike for the press was in any doubt, perhaps the most memorable confirmation came in Prince Charles’s remarks to his sons, caught by an unnoticed microphone, during a photoshoot in Klosters, 스위스, on a skiing holiday in 2005.

“I hate doing this. Bloody people,” he said through visibly gritted teeth, before focusing on the BBC’s Nicholas Witchell. “I can’t bear that man anyway. He’s so awful, he really is. I hate these people.” They sat for the photos all the same.

Now that Harry and Meghan have so explicitly identified that contract, it is hard to see them, 적어도, ever having a way back into it. But a seasoned royal communications operative says they have a point – and the deal still exists for the rest of the family.

They compared the relationship to that endured by politicians who seek positive headlines. “This is the same battle every prime minister has. There is a quid pro quo relationship – there’s a reason senior officials try to build relationships with editors. It’s about negotiating for favourable coverage.”

“It isn’t explicit stuff,” the former Buckingham Palace senior official argued. “But often in times of a rough period of coverage, there’d be meetings arranged and you might find, 예를 들면, that an editor has a pet project that’s important to them on a personal basis.”

In a week that claims of media racism became a central part of the debate over the treatment of Harry and Meghan, Marcus Ryder, a visiting professor in media diversity at Birmingham City University, argued that a mixed-race woman’s arrival in the family fatally disrupted that cosy – if compromised – relationship.

“The whole point of a culture like this is that it survives on the basis of unwritten rules,”그는 말했다. “And so when somebody comes into that culture from outside, it forces you to address those rules, or even make them explicit, and in doing so reexamine them. It’s often the person from the margins who might make us reassess something like this.”

The final nature of that rupture was further reinforced when it emerged that the couple had complained to Ofcom about Piers Morgan’s discussion on Good Morning Britain of their interview, having already complained to ITV. It came as Associated Newspapers, the publisher of the Daily Mail, wrote to the US broadcaster Viacom CBS over what it said was the “indefensible” use of images during Oprah Winfrey’s interview with the Sussexes that had been “doctored or presented as headlines when they were not” to suggest racist coverage.

While Harry and Meghan did not comment further themselves, they made their view on whether the media has a diversity problem even clearer on Friday when they made a launch donation to a new charity, the PressPad Charitable Foundation, which “exists to improve socio-economic diversity within the media” – and announced Ryder as a trustee.

Three former royal reporters declined to comment on whether the old relationship was based on quid pro quos. But Priyanka Raval, an early-career journalist at the Bristol Cable – one of the outlets to withdraw from consideration for the Society of Editors’ Press Awards after it released a statement saying that there was no racism in the British media – said that as a journalist of colour she had long been sceptical of the mix of national newspapers and the monarchy. “It’s the old establishment and the biased establishment, it’s a toxic combination," 그녀가 말했다. “Meghan came in with naive fresh eyes and she might have accidentally disrupted this whole way of being.”

Raval said she was proud of the Bristol Cable, which is run as a cooperative, for taking a “principled stance” on the subject, and suggested that the crumbling of the previous consensus on coverage of the royals and racism alike should be used to make way for something better.

“I really disagree with the insinuation that we have to close ranks," 그녀가 말했다. “We’re doing journalism in a completely different way.”

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