Harry, Meghan threaten legal action over paparazzi shots, harassment - reports

Prince Harry and Meghan's new "independent" lifestyle hasn't even officially started, and the royal pair are already threatening legal action against media outlets.

According to the BBC and Sky News, lawyers say the couple are prepared to take legal action after images were taken of the Duchess of Sussex walking with her dogs and son, Archie, in Canada. The lawyers argue that Meghan did not consent to the photos being taken and said the photographers harassed her. Those taking the photos were reportedly hiding in bushes.

NBC says action will be taken by lawyers if media outlets purchase or publish photos from paparazzi following the couple. 

Meghan fled to Canada earlier this month after she and Harry announced their desire to step back from the royal family and become financially independent. The Queen eventually gave into the couple and allowed them to split their time between North America and the United Kingdom, but only with some concessions, such as not being able to use the Royal Highnesses titles. The changes will kick in from spring 2020, which is autumn here in New Zealand. Harry arrived in Canada on Tuesday. 

Since the Duchess has been in Canada, paparazzi have been trying to get shots of the woman at the centre of the year's biggest family drama. Lawyers say that includes attempting to get photos of inside their home with long-range lenses. Photographers are also camping outside their property.

On Monday, Prince Harry spoke publicly about the testing time for him and his wife. He said they had no other option than to step back from the family, criticising the media for intruding into their lives. 

"Our hope was to continue serving the Queen, the Commonwealth, and my military association, but without public funding. Unfortunately, that wasn't possible," Harry said. 

"I hope that helps you understand what it had come to, that I would step my family back from all that I had ever known, to take a step forward into what I hope can be a more peaceful life." 

Both Harry and Meghan have been under an intense media spotlight since their highly-publicised marriage in 2018.

Late last year, the pair said they were suing Associated Newspapers over the publication of a private letter - a rare move for members of the royal family who normally ignore press comment.

Announcing the legal action, the Duke of Sussex invoked his mother, Princess Diana, who died in a car crash while being chased by paparazzi.

"My deepest fear is history repeating itself. I've seen what happens when someone I love is commoditised to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person. I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces."

He said he and his wife respect "media freedom and objective, truthful reporting", but claimed Meghan has become a victim of tabloid press "that wages campaigns against individuals with no thought to the consequences - a ruthless campagin".

"I cannot begin to describe how painful it has been," he said.

They have been criticised by some traditionalists for breaking royal protocol and conventions, including recently when the pair didn't attend the Queen's Christmas celebrations. Instead they visited Canada with their son Archie and Meghan's mother, Doria Ragland. Despite the disapproval, the pair said the Queen gave her permission for this.

However, the Duke and Duchess have also been applauded for their commitment to progressive ideals, rallying behind women, wildlife campaigns and climate change advocates.