Prince Harry, Meghan Markle limit media access, blast 'frequent misreporting'

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are making dramatic changes to how they deal with the media in an attempt to limit "frequent misreporting" and "false impressions".

On Thursday, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced their intent to step back as senior members of the royal family and become financially independent. However, in an extraordinary statement, Buckingham Palace said discussions with the couple were only at an "early stage" and "complicated".

Despite that, Harry and Meghan have declared they will change how they interact with the media as part of their new "working model" and desire to "share information more freely with members of the public".

The full details won't be revealed until Autumn, but one of the biggest changes signalled is that the pair will no longer partake in the Royal Rota system. The Royal Rota is a pool system that offers representatives from selected media outlets the opportunity to cover royal engagements.

"Due to space restrictions and security, it is rarely possible to allow all media who wish to cover a royal engagement equal access to the event. A rota, or pool system, was therefore introduced," the UK's News Media Association says.

But a post on their new website says the system "predates the dramatic transformation of news reporting in the digital age" by focussing on print and broadcast organisations. 

One of the issues seems to be with how Royal Rota members use content from their social media accounts - which the couple say they will continue to use. 

"Historically, the understanding with the Royal Rota expects that if Their Royal Highnesses were to release a photo that has never been seen, they would be expected to give the image to The Rota simultaneously or in advance of their own release," the website says. 

"This formula enables these select publications to profit by publishing these images on their websites/front pages. Any breach in this understanding creates long term repercussions."

The website says this "current structure" makes it "challenging" for the royal pair to personally share parts of their lives.

Harry and Meghan's post goes onto say that while "Britain's Royal Correspondents are regarded internationally as credible sources" that is a "misconception [which] propels coverage that is often carried by other outlets around the world amplifying frequent misreporting". 

"Regrettably, stories that may have been filed accurately by Royal Correspondents are, also, often edited or rewritten by media editorial teams to present false impressions."

It says they believe in a "free, strong and open media industry" that holds people to account, but also values privacy. 

Harry and Meghan hope to engage more with "grassroots media organisation and young, up-and-coming journalists" and provide event access "to credible media outlets".

The website's section on media ends with the pair saying the outlined media policy only applies to them and their son.

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 campaign".

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