Whether it’s the decision over their baby’s name, choosing to protect their privacy at their son’s christening, or the charity engagements undertaken side-by-side across the world, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have faced a raft of unwarranted criticism since their union became official. And if you’ve been paying attention to newspaper headlines, you’ll know that Markle’s very existence seems to ire certain media outlets, who protest vociferously at her daring to have a political voice, for choosing to rest in hospital after she’d given birth instead of presenting her newborn to the world - even the way she wears her hair.
The abuse is so relentless, and so intense, that if we didn’t stay vigilant we’d run the risk of becoming completely desensitised to the vile takedowns. And even though public intervention has been taken - firstly by Prince Harry in an unprecedented royal statement condemning the racist and sexist abuse levelled at Markle in national newspapers, then by Oprah Winfrey, who made a point of defending Markle on live TV - the tabloid bullying persists. Now, Sir Elton John has launched his own defence of the royal couple after the newspapers lambasted them for using a private jet.
In a passionate statement posted to social media, the legendary singer explained that he felt duty-bound to speak out about the “malicious” treatment of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, comparing it to the “intrusion” that led to Princess Diana’s death.
“I am deeply distressed by today’s distorted and malicious account in the press surrounding the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s private stay at my home in Nice last week,” he began.
“Prince Harry’s mother, Diana Princess of Wales was one of my dearest friends. I feel a profound sense of obligation to protect Harry and his family from the unnecessary press intrusion that contributed to Diana’s untimely death.”
Sir Elton then called for “fair coverage” after photos emerged of Prince Harry and Markle boarding a private jet with Prince Archie to his French Riviera villa, Castel Mont-Alban in Nice for a family holiday, which earned the royal couple a barrage of abuse in the press.
“After a hectic year continuing their hard work and dedication to charity, David and I wanted the young family to have a private holiday inside the safety and tranquillity of our home.”
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex took a private jet, Sir Elton explained, to “maintain a high level of much-needed protection,” a move which drew criticism from the press as the couple are advocates for environmental issues.
“To maintain a high level of much-needed protection, we provided them with a private jet flight.”
Sir Elton explained that he had personally paid to offset the carbon emissions from their flight in accordance with the couple’s environmental activism.
“To support Prince Harry’s commitment to the environment, we ensured their flight was carbon neutral, by making the appropriate contribution to Carbon Footprint,” he continued.
The singer then pledged his support to the royal couple, and hit back at what he called “these relentless and untrue assassinations on their character”.
“I highly respect and applaud both Harry and Meghan’s commitment to charity and I’m calling on the press to cease these relentless and untrue assassinations on their character that are spuriously crafted on an almost daily basis.”
The musician, who was a close friend of Prince Harry’s late mother, Princess Diana of Wales, and famously performed at her funeral in 1997, has maintained a close bond with the royal couple, attending their wedding in Windsor last year.
But whilst Sir Elton has a longstanding allegiance to the Royals, his statement raises an important point. The Prince Harry and Meghan controversy may have been thinly veiled as a “hypocrisy row” over eco-friendly behaviour, but the vicious tabloid takedowns reveal a more insidious intention: to distort public perceptions and erode support for the couple through a drip-feed of public bullying.
As the latest media storm proves, there will always be a plentiful reason to attack the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. But so long as there is a counter-narrative highlighting the media’s own bias, we can begin to humanise the couple once more, and in the words of Ellen Degeneres, understand that Harry and Meghan are simply two people, trying to “make the world better.”