It’s been 48 hours since Prince Harry launched Love Shield 2019 and announced that Meghan of House Sussex was suing the Daily Mail. They dropped the bomb just 24 hours before the end of their southern Africa tour, while on tour with some of the reporters Harry was dragging in his letter. It made for a tense final day. As I wrote back on Tuesday when the story first broke, many members of the royal rota were furious and defiant. That defiance has come into focus over the last couple of days as they’ve had the chance to fire back at the Sussexes, criticising them for what they call their hypocrisy and defending their right to continue criticising them going forward.
Some of the conversation right now about Love Shield 2019 has to do with who knew what and when and who was surprised and who wasn’t. I mean, the “press pack”, as Harry lovingly referred to them, was certainly surprised. But…was the Queen? Was Prince Charles? There have been reports that the “palace” was blindsided as well by the Sussexes’ offensive defence. From what I’ve heard, this is both right and wrong.
My sources tell me that the Palace, and that includes royals and staffers, knew about the lawsuit. Here’s where the reporting has been unclear or, if you prefer, misleading: there’s the lawsuit and then there’s Harry’s letter and the release of it. People are lumping the two together and that’s what’s confusing. I’m told that Harry spoke to the Queen and Prince Charles about his Love Shield statement that scolded the media. Most senior staffers knew about it too. They did not find out about it when everyone else did. They knew that this was what Harry was planning. But that’s a small circle of people, a handful, really. Which means that not all palace staffers were informed about the Love Shield, its contents, and the timing. Which means that Harry and Meghan kept their plan contained. So when you read out there in the UK media that “staffers were unaware”, these are the takeaways: 1. CERTAIN staffers were aware and some were not aware and 2. Those who were unaware were made aware that they were unaware when the Love Shield was launched. So if the British press is reporting on “staffers being unaware”, who do you think is telling them that? Presumably the ones who found out that they were unaware, right?
That’s the added layer of complication that I’ve been writing about all year, from around Prince Charles’s 70th birthday back in the fall of 2018, when story after story was getting published about William’s ego and Harry’s outbursts and Meghan’s tiara and how the separation of households was handled and this, that, and the other. The Sussexes are pushing back against the media attacks but, at the same time, there’s also the question of leaks coming from inside. It’s one thing for the media to be going at them but how is the media getting their information?
Note too exactly WHERE Harry and Meghan decided to place Love Shield 2019. They have Instagram, which they use often, and they have the royal family’s official website and, typically, letters like these are released on royal letterhead. Love Shield 2019, however, was published at sussexofficial.uk. It’s the only thing on the website, the first thing posted to it. This is one of the reasons why some are suggesting that the Queen and Prince Charles either didn’t know or wanted no part of it but it’s worth considering another option – that this was an additional layer of containment so that Harry and Meghan could keep the rollout of Love Shield 2019 and the announcement about the lawsuit restricted to a select few. Basically Beyoncé levels of secrecy. Remember when Beyoncé dropped Lemonade there were artists who’d worked on some of the tracks who had no idea that it was coming and what she’d been strategising? Similar DNA.
House Sussex, then, isn’t just disrupting how royals communicate their messages to the public, they’re also, as we’ve seen, taking a different approach to how their internal communication structure functions, a structure that Harry grew up in, a structure that he saw his mother have to navigate. You’ll recall, Princess Diana spoke often about resisting the “men in grey suits”, believed to be the old-timey courtiers who she thought were selling her out to protect Charles. And if that’s what’s happening here, Harry’s in a much better position to go head-to-head with them. So that’s the internal perspective. What about the external? More on the Love Shield 2019 and its impact on the media in an upcoming post.