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Entertainment & Arts

Royal couple wants new rules of engagement with the media

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
The duke and duchess of Sussex attend an event in London in February.
(Kirsty Wigglesworth / Associated Press)

As part of their reduced role within the royal household, the duke and duchess of Sussex are changing their media strategy.

Through a snazzy website, sussexroyal.com, illustrated with a photo of the couple walking among redwoods, the sought-after pair on Wednesday laid out a vision of how they will handle their relations with the press in the future.

In a bid to “reshape and broaden” access to their work, the couple said on their website they would engage with specialist media and “young, up-and-coming journalists” and drop out of the Royal Rota system, a 40-year-old channel for exclusive access to British print and media outlets.

The change means they can communicate directly with the wider public and share images through their own channels — including their Instagram account @sussexroyal, which has more than 10 million followers — rather than having to rely on designated U.K. media outlets.

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“After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution,” the duke and duchess of Sussex said on their site. “We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen.”

The couple have been open about the pain the intense media scrutiny has caused them, with certain media that have “vilified her almost daily,” Prince Harry said last year.

Like other members of the British royal family, Harry and Meghan have their own in-palace press team running point on their affairs, led by former Hillary Clinton advisor Sara Latham.

Their newly launched website provides a deep trove of information about the Sussexes, from their funding to their relations with the media. A note on the site says it was created by Toronto-based digital agency Article, whose website lists famed fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg and the NBA as clients. The duchess has been a longtime client of the agency, which also lists among its projects Markle’s lifestyle blog the Tig, which she shuttered before getting married. The site is registered by GoDaddy.com and was built using the WordPress template “Bucky.” WordPress photo naming conventions indicate that photos were uploaded as early as September 2019.

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The world’s most in-demand couple have also previously turned to communications firm Sunshine Sachs for advice.

Sunshine Sachs is well known in the entertainment industry for representing Hollywood royalty including Leonardo DiCaprio (LDC as he is now known) and Jane Fonda, with a large chunk of their business spent working with foundations such as Times Up and Human Rights Campaign. DiCaprio has also established his own foundation focusing on the environment.

Markle, a native of Los Angeles and former star of the TV legal drama “Suits,” used the publicists at Sunshine Sachs for years before she joined the royal family and still seeks occasional, unofficial counsel from partner Keleigh Thomas Morgan, said a person with knowledge of the situation, who was not authorized to speak publicly.

The firm, which has offices in New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., is not currently retained by the Sussexes and was not involved in Wednesday’s announcement, the person said.

Sunshine Sachs previously worked on Markle’s Vogue editorial and Harry’s eco-travel initiative Tavalyst. A spokesperson for the duke and duchess of Sussex did not respond to requests for comment. Sunshine declined to comment. Some think the firm could be tapped to work on the couple’s new charitable foundation.

Times staffer Ben Welsh contributed to this report.


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