Prince Philip today delivered a heartfelt thank you to key workers who are helping to make sure ‘the infrastructure of our life continues’ in the coronavirus pandemic.
The Duke of Edinburgh, 98, said he wanted to recognise the ‘vital and urgent’ medical and scientific work taking place to battle the deadly virus.
It is a rare public statement from the Royal, who has not been seen since he was hospitalised in December, as he approaches his 99th birthday in June.
His warm remarks were in stark contract to the media blaze created by his grandson Prince Harry and Meghan Markle who last night said they will ‘no longer engage’ with the UK’s most popular newspaper titles.
The LA-based couple were heavily criticised for their timing of the letter to four newspaper groups detailing how their self-imposed ban is a refusal to ‘offer themselves up’.
The Society of Editors branded the move censorship, adding it was ‘a clear attempt to undermine certain sections of the UK media’.
The Queen’s former press spokesmen Dickie Arbiter said the couple was ‘wrong’ but said Harry ‘was not the brightest bunny on the planet’.
And Prince Charles’s biographer Tom Bower said the Sussexes ‘have become their own worst enemies’.
Prince Philip, 98, has thanked medics, scientists and researchers who are tackling the ongoing coronavirus pandemic
The Duke of Edinburgh said: ‘On behalf of those of us who remain safe and at home, I also wanted to thank all key workers who ensure the infrastructure of our life continues; the staff and volunteers working in food production and distribution, those keeping postal and delivery services going, and those ensuring the rubbish continues to be collected’
It came after the Duke’s grandson Prince Harry and wife Meghan Markle (pictured in LA last week) said they will ‘no longer engage’ with the UK’s most popular newspaper titles
Philip, who retired from public duties in 2017, thanked key workers involved in food production and distribution, rubbish collection and the post services.
In his tribute, published on the royal family’s social media channels, he said: ‘As we approach World Immunisation Week, I wanted to recognise the vital and urgent work being done by so many to tackle the pandemic; by those in the medical and scientific professions, at universities and research institutions, all united in working to protect us from Covid-19.
‘On behalf of those of us who remain safe and at home, I also wanted to thank all key workers who ensure the infrastructure of our life continues; the staff and volunteers working in food production and distribution, those keeping postal and delivery services going, and those ensuring the rubbish continues to be collected.’
The duke, who is staying with the Queen at Windsor Castle with a reduced household for their safety, is affiliated to more than 750 organisations.
These include the scientific, technological research, healthcare and infrastructure sectors, which have been responding to the outbreak.
Philip, in his tribute published on the royal family’s social media channels, said: ‘As we approach World Immunisation Week, I wanted to recognise the vital and urgent work being done by so many to tackle the pandemic’
Prince Harry and Meghan’s message was sent from an official Sussex Royal email, despite the Queen banning them from using the title and them saying they plan to use Archewell.
They emailed the editors of these popular publications: the Daily Mail, the Daily Mirror, the Sun and the Daily Express.
It came hours after Prince Harry caused outrage by suggesting the coronavirus crisis sweeping Britain was ‘better than we are led to believe through certain corners of the media’.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have said they will no longer respond to enquiries from journalists at some British papers. Pictured with son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor during a royal tour of South Africa, September 25, 2019
Their letter was widely criticised by royal and media commentators, especially in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Arbiter told MailOnline: ‘I really want to know who is advising them because they are wrong.. unless they are doing it themselves.
The Society of Editors brands the Sussex’s letter censorship
Executive Director Ian Murray said: ‘Although the Duke and Duchess say they support a free press and all it stands for there is no escaping their actions here amount to censorship and they are setting an unfortunate example.
‘Although the couple may no longer style themselves as working royals, they continue to be high-profile public figures and indeed have made plain their intention to continue to do so. By appearing to dictate which media they will work with and which they will ignore they, no doubt unintentionally, give succour to the rich and powerful everywhere to use their example as an excuse to attack the media when it suits them.
‘The truth is that Harry and Meghan have enjoyed and continue to enjoy a huge amount of positive coverage for themselves and their causes, much of it carried in the very titles they are now targeting. They may have been stung by some of the coverage they have not liked, they may disagree strongly with some elements of that coverage and can of course take action to answer any criticism they consider unfair or inaccurate through several channels. But the answer should never be to attempt to shun individual titles and their millions of readers.’
‘Not only this, Harry was wrong over the weekend. because 2.4million deaths is bad, 16,000 in the UK is bad.
‘So how he can even suggest it isn’t as bad as what is being said about it is wrong. But then again, he is not the brightest bunny on the planet.’
Mr Bower added: ‘The Sussexes have become their own worst enemies. They clearly cannot stand being irrelevant and ignored.
‘In the midst of a horrendous global crisis causing so much misery all they can think about is themselves.
‘Constantly they push their obsession about their image and their financial income into the spotlight, and then outrageously harangue the public with their problems. Meghan, just understand: No one cares!’
The Sussexes completed their last royal duty on March 31, before stepping away from the monarchy – dropping their HRH styles – for a life mostly in LA.
President Donald Trump said the US will not pay for the couple’s estimated £4million security costs, which had been picked up by the Metropolitan Police.
Earlier this month the Mail revealed Harry and Meghan had agreed to pay for the cost of their security, which will reportedly consist of former SAS soldiers at a cost of £400 per operative per day.
Harry, 35, and 38-year-old Meghan’s letter was sent to the editors of the news groups involved last night.
They wrote: ‘Please note that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will not be engaging with your outlet. There will be no corroboration and zero engagement.’
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s letter to four UK news companies
Sent to editors of British newspapers including The Daily Mail, Mirror, The Sun or Express:
‘As the Duke and Duchess of Sussex now settle into the next chapter of their lives and no longer receive any publicly funded support, we are writing to set a new media relations policy, specifically as it pertains to your organisation.
Like you, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex believe that a free press is a cornerstone to any democracy – particularly in moments of crisis. At its best, this free press shines light on dark places, telling stories that would otherwise go untold, standing up for what’s right, challenging power, and holding those who abuse the system to account.
It has been said that journalism’s first obligation is to the truth. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex agree wholeheartedly.
It is gravely concerning that an influential slice of the media, over many years, has sought to insulate themselves from taking accountability for what they say or print – even when they know it to be distorted, false, or invasive beyond reason. When power is enjoyed without responsibility, the trust we all place in this much needed industry is degraded.
There is a real human cost to this way of doing business and it affects every corner of society.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have watched people they know – as well as complete strangers – have their lives completely pulled apart for no good reason, other than the fact that salacious gossip boosts advertising revenue.
With that said, please note that The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will not be engaging with your outlet. There will be no corroboration and zero engagement. This is also a policy being instated for their communications team, in order to protect that team from the side of the industry that readers never see.
This policy is not about avoiding criticism. It’s not about shutting down public conversation or censoring accurate reporting. Media have every right to report on The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, good or bad. But it can’t be based on a lie. They also want to be very clear: this is not in any way a blanket policy for all media.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are looking forward to working with journalists and media organisations all over the world, engaging with grassroots media, regional and local media, and young, and up-and-coming journalists, to spotlight issues and causes that so desperately need acknowledging. And they look forward to doing whatever they can to help further opportunities for more diverse and underrepresented voices, who are needed now more than ever.
What they won’t do is offer themselves up as currency for an economy of clickbait and distortion.
We are encouraged that this new approach will be heard and respected.’
Accepting the media has ‘every right’ to report on the high-profile ex-royals, they said: ‘This policy is not about avoiding criticism. It’s not about shutting down public conversation or censoring accurate reporting.
‘Media have every right to report on The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, good or bad. But it can’t be based on a lie.
UK PUBLICATIONS THE BAN WILL COVER
- Daily Express
- Sunday Express
- Daily Mail
- Mail on Sunday
- MailOnline, including US site DailyMail.com
- Daily Mirror
- Sunday Mirror
- Sunday People
- The Sun
- The Sun on Sunday
‘They also want to be very clear: this is not in any way a blanket policy for all media.’
The strongly worded piece suggests the papers involved have been responsible for publishing ‘salacious gossip’ which they know to be ‘distorted, false, or invasive beyond reason’.
But they faced a furious backlash, with Mr Morgan saying: ‘Thank god the British media is showing people reality of this and not relying on the word of a pampered little duke in his Malibu mansion telling us that we are exaggerating what is going on here.
‘I’m sorry to use tough language but the bottom line is I don’t want to hear from these two during this war if all they’re going to do is announce a new war with the media making it all about their little hurt feelings and their little ‘oh isn’t my life awful in my Malibu mansion. Shut up seriously.’
He added on Twitter: ‘Imagine thinking anyone cares about their hurt little me-me-me egos as health workers around the world are dying at work? What a pair of repulsive, deluded narcissistic tools.’
The BBC’s Mr Neil added: ‘As the world grapples with Covid-19, do they really think people care what media they deal with?
‘Their solipsism is amazing. Can’t they just consign themselves to oblivion for a while? Or at least hire someone who can write a press release in clear, decent English.’
Piers Morgan and Andrew Neil were among a host of commentators today to criticise the move
The couple say they accept the media has ‘every right’ to report on the high-profile ex-royals.
But they claim in the letters: ‘This policy is not about avoiding criticism. It’s not about shutting down public conversation or censoring accurate reporting.
‘Like you, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex believe that a free press is a cornerstone to any democracy – particularly in moments of crisis.
‘At its best, this free press shines light on dark places, telling stories that would otherwise go untold, standing up for what’s right, challenging power, and holding those who abuse the system to account.
‘It has been said that journalism’s first obligation is to the truth. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex agree wholeheartedly.’
Prince Harry and Meghan started married life at Frogmore Cottage on the Windsor estate and have agreed to pay back the £2.4million of taxpayer money spent on its refurbishment.
Harry and Meghan had lived in Frogmore Cottage on the Windsor estate (pictured) and have agreed to pay back the £2.4million of taxpayer money spent on its refurbishment
They moved to Vancouver Island in Canada late last year, where they spent Christmas with their son Archie.
The Sussexes are currently believed to be living in rented accommodation in LA near their friend Sir Elton John.
Prince Charles will continue to pay for the upkeep of his son and daughter-in-law for the first 12 months of their new life in the US.
This will come from his private funds, not the Duchy of Cornwall, but it is understood it will not be used for their protection.
In the letter the pair praise the work of the media as a ‘cornerstone to any democracy’ that ‘shines light on dark places, telling stories that would otherwise go untold, standing up for what’s right, challenging power, and holding those who abuse the system to account’.
The ex-Royals are pictured on March 9 as they arrive to attend the annual Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey in London
But they said they have found the actions of an ‘influential slice of the media’ gravely concerning, adding they believe there is a ‘human cost’.
Both Prince Harry and Meghan said they have ‘watched people they know have their lives completely pulled apart for no good reason’ by the media.
The ex-royals state: ‘Please note that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will not be engaging with your outlet.
‘There will be no corroboration and zero engagement. This is also a policy being instated for their communications team, in order to protect that team from the side of the industry that readers never see.’
Representatives for the Sussex’s added the ‘zero engagement policy’ would extend to both the Sunday paper and online editions of each newspaper.
In a final statement the letter concludes: ‘We are encouraged that this new approach will be heard and respected.’
Communications for the couple will now be handled by Sunshine Sachs, a New York based PR firm, with only one UK-based representative.
The hard-nosed Manhattan PR company is known for specialising in ‘crisis communications’ for celebrities.
It has previously worked for Hollywood royalty including Leonardo DiCaprio, Natalie Portman, Bette Midler, Barbra Streisand, Jennifer Lopez and Michael Jackson’s family.
It is not yet known which media outlets will continue to have contact with the Sussexes.
But the letter details how the pair ‘look forward’ to engaging with ‘grassroots, regional and local press’ to further causes that ‘desperately need acknowledging’.
Meghan is due to face The Mail on Sunday in court, in a virtual hearing on Friday over the publishing of a letter she wrote to her estranged father Thomas Markle.
Prince Harry has launched separate legal claims against the Sun and the Mirror for alleged historic phone hacking.