In a lengthy statement issued Tuesday, Prince Harry denounced what he called "relentless" and "malicious" media coverage of his wife, Meghan Markle. The Duke of Sussex explained his deepest fear was to see "history repeating itself," a thinly veiled reference to the role the paparazzi played in his mother's death more than 20 years ago. But this isn't the first time the children of Princess Diana have evoked the memory of her death when discussing media coverage of the royal family. In fact, Princess Diana's death has prompted both her sons to defend their wives against an aggressive press.
"Unfortunately, my wife has become one of the latest victims of a British tabloid press that wages campaigns against individuals with no thought to the consequences – a ruthless campaign that has escalated over the past year, throughout her pregnancy and while raising our newborn son," Prince Harry wrote in a lengthy statement published on his and Markle's official website. "There is a human cost to this relentless propaganda, specifically when it is knowingly false and malicious."
In conjunction with Prince Harry's statement it was announced Tuesday that Markle had taken legal action against The Mail on Sunday and its parent company Associated Newspapers after they published a private letter she'd written to her father. Markle's case seeks to address what the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's website characterized as "the misuse of private information, infringement of copyright, and breach of the Data Protection Act 2018."
In a statement to the Associated Press, The Mail on Sunday denied Prince Harry's claim that they'd edited Markle's letter prior to publishing and said they would "vigorously" defend themselves against the royals' suit. "Specifically, we categorically deny that the duchess' letter was edited in any way that changed its meaning," the news outlet reported the paper said.
While Prince Harry stressed that both he and Markle believe in a free press and support "objective, truthful reporting," he equated some of the British tabloid media's coverage to "bullying" and noted enough was enough.
"There comes a point when the only thing to do is to stand up to this behavior, because it destroys people and destroys lives," he wrote. "My deepest fear is history repeating itself. I've seen what happens when someone I love is commoditized 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."
Princess Diana died on Aug. 31, 1997, after the car she was riding in crashed in the Alma Tunnel in Paris, France. In 2008, an inquest into Princess Diana's death found that the car accident that ultimately killed her had been the result of both her chauffeur's driving and the gaggle of paparazzi chasing her car, The Guardian reported.
But this is not the first time that the royal family has invoked the tragic death of Princess Diana when discussing how British tabloids cover their family. In 2012, Prince William drew upon the paparazzi's role in his mother's death when announcing plans to sue the magazine Closer after it published topless photographs of his wife, Kate Middleton. "The incident is reminiscent of the worst excesses of the press and paparazzi during the life of Diana, Princess of Wales, and all the more upsetting to The Duke and Duchess for being so," HuffPost reported a statement issued on the royals' behalf read.
While both Prince William and Prince Harry are no strangers to the fame and public scrutiny that comes with being a member of the royal family, it's clear that the nature of their mother's death still weighs heavily on them. And it seems only natural that as they start and grow families of their own, they would want to do whatever necessary to protect them.