Prince Harry and Meghan Markle ‘s royal story has mirrored Princess Diana’s in key respects, some intentional, some less so.
However, the comparisons are more extensive than even the prince himself has gone into detail to describe.
Suing the Media
Harry and Meghan have launched seven media lawsuits since September 2019 and while Princess Diana was not quite as busy as her son she did make use of her legal team.
Diana sued Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) in 1993 after both the Sunday Mirror and Daily Mirror published pictures of her working out in a leotard and cycling shorts, which had been taken in the privacy of a gym.
The newspaper group apologized after a backlash and eventually settled out of court, as did the gym owner Bryce Taylor, who sold the photos, the BBC reported.
Harry has also sued MGN for phone hacking, in September 2019, though the case does not appear to have made any progress since summer 2020, according to the High Court filing system.
Harry, Meghan and Diana Co-operated With Biographers
Harry and Meghan’s co-operation with royal authors Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand was a long way from the extensive tape recorded confessions Diana gave to her secret biographer Andrew Morton.
Nonetheless, all three did have partnerships with royal journalists writing books about their lives.
Diana: Her True Story caused shock waves when it was released in 1992, ultimately triggering Prince Charles and Diana’s separation that year.
Morton used audio tapes the princess smuggled out of Kensington Palace as the basis for the book, which exposed Charles’ affair with Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, for the first time.
Diana was shown a draft of the book and even sent back corrections, though the extent of her role was not initially made public.
In the same vein, Harry told Kensington Palace communications secretary Jason Knauf they would have to be able to deny working with Scobie and Durand for their bombshell book Finding Freedom .
An email from Harry to Knauf in December 2019 was, however, made public through Meghan’s lawsuit against The Mail on Sunday .
It read: “I totally agree that we have to be able to say we didn’t have anything to do with it.
“Equally, you giving the right context and background to them would help get some
Meghan authorized Knauf to attend a sit down meeting with the authors and supplied background briefing notes to her then-aide.
Harry and Diana’s Stepping Back Speeches
Diana also stepped back as a working royal in 1993, a year after her separation from Charles and three years before her divorce.
She continued to have a palace private secretary and to work for her charities beyond this point.
Diana, like Harry and Meghan, spoke of the pressure of royal life and said that while she expected media attention she was not prepared for “how overwhelming that attention would become.”
During a charity lunch in December 1993, she said: “I would also like to add that this decision has been reached with the full understanding of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, who have always shown me kindness and support.
“I hope you can find it in your hearts to understand and to give me the time and space that has been lacking in recent years.”
One striking similarity to Harry and Meghan’s story is her determination not to blame the queen and Philip for her experiences.
It was an intriguing comment from Diana because tapes recorded in private with her speech coach, Peter Settelen emerged after her death and on them she suggested the queen ignored her pleas for help.
Diana told Settelen: “So I went to the top lady, sobbing, and I said ‘What do I do? I’m coming to you, what do I do?’
“She said, ‘I don’t know what you should do. Charles is hopeless.’ And that was it, and that was help.”
On Philip, the princess told her speech coach: “My father-in-law said to my husband ‘If your marriage doesn’t work out, you can always go back to her [Camilla] after five years.’
“Which is exactly, I mean, for real I knew that it had happened after five. I knew something was happening before that but the fifth year I had confirmation.”
Harry, Meghan and Diana Stripped of Titles
The queen stripped Harry and Meghan of honorary military titles and royal patronages in February 2021 and required them to stop using their HRH titles after they first stepped back as working royals the year before.
The move had echoes of the way Diana was stripped of her HRH title, which caused upset to the point her brother Charles Spencer referenced it in his oration at her funeral.
He described her in September 1997 as “someone with a natural nobility who was classless and who proved in the last year that she needed no royal title to continue to generate her particular brand of magic.”
Harry and Meghan’s Oprah Winfrey Tell-All Mirrored Diana’s Bombshell Sit-Down
Harry and Meghan’s Oprah Winfrey sit down interview came just over 25 years after Diana famously told the BBC: “Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.”
The shock waves from the princess’ interview continue to this day and only last year Prince William issued an unprecedented comment on his mother’s words in which he described them as a false narrative , though he may have been referring to other aspects of the interview beyond the affair.
The intervention came after it emerged BBC journalist Martin Bashir used fabricated financial documents to help obtain the interview.
William said: “It is my view that the deceitful way the interview was obtained substantially influenced what my mother said.
“The interview was a major contribution to making my parents’ relationship worse and has since hurt countless others.”
William has also responded to Meghan and Harry’s allegations of racism by an unnamed royal by telling a Sky News journalist days later: “We are very much not a racist family.”
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