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Harry 'must engage more with media to protect Meghan'

Published 08/11/2016

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Protecting Meghan Markle's privacy may require Prince Harry to engage more with the press and for the media to manage the situation better, a leading lawyer has suggested.

The American actress has been subject to a wave of "abuse and harassment," the prince's communications secretary Jason Knauf has claimed, since news of the relationship broke last week.

Media lawyer Mark Stephens, a senior partner with law firm Howard Kennedy, said in the past members of the Royal Family would hold photocalls, to provide media access before an event, to ensure their privacy was respected.

But he also highlighted how, when the Duchess of Cambridge, faced similar problems when William's girlfriend, the media adopted a "red carpet" rule, usually only photographing her when she was at public not private events.

Koo Stark, an ex-girlfriend of the Duke of York, has written an open letter to Ms Markle, uncannily detailing what the Suits star is experiencing and how to cope with the intrusion.

Mr Stephens said : "There are ways to deal this, so if they're being harassed there are harassment laws that they can rely on, so if they have the same individual paparazzi or journalist more than once then in those circumstances, they can deal with that.

"The law understands the integrity of the individual is important but it also understands the need for public information.

"Usually, where the Royal Family is concerned and they want their privacy, they do a photocall and they make an announcement and then they're left alone."

Mr Stephens gave the example of the traditional photocall with the press Charles used to have with his sons before they began a skiing break in the Swiss resort town of Klosters.

He added: "What we're seeing here is sub-optimal press relations, involved in a situation where of course the prince is sensitive to these issues because of what happened to his mother, and what you've got is primarily the foreign press trying to dig up a story.

"I think if would be wise for the media to manage the story."

Ms Stark, writing in the Mail on Sunday, described how Harry's girlfriend's career as an actress is in jeopardy as she will soon only be known for her relationship with the royal.

She wrote: "If Meghan is more passionate about her career than her prince, she must walk away now. There will be a conflict of interests in any interview she gives promoting films or plays in the future - there will inevitably be far more interest in her relationship. She'll never get away from it."

Ms Stark went on to say: "I've already seen the saucy screen grabs of Meghan from her role in Suits being used against her, as if that's who she is. Her career is already now a minefield."

Mr Stephens concluded by calling on aides to rethink their approach to handling royal relationships: " They need to alter the way in which they deal with the media and the prince's partners.

"The way they're dealing with it is the way they were dealing with Prince Charles and that frankly is out of date."

Press Association

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