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Northern Ireland company Hagan Homes removes Harry and Meghan adverts after royal intervention

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Harry and Meghan have turned their backs on life as part of the Royal family

Harry and Meghan have turned their backs on life as part of the Royal family

PA

Harry and Meghan have turned their backs on life as part of the Royal family

A Northern Ireland company has removed adverts featuring the Duke and Duchess of Sussex after action by representatives of the royal couple.

The ads by Ballymoney-based Hagan Homes play on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's severing of ties with the Royal Family and include images plastered on billboards and social media.

The building company has now apologised for the use of the images and said they will make a £10,000 donation to a charity of the royal couple's choice.

Founder and chairman of Hagan Homes James Hagan has said it was not his intention to cause any offence.

"The ‘Hagan Homes Fit For Part-time Royalty’ campaign was intended to reflect Northern Ireland’s typically light-hearted approach to a challenging situation. Many young people struggle with the complexities of buying a new home and we were keen to emphasise that support is available in such circumstances.

"We believe Harry and Meghan are strong role models for all young people who are trying to find their own path in life and in recognition of this Hagan Homes is keen to make a donation of £10,000 to a charity of Harry and Meghan’s choice."

The use of any image of a person for commercial purposes without permission is illegal under advertising standards and other statutes.

Julie Burley, assistant communications secretary for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, told the Belfast Telegraph: "Many thanks for your email and thank you for making us aware.

"We will follow our normal course of action."

When pressed, the office did not elaborate on what this would be.

Billboards are in place off the Westlink as well as on the Donegall and Shankill Roads in Belfast, where the company is constructing developments.

All social media posts have now been removed, with billboards set to come down on Monday.

The images of Meghan Markle, showing her pensive and worried, are from an interview she gave to ITV last November while on a trip to Africa with Harry.

An emotional Meghan revealed in the interview how friends warned that the British tabloids would try to destroy her life.

One of the social media images describes her worried look as one seen many times among first-time buyers.

An ITV spokesperson said: "I can confirm that we did not give permission for these images to be used and we will be looking into it."

Hagan Homes, founded in 1988 by James Hagan, specialises in building houses for first-time buyers, and the campaign focuses on Meghan and Harry seeking a new home following the sensational events of recent weeks.

Among the taglines in the 'House of Hagan' campaign, which includes a crown emoji, are ones referring to the split with the Royal Family, including the advice: "Leaving family and moving home can be daunting and stressful - not with us."

Another states: "If after many months of reflection and internal discussions, you have chosen to make a transition this year to start to carve out a progressive new role as a home owner and if you intend to step back as 'senior' members of your family and work to become financially independent, we have the first time buyer home for you."

Another added: "You might still want to split your time between your new home and family home, best of both worlds.

"Homes fit for part-time royalty", the billboards proclaim.

The statement from the Sussexes' representatives refers to specific guidelines issued by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) covering the use of images of members of the royal family.

"Royal images may not be used for advertising purposes in any medium," the CAP guidelines warn.

"Potential breaches of the CAP Code will be considered by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and, if necessary, referred to Ofcom (broadcast) or Trading Standards (non-broadcast), the ASA and CAP's legal backstops."

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