Royal couple’s plans to restrict national media access ‘unacceptable’ – union

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has hit back at plans by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to restrict the national press's access to their official engagements, branding it "completely unacceptable".

Harry and Meghan, who are quitting as senior royals, launched an attack on the UK's newspapers which coincided with their shock announcement.

In its media section, their new website Sussexroyal.com criticised Britain's royal correspondents and said the couple would no longer participate in the "royal rota" system which has been used by Buckingham Palace for decades.

Royal visit to Africa
Royal visit to Africa

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, described the move as appearing to attempt "to prevent the media from functioning and compromising the ability of journalists to do their jobs, which is completely unacceptable".

Ms Stanistreet added: "The rota system is not perfect, but it does allow UK media to cover the British royal family – an institution maintained by the public purse.

"We cannot have a situation where journalists writing about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex can only do so if they have the royal seal of approval.

"We reject sweeping criticism of journalists and media organisations by the duke and duchess, who simultaneously claim to respect the role of the media."

But the Hacked Off campaign group, which calls for greater press regulation, said Harry and Meghan had been subjected to sustained abuse by the UK media.

Hannah Mian, campaigns manager for Hacked Off, said: "For too long the royals have been expected to put up with whatever racist, false or otherwise abusive coverage comes their way, with concerns about the standards and fairness of royal reporting dismissed as akin to complaining about the weather.

"In refusing to accept this abusive reporting as an inevitability of the role, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have shown that there is another way.

Harry
Harry

"Our media is a powerful political force and it needs to be held accountable."

Harry and Meghan's new approach, which will begin in the spring, will deny automatic access to royal correspondents, and focus instead on social media, "credible outlets", specialist media, grassroots media organisations and young, up-and-coming journalists.

Their website said it was a misconception that Britain's royal correspondents were credible sources on the royal family, and accused them of frequent misreporting.