LONDON — The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Meghan and Prince Harry, are once again being targeted by Britain’s notoriously intrusive tabloid press. This time for their use of private airplanes.
For a couple who have expressed concerns over climate change, many people on social media, along with the tabloid press, have accused them of being hypocritical and called out their luxury lifestyle.
In recent days, the press has documented their trips, mapped out their travels and estimated how much money the couple had spent on private planes. Paparazzi have followed them, newspaper front pages have condemned them and now celebrity friends and fans of the couple have rushed to defend them.
In a flurry of tweets posted Monday, Sir Elton John said that he was “deeply distressed” by “distorted and malicious” media coverage of the royal couple’s recent trip with baby Archie to his home in Nice, France.
John, who was a close friend of Diana, Princess of Wales, wrote that he felt it was his duty to “protect” the young family from the media, given his closeness with Harry’s mother. He also accused the press of contributing to her “untimely death.”
“Prince Harry’s Mother, Diana Princess Of Wales was one of my dearest friends. I feel a profound sense of obligation to protect Harry and his family from the unnecessary press intrusion that contributed to Diana’s untimely death,” he tweeted.
Diana was killed in Paris during a high-speed car chase in 1997. At the time, seven photographers were charged with manslaughter, although the charges were eventually dropped. John performed the song “Candle in the Wind” at her funeral.
In recent days, blurred images of the family disembarking a private aircraft were widely circulated online as Britain’s Sun newspaper ran a story with the headline: “DUMBO JET: 'Eco-warriors’ Meghan Markle and Prince Harry fly on private jet again to France after gas-guzzling Ibiza trip.”
“Meghan Markle cradles three-month-old Archie as she and Prince Harry land in south of France after their THIRD private jet jaunt of the summer” wrote the Daily Mail.
John defended the couple’s use of a private aircraft, saying that he was the one who paid for the jet.
The singer also addressed reports that the couple’s lavish lifestyle was further damaging the environment: “To support Prince Harry’s commitment to the environment, we ensured their flight was carbon neutral, by making the appropriate contribution to Carbon Footprint™” he added.
Wrapping up his defiant attack on the press, the star called on the tabloids to “cease these relentless and untrue assassinations on their character."
Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres also came to the couple’s defense on Monday, tweeting:
“Portia and I met Prince Harry and Meghan in England to talk about their work on wildlife conservation. They were the most down-to-earth, compassionate people. Imagine being attacked for everything you do, when all you’re trying to do is make the world better.”
Singer Pink said on Tuesday that she was happy to “see people coming to the defense of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex."
On Tuesday, a post shared by Meghan and Harry’s official Instagram account drew fierce backlash from social media users. The post urged people to “do a little bit of good,” which lead many to further criticize the couple. Some deemed the post “patronizing” while another wrote: “Your little bit of good might be flying commercial rather than private.”
For Britain’s tabloid press, stories about Meghan have been particularly brutal in recent years — so much so that in 2016, Prince Harry issued an unusually fierce statement in which he condemned the racist and sexist media coverage of his then-girlfriend and expressed concern for her safety.
In 2017, the Sun apologized over its 2016 story headlined, “Harry’s girl on Pornhub.” In 2016, the Daily Mail ran the headline: “Harry’s girl is (almost) straight outta Compton,” focusing on the Los Angeles neighborhood of her mother, Doria.
Last month, Meghan guest-edited British Vogue. But despite her efforts to be positive and profile women who are “forces for change,” the media and online trolls once again pounced on an opportunity to critique her. Some demanded to know why she hadn’t included the queen as one of the women she admires, while the Sun pondered how the duchess had found time to guest-edit the magazine but was seemingly too busy to meet with President Trump during his state visit to Britain.
In the September edition, Prince Harry spoke with primatologist Jane Goodall about climate change and said the couple plans to have only two children to help protect the environment.