Six hundred lucky guests will witness Prince Harry and Meghan Markle exchange vows on May 19. Only one of those people will be a reporter. And just four photojournalists will be stationed outside of Saint George Chapel with prime spots to snap the first images of the new couple.
Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles' wedding hosted 30 cameras from the BBC alone and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge invited six as guests, two photographers from each British paper plus others inside covering the event.
There are official reasons for the press snub — namely space and that it’s not a state event, meaning the royal family is paying. But if his long and tumultuous relationship with the media is any indication, Prince Harry doesn’t mind shutting them out.
There will be limited press access at the royal wedding.
“Harry’s attitude towards the press is he doesn’t like the press,” says Duncan Larcombe, who covered Harry for more than a decade as The Sun’s royal editor. “The chance of leaving journalists out in the street for the royal wedding is a gift for him.”
Prince Harry’s relationship with the media has been a tense and complicated affair. His mother after her car crashed into a wall while it was pursued by paparazzi. “In Harry’s mind, it was the press that killed his mother. I know that because he’s told me that several times privately,” says Larcombe, who wrote Prince Harry: The Inside Story.
In 1999, journalists agreed to a rare set of rules giving Harry and his brother Prince William privacy while they were at school. As soon as he graduated, there were unflattering headlines about Harry being a partier, fighting with journalists, and infamously sporting a Nazi get-up at a costume party. He blames the unrelenting media attention for ruining his relationships with Chelsy Davy and Cressida Bonas, as well, Larcombe details in his book. So, when he started dating Markle, he made sure history didn’t repeat itself.
Prince Harry blamed unrelenting media attention for ruining his relationship with girlfriend Chelsy Davy, according to the book “Prince Harry: The Inside Story.”
In November of 2016, the couple made their relationship official with a scathing statement detailing “nightly legal battles to keep defamatory stories out of paper,” press commentary with “racial undertones,” and the aggressive pursuit of Markle's family and friends by paparazzi.
“His girlfriend, Meghan Markle, has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment,” read the note, which was Harry’s first time publicly acknowledging the relationship. “He knows commentators will say this is ‘the price she has to pay’ and that ‘this is all part of the game’. He strongly disagrees. This is not a game — it is her life and his.”
While most coverage since that letter has been glowing, some tabloids have reported on Markle’s estranged relatives’ displeasure with the royal engagement.
“I would have no doubt in my mind whatsoever that they will read those bits,” says Larcombe, who says Harry’s private secretary provides him with clippings. “It always surprised me how much Harry reads about himself.”
Harry isn’t the only royal with a strained relationship with the media. Though dozens of BBC cameras captured , Prince Charles has been clear about his contempt for reporters—even those at the BBC. In 2005, at a photocall ahead of the nuptials, he was caught saying to his sons, “I hate doing this... I hate these people." When a BBC reporter asked a question about the wedding, Charles muttered, “Bloody people. I can't bear that man. He's so awful, he really is."
If they have kids, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will likely follow Prince William and Kate Middleton's lead when it comes to limited press exposure.
Harry’s brother and sister-in-law, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, have been successful keeping the press at arm’s length with their three kids — posing for photos at each of their births, first days of school, Christmases and releasing birthday pictures. Larcombe predicts if Harry and Meghan have children they’ll follow that strategy.
“Prince Charles has nothing but contempt for the press. With William it’s quite calculated — he thinks he now has to be more standoffish with the press because he’s carving out his tenure to be the ,” Larcombe says. “With Harry, it’s just instinctive. It’s just that there are angry feelings there.”
So, while logistics are principal in decision making with the royal wedding, it’s likely Harry will be relishing his privacy on the big day.
“They’re almost using that as an excuse to say to the press: Get lost,” he says. “That’s really ruffled some feathers. Most Fleet Street photographers are feeling snubbed and are very annoyed by it.”
This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.