PRINCE Harry and Meghan Markle have been accused of acting like dictators by banning most media and slamming royal correspondents after stories about their spending and private jet travel.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex released an extraordinary statement last night announcing they wished to quit the royal family and become ‘financially independent’.
The Sussexes have announced they are quitting the royal family
The news was dropped without consulting the Queen, Prince Charles or Prince William, who were left to find out about the bombshell on television.
In a parting shot on their new website, the couple blasted the ‘misconception’ Britain’s royal correspondents are ‘credible sources’ and hinted mainstream news outlets would be banned from their events in future.
Harry and Meghan were known to be upset over stories about their use of private jets four times in 11 days while lecturing people to reduce their carbon footprint.
They also received criticism after refurbishing their Frogmore Cottage home using 2.4m of taxpayers’ money.
The couple still plan to use the five-bedroom property – a gift from the Queen – as their London residence after quitting the royal family.
Good Morning Britain host said the pair were acting like Russian leader Vladimir Putin in looking to shut down media looking to ask difficult questions.
He wrote on Twitter: “Harry & Meghan have just published their new rulebook for the media to obey.
“Even Putin wouldn’t try to pull a stunt like this. I fear they’ve both gone nuts.”
As senior members of the royal family, the couple currently receive more than 2 million a year from the Queen and Prince Charles while carrying out official duties.
This includes the ‘Royal Rota’ system which gives the British media access to their official events.
But announcing their plans to withdraw from the royal family, Harry and Meghan announced only “specific” and “credible” media would be invited to their events in future.
The new guidelines added they would handpick “grassroots media organisations and young, up-and-coming journalists” to engage with.
The statement said: “Britains Royal Correspondents are regarded internationally as credible sources of both the work of members of The Royal Family as well as of their private lives.
“This misconception propels coverage that is often carried by other outlets around the world, amplifying frequent misreporting.
“Regrettably, stories that may have been filed accurately by Royal Correspondents are, also, often edited or rewritten by media editorial teams to present false impressions.”
Royal photographer Arthur Edwards said: “Normally at the end of a tour with Harry we’d all go to the pub and he’d pay the bill. Now at the end of the tour they issue writs.
“I’m sad he’s going because working with Harry has been a joy. I think he’s just doing what he’s told.”
Phil Dampier, a veteran royal reporter and author, said: “The Queen will be absolutely devastated by this. This is the last thing she needs.
“She is very fond of Harry but however you want to dress it up, this is them stepping away from royal duties and ducking out.”
COUPLE’S FURY AFTER PRIVATE JET STORIES
The announcement follows months of tensions with the media following stories about the couple’s use of private jets and taxpayer-funded lifestyles last summer.
Prince Harry later announced they planned to sue Associated Newspapers – which publishes the Mail on Sunday – after an article in which Meghan’s father, Thomas Markle Snr, released a letter written to him by his daughter.
He said in October: “Unfortunately, my wife has become one of the latest victims of a British tabloid press that wages campaigns against individuals with no thought to the consequences a ruthless campaign that has escalated over the past year, throughout her pregnancy and while raising our newborn son.”
Just hours earlier, Harry had been filmed scolding a television reporter for asking him an unscheduled question during a tour of a health clinic in Malawi during the couple’s official African tour.
He talked to health officials and children suffering from malaria and Aids before being ushered to a waiting vehicle by palace officials.
But Harry appeared annoyed when he was asked an unscheduled question about the visit as he was whisked away.
Sky News reporter Rhiannon Mills asked: “That short conversation, what do you hope to achieve through it?”
Harry let out a laugh before responding: “What? Ask them” and pointing back towards the hospital.
The reporter followed up: “Is that why it’s important for you to come and talk to them?”
Harry gestured for the journalist to move away from him, saying: “Rhiannon, don’t behave like this.”
It is understood palace officials later told reporters similar conduct would not be tolerated again.
It is believed Harry and Meghan could earn millions from merchandise deals, public speaking and showbiz engagements after stepping away from the royal family.
Buckingham Palace said discussions about Harry and Meghan stepping back from royal duties had been at an early stage.
But when Harry and Meghan found out HOAR was breaking the story of their plans to move to Canada, they wanted to rush out a statement immediately.
The Duke, 34, and Duchess, 38, said in their surprise statement yesterday evening: “After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution.
“We intend to step back as senior members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen.
“It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment.”
The couple watching Wheelchair Tennis at the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto
The royal couple have just returned from Canada after a six-week holiday over Christmas
Harry and Meghan’s failure to consult other Royals has triggered outrage
The royal couple spent Christmas and New Year in this waterfront home on Vancouver Island