00:26 GMT01 June 2020
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    Prince Harry and his wife Meghan have moved to California after falling out with the Royal Family and much of the mainstream media. But have the Duke and Duchess of Sussex been deliberately smeared by sources within Kensington Palace and Buckingham Palace?

    The Duke and Duchess of Sussex marked their wedding anniversary on Tuesday, 19 May, but in the two years since the couple married, their relationship with the press has gone from bad to worse.

    They are currently suing Associated Newspapers - the owners of the Daily Mail and Mail Online - after the Mail on Sunday published five articles in February 2019 which were based on a private letter she sent to her father, Thomas Markle.

    ​​On 1 May, a High Court judge ruled in favour of Associated Newspapers and decided the lawsuit would go ahead without considering nine other allegedly false articles which the Duchess relied upon. Mr Justice Warby said if he included them there was a danger of the case "descending, unnecessarily, into 'uncontrolled and wide-ranging investigations akin to public inquiries'."

    ​Earlier this month, Sputnik reported on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s staunch supporters on social media, who dub themselves the Sussex Squad and defend Prince Harry, his US-born actress wife and their son Archie with fierce devotion.

    The Sussex Squad say there is circumstantial evidence sources within the Royal Family are briefing against Prince Harry and his American wife and even leaking information to smear them.

    ​On Monday, 18 May, Tatler republished an article from 12 months ago by David Jenkins in which he wrote that "staff at Kensington Palace are now calling her 'Me-Gain'."

    The editor of Tatler, Dickie Dennen, is an old family friend of Kate Middleton, who married Prince William, became the Duchess of Cambridge and lives at Kensington Palace.

    ​Many Sussex Squad members have accused the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and other members of the Royal Family of leaking derogatory or false information about Harry and Meghan.

    Information appears to have been leaked about the couple's use of a private jet - which portrayed Prince Harry as a hypocrite on environmental issues - as well as details of the events leading up to and surrounding the Sandringham summit in January, in which it was agreed the Sussexes would step away from their Royal duties.

    The popularity of Harry and Meghan was highlighted when they toured Australia and New Zealand in October 2018 and Marleigh Prince, 38, from Texas, said: “There’s some jealousy from Kensington Palace, whether it’s from William and Kate directly or their courtiers. The venom and insider leaks increased after the Australasian tour. The crowds they got outnumbered all the expectations.”

    ​Another Sussex Squad member, Zanye Linda, 41, from Uganda, said: “We recognised what was being done to her by the media and while this was happening the Royal Family not only sat back and did nothing but in many cases they encouraged it.”

    ​Among the journalists covering the Royal beat who have been accused by the Sussex Squad of inaccurate reporting are The Sun’s New Zealand-born executive editor Dan Wootton, the Daily Mail’s Royal Editor Rebecca English, ITV’s Royal Editor Chris Ship, and Emily Andrews, who moved from The Sun last year to become the Mail on Sunday’s Royal Editor.

    ​Ms Andrews tweeted in August last year that she did not "hate" the Duchess of Sussex.

    She wrote: "I admire her and I like her for the feisty spirit, can-do attitude, work ethic and sass" but added: "But she’s upset a lot of people in the family and household, partly due to those (admirable) qualities."

    ​But what is the evidence to support the assertion the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge or other members of the Royal Family leaked information to the UK press or spun stories about Prince Harry and his wife?  

    ​No journalist worth their salt would divulge his or her sources.

    Anonymous sources have been crucial to the integrity of journalism long before Watergate, when Woodward and Bernstein relied on information from "Deep Throat" - who finally revealed himself to be FBI associate director W. Mark Felt in 2006.

    If Mr Justice Warby had not ruled against the Sussexes, they may have sought to compel members of the Royal Household to give evidence about the source of the nine allegedly false Daily Mail or Mail On Sunday articles at the privacy court case later this year.

    ​In February this year the SussexSquad.com website claimed Julian Payne, the Prince of Wales’ communications secretary, had a personal account on Twitter on which he had liked several tweets which were less than complimentary about the Duchess of Sussex.

    Maria Chang, writing on the SussexSquad.com website, says: "There are those who will make the argument that 'retweets do not equal endorsement', but when you are the reputation manager of a client whose family is negatively impacted by the contents of your 'likes' and 'retweets' you are very much endorsing the sentiments."

    She told her readers: "Keep in mind that days maybe even hours after his tweets became a topic of conversation among Sussexes supporters his account went private. His response has piqued curiosity, not quell(ed) it. Users are now convinced that another conspirator in the harassment of the Sussexes have been exposed."

    Sputnik contacted Kensington Palace and asked them for a comment. They have not responded.

    Tags:
    Duchess of Cambridge Catherine, Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, Prince Harry, Prince William
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