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Hugh Grant defends Harry: 'The tabloids effectively murdered his mother'

The Guardian logo The Guardian 15/01/2020 Catherine Shoard

© Getty Hugh Grant has defended Prince Harry’s decision to “step back” from formal royal duties and seek a self-financed life based partly in Canada.

Speaking on Andy Cohen’s Radio Andy show on Sirius XM, Grant said: “I’m rather on Harry’s side. The tabloid press effectively murdered his mother, now they’re tearing his wife to pieces.”

Grant was reminding listeners of the circumstances surrounding the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, who was in a vehicle being pursued by paparazzi, which then crashed, killing three of the four passengers, in Paris in August 1997.

Grant added: “I think as a man, it’s his job to protect his family, so I’m with him.”

A timeline of Harry and Meghan's romance (Photos)

Grant was promoting his new film, The Gentleman, alongside co-stars Charlie Hunnam and Matthew McConaughey. In the film, Grant plays a seedy and unscrupulous tabloid reporter.

Grant has been a vociferous campaigner against press intrusion for nearly 10 years. His activism stepped up after the revelation that the voicemail of murdered teenager Milly Dowler had been hacked by the News of the World.

In 2018, Grant donated a payout from Mirror Group Newspapers to the Hacked Off anti-hacking campaign. MGN apologised to Grant and others for its “morally wrong” actions in hacking their phones.

© Reuters Speaking to Cohen, Grant described his relationship with the tabloids as “very poor”.

Grant’s defence of Harry again pits him against longtime antagonist Piers Morgan, the former editor of the Daily Mirror with whom Grant frequently clashes on Twitter. Morgan has called the Duke and Duchess of Sussex “the two most spoiled brats in history”.

Gallery: Royals who gave up their titles (Lovemoney)

Grant won considerable acclaim for his portrayal of the disgraced Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe in the Stephen Frears miniseries A Very British Scandal, which was broadcast in 2018. The Gentleman has earned more mixed reviews so far.

Speaking on Tuesday, the musician Stormzy also came to the couple’s defence, saying there was no “credible” reason for people not to like Meghan.

Stormzy wearing a suit and tie: In the firing line … Stormzy. Photograph: Henry Nicholls/Reuters © Provided by The Guardian In the firing line … Stormzy. Photograph: Henry Nicholls/Reuters

In an interview with New York radio station Hot 97, he said: “Meghan is a sweet woman, she does her thing … and they just hate her.”

The rapper referred to a clip of Eamonn Holmes on TalkSport, where the presenter says: “I look at her and I think: ‘I don’t think I’d like you.’”

Gallery: Stars React to Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan’s Decision to ‘Step Back’ (US Weekly)

Stormzy said that if those expressing such sentiments were made to write down the reasons for their negativity, they would find there was “nothing credible to it”.

He also discussed the backlash to an interview he recently gave in which he was asked whether he believed Britain was racist, to which he replied “Yes, 100%.”

The quote was taken out of context by numerous outlets to imply he believed the UK was entirely racist. “It’s the classic media spin,” he said.

“They know what they’re doing. They’re weaponising what I said. A lot of people thought I was trying to incite division – but that’s what [the media] did, really.”

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