Britain’s press watchdog has rejected a complaint by the Duke of Sussex over an article that said wild animals pictured in photos he posted on Instagram had been drugged and tied up.
- The Mail on Sunday reported animals in the photos had been tranquilised and a picture of an elephant had been edited to crop out a rope around its legs
- Prince Harry argued that the report was inaccurate by indicating he had intentionally misled the public
- But the watchdog said the report was not “significantly misleading”
Prince Harry, Queen Elizabeth II’s grandson, posted the pictures he had taken of African wildlife on his Instagram account, which then had 5.6 million followers, to mark Earth Day and highlight conservation efforts.
But the Mail on Sunday reported last April that the photos had not revealed the full story.
It said the animals involved had been tranquilised and that a picture of an elephant in Malawi had been edited so that it was not possible to see there was a rope around its hind legs.
“Drugged and tethered … what Harry didn’t tell you about those awe-inspiring wildlife photos,” read the headline.
Prince Harry argued the report was inaccurate because it indicated he had intentionally misled the public to think that he was a superior wildlife photographer who had captured the pictures under dangerous circumstances, the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) watchdog said.
He said his caption had made clear the animals were being relocated as part of conservation efforts and that the photo had only been edited to meet Instagram’s formatting requirements.
However, the paper said Prince Harry had not explained the circumstances of the photo to his followers and that he had not needed to crop the pictures in the way he had.
The wider crop of the image showing the animal’s legs tethered can be found on the official Royal Family website for a story on Prince Harry’s involvement in a elephant relocation project in Malawi.
IPSO’s complaints committee supported the paper’s argument and rejected Prince Harry’s claim that the article was inaccurate.
“The committee did not consider that it was significantly misleading to report that the photographs posted on the complainant’s Instagram account did not quite tell the full story and that the complainant had not explained the circumstances in which the photographs had been taken,” it said.
Prince Harry and his American wife Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, have increasingly become embroiled in conflict with Britain’s tabloid newspapers.
Meghan is suing the Mail on Sunday over its publication of a private letter she sent to her father, Thomas Markle, and Prince Harry has accused some media outlets of bullying his wife in the same way they treated his mother, Princess Diana, who was killed in a car crash in 1997 as her limousine sped away from chasing paparazzi.
Prince Harry is also suing the owners of two British tabloids in relation to alleged phone hacking.
Earlier this month the couple, who are currently in Canada with their baby son Archie, announced they would be stepping back from their royal duties and shedding their royal highness titles, and were seeking an independent new life based mainly in North America.