Prince Harry is under fire after referring to the First Amendment of the Constitution as "bonkers" while discussing the media "feeding frenzy" after he and his wife Meghan Markle left the United Kingdom and moved into Tyler Perry's Beverly Hills mansion while they were settling in the United States.
"I’ve got so much I want to say about the First Amendment as I sort of understand it, but it is bonkers," the Duke of Sussex said on an episode of Dax Shepard and Monica Padman’s "Armchair Expert" podcast.
"I don’t want to start going down the First Amendment route because that’s a huge subject and one which I don’t understand because I’ve only been here a short time," Prince Harry continued. "But, you can find a loophole in anything. You can capitalize or exploit what’s not said rather than uphold what is said."
The prince's comments were met with a wave of criticism on Twitter from people who struck out at the irony of his having the right to say what he did:
- Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas: "Nice that he can say that," replied Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.
- Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas: "Well I just doubled the size of my Independence Day party."
- Brexit leader Nigel Farage: "For Prince Harry to condemn the USA's First Amendment shows he has lost the plot. Soon he will not be wanted on either side of the pond."
- Meghan McCain: "We fought a war in 1776 so we don’t have to care what you say or think. That being said, you have chosen to seek refuge from your homeland here and thrive because all of what our country has to offer and one of the biggest things is the 1st amendment - show some utter respect."
The prince's comments came while he was discussing his new role with the non-profit Aspen Institute, where he is serving on a "Commission on Information Disorder." He will be conducting studies with 14 other people through a panel that will analyze how incorrect information travels through the country, reports The Spectator.
"As I’ve said, the experience of today’s digital world has us inundated with an avalanche of misinformation, affecting our ability as individuals as well as societies to think clearly and truly understand the world we live in," Prince Harry told the podcast. "It’s my belief that this is a humanitarian issue and as such, it demands a multi-stakeholder response from advocacy voices, members of the media, academic researchers, and both government and civil society leaders."
He also said he was shocked at how much attention he and his wife have gotten while living in California, particularly when they were at Perry's mansion. Harry said then-neighbor Orlando Bloom would keep him updated on the whereabouts of the paparazzi, and that photographers were using helicopters and drones to get their photos.
"How is that normal?" he asked. "How is that acceptable?"
Shepard related how he and his wife, actress Kristen Bell, had their own issues and started a social media campaign to shield children from photographers.
"When we took this on, I didn't try for a second to say legally, this shouldn't be allowed, because I know our First Amendment is such that it is going to protect the press as in some ways it should. It's the Fourth Estate," Shepard said. "That wasn't my argument," Shepard told Harry, in reference to taking photos of celebraties.
Prince Harry, in addition to making the First Amendment comments, also complained that social media platforms are "trying to redefine what free speech means."
"We're living in this world where we've almost like all the laws have been completely flipped by the very people that need them flipped," he said. "They can make more money and they can capitalize off our pain and grief."
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