celebrity

Thomas Markle, private texts and a 'smear campaign': What we know about Meghan Markle's Mail on Sunday lawsuit.

To catch up on all things royal family, make sure you check out our Royal Hub. We’ve got you completely covered.

From Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s decision to step down as senior members of the Royal Family to “crisis” talks over the couple’s future, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have certainly had a busy start to 2020.

Behind the scenes, however, there’s yet another challenge facing the couple.

In October 2019, just hours before the end of their South Africa tour, Prince Harry announced that Meghan was suing the Mail on Sunday for publishing a letter she wrote to her father, Thomas Markle.

The civil lawsuit, which is against the newspaper and its parent company, accused the publication of copyright infringement and misuse of private information.

In an interview in October 2019, Meghan Markle admitted that she was struggling behind the scenes. Post continues below.

“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,” Harry wrote in a statement.

“There is a human cost to this relentless propaganda, specifically when it is knowingly false and malicious, and though we have continued to put on a brave face – as so many of you can relate to – I cannot begin to describe how painful it has been.”

In the statement, the Duke of Sussex explained that the legal action had been “months in the making”.

“There comes a point when the only thing to do is to stand up to this behaviour because it destroys people and destroys lives,” he said.

“Put simply, it is bullying, which scares and silences people. Though this action may not be the safe one, it is the right one.”

Here’s what we know about Meghan Markle’s Mail on Sunday lawsuit.

Mamamia’s daily entertainment podcast, The Spill, discuss the treatment of Meghan Markle by the media. Post continues below.

Why is Meghan suing the Mail on Sunday?

Meghan Markle is suing the Mail on Sunday for the publication of a private handwritten letter written by Meghan to her father, Thomas Markle.

ADVERTISEMENT

In the letter, which was published in early 2019, Meghan told her father that he had broken her heart “into a million pieces”.

Thomas Markle himself allowed the Mail on Sunday to publish extracts of the letter. At the time, he claimed he was doing so in response to an article in People, which featured “critical interviews” that Meghan’s friends reportedly gave about Thomas and his relationship with his daughter.

In their case, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will argue that the paper’s claim that they had published Meghan’s full letter was false.

In his statement, Prince Harry said the contents of the letter “were published unlawfully in an intentionally destructive manner to manipulate [readers]… they purposely misled you by strategically omitting select paragraphs, specific sentences, and even singular words to mask the lies they had perpetuated for over a year.”

What other evidence is Meghan presenting to the court?

Besides the publication of Meghan’s private letter, the Duchess of Sussex will also refer to a number of “false” reports published by the Mail on Sunday, including stories about her “gang-scarred” childhood home, allegations about the cost of the renovation of Frogmore Cottage, and allegations that the community kitchen she worked with had links to terrorism.

The Duchess has also rejected claims that she failed to financially help her father while he was ill.

In legal documents, which indicated what the Duchess was accusing the newspaper of, it was stated that Meghan has a “long history of looking after her father’s welfare.”

harry-meghan
Image: Getty.

Will Thomas Markle be involved?

On Thursday, it was reported that Meghan Markle's father, Thomas Markle, is willing to testify against the Duchess of Sussex in court.

ADVERTISEMENT

According to the ABC, defence documents filed by the publication indicate that evidence from Meghan's father will be used if the matter reaches trial.

Thomas Markle's daughter from his first marriage, Samantha Markle, told the BBC that Markle would be willing to take the stand as a key witness for the defence.

"If he is called, he will come," Samantha Markle claimed.

It's believed Meghan's father has also given lawyers access to private text messages, which were sent ahead of Meghan and Harry's wedding, in an attempt to dispel claims that Meghan was contacting her father "up to the night before" her wedding.

According to The Sun, part of the Mail on Sunday's defence also includes claims that Meghan was "behind a smear campaign" against her father.

In documents filed to London's High Court by the publication, Meghan was also accused of "using friends to pressure UK journalists into dropping stories about her".

thomas-meghan-markle
Thomas Markle and Meghan Markle. Image: Getty.

How will Mail on Sunday defend their actions?

When Meghan and Harry announced the lawsuit, the Mail on Sunday immediately issued a statement.

"The Mail on Sunday stands by the story it published and will be defending this case vigorously," the statement read.

"Specifically, we categorically deny that the Duchess' letter was edited in any way that changed its meaning."

According to the BBC, besides calling Thomas Markle to testify, it's believed the paper will argue that there was "huge and legitimate public interest" in publishing Meghan's private letter to her father.

In a 44-page legal filing, the Mail on Sunday argued that members of the British royal family "generate and rely on publicity about themselves and their lives in order to maintain the privileged positions they hold and to promote themselves, their fulfilment of their duties and functions, and the good causes they have espoused."

ADVERTISEMENT

"There is a huge and legitimate public interest in the royal family and the activities, conduct and standards of behaviour of its members," it continued.

"[Meghan] did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy that the contents of the letter were private and would remain so."

The defence have also claimed that Meghan's "elaborate handwriting" is a "sign" that Meghan would know that the letter would be seen by more people than her father.

why harry and meghan quit
Image: Getty.

When will the case go to court?

According to the BBC, a court date has not yet been scheduled for the case.

Have the Royal Family sued the media before?

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle aren't the first members of the royal family to take legal action against the media.

In 2012, Prince William and Kate Middleton began legal proceedings against a French magazine after they published photographs of Kate sunbathing topless.

At the time, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's office likened the publication of the photos to "the worst excesses of the press and paparazzi during the life of Diana, Princess of Wales, and all the more upsetting to the Duke and Duchess for being so."

Five years later, a court conceded that the photos were an invasion of the couple's privacy.

The magazine's editor and CEO of its publisher were fined.

Feature Image: Getty.

For more on this topic:


For more gossip celebrity news, sign up for our "Mamamia Celebrity" newsletter. The best entertainment stories of the day to help you unwind.


00:00 / ???