Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s transition out of royal life just got even more complicated. In late 2019, the couple filed a lawsuit against the Mail and its parent company Associated Newspapers accusing them of unlawfully publishing a letter she wrote to her father, Thomas Markle. The publication, which Markle felt was essentially trolling her by releasing personal information without consent, is now entangling her in yet another mess with her father: their defense strategy.
On Tuesday, the Daily Mail (the Mail's sister publication) said that the paper's filed court documents indicate that Meghan's father, Thomas Markle, is participating in the paper's defense. It is unclear what Markle’s role will be should the case go to trial, but if he is cooperating with the defense, it could likely be brought to the stand as a witness, reports CNN.
Court documents also showed that the Mail and its parent company intend to use evidence from Thomas Markle to argue that he “had a weighty right to tell his version of what had happened between himself and his daughter including the contents of the letter,” reports the U.K.’s PA news agency. The letter in question was sent from Meghan to her father in August 2018. He leaked the letter to press in February 2019 after People published a story claiming that Meghan tried to make amends with him.
As a result, the Duchess of Sussex is reportedly seeking damages for alleged misuse of private information, copyright infringement, and breach of the Data Protection Act. Meghan’s lawyers contend that because parts of the letter were omitted, the publication “intentionally distorted or manipulated” its meaning. Additionally, they claim that Meghan was not warned by the publisher that the letter would be made public, but the Mail and Associated Newspapers deny all allegations.
In a statement from Prince Harry regarding the lawsuit, the Duke of Sussex spoke to the need for a responsible media and the “ruthless campaign” of the British tabloids against his wife. “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,” reads Prince Harry’s letter. “Because in today’s digital age, press fabrications are repurposed as truth across the globe. One day’s coverage is no longer tomorrow’s chip-paper.”
This certainly comes as a poorly-timed complication following the news that shocked the world when the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced they intend to “step back” from royal duties on January 8. In the announcement, they said that they wanted to “carve out a progressive new role” as senior members of the royal family, but tabloids have remained unrelenting in the wake of their decision.
The Duchess of Sussex is the latest in a line of royals over the years who have been subjected to excessively negative media attention from the British tabloids. Ever since she began dating Prince Harry, she has been on the receiving end of continued scrutiny from some of the media. In the weeks leading up to their wedding in 2018, tabloids published a steady stream of gossip focused on Meghan’s difficult relationship with her father and her sister, Samantha Markle. Now, in the midst of a major shake-up to the sitting Royal family, Markle may have to face her own father in court.