LONDON – The Duchess of Sussex was advised by two senior members of Britain’s royal family to write a letter to her estranged father that a British newspaper later published in part, court papers filed Wednesday show.
The former Meghan Markle, 39, is suing publisher Associated Newspapers for invasion of privacy and copyright infringement over five articles that included portions of the handwritten letter she wrote to her father after her 2018 marriage to Prince Harry.
The articles were published in the Mail on Sunday newspaper and on the MailOnline website in February 2019.
A document filed at London’s High Court by the duchess’ legal team said Meghan wrote Thomas Markle the letter “in an attempt to get him to stop talking to the press.”
The document said that due to her “distress” at media coverage of her father “and as the newest member of the royal family who wanted to follow protocol, the claimant sought advice from two senior members of the royal family on how best to address the situation.”
It said she wrote the letter “in accordance with the advice that she had received.” The document did not name the members of the royal family consulted by Meghan.
Associated Newspapers, which strongly denies the duchess’ allegations, has claimed Meghan had help writing the letter from her and Harry's then-communications director, Jason Knauf, or other palace staff.
Meghan’s lawyers said she showed a draft of the letter to her husband and to Knauf, and that Knauf provided “feedback on the draft but no actual wording.”
Markle, an American actress and star of TV legal drama “Suits,” married Harry, a grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, in a lavish ceremony at Windsor Castle in May 2018. Their son, Archie, was born the following year.
Early this year, the couple announced they were quitting royal duties and moving to North America, citing what they said was the unbearable intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media. They recently bought a house in Santa Barbara, California.
The new document also reveals that Meghan allowed someone she knew to speak to the authors of “Finding Freedom,” a behind-the-scenes book about her and Harry. Associated Newspapers’ lawyers argue that Meghan made personal information public by cooperating with the authors of the book to set out a version of events favorable to her.
The duchess’ lawyers say neither she nor Harry collaborated with authors Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand. But Meghan did allow an unidentified individual to communicate the “true position” on one aspect of her relationship with her father to the authors, the new document says. It says she wanted to correct the false impression conveyed by Thomas Markle “that she had abandoned him.”
Last month, High Court judge Mark Warby agreed to a request by Meghan to postpone the trial of the case by about nine months, from January until fall 2021. The decision followed a hearing held in private, and Warby said the reason for the delay request should be kept confidential.
In a ruling on aspects of the case on Wednesday, Warby said Thomas Markle had not been told the reason for the delay.