The Duchess of Sussex was dealt a fresh blow after it emerged she faces the prospect of being pitted against her father in the witness box in the trial of the century. Meghan is suing Associated Newspapers, who own the Mail on Sunday, for publishing a handwritten letter she wrote to her father after marrying Prince Harry.
Meghan has claimed the newspaper breached her privacy by publishing the personal correspondence.
However, the handwritten letter has been dragged back into the spotlight after the Mail’s parent company filed its 44-page defence at the High Court in London.
The document includes what it claims to be a series of texts and phone calls exchanged between Harry and Meghan and Thomas Markle in the run up to and after the royal wedding on May 19 2018.
The Mail on Sunday, which is refusing to back down, argued the publication of the personal letter was justified due to the “huge and legitimate public interest” in the royal family.
In what could be an awkward enounter for the duchess, Mr Markle looks set to be the Mail on Sunday’s key witness in the trial.
Meghan Markle’s relationship with her father, Thomas Markle, has been outlined in court documents
The publication of the defence documents comes after the Sussexes announced they were stepping down as senior royals
The defence argues that Meghan, 38, benefits from the lifestyle of someone with “extreme wealth or elite connections”, using her and Harry’s private jet flight to Ibiza last summer as a prime example.
The court document includes a reference to a message Mr Markle, 75, sent his daughter before her big day.
On May 10, nine days before he was due to walk her down the aisle, he said he was “looking forward to trying on my [wedding] shoes” and signed it off with “Have a good night. I love you dad.”
But on May 11 or 12 a frosty phone call took place between Mr Markle and his daughter in which he admitted staging paparazzi photographs.
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Thomas Markle famously missed his daughter’s royal wedding on May 19 2018
The defence document alleges that on May 14 Mr Markle again reached out to Meghan, telling there “that he loved her and that he would not be attending the wedding and that he was going to make a public apology to the Claimant and Prince Harry”.
He received a “text response from Prince Harry saying that he (Mr Markle) did not need to apologise and that he should call”.
But it was the same day that Meghan’s dad claimed he had started to “feel very ill with shortness of breath and chest pains” and was admitted to hospital.
According to the defence, two days later, on May 16, Mr Markle “underwent an emergency heart procedure” and “on the same day he texted the Claimant to let her know that he had undergone surgery and would not be able to attend the wedding because his doctors would not allow him to fly, and said he was sorry for not being there”.
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Meghan, 38, is suing the Mail on Sunday for publishing her handwritten letter to her father
The defence documents include texts the Duke and Duchess of Sussex exchanged with Thomas Markle
The documents allege that he received a response which “read as it if it was from Prince Harry…admonishing Mr Markle for talking to the press and telling him to stop and accusing Mr Markle of causing hurt to his daughter.”
The message was signed off “Love M and H”.
The defence claims “the text did not ask how the surgical procedure had gone or how Mr Markle was or send him good wishes.”
The documents allege Meghan’s dad was “deeply hurt and responded with a curt message: ‘I’ve done nothing to hurt you Meghan or anyone else.”
Meghan Markle sent the letter to the father following her May 2018 wedding to Prince Harry
Thomas Markle was a notable absentee on Meghan and Harry’s wedding day
According to the Mail on Sunday, this was the last time Meghan communicated with Mr Markle until she posted him her handwritten letter in August 2018.
On February 10 2019 the Mail on Sunday published excerpts from the letter.
A court date has not yet to be set for the case.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry attend an engagement in London last week
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry wave to well-wishers on their wedding day
The defence also said the duchess “did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy that the contents of the letter were private and would remain so”.
The Mail on Sunday also said the letter was “immaculately copied” in Meghan’s “elaborate handwriting”, and argued that this meant she had anticipated it would be seen by a wider audience.
The newspaper used this point as evidence that it had not infringed her privacy.