Details Of Meghan Markle’s Estrangement From Her Father Revealed In Court Proceedings

Meghan Markle gazing at the camera.
Chris Jackson / Getty Images

Meghan Markle’s highly publicized suit — in London’s High Court of Justice — against Associated Newspapers, owner of popular UK tabloids Mail on Sunday and MailOnline, began on April 24. Some details that have slowly been made public over the years, as it pertains to the relationship between Meghan and her estranged father, are coming to light in the case.

According to The Daily Mail, Markle is suing the company for publishing parts of a handwritten letter she sent to her father, Thomas Markle, in August of 2018. The letter was ostensibly written after Thomas Markle missed her wedding to Prince Harry due to having suffered a heart attack. Markle claims her father’s decision to give the note to the publisher breached her privacy, copyright, and data protection rights.

During the preliminary hearing, Associated Newspapers requested to have parts of Markle’s claim thrown out — particularly her claim that the Mail on Sunday is guilty of “harassing, humiliating, manipulating, and exploiting” her father. Counsel for Associated Newspapers believe this is false, as the father and daughter allegedly have not spoken since his absence at her 2018 wedding.

The publisher also believes this part of the claim should be thrown out due to Markle seemingly breaching her own privacy. Four days before Mail on Sunday published the letter in question, they allege that Markle let her friends discuss contents of the missive with People Magazine. In court documents, Markle insists her friends brought up the letter without her knowledge.

Markle’s father told the Mail on Sunday that he “felt pressured” to share the letter with the press after he perceived the contents to be problematic.

“I have to defend myself. I only released parts of the letter because other parts were so painful. The letter didn’t seem loving to me. I found it hurtful,” Thomas Markle told the publication.

The hearing was held online due to the coronavirus pandemic, and The Daily Mail reports that Meghan and Harry were watching from home in California. Judge Justice Warby is hearing the case.

During the online hearing, Mr. White, a lawyer representing the Associated Newspapers, argued that Markle’s claim for damages is “inadmissible.” He went on to emphasize that if the court finds in her favor, it “would have consequences for the freedom of expression the press enjoys.”

Markle’s lawyer, David Sherborne, told the court that it’s important to remember the case is not solely about privacy. Sherborne told the court that the publisher “disclosed to the whole world the detailed contents of a private letter of a daughter to her father.”

The Daily Mail detailed many text messages between Thomas Markle, Meghan, and Harry, shedding light on how their relationship reportedly deteriorated.

Prince Harry and Meghan attend the Commonwealth Day Service 2020.
Prince Harry and Meghan attend the Commonwealth Day Service 2020. Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images

On May 15, 2018 — days after Thomas purportedly staged photos with paparazzi, photos portraying him reading stories about Harry and Meghan at an internet cafe — he wrote to Meghan, apologizing and removing himself from her wedding to spare her any potential embarrassment, per a separate report from The Daily Mail. Later that day, he reportedly went to the hospital with chest pains.

At the time, Harry sent three messages telling Thomas that he was calling him, and that he really needs to speak to him.

“If u love Meg and want to make it right please call me as there are two other options which don’t involve u having to speak to the media, who incidentally created this whole situation,” Prince Harry allegedly wrote. “So please call me so I can explain. Meg and I are not angry, we just need to speak to u.”

This preliminary hearing marks the beginning of a full High Court trial slated to begin in late 2020 or early 2021. Meghan Markle and Thomas Markle could possibly be together for the first time in more than two years when proceedings convene, facing off in court against each other.