Meghan Markle's Lawyers Claim She Was ‘Unprotected’ by the Royal Family
Meghan Markle first announced that she was suing the tabloid and its publisher Associated Newspaper in October last year, over five stories—two in the Mail on Sunday and three on MailOnline—in which the news outlets published excerpts of a private letter that she had written to her estranged father, Thomas Markle.
In the latest development to the legal battle, the Duchess and her team of lawyers have made a series of details about the Sussexes and their families public. The new court documents responded to questions raised by Associated Newspapers after the Duchess lost the first stage of the legal battle in May.
Friends were concerned that Meghan was “unprotected by the Institution”
Reasserting their stance that Meghan “did not know that the contents of the letter would or might be revealed or referred to by any media outlet or to any person for the purposes of publication in any medium,” the filing justified that Meghan’s friends “were rightly concerned for her welfare, specifically as she was pregnant, unprotected by the Institution, and prohibited from defending herself.” The Institution refers to the Kensington Palace.
A section further explained, “It was mandated by the KP Communications Team that all friends and family of the Claimant should say "no comment" when approached by any media outlet, despite misinformation being provided to UK tabloids about the Claimant. This shared frustration amongst the Claimant’s friends left everyone feeling silenced, as it appeared that other so-called sources were able to disseminate false statements about the Claimant, while the people who knew her best were told that they needed to remain silent.”
"The Claimant believes that it is probably because of this reason, as well as concerns about the press intrusion by the UK tabloids, that a few friends chose to participate and they did so anonymously.”
The filing also wrote that the communications team at Kensington Palace had taken on the stance of "no comment" without discussion or approval by Meghan, and that she would have denied on the record that she was not involved with the People magazine article otherwise.
Meghan had continued to reach out to Thomas Markle
Another point that was reinforced with further specifics was the fact that, contrary to her father Thomas Markle’s claims, Meghan had “attempted contact with her father up until the day of her wedding”. Court documents described that “Friend A witnessed the Claimant’s many calls to her father during the week of the wedding, from Nottingham Cottage, as well as from wedding rehearsals and pre-wedding events in Windsor and from Windsor Castle, all of which were ignored or declined.”
A section wrote, “When Mr Markle publicly announced that he fell ill, the Claimant sent a security team to take him to the hospital (which he declined), and subsequently to go to his hospital to drive him home safely once he was discharged (which he again declined), as all her close friends and colleagues were already in transit to the UK for the wedding.”
Thomas has publicly maintained on several occasions that Meghan had cut him out from her life and blocked his calls after the wedding, which the Duchess has denied. The handwritten letter by Meghan was published in Mail on Sunday with Thomas’ permission, who said that he allowed them to do so to defend himself.
(Related: How Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are Transitioning from Royals to Activists)
Meghan argues that her wedding to Prince Harry was worth £1 Billion to the UK
Perhaps in response to Associated Newspapers’ January filing that the scrutiny on Meghan and Harry was justified because the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were publicly funded, Meghan’s legal team has claimed that the couple’s wedding brought in £1 billion in tourism revenue, far outweighing the expenditure of the event, which is estimated to cost £32 million. They further asserted that the wedding was personally financed by Prince Charles, and “any public costs incurred for the wedding were solely for security and crowd control to protect members of the public…as deemed necessary by Thames Valley Police and the Metropolitan Police.”
However, experts have cast doubt on the figure as brand expert Andy Barr of PR firm 10Yetis tells The Sun: “£1billion total revenue for a royal wedding doesn’t sound realistic at all … If I was forced to speculate, I would say a maximum of £250 million.” In the same report, business consultancy Brand Finance was also cited to have estimated a value of £300 million in tourism for the wedding.
Meghan’s legal team named Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie for undertaking paid work
Responding to Associated Newspapers’ submission in January that she “is a member of the Royal Family and does not undertake paid work”, Meghan’s lawyers noted: “Several member[s] of the Royal Family do ‘undertake paid work’ including, for example, Princess Beatrice of York, Princess Eugenie of York and Prince Michael of Kent.”
This action has led to criticism by royal fans and watchers, as the three are neither senior royals nor working royals, and thus are not funded by the Sovereign Grant.
Prince Michael, who is the paternal first cousin of Queen Elizabeth, runs his own consultancy business, only occasionally representing the Queen at functions outside the United Kingdom.
Princess Beatrice is currently employed as the vice-president of partnerships and strategy of software company Afiniti, while Princess Eugenie is a director at London-based art gallery Hauser & Wirth. Both princesses receive financial support from their father, Prince Andrew’s private income.
(Related: Prince Harry and Meghan Want Financial Independence: How Other British Royals Earn Their Keep)
Meghan's first High Court hearing took place remotely on April 24, during which her lawyer claimed that the publisher and its newspapers had acted with “dishonesty and malicious intent” and “manipulated [Thomas] into giving interviews”. Associated Newspapers’ legal team had disputed the allegations, citing that the letter was already mentioned by Meghan’s friends in an interview with People magazine.
On May 1, it was revealed that the Meghan had lost the first round of the lawsuit, as judge Justice Warby struck out parts of the Duchess’ claims deemed “irrelevant” to her claim for misuse of private information, copyright infringement, and the breach of the UK’s Data Protection Act.
No date for the next trial has been set, which could see Thomas Markle and Meghan’s five friends testifying in court.