Meghan Markle and the Daily Mail have beef? The situation explained
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have been in a court battle with a British tabloid, The Daily Mail, over publishing Meghan’s private papers. Royals don’t normally take on the tabloids, but Prince Harry and Meghan are meeting this challenge head on.
Purely on privacy
Yet, in a setback to Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle’s bitter legal battle against the British tabloids, a high court judge struck down key claims on September 29 in a lawsuit that Meghan brought against The Mail on Sunday for publishing a letter she sent to her father.
The judge, Mark Warby, ruled that the newspaper wouldn’t be judged on whether the Daily Mail had acted dishonestly; had stirred up conflict between Meghan, who is also known as the Duchess of Sussex, and her father, Thomas Markle; or had published offensive and intrusive articles about the duchess.
Instead, Justice Warby said, the court would decide only whether the Mail’s publication of the letter had violated Meghan’s privacy. The duchess’s law firm, Schillings, said she would go forward with the case but expressed disappointment that the judge did not consider the newspaper’s motives relevant.
In February 2019 Meghan Markle filed the lawsuit over the Daily Mail’s publication of her private letter, “The duchess’ rights were violated,” the Sussexes’ attorney said. “The legal boundaries around privacy were crossed. As part of this process, the extremes to which The Mail on Sunday used distortive, manipulative and dishonest tactics to target the Duchess of Sussex have been put on full display.”
At the heart of the case against the Daily Mail is an anguished, five-page letter that Meghan wrote to her father Thomas Markle, a former Hollywood lighting designer, in August 2018, four months after he was a no-show at her wedding to Prince Harry. In it, she accused her father of breaking her heart into a “million pieces” by speaking to the tabloids about their estrangement while refusing to take her phone calls.
In a statement posted on the duke and duchess’s website, Prince Harry said that Meghan had become a victim of “a ruthless campaign” by British tabloids, including the Daily Mail, and that he had been “a silent witness to her private suffering for too long.”
Shades of Princess Di
“There is a human cost to this relentless propaganda, specifically when it is knowingly false and malicious,” Prince Harry wrote, “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.”
Prince Harry invoked the history of his mother, Princess Diana, who was followed by paparazzi for years and who died in a 1997 car crash in Paris as her driver tried to get away from photographers. “My deepest fear is history repeating itself,” Prince Harry stated. “I’ve seen what happens when someone I love is commoditized to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person.”
Prince Harry and Meghan have long had a difficult relationship with the Daily Mail and other British press, some of it ingrained with what their supporters see as outdated, racist attitudes about their relationship.
For example, in The Mail on Sunday, Rachel Johnson, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s sister, wrote that Meghan would contribute “some rich and exotic DNA” to the Windsor family. In 2016, The Daily Mail headlined an article: “Harry’s Girl Is (Almost) Straight Outta Compton.”
Meghan Markle — a divorced, biracial American television actress — was by British standards an untraditional member of the royal family. The British tabloids, along with the Daily Mail, pounced on some parts of her personal life, particularly in the countdown to the couple’s wedding, when they ran a series of negative interviews with relatives she did not invite.
Not having any of it
However, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle pushed back, drawing the anger of tabloids like the Daily Mail. They decided to prevent the press from a traditional photo opportunity with their newborn child, and they allowed only one reporter into St. George’s Chapel for their wedding. Both moves were blows to publications giving frenzied, wall-to-wall coverage of the royal events.
The misgivings about photographers apparently originate with Prince Harry, who was twelve when his mother was killed. And the couple’s supporters across the Atlantic have not been shy about saying outright what the couple has not. Five of Meghan’s friends defended her against “global bullying” in an interview with People magazine, a move that reportedly sat poorly with some of her traditionalist royal handlers.