Meghan Markle felt ‘unprotected’ by monarchy, court documents suggest

Olivia Petter
·3-min read
Getty Images
Getty Images

The Duchess of Sussex felt “unprotected by the institution” of the monarchy during “false” media reports that emerged when she was pregnant, court documents suggest.

The papers come as part of Meghan’s legal action against the publisher of the Mail on Sunday and Mail Online with regards to the publication of extracts of a letter she sent to her father, Thomas Markle, in 2018.

Meghan is suing Associated Newspapers, which denies the Duchess’s claims, for copyright infringement and breach of privacy.

According to court documents related to the case, as seen by the BBC, Meghan suffered “tremendous emotional distress” over the publication of her letter.

The papers state: “The Claimant had become the subject of a large number of false and damaging articles by the UK tabloid media, specifically by the Defendant, which caused tremendous emotional distress and damage to her mental health.”

In reference to interviews that five of the Duchess’s friends gave to a US magazine in February 2019, the documents add: “As her friends had never seen her in this state before, they were rightly concerned for her welfare, specifically, as she was pregnant, unprotected by the Institution, and prohibited from defending herself.”

The BBC reports that the papers also reveal that Meghan’s legal team defended the cost to the taxpayer of her wedding to the Duke of Sussex in May 2018.

The Duchess’s lawyers allegedly state that the royal wedding generated £1bn in tourism revenue, thus far outweighing the cost to the taxpayer.

A preliminary hearing regarding Meghan’s case was held in May, during which the judge dismissed claims that Associated Newspapers deliberately “stirred up” problems between Meghan and her father, and that it had an “agenda” against her.

The judge, Justice Mark Warby, also struck out that Meghan’s claim that the publisher had acted “dishonestly”.

Justice Warby said those claims should not form part of her case at this stage, because they were “irrelevant” to her claim for damages over alleged misuse of private information, copyright infringement, and breach of the Data Protection Act.

“Some are struck out on the further or alternative ground that they are inadequately detailed,” Justice Warby said, adding that he had attempted to confine the case to what is “reasonably necessary and proportionate for the purpose of doing justice between these parties”.

“I do not consider that the allegations struck out on that basis go to the ‘heart’ of the case, which at its core concerns the publication of five articles disclosing the words of, and information drawn from, the letter written by the claimant to her father in August 2018.”

In a statement issued after the ruling, a spokesperson for Schillings, the law firm representing the Duchess, said the core elements of her case had not changed.

Associated Newspapers wholly denies the allegations, particularly the claim that the letter was edited in any way that changed its meaning, and says it will hotly contest the case.

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