Meghan Markle’s father Thomas has launched an extraordinary take-down of his daughter in court, claiming the private letter she sent him “showed no concern” and “signalled the end of our relationship”.
The letter written in 2018 is at the centre of a highly-publicised court battle, with the Duchess of Sussex suing Associated Newspapers (ANL), publisher of the Mail on Sunday, for breaching her privacy by publishing the letter.
In a witness statement submitted as part of ANL’s defence today, Mr Markle, 76, said he felt he had no choice but to release extracts of the letter after reading a story in US magazine People in February 2019 that featured anonymous quotes from Meghan’s friends.
One of the quotes in the article read: “After the wedding she wrote him a letter. She’s like, ‘Dad, I’m so heartbroken. I love you. I have one father. Please stop victimising me through the media so we can repair our relationship.’”
However Mr Markle claims this comment was a “total lie”, and that the letter was not an attempt to save their relationship but rather a “criticism”.
RELATED: Follow the latest royal news
“(The People quote) suggested to people that Meg had reached out to me with the letter, saying in the letter that she loved me and that she wanted to repair our relationship.
“That suggestion was false. The letter was not an attempt at a reconciliation. It was a criticism of me.
“The letter didn’t say she loved me. It did not even ask how I was. It showed no concern about the fact I had suffered a heart attack and asked no questions about my health.
“It actually signalled the end of our relationship, not a reconciliation.”
Mr Markle added of the People article: “(It) vilified me by making out that I was dishonest, exploitative, publicity-seeking, uncaring and cold-hearted, leaving a loyal and dutiful daughter devastated”.
The former Hollywood lighting director only selected parts of the letter to release to the Mail on Sunday following Meghan’s 2018 wedding to Prince Harry, in which she wrote of her “pain” that her father was speaking to the media about her.
Mr Markle said he didn’t release the whole letter at the time “because I thought the letter as a whole made Meg look terrible”, his statement said.
Lawyers for the Duchess of Sussex earlier told London’s High Court the publication of the “intrinsically private, personal and sensitive” letter was a “triple-barrelled invasion of her privacy rights”.
The documents added: “It (the letter) is a heartfelt plea from an anguished daughter to her father (the word ‘pain’ or ‘painful’ appears no fewer than five times), begging him to stop talking to the press.”
But Anthony White QC, who is representing ANL, argued Meghan penned the letter “to defend her against charges of being an uncaring or unloving daughter” and must have known “that her father might choose to disclose it”.
It comes after Meghan’s lawyers applied for a summary judgment to be handed down, meaning the case could be resolved without the need to go to trial.
If the case goes ahead, both Mr Markle and Meghan could take to the stand as witnesses.
A ten-day trial was scheduled to begin at London’s High Court on January 11 however Meghan won her bid to delay it due to a “confidential matter”.