Thomas Markle is prepared to give evidence against his own daughter in an extraordinary legal case, it was revealed yesterday.
The estranged father of the Duchess of Sussex is expected to be called as a key witness for the defence in a court case she has brought against a newspaper.
Mr Markle, 75, has given lawyers previously unseen text messages sent in the build-up to Meghan’s wedding to Prince Harry that reveal the breakdown of the relationship between father and daughter.
Some of the messages were detailed yesterday in defence papers filed at the High Court in London.
The documents say that after Mr Markle messaged his daughter saying he couldn’t come to her wedding because he had been rushed to hospital for emergency heart surgery and told not to fly on health grounds, he received a text that appeared to be from Prince Harry.
The message admonished him, accused him of causing hurt to his daughter and did not ask about his health. It left Mr Markle ‘deeply hurt’.
In return, Mr Markle wrote: ‘I’ve done nothing to hurt you Meghan or anyone else … I’m sorry my heart attack is … any inconvenience for you.’
A smiling Meghan Markle was spotted Tuesday leaving the $14million Vancouver Island home where she and Prince Harry stayed over the holidays with Archie. She has been staying in the mansion since last week, but Archie was nowhere to be seen Tuesday
The estranged father of the Duchess of Sussex is expected to be called as a key witness for the defence in a court case she has brought against a newspaper (pictured: Meghan Markle as a youngster, with her father Thomas Markle)
The Duchess of Sussex launched legal action against the Mail on Sunday last year after it published extracts of a letter she wrote to her father in August 2018.
Meghan, 38, has accused the newspaper – the sister paper of the Daily Mail – of breaching her privacy, her data protection rights and her copyright when it published extracts.
The MoS filed its defence to her case at the High Court in London yesterday. It denied her claims and argued there was a ‘huge and legitimate public interest’ in the Royal Family, including its ‘personal and family relationships’.
The defence papers also said:
- Thomas Markle only released Meghan’s letter to the world to show it was not the ‘loving’ plea her friends had been making out;
- He had kept her handwritten note private for months, and only revealed it to expose ‘false’ claims that the duchess had been reaching out to repair their relationship;
- He only decided to release extracts of the letter to the Press after she had allowed her friends to talk about it first in the US magazine People;
- That one of Meghan’s best friends, Jessica Mulroney, once intervened to try to fix a ‘favourable’ press article for the duchess;
- Mr Markle had insisted he made multiple attempts to contact his daughter by phone call and by text message, but received no response;
- That apart from the August 2018 letter, Mr Markle had not heard from his daughter since he told her he was too ill to attend her wedding. He had never been introduced to her husband Prince Harry, nor met his eight-month-old grandson Archie.
The latest development in the court case has come in a turbulent week which has seen the Queen hold crisis talks about Meghan and Harry’s role in the Royal Family after they announced their wish to step back from their royal duties.
The duchess was last night pictured in Canada for the first time since she returned there following the bombshell ‘Megxit’ statement. She was seen boarding a sea plane from Vancouver Island which appeared to be destined for Whistler ski resort.
Meghan is seen boarding a sea plane on Vancouver Island on Canada’s Pacific coast today
This is the Duchess of Sussex’s first sighting since news of ‘Megxit’ broke last week. She was seen boarding a small seaplane from Victoria Harbour Airport to the mainland
The Duchess opted to recycle her wardrobe, wearing a $399 Barbour coat, first worn by her in March 2017 and paired it with a $195 Cuyana bag she wore to Wimbledon in June 2019. She wore Le Chameau boots retailing for $493.36
Meghan launched her legal action against the MoS last year after it published excerpts of her letter to her father. Mr Markle gave the letter to the newspaper after unnamed friends of the duchess told the People magazine that she had written the ‘loving’ letter in an attempt to repair their relationship.
Lawyers for the newspaper alleged that Meghan had ‘knowingly’ allowed her friends to leak details of the letter to the magazine – effectively that she had helped to breach her own privacy.
If the case goes before a judge, the paper said it would ask for Meghan to be forced to hand over all communications in which she had ’caused or permitted her friends to provide information about her to the media or to seek to influence what is published about her’.
It could lead to the prospect of Meghan coming face-to-face with her father in the High Court.
Mr Markle, a retired Hollywood lighting director who lives in Rosarito, Mexico, has said his daughter cut off all contact with him after her wedding, except for the letter at the centre of the case.
If he were to be called as a witness, he would effectively have to brand his own daughter a liar who had invaded her own privacy. The Sussexes have said they will fund the legal proceedings privately.
Meghan’s wedding week war with her father: Court papers reveal bitter messages that destroyed their relationship
The devastating breakdown in Meghan Markle‘s relationship with her father was laid bare yesterday in a series of messages between the pair detailed by court papers.
He has handed over previously unseen messages and letters which set out how he made desperate attempts to mend their relationship after heart surgery forced him to miss her wedding.
In one message he accused Prince Harry of treating his heart attack as an ‘inconvenience’, adding: ‘I’ve done nothing to hurt you, Meghan or anyone else.’
In another, he said that Meghan had effectively ‘written me off’. The exchanges between Mr Markle and his daughter were detailed in documents filed to the High Court in London yesterday.
In one message Thomas Markle accused Prince Harry of treating his heart attack as an ‘inconvenience’, adding: ‘I’ve done nothing to hurt you, Meghan or anyone else.’ (pictured: a young Meghan Markle with her father Thomas)
The Duchess of Sussex has launched legal action against the Mail on Sunday, the Daily Mail’s sister paper, accusing the newspaper of breaching her privacy and her copyright by publishing extracts of a five-page letter she wrote to her father in August 2018. In the letter, Meghan, 38, chastised her father for ignoring her calls and said he had ‘broken her heart into a million pieces’.
Meghan’s legal team has claimed she was ‘shocked and deeply upset’ when her ‘private letter’ to her father was published.
The documents lodged at the court yesterday detail the newspaper’s defence to her allegations. They say Mr Markle, 75, has never met his eight-month-old grandson Archie, nor been introduced to Prince Harry, although they have spoken on the phone.
His only contact with his daughter since her wedding day was the August 2018 letter, in which she accused him of lying about her and inflicting ‘unnecessary and unwarranted pain’ on her and her new husband.
As part of the legal action, Mr Markle has agreed to appear as the newspaper’s key witness, should the case go before a judge later this year.
He has handed over his own medical records and his correspondence with Meghan, which reveals how their relationship broke down in the final fortnight before her wedding.
According to the messages detailed in the defence papers yesterday, Thomas Markle initially sent touching messages to his daughter, which spoke of his excitement about her upcoming wedding – before he told of his devastation when a heart attack forced him to abandon plans to walk her down the aisle. In the messages, he repeatedly told Meghan that he loved her.
Meghan and Prince Harry on their wedding day at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018
But the messages made clear how their relationship began to break down after it was revealed that he had secretly agreed to stage a series of paparazzi-style pictures of himself preparing for the wedding.
In documents lodged at the High Court, defence lawyers said Meghan had shown a disregard for her father’s wellbeing. They said that even after he explained his cardiac condition and that doctors said he couldn’t fly, he was on the receiving end of an admonishment from Harry.
She did not make it clear that he was forced to abandon plans to attend her wedding because of his poor health, and she then ignored his repeated attempts to contact her after the wedding, they alleged.
Lawyers for the Mail on Sunday told the court: ‘If the Claimant [the Duchess of Sussex] had been or was concerned about her father and his welfare, she would not have cut her father, a sick 75-year-old man, out of her life for the perceived sin of speaking to the Press about his daughter who had become a famous royal duchess.’
May 10, 2018
According to the defence papers, Mr Markle texted his daughter to say he had dropped off some flowers at her mother’s house for Mother’s Day. In a touching message, he told Meghan he was excited about trying on some shoes she had bought for him to wear to her wedding. She had also bought him a new suit.
He ended the text with a poignant message that it was ‘past her bedtime’ because of the time difference, adding: ‘I love you.’ He wrote: ‘I look forward to trying on my shoes and see how we look thank you for getting it ready for me its [sic] probably past your bedtime so have a good night I love you Dad.’
May 11 or 12
The news is about to break that Mr Markle had secretly agreed with a photographer to stage a series of paparazzi-style pictures – despite pleas from Prince Harry for the media to leave his future father-in-law alone. At the time, it was reported that CCTV had caught him posing in an internet café for photographs which showed him looking at a news story about his daughter’s romance with the prince.
Kensington Palace had previously issued a warning to publishers to respect his privacy, saying he had been ‘harassed’ by paparazzi. A letter by Prince Harry’s communications secretary Jason Knauf said he had been followed and urged editors not to publish pictures of him. But the Mail on Sunday revealed a series of photographs had been taken with his co-operation in March. Mr Markle, Meghan and Harry spoke on the phone before the story broke.
Queen Elizabeth II, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex watch a flypast to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force from the balcony of Buckingham Palace on July 10, 2018
Kensington Palace issued a statement in which it confirmed that Mr Markle would not attend the wedding. It said: ‘This is a deeply personal moment for Ms Markle in the days before her wedding. She and Prince Harry ask again for understanding and respect to be extended to Mr Markle in this difficult situation.’
The defence papers say that on that day, Mr Markle wrote to his daughter to apologise for the furore over the posed photographs, and offered to make a public apology to both Meghan and Prince Harry. He said he loved her but would not go to her wedding as he wanted to spare her from any further embarrassment.
Prince Harry sent him a message in response, saying he did not need to apologise, and that he should call them. Later that day, Mr Markle suffered chest pains and shortness of breath and was taken to hospital and diagnosed with suspected congestive heart failure.
The following day, the defence papers say that Mr Markle texted Meghan to say he was back in hospital, and she responded, asking him to call her.
Mr Markle had an emergency operation – an angioplasty to unblock two arteries to his heart.
The defence papers say that on that day, he texted Meghan to tell her about the surgery and said he could not attend the wedding because his doctors would not allow him to fly. He apologised for missing the wedding and said he loved her, and wished her the best, saying he had had surgery.
According to the defence papers, he sent a later message, asking who would walk her down the aisle to give her away, and said he would come if she really needed him. He apologised again for not being there. He told Meghan he loved her and wishes her the best.
In response, he received a text message which he believed was from Prince Harry, which he described as hurtful.
According to the legal documents lodged at the High Court yesterday, it was signed ‘Love M and H’ but did not ask about his emergency heart surgery, or even ask him how he felt. Instead, it accused him of ignoring some 20 phone calls from Meghan.
The court papers said of Thomas Markle: ‘He received a text response signed ‘Love M and H’, but which read as if it was from Prince Harry, (amongst other things) admonishing Mr Markle for talking to the Press and telling him to stop and accusing Mr Markle of causing hurt to his daughter.
Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex leave after visiting Canada House in London, after their recent stay in Canada on January 7
‘The text did not ask how the surgical procedure had gone or how Mr Markle was or send him good wishes.’ Mr Markle was said to be ‘deeply hurt’ by the tone of the message, and replied curtly.
According to the defence papers, he said: ‘I’ve done nothing to hurt you Meghan or anyone else I know nothing about 20 phone calls. I’m sorry my heart attack is … any inconvenience for you.’ The court papers allege he received no reply and that his daughter did not speak to him again in the final days before her wedding.
In the letter that Meghan later wrote to her father in August 2018, which was published in the Mail on Sunday last year, she wrote: ‘You’ve told the Press that you called me to say you weren’t coming to the wedding – that didn’t happen because you never called.’
She accused him of ignoring her attempts to contact him in the days before the marriage, saying: ‘From my phone alone, I called you over 20 times and you ignored my calls… leaving me in the days before our wedding worried, confused, shocked and absolutely blindsided.’
Kensington Palace issued a statement from Meghan, saying: ‘Sadly, my father will not be attending our wedding.
‘I have always cared for my father and I hope he can be given the space he needs to focus on his health. I would like to thank everyone who has offered generous messages of support. Please know how much Harry and I look forward to sharing our special day with you on Saturday.’
In a statement the following day, Kensington Palace said Meghan had asked Prince Charles to walk her down the aisle at her wedding. It made no reference to her father or his hospital treatment.
Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex arrive at the public walkabout at the Rotorua Government Gardens on October 31, 2018 in Rotorua, New Zealand
May 19 – day of the wedding
Meghan Markle married Prince Harry and formally became part of the Royal Family.
Her mother Doria was at her side and Prince Charles walked her down the aisle.
The defence papers lodged yesterday, said that Mr Markle had insisted he made multiple attempts to contact his daughter by phone call and by text message, but received no response.
When he tried to call, he said his calls were blocked and that he believed she had changed her number without telling him.
Mr Markle said he had no communication from Meghan at all until her letter in August, three months later. Apart from that single letter, the defence papers said he had not heard from his daughter since he told her he was too ill to attend her wedding. He had never been introduced to her husband Prince Harry, nor met his eight-month-old grandson Archie.
He continued to try to make contact, and texted her in November 2018, according to the defence papers. The message read: ‘I want to reach out to you or try to reach out to you one more time.
‘You apparently have just written me off and now it’s telling me I guess for the rest of my life?’ He has received no response, the legal papers said.
Thomas Markle ‘gave Meghan’s letter to the Mail on Sunday after she let friends make false claims about their relationship to US magazine’
by Sam Greenhill for the Daily Mail
Thomas Markle released a letter from his daughter Meghan to the world to show it was not the ‘loving’ plea her friends had been making out, court documents said yesterday.
He kept her handwritten note private for months, and only revealed it to expose ‘false’ claims that the duchess had been trying to repair their relationship.
The letter – from August 2018 in the wake of her wedding to Prince Harry – was an ‘attack’ on Mr Markle and signalled the ‘end of the relationship’ between father and daughter, the court papers said.
According to defence papers filed at the High Court yesterday on behalf of The Mail on Sunday, the Duchess of Sussex‘s estranged father only decided to release extracts of the letter to the Press after she had allowed her friends to talk about it first.
Thomas Markle kept her handwritten note private for months, and only revealed it to expose ‘false’ claims that the duchess had been trying to repair their relationship (pictured: a young Meghan with her father)
The newspaper’s documents stated that Meghan ‘knowingly’ allowed her friends to leak details of the letter to the media. She ’caused or permitted’ five close friends to speak anonymously to the US magazine People to attack Thomas Markle, the court papers said.
The result was a bombshell interview published on February 6, 2019, in the celebrity weekly headlined: ‘Her best friends break their silence’ and ‘The truth about Meghan’.
It quoted the Duchess of Sussex’s friends saying she had written an impassioned plea to her estranged father to stop ‘victimising’ her in the media. They said she had been so upset by his repeated public attacks on her and Prince Harry that she had sent the letter begging him to sort out their differences privately.
The People interview said Meghan had written to Mr Markle: ‘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’.
But this article gave a ‘one-sided’ and ‘false’ account of the situation and of her letter, yesterday’s defence papers said.
Far from being ‘a loving letter aimed at repairing their relationship… her letter was an attack on Mr Markle. Amongst other things, she accused him of breaking her heart, manufacturing pain, being paranoid, being ridiculed, fabricating stories, of attacking Prince Harry and continually lying’.
Among the false claims, it was wrongly said that Mr Markle had refused to get in the airport car to attend the royal wedding, according to the court papers.
The People interview also said that Mr Markle had ‘never called… never texted’, and that he had falsely claimed that he could not reach his daughter. This was, according to the Mail on Sunday’s defence, untrue.
Following the wedding, Mr Markle had tried to contact Meghan by phone and text, but had received no response until the letter, it was said.
Amongst other things, Meghan accused her father of breaking her heart, manufacturing pain, being paranoid, being ridiculed, fabricating stories, of attacking Prince Harry and continually lying’ (pictured: Harry and Meghan leave after visiting Canada House in London a week ago)
‘Except for the receipt of the letter, Mr Markle had not heard from his daughter since he wrote to tell her he was too ill to attend her wedding, nor has he ever been introduced to or met Prince Harry or their son, his grandson,’ the defence document said.
Mr Markle was therefore entitled to set the record straight by allowing the British newspaper to publish extracts of the letter four days later, said the defence document, which added that he released it ‘in direct response to the publication of the People interview’. It said: ‘Thomas Markle had a weighty right to tell his version of what had happened between himself and his daughter including the contents of the letter. She did not suggest that they try to repair their relationship.
‘On the contrary, the final words of the letter, ‘I ask for nothing other than peace, and I wish the same for you’ suggested that their relationship was at an end, and Mr Markle understood those words to signal the end of the relationship.’
The court filing insisted the Duchess of Sussex had never denied that she gave her consent to People magazine’s five sources, described by the weekly – which has 40million readers in the US alone – as an ‘intensely loyal circle of close friends’. The defence document said that Meghan ‘knowingly caused or permitted information’ about her relationship with her father and a description of the letter’s contents to enter the public domain.
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex attend the Christmas Day Church service at Sandringham in 2018
The meaning and effect of the ‘one-sided and/or misleading’ account in the People ‘was to suggest Mr Markle had made false claims about his dealings with his daughter’.
The Mail on Sunday’s defence also said: ‘The People interview stated that Mr Markle had responded to the letter with a letter of his own in which he asked for a ‘photo op’ with [Meghan], with the implicit suggestion that he was seeking to make money from a photograph of him with [her]. This was false.
‘Mr Markle had in fact written, ‘I wish we could get together and take a photo for the whole world to see. If you and Harry don’t like me? Fake it for one photo and maybe some of the Press will finally shut up!’. None of Mr Markle’s account of events or feelings about those events was mentioned in the People interview.’
The defence lawyers said it was apparent from Meghan’s neat handwriting and immaculate presentation of the letter that she anticipated it being read by others or possibly disclosed to the media.
Meghan Markle’s closest confidante Jessica Mulroney ‘tried to fix a press article’ for the Duchess
by Sam Greenhill for the Daily Mail
One of Meghan’s best friends once intervened to try to fix a ‘favourable’ press article for the Duchess of Sussex, it has been claimed.
Canadian fashion stylist Jessica Mulroney tried to ‘influence’ an interview that former Meghan adviser Gina Nelthorpe-Cowne had granted the Mail on Sunday.
The claim is part of the newspaper’s case that the duchess was well versed in the art of attempting to manipulate what was written about her.
Jessica Mulroney and actress Meghan Markle attends the Instagram Dinner held at the MARS Discovery District on May 31, 2016 in Toronto, Canada
She has complained about her father allowing parts of a letter she wrote to him to be published in the Mail on Sunday.
But the paper says Thomas Markle only did so after Meghan had colluded in an article with People magazine. Mrs Mulroney’s intervention was given as an example of Meghan using friends to influence what was written about her.
The duchess and her style guru are said to have been in touch after Kensington Palace was informed by the Mail on Sunday about its interview with Mrs Nelthorpe-Cowne, a former friend and adviser.
The court papers say Meghan ’caused or permitted a close friend to seek to influence what is published about her in the media’. They said Mrs Mulroney tried to intervene in relation to the interview.
A Mail on Sunday journalist had notified the Palace about the contents of the story. The paper’s lawyers suggest Meghan then passed this message on to Mrs Mulroney ‘with a request that she intervene to try to ensure that a more favourable article was published’.
Later that day – April 7, 2018 – Mrs Mulroney wrote to Mrs Nelthorpe-Cowne ‘putting pressure on her to withdraw or change statements’, it was claimed.
Defence lawyers stated they would seek ‘disclosure’ of all of Meghan’s communications relating to this intervention and any other occasions in which she had permitted her friends to provide information to the media to influence what is published about her.
Mrs Mulroney, the daughter-in-law of former Canadian PM Brian Mulroney, met Meghan while working on the TV drama Suits. Known as ‘Toronto’s answer to Gwyneth Paltrow’, she is a social media star and is married to a friend of Canadian PM Justin Trudeau.
The duchess and her style guru are said to have been in touch after Kensington Palace was informed by the Mail on Sunday about its interview with Mrs Nelthorpe-Cowne (pictured), a former friend and adviser