The Duchess of Sussex blamed Prince Charles and other royals for “constantly berating” Prince Harry and forcing her to write a letter to her estranged father. Meghan suggested she had written to Thomas Markle to get members of the Royal Family off her husband’s back. She complained that the Windsors “fundamentally don’t understand” her dysfunctional relationship with her father.
A cache of text messages and email exchanges between Meghan and her then-communications secretary Jason Knauf show that it was while she and Harry were staying with Charles and Camilla at the Castle of Mey in Caithness, Scotland, in August 2018 that she decided to write to her father to placate her in-laws.
In one of the messages, she wrote: “The catalyst for my doing this is seeing how much pain this is causing H. Even after a week with his dad and endlessly explaining the situation, his family seem to forget the context – and revert to ‘can’t she just go and see him and make this stop?’ They fundamentally don’t understand so at least by writing H will be able to say to his family, ‘She wrote him a letter and he’s still doing it.’ By taking this form of action I protect my husband from this constant berating and, while unlikely, perhaps it will give my father a moment to pause.”
It is the latest revelation of trouble between the Sussexes and Charles. During their television interview with Oprah Winfrey earlier this year, Harry said he “felt let down” by his father.
He said Charles stopped taking his calls as he and Meghan attempted to map out a future role in the monarchy in late 2019. Harry told Oprah: “But at the same time, I will always love him. But there’s a lot of hurt that’s happened and I will continue to make it one of my priorities to try and heal that relationship.”
Faced with pressure from the royals to heal her rift with her father, Meghan argued it was impractical for her to travel to Mexico and see him at his home as it was likely the media would find out and heap more embarrassment on the Royal Family. The messages were released by lawyers yesterday after a three-day court hearing earlier this week.
They provide further evidence that Meghan and Mr Knauf were thinking about the public reading her letter to him, even though she has since complained that a newspaper that published the “private” letter breached her privacy and copyright.
In one previously unseen message, Mr Knauf advised her that she needed to address the fact that Mr Markle, 77, had pulled out of giving her away at her wedding to Harry in 2018 after telling the world, via US celebrity website TMZ, that he had suffered a heart attack.
She told him she had drafted everything “with the understanding that it could be leaked” so was “meticulous” in her choice of words, using the word “Daddy”, which, if it was leaked, would “pull at the heartstrings”.
Mr Knauf texted back: “The draft letter is very strong – enough emotion to be authentic, but all in resigned sadness rather than anger.” He suggested there were a “few tweaks” to the order of events that she had set out that “could be a bit stronger – I think it’s slightly even worse than you remember”.
But he added: “The only thing I think is essential to address in some way is the heart attack. That is his best opening for criticism and sympathy.
“The truth is you tried desperately to find out about the medical treatment he said he was receiving and he stopped communicating with you. You begged him to accept help to drive him to the hospital, and instead of speaking to you to arrange this he stopped answering his phone and only spoke to TMZ.”
He asked her if she was OK after drafting the letter and she replied: “Honestly Jason, I feel fantastic. Cathartic and real and honest and factual.”
In February this year, a High Court judge, Mr Justice Warby, ruled that The Mail On Sunday’s decision to publish the letter after the newspaper was given it by Mr Markle was a straightforward breach of Meghan’s privacy and copyright and could be dealt with summarily without going to a full trial.
At a three-day hearing in the Court of Appeal this week, lawyers for the newspaper’s publisher argued that the new evidence from the messages between her and Mr Knauf showed the letter was intended for public consumption, and the whole case should go to a full trial at which Meghan and other witnesses can be questioned.
They also argued that after the key message of the letter was leaked to US magazine People, that her father had a right of reply. Andrew Caldecott QC, for Associated, told the three judges: “Either we believe in freedom of expression or we don’t. Thomas Markle has been royally attacked in the People magazine.”
The Court of Appeal also heard that on Harry and Meghan’s instructions, Mr Knauf provided information to the authors of Finding Freedom, a biography of the couple by Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, despite their insistence that there had been no cooperation.
Meghan was forced to apologise for misleading the court after claiming she had forgotten that she had asked her communications secretary to brief the authors. Many observers believe Meghan and Prince Harry have now suffered a devastating blow to their credibility after the former actress was forced to apologise.
Tensions inside the Royal Family have been laid bare by the latest cache of documents to emerge from the court case involving the Duchess of Sussex. Quite what they mean for the outcome of the multi-million pound breach of privacy and copyright case remains to be seen. The three appeal court judges are expected to issue their ruling in writing at a later date.