Meghan Markle ‘wrote her father a letter to pull heartstrings if leaked,’ says ex-aide

Meghan said she wrote to her father to show the royals she was setting boundaries with him

Lamiat Sabin
Wednesday 10 November 2021 18:43 GMT
Meghan, Harry, and the Queen
Meghan, Harry, and the Queen (John Stillwell/Getty)
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The Duchess of Sussex wrote a handwritten letter to her estranged father to “pull heartstrings” in her perceived likelihood that he would leak it to the media, the Court of Appeal has heard.

Meghan and Harry’s former communications secretary, Jason Knauf, told the court that Meghan had suggested to him in August 2018 that she thought it was possible her father, Thomas Markle, would make the letter public.

A High Court judge had ruled that the Mail on Sunday’s publication of Meghan’s letter was “unlawful”.

Lawyers for Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) are appealing the ruling, saying that the duchess had expected at the time she composed the letter that it could get leaked.

Andrew Caldecott QC, representing ANL, told the Court of Appeal: “The picture presented to the judge on behalf of the claimant… was that this was an entirely private letter crafted for Mr Markle’s eyes only.”

Mr Knauf’s evidence was revealed on Wednesday during the second day of the three-day-long appeal.

In his statement, Mr Knauf said the duchess had “lost confidence” that her father would not leak private communications to the press as a result of his “increasing co-operation with reporters and photographers”.

He said that Meghan asked whether she should refer to her father as “daddy” in the letter and said it would “pull at the heartstrings” if leaked to the media.

Meghan was aware of how the letter could be manipulated, and had “deliberately ended each page part way through a sentence so that no page could be falsely presented as the end of the letter”, he added.

Mr Knauf said that in a series of text messages Meghan sent to him, she had written that the “catalyst” for writing the letter was so that the Duke of Sussex could “demonstrate to his family that some action was being taken by the couple to stop Mr Markle from continuing to engage with the media”.

He said texts included an early draft of the letter, and that Meghan had written: “Obviously everything I have drafted is with the understanding that it could be leaked so I have been meticulous in my word choice, but please do let me know if anything stands out for you as a liability.”

Meghan’s lawyers are opposing ANL’s bid for the Court of Appeal to take Mr Knauf’s evidence into consideration.

In a statement, the duchess said she had decided to write the letter after discussions with unnamed senior members of the royal family, which Mr Knauf was not privy to. She said she did not think her father would leak the letter, as it would show him in a “bad light”.

Rebutting Mr Knauf’s evidence, she said: “The proposition that saying that I recognised that it was possible that my father would leak the letter, albeit unlikely, is the same as saying that I thought it likely that he would do so is, I would suggest, absurd.”

Meghan also said she was “eager to please” the royal family and was “especially sensitive” to their concerns about her father’s “public attacks” on them.

She added: “It is correct that, as I said in my texts to Mr Knauf, the situation was putting significant pressure on my husband, both externally and by his family, and I felt strongly that I needed to do something about it.

“I felt that, even if my attempt to stop my father talking to the media failed, at least my husband would be able to say to his family that I had done everything I could to stop it.”

Additional reporting by PA

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