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For the past few years, whenever Meghan Markle has been in the headlines, it’s a fair bet that it’ll be followed by some class of comment from broadcaster Piers Morgan.
Despite having only met the Duchess of Sussex once – and, by his own admission, having a lovely time in her company when they did meet – Piers has made no secret of his disdain for her, slating her at seemingly every available opportunity.
But what exactly has he said about her over the years? How did we end up here? And can you really call something a “feud” when only one of the parties has ever acknowledged the other?
Here’s a timeline of Piers and Meghan’s complicated (and entirely one-sided) history...
June 2016: Piers and Meghan enjoy a couple of rounds at the pub
Considering Piers’s views now, it’s interesting that his public relationship with Meghan actually began with him expressing his admiration for the former Suits star when she first began dating Prince Harry.
Apparently, their brief friendship began when she DMed him after he followed her on Twitter, which led to the two having a night out at Piers’ local.
After meeting her once in June 2016, Piers – who was previously a fan of Meghan’s work in the US legal drama – said on GMB in September 2017: “We had 90 minutes in my local pub over a dirty martini and a pint of hand pumped Harvey’s.
“Trust me I’ll be milking that 90 minutes if she becomes our princess for the rest of my days.”
“We got on brilliantly,” he later recalled. “Then I put her in a cab, and it turns out it was the cab that took her to a party where she met Prince Harry.
“The next night they had a solo dinner and that was the last I ever heard from Meghan Markle. I never heard from her again - Meghan Markle ghosted me.”
November 2017: Harry and Meghan announce their engagement
When the royal couple announced their plans to wed, Piers joined their fans in celebrating the news.
“I was delighted when I heard the big news today, not least because his bride-to-be Meghan Markle is a friend of mine,” he wrote in his Daily Mail column at the time.
Referring to his past meeting with the future Duchess, he continued: “I didn’t hear from Meghan again after her royal romance erupted into the public gaze, which is perfectly understandable under the circumstances (though I desperately miss her sending me those early Suits episode links!).
“I’m guessing the words ‘Hey darling, fancy going to the pub with my ex tabloid newspaper editor mate Piers?’ were never going to go down very well with His Royal Highness, even if we are neighbours and I was once quite pally with his mum Diana.”
Angling for a seat at their nuptials, he added: “All will be forgiven though if I get an invite to the wedding of the year… In the meantime, I congratulate them both on their engagement.”
But this was not an invitation that would end up coming to fruition.
May 2018: Piers sides with Meghan as her relationship with her father comes under scrutiny
In the lead-up to Harry and Meghan’s big day, it emerged that her father Thomas Markle had sold set-up paparazzi photos to the press, and that he had not been invited to the wedding.
At the time, Piers sided with Meghan, comparing her family to a “bunch of repulsive PR-crazed Kardashians” in his column for the Mail.
He even slammed royal staff for not “immediate steps to ensure Meghan’s family were protected from the inevitable massive media attention heading their way”.
“As for how all this washes up, my heart hopes Harry and Meghan will brush off the wedding chaos and live the fairy-tale happily ever after,” he continued.
June 2018: And then... he changes his mind
Within just a few weeks, Piers had done something of a 180 on Thomas Markle, presumably aided by the fact that he had agreed to be interviewed on Good Morning Britain, something he’s done on several occasions since his daughter became the Duchess of Sussex.
September 2018: Piers starts to turn on his “old mate”
Having dined out on his one meeting with Meghan for over two years, Piers claimed to have been “hurt” that after putting her in a cab “that was the last I ever heard from Meghan Markle”.
Discussing the night at the pub in a US television interview, Piers light-heartedly said: “I really liked her — this is why it hurts.”
He went to brand her a “slight social climber”, an opinion he would elaborate on for the next year on social media, his Mail column and during discussions on Good Morning Britain.
January 2020: Harry and Meghan step back as senior royals, and Piers has something to say
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle caused a stir the world over when they announced they’d be stepping away from their duties as senior royals, news which Piers did not take well.
“People say I’m too critical of Meghan Markle—but she ditched her family, ditched her dad, ditched most of her old friends, split Harry from William & has now split him from the Royal Family,” he tweeted.
Days later, he accused Meghan of “playing [the] despicable race card” and thus “grossly libelling all of Britain”.
People say I'm too critical of Meghan Markle - but she ditched her family, ditched her Dad, ditched most of her old friends, split Harry from William & has now split him from the Royal Family.
I rest my case. pic.twitter.com/xgKLTt2Y0Z
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) January 8, 2020
It’s at this point that we’d like to stress that, three and a half years after meeting Piers for the first and only time, Meghan was still to comment on him – or even utter his name – in public.
March 2021: The Oprah Winfrey interview
Let’s fast-forward a year, during which time Piers’ comments about Meghan have become so frequent and personal that he’s been accused of a “personal vendetta” by Good Morning Britain guest Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu.
Similarly, his co-anchor Susanna Reid accused him of being “obsessed” with Meghan and Prince Harry, telling him he had “such a negative filter” when it came to the Sussexes.
So, by the time Meghan’s interview with Oprah Winfrey was broadcast in March 2021, slating the Duchess of Sussex was as important a part of Piers’ personal brand as holding cabinet ministers to account or pretending to vomit after eating a Greggs vegansausage roll.
However, many viewers felt a line was crossed when he cast doubt on several claims made by Meghan during her Oprah interview, most notably the fact she’d experienced suicidal feelings during her time as a member of the Royal Family.
During a live broadcast in March, Piers and Susanna watched a clip of Meghan stating: “I went to the institution. And I said that I needed to go somewhere to get help. I said that I’d never felt this way before, and I need to go somewhere. And I was told that I couldn’t, because it wouldn’t be good for the institution.”
Reacting to the clip live on air, Piers said he “[didn’t] believe a word [Meghan] says”, adding: “I wouldn’t believe her if she read me a weather report, and the fact that she’s fired up this onslaught against our Royal Family, I think, is contemptible.”
‘Anyone who says they were left feeling suicidal, you have to feel sympathy for them.’ @susannareid100 responds to @piersmorgan’s question of whether she feels ‘genuine sympathy for Meghan’ after watching that interview.
Watch the full interview on @ITV at 9pm. pic.twitter.com/lht1Xh572p
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) March 8, 2021
Piers was criticised by the mental health charity Mind over his comments, not to mention his co-host, who said he’d shown a “pretty unsympathetic reaction to someone who has expressed those thoughts”.
The Ofcom complaints then started rolling in...
March 2021: Piers walks off set after being criticised for his comments about Meghan
The morning after his outburst about Meghan, Piers was called out by Good Morning Britain colleague Alex Beresford, who wasn’t present for the previous day’s broadcast.
“I understand that you don’t like Meghan Markle,” Alex told Piers. “You’ve made it so clear a number of times on this programme. A number of times.
“And I understand that you’ve got a personal relationship with Meghan Markle and she cut you off, she’s entitled to cut you off, if she wants to. Has she said anything about you since she cut you off? I don’t think she has. But yet you continue to trash her.”
Piers then told his colleague he was “done with this”, storming backstage and declaring: “Sorry, no, I can’t do this.”
March 2021: Piers leaves Good Morning Britain
The news that Ofcom was launching an investigation off the back of Piers’ comments was followed swiftly by the announcement that the divisive presenter would not be returning to the ITV daytime show.
“Following discussions with ITV, Piers Morgan has decided now is the time to leave Good Morning Britain,” a spokesperson said. “ITV has accepted this decision and has nothing further to add.”
In the months since, Piers has made somewhat contradictory remarks about his exit, first insisting his exit was “amicable” and that it was his own decision to leave, and later blaming “cancel culture” for him “losing” his GMB role.
The morning after the announcement, he told the press: “I had a good chat with ITV and we agreed to disagree. I’m just going to take it easy and see how we go.”
He continued: “I believe in freedom of speech, I believe in the right to be allowed to have an opinion. If people want to believe Meghan Markle, that’s entirely their right.
“I don’t believe almost anything that comes out of her mouth and I think the damage she’s done to the British monarchy and to the Queen at a time when Prince Philip is lying in hospital is enormous and frankly contemptible.
“If I have to fall on my sword for expressing an honestly-held opinion about Meghan Markle and that diatribe of bilge that she came out with in that interview, so be it.”
March 2021: Meghan reportedly complains to Ofcom
While Meghan has never publicly commented on Piers’ continued treatment of her on social media, television and his newspaper column, it was widely reported that she was among those who filed a complaint the morning after her Oprah Winfrey interview aired.
His remarks eventually became the most complained-about incident in Ofcom’s history, with more than 50,000 people getting in touch with the TV watchdog.
September 2021: Ofcom ruling
Today we’ve concluded our investigation into Piers Morgan’s comments on Good Morning Britain in the wake of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Read our decision and the reasons for it here (pdf) ➡️ https://t.co/bzU8cZ4Sazpic.twitter.com/cc8x7ct7av
— Ofcom (@Ofcom) September 1, 2021
Despite the deluge of complaints, Ofcom ultimately ruled that ITV had not breached the media regulator’s guidelines by broadcasting Piers’ comments.
They said in a statement six months after the initial broadcast: “This was a finely-balanced decision. Mr Morgan’s comments were potentially harmful and offensive to viewers, and we recognise the strong public reaction to them.
“But we also took full account of freedom of expression. Under our rules, broadcasters can include controversial opinions as part of legitimate debate in the public interest, and the strong challenge to Mr Morgan from other contributors provided important context for viewers.
“Nonetheless, we’ve reminded ITV to take greater care around content discussing mental health and suicide in future. ITV might consider the use of timely warnings or signposting of support services to ensure viewers are properly protected.”
A summary of the Ofcom ruling explained: “This programme focused on the interview between Oprah Winfrey and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
“It contained statements about suicide and mental health which had the potential to be harmful and highly offensive.
“However, our decision is that overall the programme contained sufficient challenge to provide adequate protection and context to its viewers. We also considered that the comments about race in the programme could have been potentially highly offensive, but that the comments were sufficiently contextualised. Therefore, our decision is that the programme did not breach the Ofcom Broadcasting Code.”
I’m delighted OFCOM has endorsed my right to disbelieve the Duke & Duchess of Sussex’s incendiary claims to Oprah Winfrey, many of which have proven to be untrue. This is a resounding victory for free speech and a resounding defeat for Princess Pinocchios.
Do I get my job back? pic.twitter.com/czhzeejYpa
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) September 1, 2021
Suffice to say, Piers was over the moon that his remarks were cleared by Ofcom, tweeting afterwards: “This is a resounding victory for free speech.”
Looking ahead, he also teased: “Do I get my job back?”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.