Harry faced ‘constant berating’ from royal family, Meghan told aide

The Duchess of Sussex texted a former aide that Harry faced “constant berating” from the royal family over her strained relationship with her estranged father, messages released on Friday have shown.

Meghan, 40, sued Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL), the publisher of The Mail On Sunday and MailOnline, over five articles that reproduced parts of a “personal and private” letter to Thomas Markle, 77.

ANL has brought an appeal against a High Court judge’s decision to grant Meghan summary judgment – meaning she won her case without a trial.

During the hearing this week, ANL’s lawyers told senior judges they want to rely on new evidence from Jason Knauf – former communications secretary to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex – who claimed that the duchess wrote the letter with the understanding that it could be leaked.

Duke and Duchess of Sussex receive award
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex gave an interview to Oprah Winfrey (Yui Mok/PA)

After extracts of texts and emails between the duchess and Mr Knauf were used in court, further texts were made public on Friday following an application by the PA news agency and The Times.

Meghan previously told the Court of Appeal that the main purpose of the letter “was to encourage my father to stop talking to the press” after public criticism and a “media onslaught” surrounding Mr Markle.

“It was only when my father began criticizing the royal family…that senior members of the family and their advisers expressed their concern over the public attacks, and expressed their desire to have them stopped,” she wrote in her evidence.

In the newly released text messages, sent to Mr Knauf while she was drafting the handwritten letter, the duchess can be seen expressing her frustration about the response of the royal family.

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.”

During Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah Winfrey earlier this year, the couple laid bare their troubled relationship with the monarchy and the duke revealed he “felt led down” by the Prince of Wales.

Charles meets Prince’s Trust Young Entrepreneurs – London
Harry said he felt ‘let down’ by his father the Prince of Wales (Chris Jackson/PA)

He said his father stopped taking his calls as he attempted to map out his future role in the monarchy in late 2019, when the duchess was under intense pressure.

Harry told Winfrey: “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.”

During the Court of Appeal hearing, ANL’s lawyers argued that an article in People magazine in the US, which featured an interview with five friends of Meghan, misrepresented the letter and made “nasty” allegations about Mr Markle.

Andrew Caldecott QC, representing ANL, said that the article falsely presented Mr Markle as giving “a cynical and self-interested response ignoring her pleas for reconciliation in a loving letter”.

In the newly released texts, Meghan told Mr Knauf the letter “does not open the door for a conversation”.

The Court of Appeal also heard that Mr Knauf provided information to the authors of Finding Freedom by Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand – leading to Meghan apologising for misleading the court about whether he had given information.

In his witness statement, Mr Knauf said the book was “discussed on a routine basis”, which was “discussed directly with the duchess multiple times in person and over email”.

In her evidence, made public on Wednesday, Meghan said: “When I approved the passage…I did not have the benefit of seeing these emails and I apologise to the court for the fact that I had not remembered these exchanges at the time.

“I had absolutely no wish or intention to mislead the defendant or the court.”

The new texts and emails show that in an email to Meghan in December 2018, Mr Knauf said he had spent “close to two hours” with the authors of the unauthorised biography.

“I took them through everything,” he wrote.

“They are going to time the book for run up to the baby being born and it is going to be very positive.”

Mr Knauf also told the duchess that the book would be a “celebration of you that corrects the record on a number of fronts” according to the authors.

At the end of the hearing on Thursday, the three senior judges said they will take time to consider their decision and give their ruling on ANL’s appeal at a later date.