4 court battles Harry and Meghan are currently fighting

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·6-min read
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 25: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and their baby son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor meet Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his daughter Thandeka Tutu-Gxashe at the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation during their royal tour of South Africa on September 25, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Toby Melville/Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage)
Harry and Meghan, here with Archie in South Africa in September 2019, are suing on behalf of their son. (WireImage)

The Royal Family is no stranger to legal action, but Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s involvement in several legal battles at once is a rarity.

The couple have been willing to act when they feel they are facing a breach of privacy and are currently managing several legal battles against various newspapers and picture agencies.

Yahoo UK looks at each case the royals are fighting, both in the UK and the US.

Duchess of Sussex vs Splash News and Pictures

Meghan is suing the news agency Splash News and Pictures over images taken of her walking her dogs, with baby Archie, through the woods in Canada in January 2020.

She is suing in her own right, but the action is also brought by Harry and Meghan on behalf of Archie.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex attend a creative industries and business reception, at the British High Commissioner's residence, in Johannesburg, South Africa, on day 10 of their tour of Africa. PA Photo. Picture date: Monday September 23, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Tour. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire (Photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images)
Harry and Meghan, here in South Africa in September 2019, are involved in multiple court battles. (PA Images)

Meghan was out for a walk on 20 January when she was “papped”, her lawyers say, by a photographer who works for the US branch of Splash.

The couple say the photographs are a misuse of Meghan and Archie’s private information and are in breach of the Data Protection Act.

Their lawyer said in High Court that the photographer was “casing” the home they were staying in on Vancouver Island the day before the images were taken.

The pictures were sold and used widely by Associated Newspapers and News Group, who publish papers like the Daily Mail and The Sun.

Harry and Meghan have brought action against Splash in the UK, at the High Court, but sought permission to serve the claim against the US arm of the agency, which they were granted.

It’s not the first time they have gone to battle against Splash. In 2019, they accepted damages after Splash used a drone to take images above the home in the Cotswolds, which gave a view of their bedroom.

Duchess of Sussex vs Associated Newspapers Ltd

Perhaps the best known court case of the couple’s battles is the duchess’s case against Associated Newspapers Ltd (ANL), over articles which appeared in the Mail On Sunday and on the MailOnline.

The duchess is suing after parts of a letter she wrote to her father, which she says were private, were reprinted in the paper and then online.

Read more: Why is Meghan Markle suing the Mail on Sunday?

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - OCTOBER 02:  Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend a Creative Industries and Business Reception on October 02, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.  (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Harry and Meghan both announced legal action at the end of their tour of South Africa, pictured here. (Getty Images)

Meghan, 39, is suing for damages citing alleged misuse of private information, copyright infringement and breach of the Data Protection Act.

She sent her father, Thomas Markle, the letter in August 2018, and it was referenced by her friends in an article for People magazine about six months later, in February 2019.

Claiming he needed to defend himself, Markle then spoke to the Mail On Sunday, and showed them the letter, parts of which were then printed in the paper and online.

Meghan says she did not know her friends would be speaking to People magazine, and that her father was manipulated.

The article was headlined: “Revealed: The handwritten letter showing true tragedy of Meghan's rift with father she says has 'broken her heart into a million pieces' - and why he feels forced to make the 'devastating' missive public”.

The case has already had two big court dates - one won by Meghan and the other by ANL.

ANL won their bid to have parts of the duchess’s case struck out, but Meghan won the right to keep the names of her five friends secret for now.

ANL denies the allegations, particularly Meghan’s claim the letter was edited in any way. It says it will hotly contest the case.

The case is expected to go to full trial next year.

Read more: Eight times the Royal Family has sued the media

A general view of the guard cabin at the entrance of the gated neighborhood where Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are looking to establish their residence, Serra Retreat in Malibu, California on April 01, 2020. - The pair, who formally stepped down as senior members of the British royal family this week, have reportedly already relocated to sunny California. They are currently rumored to be hunkering down at a compound in Malibu, the exclusive beach community outside Los Angeles long favored by A-listers and movie moguls. (Photo by JEAN-BAPTISTE LACROIX / AFP) (Photo by JEAN-BAPTISTE LACROIX/AFP via Getty Images)
Meghan and Harry sued over pictures taken when they were staying in this part of Los Angeles, in a home believed to be owned by Tyler Perry. (AFP)

Duke and Duchess of Sussex vs Unknown Paparazzi

Harry and Meghan filed legal action against unknown photographers at the end of July, as they accused paparazzi of having an “insatiable appetite for harassing and intruding” on their private lives.

The couple claimed in court papers that photographers were using drones and long lenses to get pictures of their son in the home they had been living in in LA, believed to belong to Hollywood producer Tyler Perry.

Harry and Meghan have moved since then, to a new home which they have bought and are understood to have a mortgage on.

The couple does not know who has taken the images of them, and so the legal action was filed against multiple unnamed photographers.

The action is intended to put prospective buyers of the photographs on notice that they are illegal images, and hope to uncover who took them in order to have the pictures handed over.

They also suggest they will take any other appropriate action against the photographer.

The papers add: “In particular, the couple recently learned that someone is shopping photographs of their 14-month-old son, Archie, falsely claiming to have taken them on a ‘recent’ public outing ‘in Malibu’. But Archie has not been in public, let alone in Malibu, since the family arrived here.”

Duke of Sussex vs The Sun and The Mirror

Prince Harry confirmed in October 2019 that he was taking action against the owners of The Sun, The Mirror and the defunct News of the World, for alleged phone hacking.

Buckingham Palace said papers were filed for the prince at the High Court, about alleged interception of phone messages, and News Group, which owns The Sun and used to own News of the World, confirmed a claim was issued.

Read more: The 360: What has been the reaction to Harry and Meghan's huge deal with Netflix?

Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex leaves after a visit to officially open the Silverstone Experience at Silverstone motor racing circuit, in central England on March 6, 2020. - The Silverstone Experience is the new home to the archive of the British Racing Drivers Club. The museum brings the extensive heritage of Silverstone and British motor racing to life through a dynamic, interactive and educational visitor experience. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)
Harry, during one of his last royal engagements, in March 2020, is suing over phone hacking. (AFP)

Court filings reported by Byline Investigates appear to show two separate cases, made in the prince’s name, one against Rupert Murdoch’s News Group, and the other against Reach Plc’s group MGN. Reach is the publisher for The Mirror.

The BBC reported some of the claims were understood to predate 2010, and Jonny Dymond, the organisation’s royal correspondent, said the action goes back to the phone hacking scandal of the 2000s.

Phone hacking was a major scandal from 2007 and Princes William, Harry and then Kate Middleton were all named in the trial.

More than £500m has been paid out to victims of phone hacking over the years in settlements and legals costs.