Meghan ‘wrote letter to father in bid to stop him talking to press’

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The Duchess of Sussex has said she decided to pen an emotional five-page letter to her estranged father in a bid to stop him from talking to the press, following discussions with senior members of the Royal Family.

Meghan, 40, said in a statement that she wrote the letter to Thomas Markle, 77, after taking advice from the two unnamed senior royals in early August 2018.

Her statement was issued in response to evidence from her former aide Jason Knauf, which was disclosed as part of an appeal by Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL), publisher of the Mail On Sunday, against a High Court ruling which concluded the newspaper’s publication of the letter amounted to an unlawful invasion of privacy.

In the statement, Meghan described how she “felt strongly” that she had to do something to stop Mr Markle talking to the media, so the Duke of Sussex could tell his family she had done what she could.

She also said she thought it was “incredibly unlikely” that her father would leak the letter, because it would not put him in a “good light”, and that her main purpose in writing it was to stop him speaking to the press.

The duchess said: “I had privately endured the media onslaught surrounding my father with the support of my husband and Mr Knauf, in his capacity of our Communications Secretary, but it was only when my father began criticising 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.

“I was especially sensitive to this as I had very recently married into the family and was eager to please them.

“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.

“What I did not share with Mr Knauf was the detail of the exchange which took place in the first week of August 2018, with senior members of the Royal Family pertaining to the handling of this problem.

“While my husband and I were staying as guests of one senior member of the family, whom I shall refer to as senior member B to protect their privacy, we had a discussion with and received advice from senior member B and another senior member of the family (senior member A) in regards to how to deal
with the concern surrounding my father and his dealings with the media.

“While my husband and I were sitting with senior member B, I was told that senior member A was on the telephone and wished to speak to me.

Duke and Duchess of Sussex on TIME100 Talks
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (Matt Styles/PA)

“The telephone was passed to me and we had a discussion about the situation in the presence of senior member B and my husband.

“Once the call ended, we continued discussions with senior member B, and it was only after these discussions, and in accordance with the advice that I received from the two senior family members … I decided, that I would write a letter to my father.”

Although the identities of the senior royals were kept secret in her statement, they have been disclosed to the Court of Appeal judges hearing the legal challenge in a confidential document.

Meghan said she went to “considerable lengths” to ensure the letter was seen only by her father, including having it sent by her “trusted business manager” in California, who Mr Markle knew, rather than sending it by courier.

She said she also took care that, if it was intercepted or leaked, something she considered would be “unfortunate”, its contents could not be “manipulated or misleadingly edited”.

She added: “While we had to recognise that anything was possible in the extraordinary circumstances in which we were living and therefore the need to mitigate against the risks of disclosure of the letter’s contents, I did not think that my father would sell or leak the letter, primarily because it would not put him in a good light.

“I had not heard from him since the week leading up to our wedding, but it seemed incredibly unlikely that he would disclose the contents because they contained unpalatable truths and would thereby negate the falsehoods the media had attributed to him.

“The main purpose of the letter was to encourage my father to stop talking to the press.”

Meghan said ANL had previously argued her letter was part of a “media strategy” and now contends she thought it was “likely to reach the public domain”.

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.

“Similarly, my texts do not support (ANL’s solicitor, Keith) Mathieson’s assertion that if the letter did become public I wanted all of its text to be published.

“To be clear, I did not want any of it to be published, and wanted to ensure that the risk of it being manipulated or misleadingly edited was minimised, were it to be exploited.”

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