Thomas Markle says he may ‘die tomorrow’ and Meghan’s case ‘causing anxiety’

By Sian Harrison, PA
·3-min read

The Duchess of Sussex’s father fears he may “die tomorrow” and says her privacy action against The Mail On Sunday over the publication of a handwritten letter she sent to him is causing him “anxiety”.

Meghan, 39, is suing Associated Newspapers Ltd (ANL), publisher of The Mail On Sunday and MailOnline, over an article which reproduced parts of the handwritten letter sent to 76-year-old Thomas Markle in August 2018.

At a High Court hearing in London on Thursday, Mr Justice Warby agreed to adjourn the trial, which was due to start on January 11 next year, until the autumn following an earlier private hearing.

The judge said the private hearing was necessary to protect “the confidentiality of the information relied on” by Meghan in her application to postpone the trial.

The Royal Courts of Justice (Aaron Chown/PA)
The Royal Courts of Justice (Aaron Chown/PA)

The confidential information was said by the judge to be the “primary” reason for the duchess wanting the trial to be adjourned and her application was not opposed by ANL.

However, ANL’s lawyers did ask the judge to consider Mr Markle’s situation, saying he is “elderly and sick” and wants and intends to give evidence at trial.

In a witness statement before the court, ANL’s group editorial legal director Liz Hartley said she had spoken to Mr Markle and provided a summary of what he told her.

He said: “This case is causing me anxiety and I want to get it over with as quickly as possible.”

Mr Markle told Ms Hartley he has a number of serious health conditions before adding: “None of my relatives has ever lived beyond 80 years of age.

“I am a realist and I could die tomorrow.

“The sooner this case takes place the better.”

Ms Hartley said in her statement that Mr Markle had contacted a Mail On Sunday journalist because he “considered that he had a right to tell his side of the story following publication of what he considered to be a misleading article in People magazine”.

She added: “He continues to feel that he has been misrepresented and that the claimant should not be pursuing this claim.

“He is anxious that he should have his day in court so that he can tell the truth in public, have his evidence tested under cross-examination and defend himself against the suggestion that he breached the claimant’s privacy without any reasonable justification.

“Despite his state of health, Mr Markle was and is planning to travel to London to give evidence in person and I can confirm that his intention to give evidence is as firm as it has always been.”

The full summary of Mr Markle’s comments is as follows: “I am 76 years old and as a result of my heart condition and surgery I am on blood thinners which have had an effect on my breathing.

“I am unable to walk far or up many stairs.

“I can’t manage to take more than 30 or 40 steps without getting winded and needing to slow down until I have caught my breath.

“I have had a cold for three to four years which is connected to my heart and lung disease.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex on their wedding day (Ben Stansall/PA)
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex on their wedding day (Ben Stansall/PA)

“I am clinically obese and I have gained more weight during the past months because I have been unable to leave my house to take any exercise.

“I am pre-diabetic.

“I don’t know what the position will be in several months’ time.

“I have not been back to Chula Vista hospital and although I see a local doctor and I am willing to see a doctor to have my heart and lungs checked, I do not want to know whether I now have cancer or any other serious conditions.

“None of my male relatives has ever lived beyond 80 years of age.

“I am a realist and I could die tomorrow.

“The sooner this case takes place the better.”