Meghan Markle told her father “I ask for nothing other than peace” and said he broke her “heart into a million pieces” in the letter at the heart of her privacy lawsuit.
The Duchess of Sussex’s lawyer read extracts of the handwritten note Meghan sent Thomas Markle, which begged him to stop talking to the media, in the August after her May 2018 wedding.
Meghan told her father “Daddy, it is with a heavy heart that I write this,” the High Court in London heard today.
The duchess is suing The Mail on Sunday for publishing what a court filing describes as a “heartfelt plea from an anguished daughter to her father.”
Judge Mark Warby has been asked to award her victory without the need for a trial in what is known as a “summary judgment application.”
Meghan wrote: “If you love me, as you tell the press you do, please stop. Please allow us to live our lives in peace.”
She added: “I ask for nothing other than peace and I wish the same for you.”
Attorney Justin Rushbrooke said: “The thrust of the letter was not to repair the relationship, it was self-evidently to stop him talking to the press.
“But if it was not an olive branch, neither was it a vicious or unwarranted attack on him. It was a message of peace.”
Meghan also told her father in the note, which was copied out by hand from an electronic draft: “Please stop exploiting my relationship with my husband.”
The Mail on Sunday argues Thomas Markle had the right to defend himself after the letter was mentioned by friends in an interview with People, in which he was criticized.
Rushbrooke told the court: “The contents and character of the letter were intrinsically private, personal and sensitive in nature.
“It concerned the Claimant’s relationship with her father; her constant love for and desire to protect him; the financial support she had given him (contrary to his public claim that she had not); her concerns over the state of his health; the recent breakdown of that relationship; her feelings about that breakdown and the very painful impact of his conduct upon her, in particular his dealings with the press; and her sense of betrayal over his denial of working with the paparazzi.
“Its last paragraph began with a heartfelt plea for him to stop talking to the press.”
However, Thomas Markle told The Mail on Sunday in an interview alongside the letter, published in 2019: “I thought it would be an olive branch. Instead, it was a dagger to the heart.”
The court also heard her father wrote back asking for a staged picture of them together as a family to show the media they had not fallen out.
His letter, described in court, reads: “I wish we could get together and take a photo for the whole world to see.
“If you and Harry don’t like it? Fake it for one photo and maybe some of the press will shut up!”
The Mail on Sunday claims the letter is not private because Meghan intended it to leak into the public domain as part of a clandestine media strategy.
Lawyers for the newspaper point to interviews five anonymous friends gave to People in which the letter was mentioned.
A court filing includes a quote from a friend to the magazine: “After the wedding she wrote him a letter.
“She’s like, ‘Dad, I’m so heartbroken. I love you. I have one father. Please stop victimizing me through the media so we can repair our relationship.’”
The friend added: “Because every time her team has to come to her and fact-check something [he has said], it’s an arrow to the heart.
“He writes her a really long letter in return, and he closes it by requesting a photo op with her.
“And she feels like, ‘That’s the opposite of what I’m saying. I’m telling you I don’t want to communicate through the media, and you’re asking me to communicate through the media. Did you hear anything I said?’ It’s almost like they’re ships passing.’”
The Mail on Sunday has also claimed details of the letter were passed to Omid Scobie, author of tell-all biography Finding Freedom.
A court filing by the newspaper argues the case cannot be resolved without a trial because there are inconsistencies in Meghan’s account.
Its lawyers write: “The confusing and tortuous account of the genesis of the Letter and her subsequent communications about its existence and contents cannot serve as the evidential basis for summary determination of any part of the claim.
“Moreover, much of the confusion which bedevils [Meghan’s] case appears to have come about as a result of [Meghan] being compelled to respond either to the facts put forward by [The Mail on Sunday], or to developments external to the litigation such as the publication of the Book.
“The most benevolent interpretation of this reactive approach is that [Meghan] is not at all clear in relation to the Letter what took place, when, or why.
“Even this indicates that [Meghan’s] claims cannot properly be determined without disclosure and full investigation on the basis of oral evidence at trial.”
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