The estranged father of Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, could be called to testify against the royals in her lawsuit against the Mail on Sunday newspaper, court papers reveal.
The prospect of a court battle is more bad news for a British royal family already shaken by Meghan and Prince Harry's decision to drop out of full-time royal duties.
Meghan, 38, is suing the newspaper and its parent company, Associated Newspapers, for publishing a letter she wrote to her father, Thomas Markle. The lawsuit accuses the newspaper of copyright infringement, misuse of private information and violating the U.K.'s data protection law with the publication of the letter.
Documents filed at the High Court in London show the newspaper plans to rely on evidence from the 75-year-old Markle, stating that he “had a weighty right to tell his version of what had happened between himself and his daughter, including the contents of the letter.”
Papers drawn up by lawyers for the newspaper argue that members of Britain's royal family "generate and rely on publicity about themselves and their lives in order to maintain the privileged positions they hold and to promote themselves, their fulfillment of their duties and functions, and the good causes they have espoused.''
“There is a huge and legitimate public interest in the royal family and the activities, conduct and standards of behavior of its members,'' the filing said. “This extends not merely to their public conduct, but to their personal and family relationships because those are integral to the proper functioning of the monarchy."
The paper also argues that the letter's publication was in response to a "one-sided" article in People Magazine in February 2019 featuring an interview with five unnamed "close friends" of the duchess that referenced the letter, meaning its existence was in the public domain. It also drew attention to the duchess' “immaculate'' handwriting, which lawyers for the newspaper said was proof that she anticipated “it being disclosed to and read by third parties.''
Thomas Markle’s strained relationship with his daughter has complicated Meghan’s entry into the royal family.