Meghan Markle wrote her now-infamous letter to her father asking him to stop talking to the media to protect her husband, Prince Harry, from “constant berating” by his family before their 2018 wedding, a trove of text messages released Friday by London’s Court of Appeal sensationally revealed.
In a heretofore unprecedented glimpse into the troubled relationship between Harry and Prince Charles, Meghan wrote to her former communications chief, Jason Knauf, that she was writing the letter to her estranged father, Thomas Markle, because Harry was being pressured by his father.
In a series of texts to Knauf, which he turned over to the court, Meghan wrote of her plan to write the letter: “The catalyst for my doing this is seeing how much pain this is causing H. Even after a week with his dad and endlessly explaining the situation, his family seem to forget the context—and revert to ‘can’t she just go and see him and make this stop?’ They fundamentally don’t understand so at least by writing H will be able to say to his family… ‘She wrote him a letter and he is still doing it.’ By taking this form of action I protect my husband from this constant berating, and while unlikely perhaps it will give my father a moment to pause.”
Meghan sued Associated Newspapers Ltd. (ANL) after the Mail on Sunday published excerpts of the letter, which she said violated her privacy and copyright. ANL argued that Meghan intended or expected the letter to leak, and wrote it with the assistance of her communications office, and therefore she should’ve had a lower expectation of privacy around it than for a normal private letter. It also argued that Thomas Markle was entitled to release it because one of Meghan’s friends discussed the letter in an interview and, in his view, mischaracterized it.
Meghan won that case with a “summary judgment”—the judge effectively unilaterally decided that there was absolutely no chance of ANL winning the case and stopped it. ANL is appealing that decision, and as part of its appeal has produced new evidence from Knauf, who has submitted emails, texts, and a new witness statement that appear to undermine Megan‘s version of events.
The appeal concluded Thursday; however the texts were released Friday and were somewhat redacted.
The decision by Knauf to give evidence and release information which could be used against Meghan came, as reported by The Daily Beast, after he reached out to ANL, saying he “regretted” not giving evidence earlier. This ultimately resulted in him providing the explosive statement released Thursday and the communications released today. It appears that Knauf changed his position after Harry and Meghan’s bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey was broadcast, and after details of his internal complaint that Meghan bullied members of her staff were leaked to The Times of London, allegations that were described as untrue “smears” by the Sussexes.
In the texts that emerged Friday between the duchess and her comms chief, Meghan included an electronic draft of the letter in her messages to Knauf, however this was edited out by the court. Some details of the texts have already been released in Knauf’s witness statement, as reported by The Daily Beast—for example, Megan saying that she would address him as “Daddy” because it would “pull at the heartstrings” in the “unfortunate event that it leaked.”
In his initial response to reading the first draft, Knauf, who was in Tonga at the time to scope out a future royal visit there, replied, “My initial view is that this is a very good idea. The draft letter is very strong – enough emotion to be authentic, but all in resigned sadness rather than anger. Also is factually focused in a way that does not read like a legal filing – that is not easy to do.”
Knauf then added of another senior aide, Sam Coen: “Do you mind if I discuss with Sam this morning? She’s just arrived here.”
Meghan replied saying that she did not want the draft shared, “in anyway with Sam Coen as I initially said.”
A key part of ANL’s case is that Knauf helped write the letter, that it was not all Meghan’s own work, and therefore Meghan is not legally entitled to sue for copyright without him joining the action.
In one section, Knauf suggests that she address her father’s heart attack in the run-up to the wedding. He writes, “The truth is you tried desperately to find out about the medical treatment he said he was receiving and he stopped communicating with you. You begged him to accept help to drive him to the hospital, etc and instead of speaking to you to arrange this he stopped answering his phone and only spoke to TMZ.”
The final letter contained a passage similar to this, saying: “The week of the wedding to hear about you having a heart attack through a tabloid was horrifying. I called and texted. I begged you to accept help. We sent someone to your home and instead of speaking to me to accept this or any help, you stopped answering your phone and chose to only speak to tabloids. You haven’t reached out to me since the week of our wedding, and while you claim you have no way of contacting me, my phone number has remained the same. This you know.”
The release also included the full text of a lengthy email Meghan sent to Knauf for use in briefing the authors of the book Finding Freedom, which Meghan apologized to the court for not mentioning before, saying she had forgotten about it.