By Michael Holden
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Prince Harry appealed to the father of his wife Meghan to call him in the days before he decided to pull out of the couple’s star-studded wedding two years ago, documents submitted to London’s High Court on Monday showed.
Meghan, Britain’s Duchess of Sussex, is suing Associated Newspapers, the publisher of the Mail on Sunday tabloid, for breaching her privacy by printing a letter she sent to her father, Thomas Markle, to address the rift between them caused by events on the eve of the wedding.
In a document filed at the High Court ahead of a hearing on Friday, Meghan’s lawyers said tabloid newspapers, particularly the Mail, had harassed and humiliated her father, contributed towards the fallout between them, and that the Mail had misquoted from the letter she sent him.
The papers include text messages from the prince to Meghan’s father that provide a rare insight into the personal lives of the royals, who fiercely guard their privacy.
The release of the papers comes hours after Meghan and Harry, Queen Elizabeth’s grandson, announced they would no longer work with four of Britain’s major tabloid newspapers, which they accuse of false and invasive coverage.
Markle overshadowed the run-up to his daughter’s wedding at Windsor Castle in May 2018 when he decided not to attend just days beforehand after undergoing heart surgery and following news that he had staged photos with a paparazzi photographer.
He has since given a number of interviews to British tabloids and broadcasters, saying he had been ignored by his daughter.
Associated Newspapers issued a 44-page defence of its story and use of the letter in January, saying unnamed friends of Meghan had put her version of events in interviews with the U.S. magazine People and Markle had the right to put his side.
It argued that given Meghan’s royal status, there was legitimate public interest in her personal and family relationships.
In her response, lawyers said Harry and Meghan had repeatedly tried to contact Markle ahead of their wedding, adding the prince had warned the media had created the whole situation.
“Tom, Harry again! Really need to speak to u. U do not need to apologize, we understand the circumstances but “going public” will only make the situation worse,” Harry said in one text message.
“So please call me so I can explain. Meg and I are not angry, we just need to speak to u. Thanks. Oh any speaking to the press WILL backfire, trust me Tom. Only we can help u, as we have been trying from day 1.”
Meghan’s lawyers said despite their pleas, Markle instead issued a statement through the Los Angeles-based celebrity website TMZ.
The duchess missed a call from Markle at 4.57am on the morning of her wedding and has not received any calls or messages from him since then, the court papers said.
“It was the defendant’s publication of these contents, and the highly manipulated, sensational and deliberately inflammatory way in which this was done that so deeply upset her, not the fact that the newspaper published ‘her father’s side of the dispute’ (a ‘dispute’ which the defendant itself created),” the papers said.
“It is the defendant’s (unlawful) actions that give rise to the claimant’s claim, and not her father’s conduct.”
(Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Andrew MacAskill, Guy Faulconbridge and Giles Elgood)