Why Palace Insiders Say Meghan Markle Should Drop Her Tabloid Lawsuit
"The best course of action may well be to drop the lawsuit and not look back," a Palace insider says.
The lawsuit between Meghan Markle and the tabloid The Mail on Sunday is heating up with new explosive claims. The Duchess of Sussex sued the newspaper's publisher in October 2019 over their decision to publish a letter she wrote to her father, Thomas Markle, after her 2018 wedding to Prince Harry. Now, as the legal battle reaches its one-year mark, the tabloid is alleging that the duchess "does not have any reasonable expectations of privacy," claiming that she and Harry worked with the authors of the recent tell-all Finding Freedom "to put out their version of the events by means of the book." In short, the publisher's lawyers claim that Meghan isn't concerned with details of her life coming to light, as long as they're "favourable and flattering to her."
Earlier this week, The Mail on Sunday won a bid to use Finding Freedom as part of its defense against Meghan's privacy claim. Judge Francesca Kaye gave Associated Newspapers Ltd., publishers of The Mail on Sunday, permission to amend its defense to add "further particulars" relating to the book, which was published in August.
In a new court filing, lawyers for Associated Newspapers allege Harry and Meghan "cooperated" with Finding Freedom's authors, Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand. They claim the Sussexes "permitted the authors to observe them and interact with them, their friends and associates, and permitted their friends and associates to speak to and pass information to the authors." The filing also states that Meghan "does not object to details of her personal relationships and correspondence being publicly disclosed, provided it is couched in terms that are favourable and flattering to her."
The extent of the Sussexes involvement with the book has been the subject of some dispute. Earlier this year, before the publication of Finding Freedom, the publisher promoted the tell-all with claims the authors were granted "unique access." They said the book was "written with the participation of those closest to the couple" and promised it would reveal "unknown details of Harry and Meghan's life together, dispelling the many rumors and misconceptions that plague the couple on both sides of the pond."
While Harry and Meghan did not challenge the publisher's claims at the time, they have since said, through their spokesperson, they did not collaborate with the authors. In September, Meghan's lawyer described the anecdotes in Finding Freedom as "extremely anodyne, the product of creative license and/or inaccurate."
Court papers for the lawsuit between Meghan and The Mail on Sunday list 49 details they claim prove Meghan and Harry gave information to the Finding Freedom authors. The list includes the book's descriptive passages about the couple's trips to Africa; Meghan's personal correspondence with her mother, Doria Ragland; Meghan's thoughts after meeting Queen Elizabeth for the first time; and the revelation about who said "I love you" first (it was Harry). The tabloid's lawyers point out that several photos in the book were from the couple's now inactive Instagram, @SussexRoyal, noting publication of those images has angered the couple in the past. "It is inferred that Meghan gave the authors permission to republish these images in the book," allege the tabloid's lawyers.
Some legal experts and Palace insider alike believe all of this rehashing of Harry and Meghan's grievances against the royal family and the media does nothing but drag the couple back into their unhappy past—and it could even damage their reputation in the future.
London-based attorney Mark Stephens told Newsweek, "If I was advising Meghan, I'd be saying get out now. The risk is that how she curates her reputation, what she allows into the public domain and what she doesn't, are now things that will be picked over by lawyers in cross-examination. The stakes are enormous because at the moment her reputation is not damaged particularly."
If the trial goes ahead, Meghan also faces the possibility of her father testifying in court against her. "That would be disastrous," a Palace insider told Best Life.
The lawsuit has not been without other disappointments for the duchess already. In May, the judge denied Meghan's claims of the tabloid's alleged dishonesty and malice, ruling that they are irrelevant to her lawsuit as a matter of law and precedent.
"Given the level of detail in the book, it's hard to imagine that none of this came from the duke or the duchess," said my source. "Either way, Finding Freedom did raise a lot of eyebrows about the Sussexes's claim to wanting to keep their lives private. If Meghan truly wants to protect her privacy, the best course of action may well be to drop the lawsuit and not look back." And for more juicy details on these former working royals, check out 3 More Explosive Royal Tell-Alls That Shed New Light on Harry and Meghan.