LONDON: Prince Harry’s wife Meghan could face her father in court over the publication of a letter she wrote to him, British media said on Wednesday, as she made a first public appearance in Canada after the couple’s shock decision to quit as full-time royals.
Meghan launched legal action against The Mail on Sunday’s publishers in October after the tabloid printed a handwritten letter it had been shown by Thomas Markle.
The weekly newspaper has now issued its defence, leading to the possibility that Meghan and her father could be called to testify against each another.
Harry and Meghan are in the eye of a storm after their bombshell announcement last week — before they had discussed the plans with Queen Elizabeth II.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, as they are titled, are now in talks with other senior royals about how their wished-for new roles could work. Final details are due in the coming days.
The prospect of a high court showdown only adds to the pressure on the couple.
Harry, sixth in line to the throne, married US former television actress Meghan at Windsor Castle in May 2018.
Her father, an award-winning former television lighting director now living in Mexico, did not attend the wedding after staging paparazzi photographs and suffering chest pains in the build-up.
The letter was written in August 2018 and published in February 2019 shortly after the US magazine People ran a story citing Meghan’s friends talking about the letter, which shed light on her troubled relationship with her estranged father.
Meghan filed a claim in October last year against publishers Associated Newspapers over the alleged misuse of private information, infringement of copyright and breach of the Data Protection Act 2018.
In an accompanying statement, Harry lashed out at negative press coverage, claiming British tabloids had mounted a “ruthless” and “malicious” attempt to vilify his wife.
Newly-revealed legal documents outlining The Mail on Sunday’s defence show they will rely on evidence from Markle, including that he “had a weighty right to tell his version of what had happened”.
The paper’s sister publication the Daily Mail said on its front page on Wednesday that Markle would be prepared to give evidence against his daughter.
The Mail on Sunday also argues that a “one-sided” article in the US magazine People meant the letter’s existence was already in the public domain.
It could be months before any trial takes place.
More broadly, online and television debate has raged as to whether tabloid coverage had been racist towards Meghan.
Departing Labour main opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn “agrees” there were “to use Prince Harry’s words, racial undertones” in Meghan’s press coverage, his spokesman said.