The estranged father of the Duchess of Sussex says he did not intend to share a private letter sent by Meghan, but felt pressured to do so after he was “mischaracterised” in a magazine article.
Thomas Markle, 75, claimed he felt forced to share the note, which is now at the centre of a legal battle between Meghan and the Mail on Sunday, after it was misrepresented by an article in People magazine.
The handwritten letter was published in February, but in an interview with the newspaper, Mr Markle said he kept the “hurtful” letter secret for six months and never intended to share it.
When I opened the letter I was hoping it was the olive branch I’d longed forThomas Markle
The retired lighting director said he was “devastated” when it was first mentioned publicly in the American magazine.
He said: “I decided to release parts of the letter because of the article from Meghan’s friends in People magazine. I have to defend myself. I only released parts of the letter because other parts were so painful. The letter didn’t seem loving to me. I found it hurtful.
“There was no loving message in there, nothing asking about my health, nothing from her saying, ‘Let’s get together and heal our differences’.”
People magazine quoted an anonymous friend of Meghan, claiming that the duchess felt her father did not understand her desire for privacy after he suggested they should pose together for a press photo.
Mr Markle said: “I don’t want a picture for any other reason than if we show harmony then the press will back off.
“When I opened the letter I was hoping it was the olive branch I’d longed for. I was expecting something that would be a pathway to reconciliation. Instead it was deeply hurtful.
“I was so devastated I couldn’t show it to anyone – and never would have, had it not been for the People magazine piece which meant I had to release portions to defend myself.”
This week, Meghan began legal proceedings against the newspaper, claiming it had breached copyright, infringed her privacy and breached the Data Protection Act by publishing the note.
The claim also alleges the paper edited the letter by “strategically omitting select paragraphs, specific sentences, and even singular words to mask the lies they had perpetuated for over a year”.
The Duke of Sussex recently accused the tabloid press of a “ruthless campaign” against his wife, adding: “I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces.”
He continued: “Though this action may not be the safe one, it is the right one.
“Because my deepest fear is history repeating itself. I’ve seen what happens when someone I love is commoditised to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person.”
Harry said about his wife: “I have been a silent witness to her private suffering for too long. To stand back and do nothing would be contrary to everything we believe in.”
The Mail on Sunday said it intends to defend itself “vigorously” if the case ends up in court and denies changing the meaning of the document.
Four days after Meghan’s legal proceedings became public, it was claimed that the Duke of Sussex is reportedly expected to claim that journalists from the Sun and Daily Mirror newspapers hacked messages he left on his mother’s phone as a child.
Proceedings initiated by Harry at the High Court on Friday in relation to the illegal interception of voicemail messages are now said to include allegations reporters and private investigators accessed Diana, Princess of Wales’ voicemails.
The group claim, first reported by the website Byline, is believed to involve historic allegations of phone hacking where journalists and private investigators are said to have intercepted messages Harry left on Diana’s phone as a child.
It is also thought that in court documents journalists are alleged to have hired private investigators to access the late princess’ phone both before and after her death in August 1997.
Claims have also reportedly been made that staff at The Sun deleted emails and removed potential evidence when public concerns about phone hacking were first raised.