Few public figures in history have experienced a fall from PR grace with quite the speed or ferocity of Meghan Markle, the former TV actress-turned-Duchess of Sussex.
Around the time of the royal wedding last year, media outlets were clamouring to heap praise on the graceful and intelligent American star. She proved captivating, injecting a huge shot of energy into the monarchy — and, together with Harry, became the face of the new era of glamorous and modern royals.
But over the course of this year, a “relentless campaign” by those same tabloids has painted Meghan in a starkly different light, and the onslaught of negativity has driven Prince Harry to snap.
Harry’s extraordinary, emotional public smackdown of the British press over the treatment of his wife was a tirade nine months in the making.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced they were taking legal action against British tabloid the Daily Mail over its publication of a private letter by Meghan, which the couple allege was published illegally and selectively edited to hide “lies” reported about her.
It follows a rocky year for the couple, who have struggled to modernise expectations in their roles and responsibilities.
Towards the end of 2018, the Commonwealth was truly in the grip of Meghan-mania.
Her popularity reached a feverish peak during the wildly successful royal tour in Australia last year, at the start of which she announced she was expecting her first child with Prince Harry.
She was dubbed Diana 2.0, praised for possessing all the positive traits of the People’s Princess, and admired for her innovative approach to royal life.
Fast-forward to today, and she’s being compared to Diana for all the wrong reasons.
On the last day of their royal tour to Africa, the Duke of Sussex lashed out at the British tabloid media in an explosive statement, accusing them of “bullying” and warning that the tabloid frenzy is a case of “history repeating itself”.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when, or why, it happened, but reports of a “feud” with her well-loved sister-in-law, Kate Middleton, were probably where the Sussex’s nightmare PR run really kicked into high gear.
Leaks from “sources” claiming to be within Kensington Palace painted a picture of a demanding royal bridezilla, who left the Duchess of Cambridge “in tears” after one particularly tense flower girl dress fitting for Princess Charlotte.
Prior to that, there’d been plenty of public criticisms levelled at Meghan from her own splintered family — namely her half-brother and half-sister — but they were largely shrugged off as publicity-hungry opportunists who, by the Duchess’ own admission, she “hardly knows”.
Her father, Thomas Markle Senior, was harder to ignore. The noise he’s managed to cultivate over the past year has been deafening.
The retired TV lighting director, who once enjoyed a close relationship with Meghan, was reportedly “frozen out” by the royals after failing to attend her wedding amid embarrassment over a series of staged paparazzi photos.
In the months that followed, he frequently spoke to the media, alternating between emotional pleas for contact with his estranged daughter and sharp public rebukes to both her and Prince Harry.
In February, he went so far as to release a heartfelt private letter she sent him last August — the contents of which are now the focus of legal action announced by Harry and Meghan today.
Plugging the gaps between the larger negative narratives has been an almost-daily onslaught of small — but significant — Meghan coverage, remarking upon everything from her “excessive” cradling of her baby bump to her decision to close a car door by herself.
As widely varied as these observations were, they shared one thing: a disapproving undertone.
Harry’s made it clear he’s fed up with the “relentless” and “ruthless campaign” targeting Meghan.
But it’s also important to separate mindless abuse with the justified criticisms that come with being a royal.
Public outrage at their hefty $4.4 million renovations to Frogmore Cottage provided a fair debate, as the bill was paid by British taxpayers.
Similarly, backlash over Meghan and Harry’s decision to travel via private jet four times in less than two weeks, while preaching to the world about the importance of reducing our carbon footprints, brought up reasonable questions about hypocrisy.
Meanwhile, the couple’s demands for privacy and their forging of new rules around the birth of Archie (denying the public the opportunity to see a beaming Meghan with the newborn on the hospital steps caused a veritable s**tstorm) raised fair points on both sides about what access their publicly funded roles should entail.
But after the devastating loss of his mother at the tender age of 11 following years of press hounding, Harry has understandably become highly protective of his wife.
According to numerous palace sources over the years, Harry’s relationship with the media is highly strained.
It’s claimed he tolerates reporters and photographers as part of his duty but still struggles with the fact he blames them for Diana’s death — and all the suffering she endured in the years prior.
According to Majesty Magazine editor Ingrid Seward, Prince William and Harry “hated their mother’s celebrity life and they grew to really hate the photographers that were always surrounding her”.
After growing increasingly frustrated at his inability to block the barrage of negative attention levelled at Meghan, Harry finally broke after seeing the “painful” result of her private letter being published by the Mail on Sunday — dredging up horrifying memories from the past.
It’s never been more clear just how deep the scars of his mum’s death run than in this latest statement.
“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,” he wrote.
“I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces.”
Here’s Harry’s statement in full, published via the royals’ official website earlier today:
As a couple, we believe in media freedom and objective, truthful reporting. We regard it as a cornerstone of democracy and in the current state of the world — on every level — we have never needed responsible media more.
Unfortunately, my wife has become one of the latest victims of a British tabloid press that wages campaigns against individuals with no thought to the consequences — a ruthless campaign that has escalated over the past year, throughout her pregnancy and while raising our newborn son.
There is a human cost to this relentless propaganda, specifically when it is knowingly false and malicious, and though we have continued to put on a brave face — as so many of you can relate to — I cannot begin to describe how painful it has been. Because in today’s digital age, press fabrications are repurposed as truth across the globe. One day’s coverage is no longer tomorrow’s chip-paper.
Up to now, we have been unable to correct the continual misrepresentations — something that these select media outlets have been aware of and have therefore exploited on a daily and sometimes hourly basis.
It is for this reason we are taking legal action, a process that has been many months in the making. The positive coverage of the past week from these same publications exposes the double standards of this specific press pack that has vilified her almost daily for the past nine months; they have been able to create lie after lie at her expense simply because she has not been visible while on maternity leave. She is the same woman she was a year ago on our wedding day, just as she is the same woman you’ve seen on this Africa tour.
For these select media this is a game, and one that we have been unwilling to play from the start. 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.
This particular legal action hinges on one incident in a long and disturbing pattern of behaviour by British tabloid media. The contents of a private letter were published unlawfully in an intentionally destructive manner to manipulate you, the reader, and further the divisive agenda of the media group in question. In addition to their unlawful publication of this private document, they purposely misled you by strategically omitting select paragraphs, specific sentences, and even singular words to mask the lies they had perpetuated for over a year.
There comes a point when the only thing to do is to stand up to this behaviour, because it destroys people and destroys lives. Put simply, it is bullying, which scares and silences people. We all know this isn’t acceptable, at any level. We won’t and can’t believe in a world where there is no accountability for this.
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. I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces.
We thank you, the public, for your continued support. It is hugely appreciated. Although it may not seem like it, we really need it.
Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Sussex has filed a claim against Associated Newspapers over the misuse of private information, infringement of copyright and breach of the Data Protection Act 2018.
The proceedings in the Chancery Division of the High Court relate to the unlawful publication of a private letter.
A legal spokesman from Schillings who are representing the Duchess of Sussex said:
“We have initiated legal proceedings against the Mail on Sunday, and its parent company Associated Newspapers, over the intrusive and unlawful publication of a private letter written by the Duchess of Sussex, which is part of a campaign by this media group to publish false and deliberately derogatory stories about her, as well as her husband. Given the refusal of Associated Newspapers to resolve this issue satisfactorily, we have issued proceedings to redress this breach of privacy, infringement of copyright and the aforementioned media agenda.”
The case is being privately funded by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Pending a court ruling, proceeds from any damages will be donated to an anti-bullying charity.
So what has Samantha Markle been saying about her Sis
Samantha has been outspoken on the Royal Wedding and her half-sister Meghan – so what’s going on now?
THE most vocal of the Markle clan before the Royal Wedding was undoubtedly Meghan’s half-sister Samantha.
The Duchess of Sussex’s sibling has been outspoken ever since her engagement to Prince Harry was announced – here’s everything you need to know about the family feud…
Samantha first hit out at her famous half-sister after her romance with Prince Harry was revealed.
She says Meghan had always fancied Harry because she was ambitious to become a princess – and had a “soft spot for gingers”.
Samantha said the star of US legal drama Suits is a “social climber” who has barely spoken to her sister since she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2008.
Samantha announced that she would release her memoirs and that her sister should prepare herself for some home truths.
It has been reported by the Daily Star that the working title for Samantha’s book is “The Diary of Princess Pushy’s Sister”.
Samantha also revealed exclusively to The Sun that she’s planning to star in a reality show which she thinks would make for incredible viewing.
Samantha had changed her tune by October when she appeared on Good Morning Britain to dismiss the rumoured rift – and even described her sister as “lovely”.
Samantha was quick to have her say on Meghan and Prince Harry’s engagement, speaking to Good Morning Britain the day after the announcement was made.
When asked if she had a message for Meghan, Samantha said: “I just want to say I love you, I’m incredibly happy for you. Cheers and to a wonderful life.
“If I had a glass of champagne I would toast, but it’s three in the morning and we don’t drink at three in the morning!”
Speaking from Florida she said: “Well, it is true that I’m writing a book and the title is accurate, what is not true (is) this unbelievable swell that’s been created that it’s some sort of slamming ‘tell-all’.”
During a stint as guest editor of the Today programme, Prince Harry told the show “it’s [the Royal Family] the family I suppose that she’s never had.”
Samantha then wrote on Twitter: “Actually she has a large family who were always there with her and for her.
“No one was estranged, she was just too busy. Meg’s family (our family) is complete with sister, brother, aunts, uncles, cousins and the glue of our family, our amazing completely self-sacrificing father.
“She always had this family, marrying merely extends it.”
After Meghan wore a £56,000 designer dress for her engagement photo, Samantha Markle, 53, said: “If you can spend $75,000 on a dress, you can spend $75,000 on your dad.”
Their dad is bankrupt.
However, when speaking of the wedding, she added that she was still hoping for an invitation, despite news about the book.
She said: “It would be pleasing for us to be there and be invited. But it’s entirely her decision.”
She blasted her half-sister on Twitter after claiming to have been snubbed from the wedding while members of the public have been invited.
Samantha tweeted: “Out of respect and humanitarianism, the Markles should be invited if 2,000 complete strangers are.
“Our uncle, brother, me, best friend of 30 years, nephews. Our issue is not a matter of closeness. Family is family.”
She also changed her Twitter pic to the two of them when they were younger.
A week later she turned her attention on the Prince tweeting that he needed to “Man up”.
She said: “It’s time to ‘man up’ @HRHHenryWindsor ‘Shout outs’ about humanitarianism, don’t work when you are allowing Meg to ignore the Markles.
“It is s [sic] contradiction.
“Someone must point out that the ‘Emperor is not wearing any clothes’.”
* May 15 – Samantha gave an interview to Good Morning Britain where she accused the press of being “media vultures” before Piers Morgan slammed her and accused her of “being the biggest media vulture” for “trading on her very tenuous connection with Meghan Markle”
* May 15 – Meghan’s sister featured on a Channel Four show called Meet The Markles where she told the host her husband is “addicted to tabloid stories” about Meghan and Samantha, and slammed rumours she was “writing a tell-all” book
* May 16 – She blasts Meghan for “telling her not to speak” referring to comments she made about their father
* May 16 – The Sun revealed how Samantha slammed reports that Kensington Palace was helping Thomas Markle, the ailing dad of her and Meghan. It was also reported Samantha had been involved in a car crash in the US
* May 29 – Samantha slams Duchess of Sussex’s new coat of arms as “silly” and “drawn by someone in kindergarten” in bitter Twitter rant
Taking to Twitter once again, Meghan Markle’s publicity-seeking sister labelled the new royal the “duchess of nonsense” and accused Prince Harry of being a “wuss” for allowing his wife to walk all over him.
In an astonishing social media rant, Samantha also said that Harry should have married Cressida Bonas because “she is much more like Diana.”
She tweeted: “Harry is a wuss to allow the Duchess of Nonense to mistreat everyone who has been close to her, especially her family.”
Samantha also claimed that Meghan’s supposed “embarrassment” of her family is “totally reciprocal” before adding her “fake British accent is also ridiculous.”
Meghan’s sister launched another tirade at Meghan after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex visited art in London dedicate to Nelson Mandela.
She posted a series of tweets slating Meghan for spending time “paying tribute” to others while “ignoring” their father.
Samantha hit out at Meghan for being “cold”, going as far as to blame Meghan should Thomas Markle Snr die.
Samantha tweeted: “How about you pay tribute to your own father?! Enough is enough.
“Act like a humanitarian act like a woman! If our father dies I’m holding you responsible, Meg!”
And she continued her tweets, saying: “Glad you have so much time to gallivant around paying tribute to others while ignoring your own father!
“How cold can you be and look in the mirror ? Harry? I guess I was right.”
Samantha launched another scathing attack on Meghan, comparing her half-sister to Cruella de Vil.
While sharing a story that claimed The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were “taking a step away from the media spotlight”, Samantha wrote:
“OK so Cruella Deville is retreating LOL.
“Let me know how that works out for you.”
Samantha added: “There are smoke and mirrors you try to hide things with, but you can’t hide from what you see in the mirror.”
Only a day later, on Meghan’s 37th birthday, Samantha took to social media again to criticise The Duchess.
The American wrote: “Happy Birthday Meg! It would be so lovely and appropriate of you to send DAD a BELATED birthday card for his July 18 th [birthday cake emoji] @KensingtonRoyal Cheers”.
Most recently, Samantha called Meghan “inhumane”, following an interview given by their father, Thomas.
“There would be no just reason for her not to want him in her life, as he was good enough to use to make her everything she is,” Samantha wrote.
“She should be grateful. Her diplomacy skills suck and are inhumane.
“Freezing people out is the best way of hiding the truth.”
“There is no room for a greedy, arrogant, deceitful fake humanitarian on this world stage. How dare she. Disgusting!!” Samantha continued, tweeting directly to Kensington Palace.
“If you treat your own father like this, Harry is next.”
On September 11, Samatha called Meghan a “Duchass” on Twitter and accused her of “fake waves and smiles”.
Then, on September 24, it was revealed that Samantha was on her way to the UK to have a showdown with her half-sister “like it or not”.
Samantha appeared on Jeremy Vine’s Channel 5 show on October 1 to apologise to her half sister – but defended her decision to criticise Meghan and said she wanted to “get a message across from my father”.
Samantha attacked Meghan as a “narcissist” after pals tried to stick up for the pregnant duchess.
Markle, who has regularly used social media to criticise her younger sibling, unleashed a string of tweets trashing claims Meghan had tried reaching out to their dad Thomas Sr.
Five close friends yesterday revealed Meghan, 37, wrote to Thomas Markle after her wedding – which he had missed – in an attempt to rebuild their relationship.
But the former actress was devastated when he responded by asking for a photo shoot with her and did not respond to text messages.
After the story was released, Samantha was quick to react, saying : “This article is total bulls*** there are plenty of text messages and receipts to prove otherwise. Stop the PR crap.”
The American – who said Meghan had “lie-abetes” also shared a message, saying: “When a narcissist has lost control over you, they try to control how others see you.”
She then added: “And if the narcissist is wealthy they pay very expensive PR teams to change the way people see you.”
Samantha Markle said her sister is “jealous” of her sister-in-law Kate Middleton.
According to Samantha, Meghan has been using her designer wardrobe to remain “centre of attention” after constant comparisons between the royal wives’ wardrobes.
In Quest Red’s upcoming documentary Meghan and Harry: A Royal Baby Story, Samantha, who shares dad Thomas Markle with the Duchess of Sussex, hits out at her fashion choices.
The 54-year-old American says: “I believe that there is a jealous streak in Meg, she does like to be the centre of attention and I feel like that is what is going on now.”
Was Samantha Markle invited to the Royal Wedding?
Samantha was not invited to the Royal Wedding.
In an interview with Channel Four show Meet The Markles she said: “There are some members of the family who have an air of entitlement about even a wedding invite, I don’t understand why we didn’t get one but I don’t expect or demand one.”
It has previously been reported that Samantha and Meghan have not spoken for the past decade.