Meghan Markle was helped by palace aides to write letter to her dad, court hears
Meghan Markle was helped by two palace aides to write a letter to her estranged dad which is now at the centre of a legal battle, a new court document shows.
The Duchess of Sussex sought advice from the two senior members of the royal family about how to deal with Thomas Markle.
Excerpts of the subsequent letter sent to Mr Markle in August 2018 featured in an article published in the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline.
Meghan is now suing Associated Newspapers Ltd over the article for reproducing parts of the handwritten letter.
The document, submitted to the High Court by Meghan’s legal team, said: “Given the claimant’s level of distress surrounding the form, frequency and content of the media coverage concerning her father, and as the newest member of the royal family who wanted to follow protocol, the claimant sought advice from two senior members of the royal family on how best to address the situation.
“In accordance with the advice that she had received from the two members of the royal family, the claimant decided (in about the first week of August 2018) to write a private letter to her father in an attempt to get him to stop talking to the press.”
The document did not name the members of the royal family contacted by Meghan.
The document also stated that Meghan shared a draft of her letter with husband Duke of Sussex and Kensington Palace’s then communications secretary Jason Knauf as “this was a deeply painful process that they lived through with her”.
It said Mr Knauf provided “feedback on the draft but no actual wording”.
Documents lodged with the High Court by ANL this week claim Mr Knauf “and/or” the Kensington Palace communications team “contributed” to a draft of the letter.
The amended reply from Meghan’s legal team stated the duchess shared a draft – of the notes she wrote on her iPhone – with Harry and Mr Knauf.
The document said: “She shared a draft of that draft with her husband and Mr Knauf for support, as this was a deeply painful process that they lived through with her.”
It added: “In the course of a discussion between them, Mr Knauf provided feedback on that draft but no actual wording, as this was a personal letter from daughter to father.
“The comments Mr Knauf provided were in the form of ‘general ideas’ as opposed to actual wording.”
The document said Mr Knauf was required by “palace protocol” to inform more senior people in the royal households that Meghan was going to write to her dad.
It said they had “to be kept apprised of any public-facing issues (the media spectacle surrounding Mr Markle being one such issue)”.
Lawyers for Meghan insisted the letter was not a media strategy but an attempt to protect the duchess and her family including the royals “from further media intrusion and embarrassment to the institution”.
It said: “As is clear from the above, the genesis of, reasons for and intended use of the letter was the complete opposite of a ‘media strategy’.
“It was a private letter written and sent by the claimant to her father, on the advice of senior members of the royal family, in an attempt to protect her family, including her new family members, from further media intrusion and embarrassment to the institution.”
Mr Knauf is now the chief executive of the Cambridges’ Royal Foundation.
At a High Court hearing last month, Mr Justice Warby, who is overseeing the case, agreed to Meghan’s application to adjourn the trial – which was due to start on January 11 next year – until next autumn after hearing from lawyers for both parties in a private hearing.
In a heavily-redacted ruling published on Wednesday, the judge gave further information on agreeing to the adjournment, but did not give any details of the duchess’s reasons for applying for the delay, saying it was “unnecessary, and undesirable” to do so.