A “private and confidential” letter from the Duchess of Sussex to her estranged father was written at a “time of great personal anguish and distress”, court documents reveal.
Meghan is bringing legal action against the publisher of the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline over an article which reproduced parts of the handwritten letter to Thomas Markle.
In papers seen by the PA news agency, which outline details of the duchess’s claims, her solicitors say the letter was “obviously private correspondence” which detailed “her intimate thoughts and feelings about her father’s health and her relationship with him at that time”.
Her lawyers also allege that the newspaper “chose to deliberately omit or suppress” parts of the letter, which “intentionally distorted or manipulated” its meaning, and gave her no warning it was due to be published.
The particulars of claim, prepared by Schillings law firm, state: “The letter was obviously private correspondence written by the claimant to her father.
“Further, it contained the claimant’s deepest and most private thoughts and feelings about her relationship with her father and were detailed by her at a time of great personal anguish and distress.
“The claimant intended the detailed contents of the letter to be private, and certainly did not expect them to be published to the world at large by a national newspaper, and without any warning.”
Sections of the letter, which was sent to Mr Markle, 75, in August 2018, were published in February in the Mail on Sunday and on MailOnline.
The headline on the article read: “Revealed: The letter showing true tragedy of Meghan’s rift with a father she says has ‘broken her heart into a million pieces’.”
In one extract, the duchess wrote: “Your actions have broken my heart into a million pieces – not simply because you have manufactured such unnecessary and unwarranted pain, but by making the choice to not tell the truth as you are puppeteered in this. Something I will never understand.”
The court papers describe Meghan as “a well-known American actor, business entrepreneur, and women’s rights activist”.
Her lawyers claim that, had the letter been published in full, it would have “undermined the defendant’s intended negative characterisation of the claimant”.
It is alleged there was a “deliberate decision” not to warn Meghan in advance because the newspaper knew she would object and attempt to prevent the letter’s publication.
One section of the document also criticises the publication of an article including “so-called ‘expert handwriting’ analysis” and describes it as evidence of the newspaper’s “malicious intent”.
It states: “The ‘analysis’ was used to make derogatory allegations about the claimant’s character in order to lend support to the defendant’s pre-conceived narrative for the articles and the attack upon the claimant.
“For example, the defendant labelled the claimant a ‘showman and a narcissist’ based solely on her handwriting style.
“Such actions evidence the defendant’s clear malicious intent in publishing the letter.”
The duchess is seeking damages from Associated Newspapers Ltd, the newspaper’s publisher and operator of the website, for alleged misuse of private information, copyright infringement and breach of the Data Protection Act.
Associated Newspapers wholly denies the allegations – particularly the claim that the letter was edited in any way that changed its meaning – and says it will hotly contest the case.
The legal action was announced earlier this month in a highly personal statement, in which the Duke of Sussex accused some newspapers of a “ruthless campaign” against his wife.
Referencing his mother Diana, Princess of Wales, who was a tabloid newspaper staple and died in a Paris car crash while being pursued by the paparazzi, Harry said: “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.”
In the statement, on the duke and duchess’s official website, Harry said of 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.”
It was also revealed earlier this month that the duke is bringing legal action against the publishers of The Sun and The Mirror over alleged phone hacking.
Mr Markle has claimed he felt pressured to share the letter after its contents were misrepresented in a magazine article.
In an interview with the Mail on Sunday, he said: “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.”