Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex and wife of Britain’s Prince Harry, has sued a tabloid newspaper she claims illegally published a personal letter she wrote to her father.
The civil lawsuit accuses the Mail on Sunday of copyright infringement, misuse of private information and violating the UK’s data protection law with the “intrusive” publication of the letter, a spokeswoman for Schillings, the law firm handling the case, said.
In a lengthy, emotional statement, Prince Harry said on Tuesday the couple had taken legal action over the contents of the private letter, which were “published unlawfully in an intentionally destructive manner”.
Addressing newspaper readers, he said the article had “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”.
The statement did not reference a specific letter but earlier this year the tabloid published an article about a handwritten letter that Markle had sent to her estranged father, Thomas Markle.
Lambasting British tabloids more broadly, the 35-year-old prince, who is Queen Elizabeth’s grandson and sixth in line to the throne, said the legal action had been “many months in the making”.
He condemned a “ruthless campaign” to smear Markle by a “press pack that has vilified her almost daily” and created “lie after lie at her expense” during her maternity leave.
The couple got married in May 2018 and their first child, son Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, was born in May of this year.
“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 prince said in the statement posted on the royal couple’s website.
“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,” Harry said.
A Mail on Sunday spokesman told Britain’s Press Association the paper “stands by the story it published and will be defending this case vigorously.
“Specifically, we categorically deny that the duchess’ letter was edited in any way that changed its meaning,” the spokesman said.
In Tuesday’s statement, Harry mentioned his late mother, Princess Diana, who died in an August 1997 car crash while being pursued by paparazzi, as the reason he knew the move to take a tabloid to court “may not be the safe one, it is the right one.
“Because my deepest fear is history repeating itself,” he said. “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.”
The royal couple is paying for the lawsuit with private and not public funds, the Press Association reported.
The news agency said if damages are awarded to Markle, they will be donated to a charity that combats bullying.
The royal couple has been touring Southern Africa with their baby son, Archie.