The Duchess of Sussex chose to write a letter to her estranged father, Thomas Markle, to protect Prince Harry from “constant berating” from the royal family to do something to stop him talking to the media, texts have revealed.
Meghan also believed a letter was better than an email or text as it “does not open the door for a conversation”.
Texts between Meghan and her then communications chief, Jason Knauf, were released by the court of appeal after being submitted by Knauf in evidence during an appeal by Associated Newspapers Ltd (ANL) against a high court ruling that publication of extracts from the letter by the Mail on Sunday and Mail Online were unlawful.
In one, dated 22 August 2018, Meghan sent Knauf a draft of the letter she proposed to send to her father. “My thinking behind this is unlike a text or email it can’t be forwarded or cut and pasted to only share one small portion. It also does not open the door for a conversation.”
She added: “The catalyst for my doing this is seeing how much pain this is causing H. Even after a week with his dad and endlessly explaining the situation, his family seem to forget the context – and revert to, ‘can’t she just go and see him and make this stop?’ They fundamentally don’t understand, so at least by writing H will be able to say to his family … ‘she wrote him a letter and he’s still doing it’.
“By taking this form of action I protect my husband from this constant berating and, while unlikely, perhaps it will give my father a moment to pause.”
Meghan said she had drafted everything “with the understanding that it could be leaked” so was “meticulous” in word choice, including using the word “Daddy”, which, if it was leaked, would “pull at the heartstrings”.
Knauf texted back: “The draft letter is very strong – enough emotion to be authentic, but all in resigned sadness rather than anger.” He suggested there were a “few tweaks” to the order of events that “could be a bit stronger – I think it’s slightly even worse than you remember”.
He added: “The only thing I think is essential to address in some way is the ‘heart attack’. That is his best opening for criticism and sympathy.
“The truth is you tried desperately to find out about the medical treatment he said he was receiving and he stopped communicating with you. You begged him to accept help to drive him to the hospital, etc, and instead of speaking to you to arrange this he stopped answering his phone and only spoke to [the celebrity news website] TMZ.”
He asked if she was OK after writing it. She replied: “Honestly Jason I feel fantastic. Cathartic and real and honest and factual.”
ANL has argued the case should go to trial, claiming the duchess forfeited any automatic right to privacy over the letter, alleging she collaborated in sharing details of her life with the authors of the Sussexes’ biography, Finding Freedom, which she denies.
Emails released by the court of appeal include details of Knauf’s planned meeting with the authors. On 10 December 2018, Knauf advised the duchess not to ask her friends to engage with the authors directly so they can say “hand on heart they had no access”. He added: “Of course if you still think you would like to have one or two people speak to them on your behalf we will arrange it.”
Knauf later emailed to say he spent “close to two hours” with the authors. “I took them through everything.”