The Duchess of Sussex’s estranged father Thomas Markle will testify if he is asked to give evidence against his own daughter, her half sister said today.
In the latest development in the extraordinary legal case, Samantha Markle, 55, who is Mr Markle’s daughter from his first marriage, said: ‘If he is called, he will come.’
She spoke to BBC News after it emerged Mr Markle is expected to be called as a key witness for the defence in a court case she has brought against a newspaper.
Samantha Markle, who is Thomas Markle’s daughter from his first marriage, is pictured on US TV show Inside Edition on January 9. She said of Mr Markle today: ‘If he is called, he will come’
Ms Markle has previously been highly critical in interviews about Meghan’s character, including calling her a ‘social climber with a soft spot for gingers’.
And last week she branded Meghan and Harry’s decision to step back as senior members of the Royal Family as a ‘slap in the face’.
She lives in Florida, but it appears unlikely that Meghan and Harry moving to North America will lead to a thawing of relations between the half-sisters.
Ms Markle has previously blamed Meghan for freezing out their father and other members of the family, called her ‘inhumane’ and ‘the Duchess of Nonsense’.
Mr Markle, 75, has given lawyers previously unseen text messages sent in the build-up to Meghan’s wedding to Prince Harry that reveal the breakdown of the relationship between father and daughter.
Samantha Markle, pictured with her half-sister Meghan Markle at her graduation in 2008
Some of the messages were detailed yesterday in defence papers filed at the High Court in London.
The documents say that after Mr Markle messaged his daughter saying he couldn’t come to her wedding because he had been rushed to hospital for emergency heart surgery and told not to fly on health grounds, he received a text that appeared to be from Prince Harry.
The message admonished him, accused him of causing hurt to his daughter and did not ask about his health. It left Mr Markle ‘deeply hurt’.
In return, Mr Markle wrote: ‘I’ve done nothing to hurt you Meghan or anyone else … I’m sorry my heart attack is … any inconvenience for you.’
The Duchess of Sussex launched legal action against the Mail on Sunday last year after it published extracts of a letter she wrote to her father in August 2018.
A young Meghan is pictured with her father Thomas Markle, from whom she is now estranged
Meghan, 38, has accused the newspaper – the sister paper of the Daily Mail – of breaching her privacy, her data protection rights and her copyright when it published extracts.
The MoS filed its defence to her case at the High Court in London yesterday. It denied her claims and argued there was a ‘huge and legitimate public interest’ in the Royal Family, including its ‘personal and family relationships’.
The defence papers also said:
- Thomas Markle only released Meghan’s letter to the world to show it was not the ‘loving’ plea her friends had been making out;
- He had kept her handwritten note private for months, and only revealed it to expose ‘false’ claims that the duchess had been reaching out to repair their relationship;
- He only decided to release extracts of the letter to the Press after she had allowed her friends to talk about it first in the US magazine People;
- That one of Meghan’s best friends, Jessica Mulroney, once intervened to try to fix a ‘favourable’ press article for the duchess;
- Mr Markle had insisted he made multiple attempts to contact his daughter by phone call and by text message, but received no response;
- That apart from the August 2018 letter, Mr Markle had not heard from his daughter since he told her he was too ill to attend her wedding. He had never been introduced to her husband Prince Harry, nor met his eight-month-old grandson Archie.
Meghan was spotted yesterday leaving the $14million Vancouver Island home where she and Prince Harry stayed over the holidays with their son Archie
The latest development in the court case has come in a turbulent week which has seen the Queen hold crisis talks about Meghan and Harry’s role in the Royal Family after they announced their wish to step back from their royal duties.
The duchess was last night pictured in Canada for the first time since she returned there following the bombshell ‘Megxit’ statement. She was seen boarding a sea plane from Vancouver Island which appeared to be destined for Whistler ski resort.
Meghan launched her legal action against the MoS last year after it published excerpts of her letter to her father. Mr Markle gave the letter to the newspaper after unnamed friends of the duchess told the People magazine that she had written the ‘loving’ letter in an attempt to repair their relationship.
Lawyers for the newspaper alleged that Meghan had ‘knowingly’ allowed her friends to leak details of the letter to the magazine – effectively that she had helped to breach her own privacy.
The Duchess made a surprise visit to the Downtown Eastside Women’s Center in Vancouver yesterday to ‘offer support’ and to ‘boost the staff’s spirits’
If the case goes before a judge, the paper said it would ask for Meghan to be forced to hand over all communications in which she had ’caused or permitted her friends to provide information about her to the media or to seek to influence what is published about her’.
It could lead to the prospect of Meghan coming face-to-face with her father in the High Court.
Mr Markle, a retired Hollywood lighting director who lives in Rosarito, Mexico, has said his daughter cut off all contact with him after her wedding, except for the letter at the centre of the case.
If he were to be called as a witness, he would effectively have to brand his own daughter a liar who had invaded her own privacy. The Sussexes have said they will fund the legal proceedings privately.