U.S. Markets open in 5 hrs 57 mins

Duchess of Sussex suffered 'distress, damage, humiliation and embarrassment' after extracts of letter to father published, court papers claim

Hannah Furness
The Duchess of Sussex - Getty Images Europe

The Duchess of Sussex was left “deeply shocked and upset” by the publication of parts of a letter she wrote to her father, suffering “considerable distress, damage, humiliation and embarrassment”, according to court papers. 

The Duchess’s legal team, which is suing the Mail on Sunday, allege the newspaper "omitted or suppressed" parts of the handwritten letter which demonstrate the Duchess’s “kindness and concern about the UK tabloid media exploiting her father”. 

According to papers filed by legal firm Schillings, the Duchess’s claim will see them argue she saw her “deepest and most private thoughts and feelings about her relationship with her father” published “to the world at large... without any warning”. 

Her representatives further argue the story, which included an assessment of the Duchess as “showman and a narcissist” by a “so-called handwriting expert”, was part of an “obvious agenda of publishing intrusive or negative stories...intended to portray her in a false and damaging light”.

The newspaper said it would be defending the claim “vigorously”, categorically denying the letter was edited in “any way that changed its meaning”. 

Meghan interviewed by ITV Credit: ITV

Thomas Markle, the Duchess's father, has said he hoped to “defend himself” by showing the letter to the newspaper, after its existence was revealed in an interview with anonymous “friends” of the Duchess in People magazine.   

The Duchess is seeking unspecified damages relating to claim of breach of copyright, data protection and privacy under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Copyright arguments will centre on the letter being an “original literary work”, while papers illustrate the claim that sections were “cherry-picked” with an image of the redacted sections of a letter. 

“The Claimant has been deeply shocked and upset by the Defendant’s deliberate and blatant distortion and manipulation of the true sentiment of her letter, (the privacy of which had already been violated by the Defendant)”, papers state. 

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex with baby Archie Credit: Pool

“However, as the Claimant is also distressed to realise, this is wholly consistent with the Defendant’s obvious agenda of publishing intrusive or offensive stories about the Claimant intended to portray her in a false and damaging light.”

The Duchess, described in the documents first as a “well-known American actor, business entrepreneur, and women’s rights activist”, was not warned the letter would be published, it is claimed, “in order to avoid the risk of the Claimant seeking to prevent” it. 

A Mail on Sunday spokesman said: "The Mail on Sunday stands by the story it published and will be defending this case vigorously.

"Specifically, we categorically deny that the duchess's letter was edited in any way that changed its meaning."

The Duke of Sussex has also launched separate legal claims against the owners of The Sun and The Mirror over alleged phone hacking.