The actress and prince’s blossoming romance was finally made public at the end of October. A new biography, Finding Freedom, claims Meghan and Harry were aware their relationship was likely to become public after they first met in the summer and that she would become subject to intense scrutiny.
It is possible her friends chose to make edits to the Wikipedia entry, aware her life would suddenly be of huge public interest. Wikipedia, a free online encyclopedia, is the fifth most popular website in the English-speaking world and one of the first places people would have turned to when she came to public attention.
Until the changes, the entry stated: “Markle made her debut late in the first season of Deal or No Deal on April 12 2006. Aside from a single appearance holding case #12, Markle was the regular model carrying case #24. Markle quit the show in early 2007.” The reference vanished when the entry was edited and instead extra space was made for her “humanitarian work”.
The Duchess is currently suing the Mail on Sunday for breach of privacy after it published part of a letter she had written to her father.
A lawyer of Meghan accused the British newspaper in court on Wednesday, London time, of commercially exploiting its legal dispute with her by using court documents as the basis for “sensational” coverage.
Meghan, is suing Associated Newspapers over articles in the Mail on Sunday in February 2019 that included parts of a handwritten letter she sent to her estranged father, Thomas Markle, in August 2018.
Increasingly hostile relations between the royal couple and some British newspapers they accused of intrusive, inaccurate and sometimes racist coverage was one of the reasons why Harry and Meghan left Britain for the United States.
Meghan’s lead counsel, Justin Rushbrooke, said that within hours of some legal papers being filed this month, the Mail used them as the basis for what he called a sensational article on its website, which “started a wildfire” of wider media coverage.
“Other litigants don’t make commercial fodder out of the other side’s pleadings,” he said.
A full trial on Meghan’s lawsuit, in which she alleges the Mail invaded her privacy and infringed her copyright, is not expected until next year, but the High Court has been dealing with side issues in pre-trial proceedings.
The question on Wednesday was whether the Mail should be allowed to publish the names of five friends of Meghan who gave anonymous interviews to the US magazine People for an article published a few days before the Mail‘s on her letter.
Meghan is seeking a court order preventing disclosure of the names. Lawyers for Associated Newspapers argue such an order would breach the principle of open justice.
The People interviews are central to the defence. The Mail has justified publishing Meghan’s letter on the basis that she had revealed its existence in People, via her friends, and that was what drove her father to disclose its contents.
One section of the Mail‘s article was titled: “HOW MEGHAN’S MEDIA FIGHTBACK LED HER DAD TO REVEAL LETTER HE WANTED TO KEEP SECRET”.
Meghan has told the court in a written statement that she did not authorise her friends to speak to People. She said they “made a choice on their own to speak anonymously with a US media outlet … to defend me from the bullying behaviour of Britain’s tabloid media”.
The identities of the five are known to the Mail because they were named in a document filed to court by Meghan’s lawyers in July as part of the legal proceedings. Associated Newspapers dispute that the document should be treated as confidential.
In her witness statement, Meghan said “for the Mail on Sunday to expose them [her friends] in the public domain for no reason other than clickbait and commercial gain is vicious and poses a threat to their emotional and mental wellbeing”.
She also accused the newspaper of seeking to “create a circus and distract from the point of this case – that the Mail on Sunday unlawfully published my private letter”.
In written arguments in response, the publishers’ lawyers accused Meghan of using “extravagant and extreme language” to express an opinion not based on evidence.
It said the paper had shown restraint by not publishing the names even though there was no legal restriction preventing it from doing so.
Judge Mark Warby will give his ruling on whether the friends can be named at a later date. The hearing continues.
The Telegraph, London; Reuters