Meghan Markle has been the subject of tabloid rumors and abuse since she started dating Prince Harry in 2016; a few months into their relationship, he even issued a public statement, asking for the press to "reflect" before publishing damaging false stories.
And in October of this year, after the royal couple spoke out about the toll the media scrutiny has taken on them, they resorted to legal action against multiple publications. This week the independent outlet Byline Investigates obtained some of the first court documents from the lawsuit, which show that the royals' lawyers are determined to correct multiple libelous reports.
The documents take issue with several stories that were written about Markle's relationship with her father, who did not attend her wedding in 2017. A private letter she wrote to him was later published without authorization in the the Mail on Sunday; Markle's lawyers point out that only sections were printed, in turn mischaracterizing its intent. Additionally, the court documents explain that Markle did not "ignore" her father after the wedding.
"The true position is that the Claimant [Meghan] has a long history of looking after her father’s welfare and trying to find solutions to any health problems…. She did provide extensive financial support for him, as well as act as primary caregiver for her grandmother…. Her father did not telephone her to explain that he was not coming to her wedding," the documents read. "Her team in Los Angeles did provide him with continued support for which he had expressed gratitude…. She had reached out to him prior to the wedding and sought to protect him, as well as to ensure that he would be able to come to the wedding…. She did not ignore him afterward.”
The documents also correct multiple details that have been reported about the duchess's life, including that she had renovated Frogmore Cottage to include a yoga studio, orangery, guest wing, copper bath, and tennis court. (The documents say these things were written "to portray the Claimant in a damaging light by suggesting that she had indulged in this series of absurdly lavish renovations.") They also explain that despite what had been reported, Markle's mother, Doria Ragland, was, in fact, invited to her New York baby shower but couldn't attend "due to work commitments." The papers also countered figures which claimed the shower cost $300,000 by sharing, "[It] actually cost a tiny fraction of the $300k falsely stated in the article."
The legal team also noted the blatantly wrong and also racial undertones of headlines like, "Harry’s girl is (almost) straight outta Compton: Gang-scarred home of her mother revealed—so will he be dropping by for tea?” The documents read, “The statement that the Claimant lived or grew up in Compton (or anywhere near to it) is false. The fact that the Defendant chose to stereotype this entire community as being 'plagued by crime and riddled with street gang' and thereby suggest (in the first few days of her relationship being revealed) that the Claimant came from a crime-ridden neighborhood is completely untrue as well as intended to be divisive. The Claimant will also refer to the fact that the article cites her aunt as living in 'gang-afflicted Inglewood' in order to bolster this negative and damaging impression of where this (black) side of her family is said to come from. In fact, Ava Burrow (said to be 'the actress's aunt') is not her aunt or any blood relation at all, a fact which if correctly stated would have undermined the narrative which the Defendant was intended to convey.”
And, of course, there are all of these stories that have painted Markle as a "difficult" royal to work with. The documents cite accounts about Markle's former aide Samantha Cohen, who tabloids reported walked out on her job because it was too demanding. "The suggestion that Samantha Cohen (who was private secretary for both the Duke and Duchess of Sussex) walked out on the Claimant or that she did so because the Claimant was 'difficult' to work for (a word used six times in this article) is untrue, as well as damaging," the papers read. "Ms. Cohen, who was a highly respected and dedicated member of Her Majesty the Queen’s staff for 16 years, personally chose to come out of retirement in order to work for the Claimant. Far from walking out on her, Ms. Cohen even extended the original year which she had intended to work for as she wanted to carry on helping the Duke and Duchess with their office. Further, the Claimant’s 'personal assistant' was in fact assistant to both the Duke and Duchess, and, contrary to what the Defendant stated in the article, she did not ‘quit.’”
Other stories the court documents highlight include a ridiculous piece that links Markle liking avocado toast to “murder” and “human rights abuses." ("The connection made between the fact that the Claimant likes eating avocado and made avocado on toast for a friend who visited her with human rights abuses, murder, and environmental devastation is another highly tenuous and deliberately inflammatory one. The suggestion that, by liking avocados, she is fueling or supporting these extreme occurrences, and therefore is disingenuous about her 'campaigning for racial equality and female empowerment,' is again as absurd as it is offensive,” the legal documents read.) Then there's a story that claimed there's a connection to the community kitchen project she supports to Islamist jihadists.
It's unclear what the final outcome of the lawsuit will be, but already experts say they're showing how inaccurate tabloid news is and proving the Sussexes are fighting back when it comes to fake stories.
Originally Appeared on Glamour