Meghan, the duchess of Sussex, has filed a lawsuit against The Mail on Sunday and the newspaper’s parent company, over the publication of a private letter, her husband, Prince Harry, said on Tuesday.
In a statement posted on the duke and duchess’s website, Prince Harry said that Meghan had become a victim of “a ruthless campaign” by British tabloids, and that he had been “a silent witness to her private suffering for too long.”
“There is a human cost to this relentless propaganda, specifically when it is knowingly false and malicious,” he said, “and though we have continued to put on a brave face — as so many of you can relate to — I cannot begin to describe how painful it has been.”
The lawsuit appears to be based on The Mail on Sunday’s publication in February of a handwritten letter Meghan sent to her estranged father, Thomas Markle.
“There comes a point when the only thing to do is to stand up to this behavior, because it destroys people and destroys lives,” Prince Harry said, invoking the history of his mother, Princess Diana, who was followed by paparazzi for years and who died in a car crash in Paris as her driver tried to get away from photographers.
“My deepest fear is history repeating itself,” Prince Harry said. “I’ve seen what happens when someone I love is commoditized to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person. I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces.”
Calls to DMG Media, the company that owns The Mail on Sunday, were not immediately answered on Tuesday.
Prince Harry said that the legal action was “months in the making” and was decided upon after “the contents of a private letter were published unlawfully in an intentionally destructive manner to manipulate you, the reader.”
He accused the publishers of having “purposely misled you by strategically omitting select paragraphs, specific sentences, and even singular words to mask the lies they had perpetuated for over a year.”
The statement said that the legal action accused The Mail on Sunday and its parent company of misuse of private information, infringement of copyright and violations of the Data Protection Act of 2018. It said the case had been brought to the Chancery Division of the High Court. The statement did not specify damages.
The law firm Schillings, which is representing the duchess, said in a statement that the “intrusive and unlawful publication” of the letter was part of a campaign “to publish false and deliberately derogatory stories about her, as well as her husband.”
Prince Harry said he supported press freedom and “objective, truthful reporting,” but condemned the conduct of British tabloids in stark language throughout his statement, calling it “bullying” that frightens people into silence.