A British court on Wednesday upheld Meghan Markle’s copyright claims to a letter that she wrote to her father in 2019. The suit was filed against the Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) over its publication of the letter, as reported by Hello!
The Duchess of Sussex had written the letter a few months after her marriage with Prince Harry in 2018. In 2020, Prince Harry and Markle filed a lawsuit against The Mail On Sunday, managed by the ANL, for the misuse of her private information and breach of copyright, as per The Sun UK.
While they won the privacy claim in February after Markle was granted a summary judgment that did not require her to go for a trial, the publication right were yet to be decided upon. In his ruling, Lord Justice Warby said that she had a “reasonable expectation of privacy” and that it was “fanciful to think otherwise”.
The judgment was extended owing to ANL’s belief that Markle could not claim publication rights since being a member of the British Royal family required her to communicate through the Crown and the Royal family’s communications department.
ANL argued that Jason Knauf, formerly communications secretary to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, was a co-author of the letter, which meant the letter belonged to the Crown.
On the day of the hearing, lawyers representing the Crown told the High Court that Knauf had “emphatically” denied being a co-author and that lawyers representing “the Keeper of the Privy Purse, acting on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen” told Markle’s solicitors they “did not consider the Crown to be the copyright owner”, as reported by Hello!
The Mail On Sunday was also directed in March to feature a front-page statement declaring Markle’s victory on the copyright claim. However, this was put on hold “to allow the publisher time to seek permission to appeal”.
The lawsuit unfolded at a time when Prince Harry and Markle stepped down from their responsibilities as senior working members of the British Royal family to settle in the US. In an exclusive interview with Oprah Winfrey in March, they spoke about the “deteriorating mental health” of Markle and about the Royal family’s refusal to help her citing the reason that she wasn’t “a paid employee at the firm”.