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Markle vs. Markle: Samantha accuses Meghan of subjecting her to ‘hatred on a worldwide scale’

The 58-year-old is seeking $75,000 in damages over comments the duchess made about her family in a 2021 interview with Oprah Winfrey

Samantha Markle (l) and Meghan Markle.
Andrea Jiménez

Two years after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s controversial interview with Oprah Winfrey, the Duchess of Sussex’s comments about her family are back in the news. Some 17 million Americans watched the interview, hoping to learn more about why the couple left the British royal family. They were not disappointed: the duke and duchess talked about racism in the House of Windsor and Meghan’s suicidal thoughts. As expected, these statements did not sit well with the British monarchy or Markle’s family. So much so that in March 2022, Meghan’s half-sister Samantha Markle filed a defamation suit. On Wednesday, February 15, the two sides appeared in a virtual court hearing.

According to court documents, first obtained by Page Six, Samantha Markle, 58, claims that Meghan, 41, made “false and malicious statements” in the Oprah interview and in Finding Freedom, an unofficial biography about the couple published in 2020. But one of the problems with the complaint is that of the 10 points listed, seven correspond to statements made in the book, which was neither written nor promoted by Meghan Markle.

Samantha Markle appeared at the virtual hearing on Wednesday, but the duchess was represented by her lawyers. During the hearing, Samantha Markle’s lawyer Peter Tickting said that Meghan caused her “great harm” and that after the Oprah interview, the 58-year-old was subjected to “humiliation, shame and hatred on a worldwide scale.”

“She got caught. She was lying about her education, that she was getting all these scholarships. Her father paid for her education for goodness sakes, and she got caught with this lie,” said Tickting, according to The Telegraph. “Why else is she putting her sister down? Why else is she putting her father down? Why else is she denying her family, who has done nothing but good to her all her life? She never had a problem with them at all.”

He continued: “She’s denying them to cover up that she made up this narrative that she went from rags to riches, which is nonsense, probably not even realizing the harm she would do to her sister. Probably never realizing this would put an innocent person into the fray where all of a sudden she has hundreds of threats on her life coming at her, a stalker she had to deal with.”

Meghan Markle
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle during their TV interview with Oprah Winfrey in March 2021.CBS / BEEM (CBS / BEEM / Cordon Press)

Michael Kump, the lawyer representing Meghan Markle, argued that the duchess’s recollections of her childhood were not “defamatory as a matter of law.“ “Not every perceived slight ought to be litigated, and that’s true here,” he said. “The plaintiff is taking issue with Meghan’s own impressions of her own childhood growing up, but that’s not proper subject matter for a court of law.”

Kump said that “the right to voice opinions and even criticize are guaranteed by the First Amendment,” adding that the duchess: “never declared: ‘I am an only child with no siblings.’ All she did was describe her own experiences growing up. Such statements are not readily capable of being proved true or false.”

In early February, Meghan lost her first battle in the case when the presiding judge dismissed her motion to avoid testimonies. Judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell ruled that the Duchess of Sussex “does not show that unusual circumstances justify the requested stay, or that prejudice or an undue burden will result if the court does not impose a stay.” This means that Meghan may have to testify.

The lawsuit accuses Meghan of falsely claiming to be an “only child,” who “had no relationship whatsoever with her sister.” “Meghan falsely claimed that: (a) she essentially raised herself from virtual poverty; (b) she was forced from the age of 13 to work in a series of low-paying jobs to ‘make ends meet,’” reads the complaint.

Samantha is asking for $75,000 in damages and for the cost of court and attorney’s fees.

But the conflict between the half-sisters dates back to long before the lawsuit. Samantha – who is 17 years older than Meghan – has been criticizing the duchess since her days on the hit TV show Suits. In several letters and even books, she has lashed out at Meghan, describing her as “cold and calculating.” When Harry and Meghan were still full members of the British royal family, Scotland Yard put her on its “people to watch” list due to the risk she posed to the Windsors. In fact, Samantha Markle was not invited to the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of York.

Judge Honeywell is set to decide whether to take the suit to trial in a few weeks. But even if the case is dismissed, Samantha’s lawyer has warned they could sue the duchess again for including the statements from the Winfrey interview in the Netflix documentary Harry & Meghan.

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