Why is Meghan Markle’s half-sister suing her for defamation?

Samantha Markle, the estranged half-sister of the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, filed papers in a Florida district court on Friday 3 February 2023 suing her sibling for £60,000 in damages over comments Meghan Markle made during her blockbuster TV interview with Oprah Winfrey in March 2021 and in Finding Freedom, a 2020 biography.

The complainant, 58, claims her reputation suffered after the former TV actress, 41, made what she alleges were “demonstrably false and malicious statements” about her when discussing their childhood, saying she was subjected to “humiliation, shame and hatred on a worldwide scale” as a result of the Duchess’s remarks.

Samantha Markle has also formally requested that Prince Harry give a deposition, on video and under oath, later this month and that the Duchess make 38 separate admissions in the case, one of which states that neither the late Queen Elizabeth II nor King Charles III are racist.

Another is that Samantha Markle regularly drove her half-sister to school and took her on shopping trips to the local mall when she was a child, intended to disprove the Duchess’s claim that she “grew up as an only child” without support from her family.

The legal action also calls on Thomas Markle, their father, to provide a statement, along with the royal couple’s former communications secretary Jason Knauf, Samantha Markle’s own daughter Ashleigh Hale and data analyst Christopher Bouzy, who appeared in the recent Harry & Meghan Netflix documentary to discuss tweets attacking the Duchess and the sources they cited.

For her part, the Duchess is seeking to have the case dismissed and her lawyer, Michael J Kump, says the demands made are irrelevant to the issues involved.

He has argued that his client did not make some of the statements alleged and those she did were simply matters of opinion, which were “substantially true in any event”.

The Duchess’s team argue the complaint “has no place in this court or any other” because they feel it amounts to asking jurors to define the meaning of a “close” relationship.

“She is asking the court to decide whether she and Meghan had ever ‘been close,’ how many times the two ‘crossed paths’ as adults and whether Meghan’s feelings that she ‘grew up as an only child’ are ‘true’ or ‘false,’” her lawyers said.

Samantha Markle taking part in the documentary ‘Meghan and the Markles: A Family at War’ (Channel 5/PA)
Samantha Markle taking part in the documentary ‘Meghan and the Markles: A Family at War’ (Channel 5/PA)

Mr Kump has applied for the discovery process to be delayed, pending the outcome of his dismissal application, but, should the case be given the go-ahead, a jury trial could be held in Tampa in January 2024.

Samantha Markle has become increasingly critical of her half-sister in recent years and last month gave an interview to Dan Wootton on GB News in which she criticised Prince Harry in light of the media storm surrounding the publication of his confessional memoir Spare.

“I think he is lacking in empathy, remorse and shame,” she told the conservative broadcaster.

“He is so under-developed and introspective that he needs to get counselling, in my opinion, because I think he is stuck at an adolescent stage of resentment over a whole host of issues.”

She has also appeared on Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News to speculate on why she and other members of the Markle family were not invited to the couple’s wedding at Windsor Castle in May 2018.