Court documents associated with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s lawsuit against a British media company reveal that the 38-year-old felt unable to defend herself, People magazine reported on Wednesday.
“The go-to position [at the palace] was no comment or to ignore stories, and people actively prevented her from responding to stuff that we knew to be untrue,” a source close to the couple told the outlet. “That is what she is taking issue with.”
According to the documents filed by the former American actress’ legal team, false reports caused “tremendous emotional distress and damage to her mental health” and left her feeling “unprotected by the institution and prohibited from defending herself” during her pregnancy with Archie.
A palace insider with close knowledge of the workings of the royal household told the outlet that the royal family’s history of silence on news stories comes from their determination to not amplify the situation.
This notion is famously known as “never complain, never explain.”
“The palace teams are faced with the difficulty that when things go wrong -- particularly on private life matters -- quite often any action taken with the media makes it worse,” the source explained. “It’s not that the royal household doesn’t want to help -- more that they don’t want to make it worse by giving a gossipy story more oxygen.”
A pal close to the couple stressed that the remarks in the documents aren’t aimed at the royal family specifically.
“Some people are making [these documents] about individuals,” the source told the outlet. “It’s about the [institution] as a whole and its practices.”
“This case centers on a private and hand-written letter from a daughter to her father that was published by The Mail on Sunday,” said the source. “This gross violation of any person’s right to privacy is obvious and unlawful.”
The outlet noted the former “Suits” star is suing publishers Associated Newspaper and the Mail on Sunday for publishing excerpts of what she describes as a “private and confidential” letter sent to her father, Thomas Markle, in August 2018 -- three months after her wedding to Prince Harry, 35.
Markle and Harry listened in on a pre-trial hearing in April from their Los Angeles home, where they have relocated, amid the coronavirus pandemic. The outlet shared that the legal case will focus on whether the Mail on Sunday infringed on Markle’s privacy and U.K. laws surrounding copyright and data protection by publishing excerpts of the letter in question.
The lawsuit is expected to go to a full trial in either late 2020 or early 2021.
In January, Harry and Markle announced they will take “a step back” as senior members of the royal family and instead work independently, splitting their time between the United Kingdom and North America.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex said their decision came "after many months of reflection and internal discussions."
"We have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution," the couple shared on Instagram. “We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen. It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment.
"We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honor our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages," they continued. "This geographic balance will enable us to raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter, including the launch of our new charitable entity."
"We look forward to sharing the full details of this exciting next step in due course, as we continue to collaborate with Her Majesty The Queen, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and all relevant parties. Until then, please accept our deepest thanks for your continued support."
They will keep their royal titles.