Meghan Markle is now facing the daunting prospect of legal action that could compel her to disclose private messages containing contentious exchanges with her half-sister, Samantha Markle. Samantha, aged 58, alleges that Meghan, aged 42, defamed her during a high-profile 2021 interview with Oprah Winfrey and in Netflix documentaries aired a year ago.
In response to these perceived slights, Samantha initiated legal proceedings against Meghan. The court hearing unfolded on November 8 in federal court in Tampa, Florida, where Samantha expressed cautious optimism about the potential success of her case, seeking damages exceeding £61,000 ($75,000).
At the crux of Samantha's claims is the contention that Meghan's public comments caused significant financial losses. Samantha asserts that her book, "Diary of a Wimpy Princess Sister," suffered millions in lost sales due to the fallout from Meghan's statements.
Should the trial proceed, tentatively set for July 2024, Meghan faces a critical deadline of January 2 for "discovery." This legal phase would necessitate Meghan to unveil private text messages, emails, and other relevant documents that could be integral to the case.
Samantha initiated the defamation suit against Meghan in March 2022, a year after the Oprah interview and months before the release of the Netflix docu-series. Among her allegations, Samantha claimed that Meghan provided unauthorized information to a biography titled "Searching for Freedom" and discussed their relationship on live television with Oprah.
Additionally, Samantha accused Meghan and Prince Harry of spreading what she described as "malicious, harmful, and vile lies" in the docu-series. After the judge granted Meghan's motion to dismiss the original claim, Samantha promptly filed an amended version within the stipulated two-week deadline.
In this revised lawsuit, Samantha contends that Meghan aimed to "demonize" her, portraying her as a "liar desperate for attention" on her show. Samantha further alleges that Meghan's fans have initiated "hateful campaigns" against her.
In response to these allegations, Michael Kump, the legal representative for Meghan, vehemently denied the defamation claims. Kump argued that Meghan's statements were not defamatory, emphasizing that the case lacked merit and characterizing it as an attempt to pursue a viable claim within the bounds of libel law and the First Amendment.