Meghan Markle and Prince Harry sat down with Oprah Winfrey for an extended interview about their decision to step back from royal duties and what their lives have been like since relocating to southern California. Oprah with Meghan and Harry: A Primetime Special premiered on CBS on March 7.
One of the topics that had been expected to come up was the rift between Markle and her father, Thomas Markle. Their relationship had been strained for years but the discord made international headlines leading up to the royal wedding.
Thomas Markle had initially intended to walk his daughter down the aisle but ultimately did not even attend the ceremony, as Heavy previously reported. Meghan Markle discussed her father’s decision to collaborate with the tabloids in a segment of the interview that was shared on YouTube after the television broadcast. The clip is embedded below and can be seen here.
The young family is living much closer to Thomas Markle now. Meghan and Harry’s home in Montecito is only about a four-hour drive from Rosarito, Mexico, which is where Thomas Markle is living in retirement. But there is no evidence to suggest there has been any kind of reunion or reconciliation.
Here’s what you need to know:
Thomas Markle Was Willing to Testify Against His Daughter in the Privacy Case She Filed Against a British Tabloid
Any chance of a reconciliation between Thomas Markle and Meghan Markle was likely dashed because of a leaked letter. Here’s a recap: After the wedding in May 2018, Meghan sent her father a handwritten letter that she had expected would remain private between the two of them, NBC News reported, citing her legal team.
Fast-forward to February 2019. Five of Meghan’s friends discussed the father-daughter relationship with People. One of the friends told the magazine that in the letter, Meghan told her father she was “heartbroken” over their feud and asked him to “stop victimizing me through the media so we can repair our relationship.” The friends also suggested Thomas Markle ignored his daughter’s phone calls. According to E! News, Meghan was not aware of the People article before it came out.
Thomas Markle felt the People article misrepresented the situation and “vilified” his character, E! News reported. In response, he shared Meghan’s letter with The Mail on Sunday. The tabloid republished portions of the letter in February 2019.
Meghan and Harry filed a lawsuit in October 2019 against the tabloid’s parent company, Associated Newspapers, for violating her privacy. According to The Daily Mail, which is also owned by Associated Newspapers, Thomas Markle was willing to testify against his daughter in court and defend the tabloid’s right to publish excerpts of her letter. He told the outlet, “It would be the worst place to have to meet her and Harry – but it might come down to that because I will certainly testify against the things that have been said about me. The lies.”
But that moment never came because a judge decided Thomas Markle’s in-person testimony was not necessary, Reuters reported. Instead, Thomas Markle submitted a witness statement in which he claimed he leaked Meghan’s letter in order to share his side of the story.
According to a portion of the statement obtained by E! News, Thomas Markle insisted his daughter’s letter had been much harsher than her friends had insinuated. “It actually signaled the end of our relationship, not a reconciliation,” he claimed. “When I read the article ‘The Truth About Meghan’ in People magazine I was shocked by what it said about me. It was a total lie. It misrepresented the tone and content of the letter Meg had written me in August 2018 quickly decided I wanted to correct that misrepresentation.”
In mid-February 2021, U.K. High Court Justice Mark Warby ruled in Meghan’s favor. As USA Today reported, the judge issued a summary judgment rather than allowing the case to go to trial. He wrote in his opinion that Meghan Markle “had a reasonable expectation that the contents of the letter would remain private. The Mail articles interfered with that reasonable expectation.” The issue of damages has not yet been decided.
According to the BBC, Justice Warby also ordered The Mail on Sunday to print a front-page statement in which the tabloid must acknowledge it misused Meghan’s Markle’s private information and “infringed her copyright.” The tabloid plans to appeal.
Thomas Markle Sent Letters to His Daughter’s House in California After Criticizing Her Publicly
Harry and Meghan’s privacy case against the British tabloid began in October 2019. The case was soon overshadowed by the couple’s announcement in early 2020 that they were stepping back from their royal duties. Queen Elizabeth II initially said she supported their decision to “live a more independent life,” according to an official statement released on January 13, 2020.
But Thomas Markle was critical of his daughter’s decision and called it “embarrassing.” During an appearance on ITV’s Good Morning Britain in late January 2020, Thomas Markle said he felt Harry and Meghan’s choice had “hurt the queen.” He added that he felt the couple’s claims about negative media attention were exaggerated and he dismissed the idea that British media had been racist against Meghan. “There’s never been a problem in terms of race with Meghan at her school or any place, and I haven’t noticed it in England at all. I don’t think she’s being bullied in any way, or any shape because of racism.”
Thomas Markle also spoke about his daughter for a documentary made in the United Kingdom. According to the Daily Mail, Thomas Markle suggested Meghan didn’t appreciate the opportunity she had by marrying into the royal family. “With Meghan and Harry separating from the Royals… it’s disappointing because she actually got every girl’s dream,” Thomas Markle said. “Every young girl wants to become a princess and she got that and now she’s tossing that away… it looks like she’s tossing that away for money.”
But as all of this unfolded, Thomas Markle was also reportedly making an effort to reconnect with Meghan. US Weekly, citing an unnamed source, reported in July 2020 that Thomas Markle had mailed several letters to Harry and Meghan’s home in Montecito, California. The source told the outlet that Meghan had not opened the letters.
According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Thomas Markle retired to Rosarito in Baja California, Mexico. The newspaper reported in 2018 that he lived in a gated community and didn’t seek out attention. Rosarito is located about 250 miles south of Montecito, California.