In October, 35-year-old Prince Harry and 38-year-old Meghan announced that they were pursuing legal action against Associated Newspapers -- owners of The Daily Mail, MailOnline, Metro and more -- after The Mail on Sunday published a private, handwritten letter that Meghan wrote to her father. According to an Associated Press report on Wednesday, new documents filed at the High Court show the newspaper plans to defend itself by relying on evidence from Thomas in the lawsuit, stating that he "had a weighty right to tell his version of what had happened between himself and his daughter, including the contents of the letter."
The AP reports that lawyers for the newspaper state in court documents that the letter's publication was in response to an article published in People magazine in February 2019 that featured an interview with five anonymous close friends of Meghan, an article they call "one-sided." The newspaper also argues that since the article referenced the letter, which was written after her wedding to Harry in May 2018, its existence was in the public domain.
Meghan's relationship with her father has been complicated. Thomas was set to walk her down the aisle at her wedding to Harry, but later backed out due to heart problems. He also made headlines when prior to the wedding, he staged a paparazzi photo shoot of himself searching for images of Meghan and Harry online at an internet cafe, though he later insisted in an interview that he received no money for the shoot, but rather it was done to "change my image."
In the People article in question, an unnamed friend of Meghan's talked about the existence of the letter before The Mail on Sunday ended up publishing it later that month.
"After the wedding, she wrote him a letter. She’s like, 'Dad, I'm so heartbroken. I love you. I have one father. Please stop victimizing me through the media so we can repair our relationship,'" the friend claimed. "Because every time her team has to come to her and fact-check something [he has said], it's an arrow to the heart. He writes her a really long letter in return, and he closes it by requesting a photo op with her. And she feels like, 'That’s the opposite of what I'm saying. I'm telling you I don’t want to communicate through the media, and you're asking me to communicate through the media. Did you hear anything I said?' It's almost like they're ships passing."
The Mail on Sunday published excerpts of Meghan's letter to her father in February 2019, and Thomas told the newspaper that he never intended to make the handwritten letter public "out of respect for Meghan," but said he had been forced to do so because its contents had been falsely portrayed. At the time, the newspaper reported that Thomas was "devastated" by the letter which read in part, "Daddy, it is with a heavy heart that I write this, not understanding why you have chosen to take this path, turning a blind eye to the pain you're causing."
"Your actions have broken my heart into a million pieces -- not simply because you have manufactured such unnecessary and unwarranted pain, but by making the choice to not tell the truth as you are puppeteered in this," the letter continued. "Something I will ever understand."
The newspaper reported that in the five-page letter, Meghan also accused Thomas of not trying to contact her and of snubbing her and Prince Harry's attempts to help him following his heart attack.
"I decided to release parts of the letter because of the article from Meghan’s friends in People magazine," Thomas said. "I have to defend myself. I only released parts of the letter because other parts were so painful. The letter didn't seem loving to me. I found it hurtful."
As for Meghan's friend's claim to People that he requested a photo op from her after receiving the letter, he called it a "tragic misunderstanding."
"When [Meghan's mom] Doria was photographed with Meghan and Harry for the first time, it showed she was part of the family," Thomas said. "I don’t want a picture for any other reason than if we show harmony then the press will back off."