Meghan Markle has apologised for misleading the court after saying she forgot that she gave an aide permission to brief the authors of a biography about her and Prince Harry.
Meghan and Harry previously denied contributing to the book, but Meghan apologised to the court on Wednesday and said the couple’s former communications secretary provided information to the authors of Finding Freedom with her knowledge.
The latest bombshell comes off the back of a legal battle between Meghan and Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL), the publishers of the Mail on Sunday, that started over the publication of letters sent to her father in 2018.
What happened and why has Meghan apologised to the court?
In court, the couple’s former communications secretary Jason Knauf said Meghan had furnished him with several briefing points for authors Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, including information on how she had “very minimal contact” with her half-siblings during her childhood.
Knauf insisted the book was “discussed on a routine basis”, which was “discussed directly with the duchess multiple times in person and over email”.
Emails released as part of Mr Knauf’s statement showed he had emailed Harry to discuss the book and to say he would meet the authors.
According to the former aide, the duke replied: “I totally agree that we have to be able to say we didn’t have anything to do with it.
“Equally, you giving the right context and background to them would help get some truths out there.”
Speaking on Wednesday, Meghan apologised for misleading the court about whether Knauf provided information to Scobie or Durand.
She said: “I accept that Mr Knauf did provide some information to the authors for the book and that he did so with my knowledge, for a meeting that he planned for with the authors in his capacity as communications secretary.
“The extent of the information he shared is unknown to me.
“When I approved the passage…I did not have the benefit of seeing these emails and I apologise to the court for the fact that I had not remembered these exchanges at the time.
“I had absolutely no wish or intention to mislead the defendant or the court.”
Meghan added that she would have been “more than happy” to refer to the exchanges with Knauf if she had been aware of them at the time, adding they are “a far cry from the very detailed personal information that the defendant alleges that I wanted or permitted to put into the public domain”.
Another reason she gave for not discovering the emails between her and Knauf sooner was that the disclosure stage of the legal action had not been reached, and in October last year her lawyers applied to put off the trial date as she was pregnant.
She said she was advised to avoid stress, after her recent miscarriage, which came shortly after ANL indicated it wished to reveal the identities of her five friends who gave an interview to the US magazine, People, in which they referred to her relationship with her father.
Meghan said: “I was in the first trimester of my third pregnancy at the time, having suffered a miscarriage a few months prior, and was feeling very unwell.
“My doctor advised me to avoid stress, particularly given the recent miscarriage days after the defendant threatened to break the confidentiality of the original ‘sources’ for the People magazine article, which resulted in my having to make an urgent application for an anonymity order.
“This was granted … but I found the process extremely stressful, and it took its toll physically and emotionally.
“I have at all times wanted to protect the privacy of those friends, while the defendant was, it seemed to me, doing everything it could to make this litigation as intrusive as possible.”
How have people reacted?
Meghan is on the front page of several newspapers in the UK this morning, with The Sun sharing a particularly wacky depiction of Meghan as “Little Miss Forgetful”.
Tomorrow's front page: Meghan Markle issues apology for ‘forgetting’ to tell court she tried to influence royal bio… https://t.co/ktNwm5zk2c
Replying to Morgan, Twitter user Jules said Morgan is now “vindicated”.
Another response from banker Mohamed Wehliye asked Morgan what his “end game” is. Morgan replied to say he wants the Queen to stop them “ruthlessly exploiting their royal titles” while “trashing” the monarchy.
The ‘end game’ is that the Sussexes are stopped - by the Queen - from ruthlessly exploiting their royal titles for… https://t.co/zQpThCvnsX
The hearing is due to end today with a judgment at a later date.
The legal action between Meghan and ANL initially kicked off after the Duchess of Sussex sued over five articles that reproduced parts of a “personal and private” letter sent to her father Thomas Markle, 77, in August 2018.
Despite the High Court ruling the publication of the letter unlawful, ANL has challenged the ruling at the Court of Appeal, arguing the case should go to a trial on Meghan’s claims including breach of privacy and copyright.