With the preliminary hearing now concluded for the Meghan Markle vs. Associated Newspapers legal battle, we know many of the finer details as we head towards the trial.
For many reasons, this legal battle will prove pivotal in how the media in Britain is able to report on our celebrities and the royal family.
A win for Meghan Markle will undoubtedly see a blow to freedom of the press, which will probably delight both Markle herself, and her followers. Not to mention the militant disciples of cancel culture on both sides of the U.S. and British divide.
While a win for Associated Newspapers will ensure that freedom of the press wins the day and that the wealthy and powerful in our society cannot simply threaten our media outlets into allowing them to curate their own coverage.
It’s a crucial case, and there are many moving parts and a lot of questions.
The following is how I see it playing out.
The crux of the battle centers around a simple five-page letter than Meghan Markle sent to her estranged father, Thomas.
A letter that later found its way into the Daily Mail’s hands, who decided to publish the contents.
It may be worth mentioning that the letter wasn’t first mentioned in the Daily Mail piece, but instead in People sometime earlier.
How did that outlet manage to come across the contents? Well, a friend of Meghan Markle described the details to the publication.
That’s right. A “personal and heartfelt” letter from daughter to father had apparently been read by or at least discussed with an anonymous friend who saw fit to mention the contents to the media.
Of course, this was perfectly fine. Meghan Markle had zero issues with People reporting on the content of the letter.
The Daily Mail reporting on the letter was too much, though.
Why? Because the People article painted Meghan in a positive light. As I’ve said numerous times before, Meghan Markle and now Prince Harry are obsessed with curating the information that the media prints about them and how said information is framed.
The People article painted Meghan as the victim of bullying by the British tabloids, while the Daily Mail coverage of the letter did not.
That is the difference. And is why we see Meghan Markle take the media outlet to court.
Associated Newspapers are asking for “disclosure” of all of Meghan’s communications with certain friends, including with People, which could prove that she works with those friends to influence what is leaked to the media.
To say that Meghan Markle is a master at controlling the media narrative when it comes to her brand would be a colossal understatement.
For that, I can give her credit, and I can certainly see why the Sussex Squad disciples she has follow her lead so unquestioningly. Her influence over them genuinely is remarkable.
However, we can’t give Meghan all the credit on her own, although I’m sure she wouldn’t mind that!
No, her often-quoted anonymous “friends” have helped her hugely in her media coverage over the years.
However, before Mulroney’s horrible behavior towards Sasha Exeter came to light, she was crushing it as Meghan’s right-hand woman.
Many of you will remember the interview with former Meghan Markle business advisor Gina Nelthorpe-Cowne.
Speaking of this piece, Associated Newspapers claims that Meghan was:
Well versed in the art of attempting to manipulate what was written about her. [She reportedly] caused or permitted a close friend to seek to influence what is published about her in the media.
No surprises there.
Associated Newspapers declared in court that Jessica Mulroney, acting on behalf of Meghan Markle, attempted to influence the tone and content of the interview with Nelthorpe-Cowne:
It is to be inferred that on the same date, the Claimant [Meghan Markle] passed this message to Jessica Mulroney with a request that she [Ms. Mulroney] intervene to try to ensure a more favorable article was published, because on April 7, 2018, Ms. Mulroney wrote to Ms. Nelthorpe-Cowne putting pressure on her to withdraw or change statements she made.
The newspaper essentially claimed that Meghan used her friends as:
De facto PR agents [to produce] flattering media coverage.
It’s interesting to note that this claim has never really been refuted, with Meghan’s lawyers saying that “it would not happen again.”
It wouldn’t be outlandish to believe that the Finding Freedom book could be instrumental in costing Meghan Markle this court case against Associated Newspapers. It looks already as though she’ll be called to testify in January.
How ironic would that be? Meghan would have effectively out-Markle’d herself to an extent!
We know that Finding Freedom is the autobiography Meghan would have written about herself if she thought she could get away with it.
She enlisted the help of two media cheerleaders to pen the book for her instead, in my opinion.
Despite ridiculous claims that neither she nor Prince Harry had anything to do with the book, Associated Newspapers have leaped upon it as a gift of sorts, claiming that it:
[Gave] every appearance of having been written with their (Meghan and Harry’s) extensive co-operation. The book contains a great deal of detailed information about [Meghan’s] personal life, including a number of passages referring to her relationship and communications with her father, and a section referring to the letter which is at the heart of this case.
The lawyers representing Meghan Markle and the author of the book, Omid Scobie, have denied any co-operation.
It appears that Associated Newspapers is looking forward to getting Scobie into the dock to testify. I’m not sure that he quite had this kind of thing in mind when he started writing the book!
With a date now set for January 11 and the case set to run for ten days, it would appear that the preliminary jousting is now over and done with.
The question we’ll all be asking between now and January is, how will this all play out?
I spoke exclusively to Chairman of Reputation Management Consultants, Eric Schiffer, and asked how he believed the result of this court case could affect both Meghan Markle and Prince Harry moving forward:
If Meghan and Harry win their case, they are going to double down in their attempt to create a chilling effect with the media. It will be a further reckless war on the press using their Netflix windfall and everything in their once royal power to demolish any potential for a negative story.
But, Meghan and Harry are like out of touch toddlers playing with nuclear weapons, and it will backfire. The media won’t be threatened by their whiny celebrity elite entitlement.
It would also seem that no matter the result of the case, it doesn’t reflect well on the couple:
Win or lose, the legal marauding makes the two seem petulant and further punctures their public popularity. They should study Buckingham Palace, which has a degree of sophistication in how they approach modern media relations.
I’ve asked for the past few months precisely who is advising Meghan Markle and Prince Harry now they no longer draw on the expertise of the palace?
It seems like one PR nightmare after another since they announced they were walking away from their duties.
Whoever is advising them, they could take some of what Eric Schiffer has to say onboard. I asked the Chairman of Reputation Management Consultants how he would approach advising Meghan and Harry if given the opportunity:
If I decided to take them on as clients, I would want to meet at a location that would allow them to feel most comfortable and say to both Harry and Meghan: It’s crystal clear you are frustrated and upset by many of the media stories. At the same time, you are now brands based on your own choices. And as brands as well as people who care about your privacy, it’s important to be self-aware about the position you are in and to clarify your intentions.
Unfortunately, being self-aware seems in short supply when it comes to the Hollywood Royals.
By further attacking the media, which is the portal to the public, you risk alienating aspects of the media that will lead to far greater negative results for your brand downstream. What if instead, you discover new ways to make peace with the attention and stay focused on positive pursuits that help those who can benefit from your spotlight around the world? Keep your focus, energy, and spirit in a place of contribution and generosity so that you begin to pull the world and the media with you, not against you.
Both Meghan Markle and Prince Harry champion generosity and positivity in their speeches, yet it seems they don’t practice what they preach.
This court case is certainly going to be interesting, and the result will determine how we see Harry and Meghan portrayed for years to come.