Meghan Markle Wins Defamation Battle With Half-Sister Over Oprah Interview

Prince Harry may still be quarrelling with his family and the British courts, but Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, has put a dispute with one of her relatives behind her.

After almost two years of litigation and several amended complaints, a federal judge today threw out the defamation case from the former Suits star’s half-sister. In fact, it’s no exaggeration to say Judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell tossed out the efforts by Samantha Markle hard.  

“The Court grants the motion to dismiss, in full,” the Florida-based judge wrote in her 58-page order Tuesday. (Read the ruling here).

“Plaintiff’s claims will be dismissed with prejudice, as she has failed to identify any statements that could support a claim for defamation or defamation-by-implication by this point, her third try at amending her complaint, in either the book Finding Freedom, the Netflix series Harry & Meghan, or Defendant and her husband’s hour-long televised CBS Interview,” Judge Honeywell added.

Claiming that the Duchess of Sussex made “false and malicious comments” about her, the elder offspring of Thomas Markle Sr also took umbrage that the estranged Royal claimed to be “an only child” in various interviews. Also objecting to the way interactions between herself and her younger half-sister were characterized by Meghan Markle, Samantha Markle wanted at least $75,000 as well as various fees from her half-sibling.

The Barack Obama appointed Judge Honeywell was having none of it.

“Defendant’s answer, in context, is clearly her opinion of her own childhood and relationship with Plaintiff,” she said in today’s order granting the Duchess of Sussex’s motion to dismiss. “It is neither objectively verifiable nor subject to empirical proof. Therefore, it cannot support a claim for defamation and must be dismissed.”

“The Court has taken notice of the fact that Plaintiff used the surname Rasmussen in September 2016 and Markle two months later, soon after Defendant’s royal relationship was first Reported,” the order makes a point of noting. “Therefore, the gist of the statement—that Plaintiff switched to her family name a short time after it was reported Defendant was involved with Prince Harry—is true. Moreover, the precise reasons for her switch were not specified or suggested by Defendant (who merely stated “I think that says enough,”) an amorphous statement that cannot be objectively verified.”

“We are pleased with the Court’s ruling dismissing the case,” Markle’s lawyer Michael J. Kump of Santa Monica firm Kinsella Holley Iser Kump Steinsapir LLP told Deadline today.

Never ever far from the spotlight, despite she and Prince Harry’s objection to the media glare, Meghan Markle was at the opening day of SXSW 2024. On a panel with Brooke Shields, sociologist Nancy Wang Yuen, and Katie Couric the Duchess lamented the “toxicity” of social media in the modern world.

Both of the Sussexes were watched by nearly 18 million viewers in the U.S. and UK on CBS and ITV alone in the 2021 special Oprah with Meghan and Harry. The much-replayed broadcast saw the couple describe why they left Britain, and their mental health struggles. Harry and Meghan also made accusations of racism against unnamed members of the Royal Family in relation to their son Archie. These matters, along with references to “unwelcome opportunist” Samantha Markle, were also discussed in the couple’s six-part Netflix Harry & Meghan docuseries and various publications and podcasts.

Last month, Prince Harry was awarded “substantial” further damages out of his long-time legal battle with the Daily Mirror over phone hacking activities. So far, in the multi-plaintiff action, the Invictus Games founder has seen the Mirror Newspaper Group required to pay about £540,000 (just over $600,000 depending on fickle currency exchange) to him. Harry, along with a group including Elton John, is heading to trial in a lawsuit against the publisher of the Mail on Sunday over allegations of unlawful information gathering.

As his father King Charles III battles cancer and Donald Trump threatens retaliation for supposed slights by Harry and Meghan against the now deceased Queen Elizabeth II, the prodigal Prince has not been so successful in his legal attempts to force the UK government to reconsider its downgrading of his security status. While fifth in line to the throne, Harry is still entitled to some security when in Britain, but the youngest son of Charles and the deceased Diana, Princess of Wales, has fought to retain “full protection” for himself and his family. Late last month, the High Court denied his moves to overturn the Home Office decision.

Maybe Harry should hire Michael J Kump.

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