We could already understand Meghan Markle’s frustration at royals’ response to ‘untrue’ tabloids about her, but now court documents issued in a lawsuit against a British media company reveal just how difficult her situation really was. Apparently, the Duchess of Sussex didn’t even feel allowed to speak up for herself as part of a longstanding tradition of media silence from the royal family.
Meghan, 38, and her husband Prince Harry, 35, have been at the center of a lawsuit against British tabloid the Mail, who they claim issued false reports about Meghan during her time in the U.K., causing “tremendous emotional distress and damage to her mental health,” that left her feeling “unprotected by the institution and prohibited from defending herself.” Mind you, Meghan’s British media battle was ongoing all throughout her pregnancy with baby Archie, who just recently turned one in May. To think that the Duchess was already managing her transition to a new country and her pregnancy is stressful enough—but add in the context of constant scrutiny, and she was only bound to feel frustrated.
But according to new court evidence filed this week, those aren’t the only reasons why Meghan feels that way. A source told PEOPLE that Meghan wasn’t necessarily allowed to speak up and defend herself in the first place. “The go-to position [at the palace] was no comment or to ignore stories,” the source claims, adding, “and people actively prevented her from responding to stuff that we knew to be untrue.”
“That is what she is taking issue with,” the source told the outlet. And honestly, we get that. Who wouldn’t want to defend themselves—and their child—when the media is using racist language like “monkey” to describe your family? Let’s be real.
Yet PEOPLE‘s source suggests that the “no comment” response on the behalf of the palace wasn’t done out of spite. Instead, it seems to be the status quo—one which few before Meghan had ever thought to question.
“The palace teams are faced with the difficulty that when things go wrong—particularly on private life matters—quite often any action taken with the media makes it worse,” the source adds. “It’s not that the royal household doesn’t want to help—more that they don’t want to make it worse by giving a gossipy story more oxygen.”
Interesting. Although, it’s not like the Queen didn’t have a quick reaction to Meghan and Harry’s announcement over their plans to step back from the royal family in January, or an even more surprising response to their decision by eventually stripping their titles just a few weeks later. We’ll let you be the judge of whether that sort of action was gossipy or not.
Whether or not the royals were truly avoiding gossip or were afraid to get involved themselves, one thing’s for certain: Meghan and Harry’s lawsuit has little to do with the royal family itself, and much more to do with the British media alone. “Some people are making [these documents] about individuals,” one source told PEOPLE, before clarifying, “It is about the [institution] as a whole and its practices.”
“This case centers on a private and hand-written letter from a daughter to her father that was published by The Mail on Sunday,” a source close to the couple confirmed to PEOPLE when the lawsuit was announced. “This gross violation of any person’s right to privacy is obvious and unlawful.”
Let’s hope the Sussexes can settle this without too much more of that “gossipy” drama. We just want them to be happy!