keeping up with the royals

Meghan Markle Wins Defamation Case Brought by Her Half-Sister

Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Shutterstock, Getty Images

After two years of hearings and filings, a federal judge handed Meghan Markle a decisive victory in the defamation case her half-sister filed against the Duchess of Sussex in 2022. The judge dismissed Samantha Markle’s lawsuit with prejudice, meaning she cannot refile the case.

Samantha had alleged in the suit that Meghan lied about her relationship with her half-sister and their father, Thomas Markle, on several occasions. She pointed specifically to the tell-all interview Meghan and her husband, Prince Harry, did with Oprah Winfrey in 2021, as well as the 2022 Netflix documentary Harry & Meghan. Meghan says in both projects that she grew up as an only child and that she wasn’t close to her father or half-sister.

Samantha had asked the court for $75,000 in damages because she felt Meghan’s statements implied that she was a “deceptive fame-seeking imposter with avaricious intentions,” according to Time. But U.S. District Judge Charlene Honeywell ultimately disagreed, saying Samantha “failed to identify any statements that could support a claim for defamation or defamation-by-implication,” in either the documentary or the Winfrey interview.

In 2021, on the heels of the publication of Samantha’s book, The Diary of Princess Pushy’s Sister — which she described as a “tell-all” about Meghan — Winfrey asked the duchess about her relationship with her sister. “I think it would be very hard to ‘tell all’ when you don’t know me,” Meghan responded. “I don’t feel comfortable talking about people that I really don’t know.” Samantha claimed in her lawsuit that this comment was an attack on “the veracity” of her book, alleging that it affected sales.

According to People, Samantha also took issue with a chapter in the book Finding Freedom, written by royals reporters Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, titled “A Problem Like Samantha.” But the judge decided last year that Meghan couldn’t “be held liable for statements in a book that she did not publish” and dismissed the case, though Samantha refiled the lawsuit in November.

In Tuesday’s ruling, the judge concluded that what Samantha had a problem with were Meghan’s opinions and insinuations, not any statements of fact. In a statement to the New York Times, Michael J. Kump, a lawyer for Meghan, said he and Meghan were “pleased with the court’s ruling dismissing the case.” Meanwhile, Samantha’s lawyer said the ruling was “very upsetting” and she plans to appeal. “Don’t count us out,” he wrote in an email, “just delayed.”

Meghan Markle Wins Defamation Case Brought by Half-Sister