Meghan Markle’s escalating drama with her father Thomas Markle, including his decision to release a private, emotional letter she wrote to him, has prompted an outpouring of concern about her well-being from various people, including George Clooney and Queen Elizabeth who has reportedly called the situation “a nightmare.”
In a new interview, Clooney became the first person close to Meghan to publicly voice his concerns, comparing the rabid, tabloid coverage of the mother-to-be to that of the late Princess Diana.
“They’re just chasing Meghan Markle everywhere, she’s been pursued and vilified,” Clooney told a reporter for Australia’s Who magazine. “She’s a woman who is seven months pregnant and she has been pursued and vilified and chased in the same way that Diana was and it’s history repeating itself.”
“We’ve seen how that ends,” Clooney said gravely to Who magazine, referring to Diana’s fatal car crash in Paris in 1997 during which she was being cashed by paparazzi.
Clooney’s comments about the U.S.-born former TV actress came while promoting his new Hulu series “Catch-22.” He and his wife, human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, attended Meghan’s May 19 wedding to Prince Harry.
Clooney’s interview also came after the 74-year-old Thomas Markle decided to release to the Daily Mail excerpts of a five-page, handwritten letter Meghan sent him over the summer, begging him to stop giving interviews to the tabloids. In the letter, the Duchess of Sussex said her father’s decision to spread gossip and falsehoods about her and Harry “have broken my heart into a million pieces.”
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Clooney told Who magazine he was particularly dismayed by the fact that Meghan’s personal letter to Thomas, a retired Hollywood lighting designer, was published.
“I can’t tell you how frustrating that is, just seeing them broadcast a letter from a daughter to a father, she’s getting a raw deal there and I think it’s irresponsible and I’m surprised by that,” said Clooney.
The situation between Meghan and her father has become particularly messy in recent weeks. The drama escalated after five “close” friends of the duchess gave anonymous interviews to People magazine on her behalf, saying that she had tried to mend fences with Thomas Markle after her May 19 wedding by writing him a letter, begging him to stop “victimizing” her through through the media.
In his various tabloid interviews, Thomas Markle has claimed that his daughter stopped returning his calls after he was caught staging paparazzi photos before her marriage and after emergency heart surgery caused him to miss the wedding.
“He knows how to get in touch with her. Her telephone number hasn’t changed,” one friend told People. “He’s never called; he’s never texted. It’s super painful, because Meg was always so dutiful. I think she will always feel genuinely devastated by what he’s done. And at the same time, because she’s a daughter, she has a lot of sympathy for him.”
Meghan is said to be “devastated” that her father once again betrayed her privacy by releasing the letter, according to Vanity Fair royal reporter Katie Nicholl. But the duchess is wary about commenting — or perhaps letting her friends offer up more anonymous comments — because she doesn’t want to further escalate an already difficult situation, Nicholl added.
“She cares for her dad, and has concerns for him and his mental health, which is one of the reasons she doesn’t want to comment on this,” a source told Nicholl. “It’s a very complex, very emotional situation, and let’s not forget she is seven months pregnant.”
But Nicholl also reported that Queen Elizabeth has been concerned about Meghan’s situation with her father, and told her so before Christmas.
A family friend told Vanity Fair that the 92-year-old queen urged Meghan and Harry to try and sort out the situation. “She told them both that the whole thing was becoming a nightmare, and that they should try and sort things out,” according to the friend. Buckingham Palace refused to comment on the claim, Vanity Fair added.
But obviously, things haven’t been sorted out, and the already difficult situation has escalated.
Some royal experts and insiders blame the People interview with Meghan’s friend — and Meghan herself — for making things worse, royal reporter Rebecca English wrote in the Daily Mail.
English said it’s likely that the duchess either directed her friends to talk to People, or at least gave them her tacit permission.
Meghan’s friends also told People that the duchess gave financial support to her father, never really had any kind of relationship with her older half-sister Samantha, never feuded with royal sister-in-law Kate Middleton and has never acted like a diva, either while planning her wedding or with royal staff. If
English said it “was clear” that the Kensington Palace press office was not involved in the People magazine story. The palace was informed by magazine staff only minutes before publication about the article’s “exceptional detail”: its verbatim account of Meghan’s letter to her father.
Former Buckingham Palace press secretary Dickie Arbiter, who worked as a media manager for both Prince Charles and Princess Diana, told English that if Meghan had her friends speak for her she would potentially exacerbate issues.
“Assuming — and as these sources are anonymous we don’t know for sure — that this was done with her agreement, it has opened a Pandora’s Box, in my opinion,” Arbiter said. “The issue with her father is an open wound and I’m not entirely sure it is the best idea to aggravate that.”
But in having her friends speak for her, Meghan nonetheless would be following Princess Diana’s example in other ways. She would be taking a page from Diana’s P.R. playbook.
It has long been suspected that Prince Harry’s mother had friends anonymously leak tell-all stories about her, Prince Charles and the royal family to the U.K. tabloids while she was alive. It also has been reported that the late princess sent secret recordings to journalist Andrew Morton to help him write his explosive 1992 biography, “Diana: Her True Story In Her Own Words.”
Certainly, what Meghan’s friends told People sound a lot like the things you would expect the duchess to say for herself in an on-the-record conversation with a legitimate news organization. That is, if she wasn’t bound by some code of conduct that says royals shouldn’t sully themselves with gossip and talk about interpersonal drama.
In any case, Thomas Markle wasn’t too pleased about the People story and that’s why he said he shared Meghan’s letter with the Daily Mail. Thomas Markle told the tabloid he never intended to make the letter public, “out of respect” for Meghan, but said he was forced to do so because its contents were falsely portrayed.
Thomas Markle said he believed the letter shows that Meghan never made any attempt to heal their rift, contrary to claims made by her friends. To him, the letter felt “like a dagger to the heart.”
But really, the letter seems to largely confirm what the friends told People, including the assertion that Meghan and Harry had forgiven him for the paparazzi photos and tried to reach out to him after the wedding.
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