The ruling also let Meghan off the hook for misleading the court in denying that she engaged with the authors of a flattering book about the couple. Her apology for that erroneous statement, which she blamed on a faulty memory, was a public relations embarrassment, but the decision on Thursday means it will be no more than that.
The statement, the court said, had no bearing on the legal question of whether The Mail violated her privacy. “This was, at best, an unfortunate lapse of memory on her part, but it does not seem to me to bear on the issues raised in the grounds of appeal,” said the judge, Geoffrey Vos, writing on behalf of the three-judge panel.
Lawyers for The Mail’s publisher, Associated Newspapers, argued that Meghan’s involvement in trying to shape the book showed a pattern of careful management of her public image. As a public figure, they said, she should have been aware there was a chance the letter would be leaked. The Mail obtained the letter, presumably from Mr. Markle, and published excerpts in February 2019.
The Mail cited emails between the duchess and her communications secretary at the time, Jason Knauf, in which she asked him to review a draft of the letter. “Obviously everything I have drafted is with the understanding that it could be leaked so I have been meticulous in my word choice,” she wrote.
The duchess, he testified, asked whether addressing Mr. Markle as “Daddy” would be a smart public relations strategy. “Given I’ve only ever called him daddy,” she wrote, “it may make sense to open as such (despite him being less than paternal), and in the unfortunate event that it leaked it would pull at the heartstrings.”