What next for the Sussexes following Meghan’s win over the Mail on Sunday?

The Duchess of Sussex has successfully sued the Mail for breach of privacy and copyright. Credit: PA

In the space of just 10 days, Harry and Meghan have both notched up legal wins against the Mail.

The Duke of Sussex sued for defamation after the Mail on Sunday ran a story claiming he had ‘turned his back’ on the British military.

Now the Duchess of Sussex has successfully sued for breach of privacy and copyright for the publication of the heartfelt letter she sent to her father, Thomas Markle.

It highlights the significant freedoms the couple now enjoy outside the royal family and serves as a warning shot to media outlets - tabloid newspapers in particular - that as private individuals Harry and Meghan will not hesitate to litigate when they feel wronged.

  • ITV News Royal Editor Chris Ship explains the implications of the win on Good Morning Britain

Many might be alarmed by the precedent this sets for press freedom, as Thomas Markle effectively ‘leaked’ his daughter’s letter to the newspaper.

Others will rejoice at the chains this will place around the media when they claim public interest in order to pry into the private lives of others.

But there will be a huge sigh of relief in Team Sussex and at Buckingham Palace that this case in not going to trial – and Thomas Markle will not be giving evidence against his daughter.

The Royal Family is habitually reluctant to take legal action because the publicity generated in the course of taking it will usually outweigh any subsequent win on a technical matter of law. 

Harry and Meghan stepped down as working royals last year Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA

Prince Harry, and now Meghan, share a seething hatred for some sections of the tabloid press.

He has written before about how he intends to protect his wife in a way in which he couldn’t protect his mother.

“I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces,” he wrote in October 2019.

I recall that day – the last day of their otherwise hugely successful tour of southern Africa.

  • Chris Ship breaks down the judges decision to rule against the Mail

The atmosphere was tense, even their staff were taken by surprise. However, no one was able to talk Harry out of making a stinging statement about press behaviour as the couple announced Meghan’s intention to sue the Mail on Sunday.

He would not be, he wrote, “a silent witness to her private suffering”.

Additionally, he accused a “specific press pack” of “vilifying” his wife “almost daily for the past nine months”.

Fast forward 15 months and that legal action has now concluded in a positive way for Harry’s wife.

But in the intervening period, the Duke and Duchess launched multiple lawsuits against newspapers and news agencies.

 Legal action taken by the Sussex's against media outlets

  • Harry’s own case against the Mail on Sunday concluded in his favour last week.

  • Meghan and Harry received an apology and damages from US paparazzi firm X17 for long lens photos of their son Archie in the back garden of their Californian home

  • Meghan’s case against picture agency Splash US is on-going after it took photographs of her walking on Vancouver Island in Canada

  • Harry’s legal action against the publishers of the Sun and Mirror for alleged phone hacking continues

Former newspaper editor Eve Pollard told News at Ten last night that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are making the most of the freedoms they now have following their departure from the Royal Family last year.

They can sue without having to worrying about the monarchy’s ongoing relations with the press, or the opinions of senior courtiers. 

Also, said Ms Pollard, their own brand is important to them financially these days following the big deals the Sussexes have signed recently with Netflix and Spotify.

Archie as a baby with Harry and Meghan Credit: Toby Melville/PA

This is the new normal for Harry and Meghan. 

They refuse to engage with four tabloid publications in the UK and their sister publications.

They will not hesitate to do the same elsewhere.

These days, the Sussexes engage with the media on their own terms – not on the terms dictated by Buckingham Palace - and they know they have the global profile required to pull that off.

Their lawyers will be watching.

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