How Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's Year of Freedom Was Marked by Lawsuits

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's first year of freedom from royalty has been set against a backdrop of court cases and legal threats.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have had repeated run-ins with newspapers since October last year, when the couple announced they were suing the Mail on Sunday.

In a statement alongside the announcement, Prince Harry said: "I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces."

Since then, there has been a flurry of additional court filings, lawsuits and threats from the team supporting the duke and duchess.

Here are some of the key battles.

Meghan Markle vs the Mail on Sunday

The duchess is suing U.K. tabloid the Mail on Sunday for publishing a letter she sent her father expressing her feelings of betrayal regarding his decision to cooperate with the paparazzi.

Meghan wants damages for breach of privacy, copyright and misuse of data in a U.K. trial she is set to testify in next year.

Thomas Markle, who pulled out of Meghan's 2018 wedding after it emerged he had staged pictures for money and suffered a stroke, is also expected to give evidence against her.

However, the drama does not stop there, as Meghan has used the court proceedings as a platform to open up a flank against the institution of the British monarchy.

In a dramatic court filing, her lawyers said she was attacked by "false and damaging" articles while "pregnant, unprotected by the institution."

Kensington Palace was criticized for its "no comment" policy on stories, which court papers said led her family and friends to feel silenced.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry in Fiji
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle attend a welcome ceremony in Albert Park on October 23, 2018, in Suva, Fiji. Chris Jackson/Getty

Meghan lost round one of the case, when her lawyers were told to remove claims of an agenda against her at the newspaper's publisher, Associated Newspapers.

However, in the second court clash, she won the right to keep the names of five of her friends secret, at least until any are called to give evidence at trial.

Prince Harry vs The Sun and the Daily Mirror

Prince Harry filed a historic phone-hacking claim against the publishers of The Sun and the Daily Mirror in October, the same week Meghan sued the Mail on Sunday.

The legal action is believed to date back to the phone-hacking scandal of the 2000s, which closed the News of the World in 2011.

Prince Harry and Meghan vs the Los Angeles paparazzi

The duke and duchess sued unnamed photographers over repeated drone sightings at Tyler Perry's mansion in Beverly Hills, where they stayed before buying their own home.

They complained of drones flying low to take photos of baby Archie playing in the private grounds of the mansion.

They also said photographers had cut through security fencing in order to see through and flown helicopters overhead.

Michael J. Kump, their lawyer, said in a July court filing seen by Newsweek: "Every individual and family member in California is guaranteed by law the right to privacy in their home.

"No drones, helicopters or telephoto lenses can take away that right.

"The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are filing this lawsuit to protect their young son's right to privacy in their home without intrusion by photographers, and to uncover and stop those who seek to profit from these illegal actions."

Meghan Markle and Archie Mountbatten-Windsor vs Splash News

The duchess and her one-year-old baby are both named as claimants in a case at London's High Court against paparazzi agency Splash News.

Photographer Steve Dennett is accused of taking photos of Meghan and Baby Archie via a long lens as they walked through a public park on Vancouver Island, Canada, in January, before the couple moved to California.

Jonathan Barnes, Meghan's lawyer, told the court: "They were papped in the location that we've already discussed.

"They plead that this was without their acquiescence or consent. They were on a private recreational outing on the morning of January 20, 2020."

The picture agency claims Meghan gave her consent in that she knew the pictures were being taken and did nothing to stop them.

Prince Harry vs Republic

Anti-monarchy campaign group Republic referred Prince Harry and brother Prince William to U.K. regulator the Charity Commission for mismanagement of funds in July.

William's charity issued a statement saying payments "were fully in line with governance requirements and were reported transparently."

However, Harry took the unusual step of threatening the pressure group with the "weight of the law."

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, New Zealand
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visit the National Kiwi Hatchery at Rainbow Springs on October 31, 2018 in Rotorua, New Zealand. Phil Noble/Getty

Schillings, his lawyers, said at the time: "This is his life's focus, and his devotion to charity is at the very core of the principles he lives by, and is obvious through the impact and success of his many charitable projects throughout the UK and beyond.

"To this point, it is deeply offensive to today see false claims made about The Duke of Sussex and his charitable work.

"It is both defamatory and insulting to all the outstanding organizations and people he has partnered with."

The group has since removed the press release from its website but its complaint is still with the Charity Commission, who are deciding whether to investigate.

Prince Harry vs the Sunday Times

Most recently, Prince Harry threatened the Sunday Times with legal action over a story about the cancelation of an Invictus Games fundraiser that was to be streamed by Amazon.

The newspaper quoted an unnamed source who said the decision was taken due to a conflict of interest with another streaming platform.

The article claimed Harry and Meghan's recent Netflix mega-deal, estimated at $50 million to $100 million, had got in the way of the planned concert at the Hollywood Bowl.

A Sussex source told Newsweek coronavirus was to blame for the concert being canceled and that Harry called his lawyers because it was a subject close to his heart.

The source said: "This is about the suggestion that the duke was not fully committed to the Invictus Games, which is untrue and was obviously upsetting to the duke."

The source added: "The Netflix stuff has absolutely zero to do with the Invictus plan, there's absolutely no connection whatsoever."