Revealed: The handwritten letter showing true tragedy of Meghan's rift with father she says has 'broken her heart into a million pieces' - and why he feels forced to make the 'devastating' missive public
- Thomas Markle reveals full content of letter written to him by daughter Meghan
- The Duchess of Sussex penned the anguish letter in response to public attacks
- Mr Markle, however, insists that Meghan's letter is actually far from conciliatory
- He is speaking up after five friends of the Duchess gave anonymous interviews
By Caroline Graham In Los Angeles For The Mail On Sunday
Published: 19:00 EST, 9 February 2019 | Updated: 03:53 EST, 10 February 2019
The full content of a sensational letter written by the Duchess of Sussex to her estranged father shortly after her wedding can be revealed for the first time today.
Its existence emerged last week after five close friends of the Duchess gave anonymous interviews to an American celebrity magazine.
They said the Duchess was so upset by her father Thomas Markle’s public attacks on her and Prince Harry that she penned the anguished letter begging him to patch up their differences privately.
But last night Mr Markle said the letter, extracts of which are published today by The Mail on Sunday, is far from conciliatory and has left him feeling ‘devastated’.
Thomas Markle has revealed the full content of a five-page letter written to him by his daughter the Duchess of Sussex
The bombshell five-page letter, sent in August last year, lays bare the true depths of the Duchess’s estrangement from her father.
In elegant script, she accuses him of breaking her heart ‘into a million pieces’ by giving interviews to the press, fabricating stories and attacking her new husband.
The Duchess also admonishes her father, in anguished tones, for siding with her half-sister Samantha – who has attacked her in the press – while she ‘silently suffered at the hand of her vicious lies’.
Her writing is elegant and distinctive. Over five pages, the Duchess of Sussex pours out her heart to her father in a letter written last August – three months after their bitter rift began. Time and again, she chastises him for the hurt and pain he has caused her and insists she and Prince Harry did all they could to help Thomas Markle, even when he pulled out of the Royal Wedding days before their May 19 nuptials
Meghan’s sad opening message to ‘Daddy’ as she sits down to pour out her heart to her estranged father over five handwritten pages
The Duchess claims Mr Markle causes her pain by being manipulated in the media but he insists ‘I love her with all my heart’
She goes on to complain that Mr Markle has made no attempt to contact her – and chastises him for falsely telling journalists he is the one who has been shunned – a criticism her father vehemently refutes.
She also accuses her father of snubbing her and Prince Harry’s offers to help when he pulled out of attending their wedding following two heart attacks and accuses him of being ungrateful for money she has given him.
The former award-winning Hollywood lighting director, who now lives in Mexico, said that he never intended to make the handwritten missive public ‘out of respect for Meghan’ – but says he has been forced to do so now because its contents have been falsely portrayed.
Mr Markle insists: ‘I sent Meg and Harry a text telling them I wasn’t coming. It was too dangerous after my heart attacks’
Mr Markle says he only asked for help to move house and that any ‘modest’ financial gifts from Meghan were ‘greatly appreciated’
Her father says: ‘I didn’t stop answering my phone. I was in hospital with a heart attack! Meg and Harry knew what was going on’
Mr Markle comments: ‘I have no idea what this means. This is pure Harry. Americans don’t use the “rabbit hole” expression’
Meghan complains Thomas sided with her half-sister Samantha in criticising her, but he insists: ‘I never wanted Meg to suffer.’
Contrary to claims made by the Duchess’s friends, he said the letter made no attempt to heal their bitter rift. ‘I thought it would be an olive branch. Instead, it was a dagger to the heart,’ Mr Markle, 74, said last night.
He dismissed suggestions he has made no attempt to patch things up since her wedding. He showed this newspaper texts which he says prove he reached out multiple times to his daughter and the son-in-law he has never met.
The US magazine People claimed to ‘put the record straight’ over the Duchess’s relationship with her father and criticism of her style as a Royal.
It was based on interviews with five friends – at least one of whom is thought to be one of the Duchess’s co-stars in Suits, the legal drama in which she starred for six years.
Thomas Markle says: ‘I’ve never attacked Harry. I asked him to man up’
He insists the Duchess is mistaken: ‘I have only ever spoken out in response to fake narratives and lies’
The Duchess refers to the MoS paparazzi photos story, right, but he insists he continued to reach out
The Duchess came under fire over her apparent decision to allow her confidantes to defend her in the extraordinary interview, without, it is understood, involving Kensington Palace.
The palace has refused to comment on whether the magazine’s anonymous sources had co-operated at the direct request of the Duchess or with her tacit approval.
Former Buckingham Palace press secretary Dickie Arbiter, who worked for both Prince Charles and the late Diana, Princess of Wales, feared the decision would only exacerbate issues.
He said: ‘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. The issue with her father is an open wound and I’m not entirely sure it is the best idea to aggravate that.’
In her letter to her father, the Duchess begged him to stop attacker 'patient, kind and understanding' Prince Harry
Last night, Mr Markle said it was unfair for his daughter’s friends to use the media to ‘spin a line’ while he was being criticised for ‘giving a handful’ of interviews to the press. In the article last Wednesday, the Duchess’s friends said that she was devastated by his response to the letter, in which he suggested father and daughter pose for press pictures.
One friend said: ‘She feels like “that’s the opposite of what I’m saying. I’m telling you that I don’t want to communicate through the media, and you’re asking me to… Did you hear anything I said?” ’
Mr Markle said he had suggested the photo op as a way of showing the world they could be friends again, describing the Duchess’s reading of it as ‘tragic misunderstanding’ he wishes he could put straight. The rift between the Duchess and her father began after The Mail on Sunday revealed, just days before her wedding in May last year, that he had colluded with the paparazzi to stage a series of lucrative photo opportunities.
Such was his humiliation that he offered to pull out of attending the Royal Wedding and was later prevented from going after suffering two heart attacks.
Since then, he has given a series of damaging interviews in which he has spoken of his dismay at being cast adrift by his daughter and the Royal Family.
Thomas's Anguished Reply
The Duchess insisted she phoned him, but he had no missed calls
Mr Markle says he never attacked Harry, but feels he should have met him before the wedding
Mr Markle insists his bid to reduce press intrusion was ‘completely misinterpreted’
Mr Markle says he never heard from his ex-wife after his plea to help him heal the rift
How Meghan's media fightback led her father to reveal letter he wanted to keep secret
The Duchess’s father told no one about her letter and planned to ‘keep it totally private out of respect for her’ – until her friends launched their ‘attack’ on him last week.
Following Meghan’s ‘Duchess Difficult’ reputation and stories of her allegedly petulant behaviour like firing off 5am emails to staff and demanding air freshener be sprayed around musty St George’s Chapel, Windsor, Meghan is said to have authorised five of her closest friends to speak to US People magazine to correct the falsehoods.
The article painted Meghan in a glowing light, while insisting the negative stories about her were lies. But Mr Markle says Meghan’s decision to reveal the private letter in the pages of the magazine left him with no choice but to go public: ‘The letter was presented in a way that vilified me and wasn’t true,’ he said last night. ‘It was presented as her reaching out and writing a loving letter in the hope of healing the rift, but the letter isn’t like that at all. Meghan can’t have it both ways. She can’t use the press to get her message across but hang me out to dry. I have the right to defend myself.’
Experts have claimed the Duchess is walking a dangerous path by allegedly bypassing the palace press office.
Meghan Markle urged her father to stop 'painful' attacks on 'patient, kind and understanding' Prince Harry in five-page letter - but anguished dad says 'I like him. I'll always love you'
For months, the letter has stayed concealed in his battered black leather briefcase inside a simple FedEx envelope. Five pages, written in his daughter’s distinctive, elegant script – he shared it with no one because, he says: ‘It was just too painful.’
‘When I opened the letter I was hoping it was the olive branch I’d longed for,’ he said last night. ‘I was expecting something that would be a pathway to reconciliation. Instead, it was deeply hurtful. I was so devastated I couldn’t show it to anyone and never would have had it not been for the events of last week.’
Indeed, the existence of the letter – in which his daughter chastises her father time and again – was revealed by anonymous friends of the Duchess in a magazine article published in the US on Wednesday. It was portrayed as a loving missive from a heartbroken daughter anxious to heal the rift with her father.
Except it wasn’t.
In her letter to her father, the Duchess begged him to stop attacking 'patient, kind and understanding' Prince Harry
‘There was no loving message in there, nothing asking about my health, nothing from her saying, “Let’s get together and heal our differences,” Mr Markle, 74, said last night.
According to a ‘longtime friend’ of Meghan’s quoted in People: ‘After the wedding she wrote him a letter. She’s like, “Dad, I’m so heartbroken. I love you, I have one father. Please stop victimising me through the media so we can repair our relationship.” ’
Yet, Mr Markle insists, the letter again proves she and Harry have ‘misunderstood’ him – leading time and again to her believing one thing whereas, he insists, his reality is far different.
In one angry passage, the Duchess blasts her father for not telling her he would not walk her down the aisle. Prince Charles famously stood in at the last minute.
She writes: ’You’ve told the press that you called me to say you weren’t coming to the wedding – that didn’t happen because you never called.’
Mr Markle says this is ‘totally false’ and he has the text messages proving it.
He pulls out his phone and scrolls through dozens of text messages between himself, his daughter and Prince Harry.
In the turbulent week before his daughter’s May 19 wedding, Mr Markle was exposed by this newspaper as colluding with a paparazzi photographer. He later ended up in hospital after suffering two heart attacks and underwent an angioplasty procedure to unblock two arteries to his heart.
It is during this time that the relationship between him and the couple fell apart.
In her letter, the Duchess accuses him of ignoring her increasingly desperate attempts to reach him.
She writes: “From my phone alone, I called you over 20 times and you ignored my calls… leaving me in the days before our wedding worried, confused, shocked and absolutely blindsided.’
Mr Markle shakes his head: ‘I don’t know anything about 20 phone calls. There were no missed messages.’ He shows me a text message dated May 16 which, he insists, proves ‘conclusively’ that he told the couple he could not fly to the UK as planned.
The text reads: ‘Surgery went OK… The doctor will not allow me to fly so of course I’m sorry but I can’t come. Love you and wish you the best of everything.’
Mr Markle said: ‘The doctors absolutely refused to let me fly to the wedding after my procedure. As soon as I knew this, I texted Meg and Harry to let them know I couldn’t be there.’ Mr Markle insists he called his daughter after the rift began ‘but she never picked up.’
Thomas Markle has revealed the full content of a five-page letter written to him by his daughter the Duchess of Sussex
People magazine quotes a friend saying: ‘He knows how to get in touch with her. Her telephone number hasn’t changed. He’s never called; he’s never texted.’
In an extraordinary moment, Mr Markle dials his daughter’s number as we sit in a hotel room in Los Angeles. He activates the speakerphone. An automated voice responds: ‘The service you have attempted to use is restricted or unavailable.’
He says: ‘The number worked until a couple of weeks ago. I sent them numerous text messages and I tried calling. That recording is the message I get now on the number she says hasn’t changed.’
Reading the letter again is clearly deeply painful for a man who says he longs for nothing more than to be reunited with his pregnant daughter. He pauses: ‘This is not the girl I know. It’s not the way she talks. For her friends – and by default Meg – to portray this as a loving letter is ridiculous.
‘Love isn’t mentioned once in the entire thing. Meg wrote me tons of letters and cards over the years. She always signed off with “Love” or “Love you”.
‘This letter is cold. When she signs off it’s “Meg”. You read the way it ends and it felt like a final farewell to me. It doesn’t even start out with “Dear”. It’s just “Daddy”.’ He continues: ‘Meg accuses me in the letter of cashing in but I’ve only accepted a few payments. I worked it out and if I’d taken all the offers I’ve had, I could have made $600,000. I haven’t done that.’
He insists he did try to heal the rift in ‘multiple’ text messages, calls and in a heartfelt four-page letter he sent to Meghan after receiving hers.
Until last week’s article in People which disparagingly mentions his reply, he never knew she had received it. ‘They just stopped talking to me. I never heard from them after the wedding in May so by June I reached out.’
On June 10, he texted his daughter: ‘My surgery was successful. I will be on blood thinners and the diet for the rest of my life but I will live. Just thought you might want to know.’
On June 19, he again texted, saying he had spoken to Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain and given his first interview (in which he revealed private conversations with Harry about Brexit and President Trump) ‘because you guys don’t respond back to me’.
His phone is filled with texts to the couple. On October 24, he writes: ‘I don’t know if this is still your phone number or not? I don’t know if you received my letter. I am only giving two interviews to the press not hundreds and I haven’t made millions of dollars.’
Thomas Markle spoke out after five friends of his daughter gave an anonymous interview
Yet again, on November 8, he reaches out: ‘Please respond back to me. You shunned me long enough unless you plan this for a lifetime? I don’t like speaking to the press but when the announcement for the baby came out, seven cars and reporters were outside my house every day for seven days. I gave a statement and all the cars went away. Anyway, I’m very happy for you and Harry and I wish you all my love.’
The Duchess’s letter accuses him of asking for money: ‘You’ve said I never helped you financially and you’ve never asked me for help which is also untrue…’
Mr Markle responds that the Duchess – worth a reported $4 million before she married – never supported him financially: ‘Meghan’s given me cash gifts occasionally but I never begged or asked for them. She would send money at Christmas, birthdays. It was a couple of grand here or there.’
There is one expression in the letter that her father is convinced comes from Harry. It is when she refers to him being down a rabbit hole. She writes: ‘Please stop taking the bait from the press. I realise you are so far down this rabbit hole that you feel (or may feel) there’s no way out, but if you take a moment to pause I think you’ll see that being able to live with a clear conscience is more valuable than any payment.’ He says: ‘Americans don’t know what the hell “down the rabbit hole” means? It’s apparently to do with Alice In Wonderland. You Brits use it. That feels like pure Harry.’
Mr Markle is baffled at his daughter’s claim that he was given support from her LA-based ‘team’ and from the Palace.
She writes: ‘We all rallied around to support and protect you from Day 1 and this you know. So to hear about the attacks you’ve made at Harry in press who was nothing but patient, kind and understanding with you is perhaps the most painful of all.’
He responds: ‘I was left to hang out to dry both before and after the wedding. Not one person came to see me. My ex-wife Doria received an engagement announcement via two people from the British consulate in Los Angeles who went to her door. No one came to my door. I felt hurt. I’m only 120 miles from LA.
‘I haven’t attacked Harry. I told him to man up. I still believe he should have flown to LA to see me, first to ask for my daughter’s hand and later to sort out the problems between us. He has all the resources in the world at his disposal.’
The Duchess’s letter talks of her hurt when her father denied cooperating with the paparazzi pictures only for this newspaper to publish CCTV footage of him colluding with a photographer: ‘I believed you, trusted you and told you I loved you. The next morning the CCTV footage came out.’
He says: ‘I’ve apologised for that a hundred times. I made a mistake, I shouldn’t have done it but how many times do I need to say “I’m sorry?” I did the pictures because I was tired of being portrayed as a slob. They were calling my home a shack.’
Thomas insisted that he didn't attack Harry but added that the Prince should have met him before the wedding
Mr Markle wrote a heartfelt reply to the Duchess’s letter in September. ‘I took a long time to write back because I wanted to address all her accusations.’
He wrote: ‘The last time we talked was about three days before the wedding because I was in a hospital bed and just had my procedure.’
The Duchess complained her father did nothing when her older half-sister Samantha – from Mr Markle’s first marriage - attacked her, calling her ‘a social climber with a soft spot for gingers’.
‘You watched me silently suffer at the hand of her (Samantha’s) vicious lies. I crumbled inside.’
In his letter, Mr Markle refers to his elder daughter by her pet name, ‘Babe’, saying: “I did try to control Babe. I have as much control over Babe… as I do over you!’
In People magazine, the Duchess’s friend dismissed her father’s letter, saying he used it to ask for a ‘photo op’. In fact, Mr Markle wrote: ‘I wish we could get together and take a photo for the whole world to see. If you and Harry don’t like it? Fake it for one photo and maybe some of the press will shut up!’
He says: ‘That request was totally misinterpreted. When Doria was photographed with Meghan and Harry for the first time it took the heat off Doria. It showed she was part of the family. I don’t want a picture for any other reason than if we show harmony then the press will back off.’
In desperation, he even reached out to Meghan’s mother Doria, who he divorced amicably when their daughter was three. He hand-delivered a one-page letter to Doria’s LA home last October. That letter, too, was met with stony silence.
Mr Markle says the estrangement from his daughter is affecting his health, causing ‘massive stress’.
‘I want nothing more than to sort this mess out. I would ask her and Harry to contact me. All it would take is one phone call and most of this craziness would stop.’
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