Meghan Markle has won a defamation lawsuit filed by her half-sister, Samantha Markle, over allegations that the actor and estranged royal had spread defamatory comments about her. Samantha Markle accused Meghan Markle of making false claims during an explosive 2021 interview with Oprah Winfrey and alleged statements to journalists in 2020. However, a judge has said that Meghan Markle’s statements were pure opinion and “not capable of being proved false”. US District Judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell wrote in her order that “plaintiff cannot plausibly disprove defendant’s opinion of her own childhood”. Samantha Markle filed her lawsuit in March 2022, alleging that Meghan Markle had defamed her by giving information to an unauthorised biography called Finding Freedom and by discussing their relationship with Ms Winfrey on live TV.
Finding Freedom had claimed that Samantha Markle had barely known her half-sister growing up, had “never been close” to her, and had been “handsomely paid” for an unflattering tabloid news story. Later, asked by Ms Winfrey for her thoughts on Samantha, Meghan Markle said: “When you talk about betrayal, betrayal comes from someone that you have a relationship with… But I grew up as an only child, which everyone who grew up around me knows, and I wished I had siblings. I would have loved to have had siblings.” When Ms Winfrey suggested the pair “weren’t close” and “didn’t grow up together”, Ms Markle responded: “No.” Samantha disputed this, alleging that the pair had a “wonderful relationship” during childhood and that she had “regularly driven [Ms Marke] to school and helped her with her homework”. However, Judge Honeywell ruled that since no reasonable viewer would believe Ms Markle was suggesting she had no half-siblings or was not related to Samantha, those statements were simply descriptions of her subjective experience that could not constitute defamation.
The result of the lawsuit is the latest fallout from Meghan Markle and her husband Prince Harry’s bitter break with the British royal family. The couple have accused the royal family of failing to support them against the country’s media. Meghan Markle is also facing another defamation lawsuit filed by her former press secretary, Jason Knauf. In December, Knauf accused Meghan Markle of bullying and humiliating members of her staff during her time as a working royal. A spokesperson for Meghan and Harry called the lawsuit an “obvious and baseless attempt to discredit Meghan Markle”.