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What Meghan Markle’s court win means for Royal Family - and the media

High Court judge rules that newspaper invaded Duchess of Sussex’s privacy by publishing personal letter to her estranged father

Meghan and Harry Ch

The Duchess of Sussex has welcomed her “comprehensive win” in a High Court privacy case against The Mail on Sunday that pundits say has major implications for the Royal Family.

In a statement following the ruling yesterday, Meghan Markle said that the paper’s publisher Associated Newspapers had to be held accountable for its “illegal and dehumanising practices” in publishing extracts of a letter that she had written to her estranged father, Thomas Markle.

As The Telegraph’s Camilla Tominey notes, “members of the House of Windsor have long argued that they reserve the right to a private life despite having to endure more intrusion than the rest of us”. 

And “in ruling that being a Royal does not make 'one' public property, Mr Justice Warby has undoubtedly chalked up a significant gain not only for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex but also for the Royal Family as a whole”.

The Duchess’ court victory comes weeks after her former Army officer husband accepted an apology and “substantial damages” over articles in The Mail on Sunday and MailOnline that alleged Prince Harry had “turned his back” on the Royal Marines.

The legal wins highlight “the significant freedoms the couple now enjoy outside the Royal Family”, says  ITV News, and serve “as a warning shot to media outlets” that “as private individuals” they “will not hesitate to litigate when they feel wronged”.

But “many might be alarmed by the precedent this sets for press freedom, as Thomas Markle effectively ‘leaked’ his daughter’s letter to the newspaper”, the broadcaster adds.

Legal commentator Joshua Rozenberg warns that gone are the days of ‘publish and be damned’.

This week’s ruling “reinforces” privacy laws without changing them, Rozenberg writes in an article for The Telegraph. “There will still be cases where a newspaper’s freedom of expression outweighs a letter-writer’s right to privacy – especially if the writer is a public figure.”

But, he adds, “this was not one of them”.

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