Meghan’s relationships ‘were being managed’ in run up to wedding, says niece

The Duchess of Sussex has claimed Palace aides told her she should not invite her own niece, who she described as like a “little sister”, to her royal wedding.

Meghan said she was given guidance that Ashleigh Hale – the daughter of Meghan’s half-sister Samantha Markle – ought not to be a guest at the high-profile celebrations in 2018

Lawyer Ms Hale, speaking on the Sussexes’ Netflix docuseries, said that in the run up to the wedding, she felt Meghan’s relationships were being “managed on some level” by the royal household.

Duke and Duchess of Sussex Netflix documentary
Harry and Meghan at the announcement of their engagement (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The duchess recounted how she and the Duke of Sussex rang Ms Hale from her car on speakerphone to break the news that she could no longer come to the Windsor wedding, describing the experience as “painful”.

Ms Hale’s biological mother Samantha had been hugely critical of Meghan in the press in the run up to the nuptials.

Meghan said of the Kensington Palace press office, who worked for Harry, Meghan and the then-Duke and Duchess of Cambridge: “I don’t think anyone understands what that very small comms team was dealing with.

“They just couldn’t wrap their head around it and I have compassion for it.

“How do we explain that this half-sister isn’t invited to the wedding, but that the half-sister’s daughter is?

Meghan and the Markles: A Family at War
Meghan’s half-sister Samantha Markle (Channel 5/PA)

“And so, with Ashleigh, the guidance at the time was to not have her come to our wedding.

“I was in the car with H, and I called her and I had her on speakerphone and we talked her through what guidance we were being given and why this assessment was made and … that’s painful.”

Describing the phone call, an emotional Ashleigh said: “I think I said I was hurt on some level, but I understood where it was coming from.

“To know that because of my biological mother, this relationship that’s so important to me was impacted in that way.

“To feel like because of her it was taken away.”

Speaking of the period ahead of the wedding, Ms Hale said: “Communication with Meg became less and less frequent. My impression was that her relationships were being managed on some level.”

Harry and Meghan on their wedding day
Harry and Meghan on their wedding day (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The documentary outlined Meghan’s relationship with her niece, who was raised by her paternal grandparents who went on to adopt her.

Meghan told the show they “hit it off” after reconnecting with each other over email in 2007. The pair would go on to holiday together, as well as texting and calling each other several days a week.

Speaking about Meghan, Ms Hale said “I think she takes on a lot of roles for me. There’s like a sister element, there’s something maternal, she’s a best friend.”

Meghan said: “I think we both craved the same thing. I wanted a sister and she was like a little sister.”

She added: “Ash was put through quite a bit through the media, just by association. I didn’t want her life to be plagued by all that drama.”

Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace have not commented on the docuseries, which aired on Thursday.